The Fight for Liberty
The American Revolution was fought for many reasons. Among these were the desires to settle individual grievances against the King's government for the quartering of soldiers, taxation without representation, and the brutality of law enforcement, as well as to throw off restrictions on trade and thereby open up new economic opportunities. Clearly, one of the highest priorities of the colonists was to toss off the shackles of King George III, so as to achieve Liberty through self-government. Indeed, the notion that "Liberty" is self-governing is so prominent among our country's founding principles that it can be considered as the original "American Dream."
Self-governing requires the dispersal, rather than the concentration, of political power. The more that power is concentrated in the hands of a few, the less self-governing there is for the many. In other words, the concentration of power bears an inverse relationship to the Liberty of the people. Those who hold concentrated power must, to maintain their position, put their own interests above the public interest.
If Liberty is an essential element to the public interest, then concentrated power is essentially against the public interest. Thus, concentrated power necessarily results in the political denigration of the general public. The few take it upon themselves to decide what is in the best interests of the many. Conditions like this foster political alienation and political unhappiness, or frustration, among those who desire to be self-governing but lack the needed political power.
Political scientists have known, at least since the days of Roberto Michels, that the primary aim of political parties is to concentrate power in themselves. Members of political parties seek to place their leadership in the seats of government, sometimes for their own material gain, but chiefly so that the members can vicariously enjoy the pleasures of being among the dominant powers. Contrary to today's conventional wisdom, political parties are necessarily undemocratic institutions, precisely because they must put their own interest -" in taking and keeping power -" before the public interest. The dispersal of power among the people is necessary for the full realization of Liberty through self-government.
Curing the Mischiefs of Faction.
Some readers may be surprised to learn that among the most important objectives of the Framers, or authors, of the US Constitution was to fashion a government that could not be taken over by political parties. Generally, our nation's Founding Generation abhorred political parties. They regularly referred to parties as "factions."
They knew from their own experience that political parties put the party's self-interests, such as winning elections and obtaining privileged legislation, before the best interests of the people as a whole. Wary of such organizations, they sought to establish a system of government that would always strive to act in the best interests of the whole country.
Besides their concern for the public interest, they understood that party loyalty discourages independent thinking. John Marshall, who some say is the greatest Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, wrote that party politics are "despicable in the extreme... Nothing, I believe, more debases or pollutes the human mind than faction." (See Beveridge's The Life of John Marshall, page 410.)
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