"I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
"This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy....
"It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passion. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.
"There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose; and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.
"It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those intrusted with its administration to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism.... If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield."
Snave, the host of Various Miseries, has posited the theory that the Republican Party is the greatest threat to America, not terrorists. This theory is completely flawed and ignores several basic facts, which I will be mentioning later. First, the desire and the tendency to infringe upon the rights of others and destroy lives for the furtherance of one's own career and goals isn't merely a "Republican" or "Democrat" trait. Nor is Sensenbrenner the only McCarthyist in public service. Several other members of Congress have expressed that trait, and I believe it may be simply a case of power corrupting the corruptible. The most recent to display this trait on the Democrat side in Congress is Senator Durbin.
But if you want to look for racists, the most disgusting of the lot in Congress is a very senior Democrat: Senator Byrd, a man who as recently as 2001 used the "n-word" in a public forum and once served as a recruiter for the KKK, and later claimed that he was young and didn't know that they were a racist organization or that they had problems with anyone who isn't a conservative white Protestant. Bullshit. The KKK has been around since the 1860s-1870s, and in each of its incarnations, they never exactly hid what they believed, so pleas of ignorance are laughable at best, and a thinly-veiled attempt to whitewash a fact that has rightfully destroyed the careers of several Republicans to the point that they have been expunged from the Republican Party at worst. Considering his later actions, the latter is far more believable. The site to which the link belongs has some thought-provoking material.
I've mentioned the recent Kelo vs. Weare, CT and Gonzales vs. Rauch decisions in earlier posts, and these clearly illustrate that both Democrats and Republicans are more than willing to trample on individual rights to further their own agendas. This may leave you wondering what I think about the two major political parties. I don't wholeheartedly agree with people often, but I think Chris Rock was absolutely correct to equate political parties with gangs. The only difference between political parties and gangs is that parties use words instead of guns as weapons, and when it comes to people in power, the pen can be far mightier than the sword. So if asked my opinion of the nature of the greatest threat to America, I would have to go with the increasing polarization of both of the major political parties.
I think, and have said for years, that the two-party system is irreparably flawed, and that the only way to make elections about ideas instead of who looks and sounds better on camera is the creation and/or cultivation of viable third-parties. I think some Democrats and some Republicans are good people who have the public's best interests at heart, just as I believe that others of both parties are the opposite, and that most are somewhere in between. Therefore, I am an unrepentant independent, though if I had to pick a party affiliation, I would probably be closest to the Libertarians, though by that I mean their pre-1988 form. I believe I speak for everyone when I say that I'm sick and damned tired of having to pick a candidate from two almost equally awful choices.