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Why It's Vital to Vote for Your Party
President John F. Kennedy
Exercise Your Right to Vote!
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
"I don't belong to any political party; I'm Independent. I vote for the best man."
Chances are, like me, you've heard this statement from friends and foes alike on many occasions -- often from the same political pundits who favor term limits for Congress.
Americans have always been proud of their independent spirit, and few will hold still for anyone who tries to tell them what to think or how to vote.
That's admirable. In fact, I'm fiercely independent myself, and I always try to encourage others to stand up for their rights.
Rights Come With Responsibilities
But those rights come with responsibilities, of course. Little is gained by blindly proclaiming one's rights when, at the same time, someone else's rights are being trampled over.
As individuals, we can be as independent as we like but, as the saying goes, no man is an island. When you are dealing with a community of people whether it be a city, state or nation, it is vital that people work together if anything is to be achieved.
Voting for "the best man" instead of a political party has a nice ring to it, true, but what man? If we cast aside parties -- as we've already done to a large extent -- "the best man" may turn out to be dozens if not hundreds of men! Without a sincere effort to reach compromise with millions of people who want to vote for their "best man" -- not yours, -- there's little likelihood of selecting a leader, or representatives, who could govern with the support of the electorate.
Flawed Thinking Creates Havoc
In the United States today, this flawed thinking already has created havoc. The so-called White House Crisis and the current effort to impeach President (Bill) Clinton can be directly attributed to the decline -- and, perhaps, the fall -- of the two-party system.
Third parties and independent voters have been around for a long time, and surely will always be with us, but in the past few decades it has become a badge of honor, of sorts, to dismiss the Democratic and Republican parties. As a result, the parties have lost the very people who helped to moderate the views of the hard-core political ideologues.
The loss of so many of these people has put both parties in the hands of a much smaller, more radical core of party stalwarts who now have far greater power to move the parties to the extremes.
This has occurred to some extent in both the Democratic and Republican parties, but, in the case of the Grand Old Party, has gradually given sway to more right wing extremists than could have been possible only a short time ago.
During the (John F.) Kennedy Administration, for instance, it would have been impossible to impeach a president on the kind of flimsy grounds we see today against Clinton.
Nor could an independent counsel dictate articles of impeachment to Congress rather than do what he was hired to do: Investigate, collect evidence and submit his findings -- not his subjective opinions. Congress, not the investigator, decides what constitutes an impeachable offense.
Not Too Late to Right the Ship
It is not too late for Congress to right the ship. Anti-Clinton conservatives like to cite the Constitution and throw up their hands saying they cannot interfere with the Constitutional process.
All Congress has to do is this: Acknowledge that what has been submitted to Congress by Kenneth Starr does not rise to the level of impeachable offenses, indefinitely adjourn the impeachment hearings -- and move ahead with the country's legitimate business.
I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaperof Norwalk, Conn., on Oct. 24, 1998. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages.