Letter: Founders knew danger of putting party first

Sep. 28, 2013 @ 06:38 PM

To the editor:

With reference to the value of voting one’s own convictions as opposed to the party line, one cannot help but recall the convictions of our founding fathers who were steeped in the liberal arts education of the time that included a thorough knowledge of biblical teachings.

Thomas Paine so eloquently stated: “Party knows no impulse but spirit, no prize but victory. It is blind to truth, and hardened against conviction. It seeks to justify error by perseverance, and denies to its own mind the operation of its own judgment. A man under the tyranny of party spirit is the greatest slave upon earth, for none but himself can deprive him of the freedom of thought.” (”To the Opposers of the Bank,” 1787)

George Washington summed up his convictions on party line: “Let me now ... warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party. ... It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeebles the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one party against another, foments occasional riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption. ... A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.” (Farewell address, September 17, 1796)

Brent Helton