A Warning from George Washington about Political Parties

In his Farewell Address on September 17, 1796, George Washington said “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” These words were spoken by the father of our country and our first president as he was leaving office. This was a clear warning regarding the harm political parties and power hungry politicians can have on our government. The framers of the Constitution of which Washington was a member, detested political parties and believed they would divide the nation into competing factions and promote their party’s interests over the interests of the entire nation.
Washington’s words are especially important because he turned down attempts to make him the king of our new nation. He said that “I didn’t fight George III [King of England] to become George I [King of America].” After serving eight years as president, he upheld the US Constitution and transferred power to John Adams, our elected second president. Washington’s words and actions ensured that our young country would remain a democracy and not turn into a kingdom. He devoted his presidency to ensuring the well-being of our newly independent country.
Fast forward to 2013 and we see that Washington’s and our Founding Father’s concerns and predictions regarding political parties have come to pass. We have political parties continuing to split Americans into factions. Large sums of monies come pouring in from political action groups all in an attempt to buy political influence and push a particular agenda that is good for only certain segments of citizens. Campaign promises are forgotten in a few months after being elected. When voting, many Americans would prefer to vote for “None of the Above” to force both parties to nominate candidates who are actually focused on our nation and not how they can win the next election. The politically engineered dysfunction and gridlock have become tactics used by each party to advance its own interests. We must never forget that no individual or political party has a monopoly on what is the right course of action for the United States.
Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in leadership positions, including being a US Army officer and a human resources director. Mr. Okum has written “Leadership DNA,” a provocative and useful guide book about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders. This book describes the art of leadership including how to deal with poor managers that can cripple an organization.
For more information about Paul Okum and Leadership DNA, visit

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