President George Washington hit it on the head when he objected to the notion of political parties. From the time that American leaders capitulated and accepted them, there was a systematic deviation from focus on individual qualities and qualifications for elected office. Political party influence was born from which wealth and power would tend to corrupt.
Other decisions that were made early in history include the sometimes random and opportunistic evolution in the creation of states. From that is the creation of political districts. The two intertwined with rules that are intended to produce fairness and equal representation, but they don’t work well.
America experimented with political parties and if you study history you will see how party characteristics flip flopped among Republicans and Democrats and with various offshoots and third parties they became confusing amalgamations of ideas and variations of ideology and values. Parties became the means by which groups of individuals could share what they have in common, and to debate where they disagree.
Today, for instance, it would be best if all Americans and elected officials directed our attention to describing how were are going to produce a sustainable economy that creates equal opportunity and ensures a good life in the absence of poverty from optimizing return on national resources. Focus on the end-state of ensuring a good life for all while keeping air and water clean.
The starting position for that is solar power and other renewables and the complete rejection and abandonment of fossil fuels.
What does that have to do with political parties?
If there was a Sustainable Economy Party, and if people thought about, that would be the preferred one. With a focus on that, there would be no need for others.
"Book Review: How The States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein
Author: Warren Kelly — Published: Sep 09, 2008 at 10:26 am 1 comment
Looking at a map of the United States, one of the first things you notice is the varied shapes and sizes of the states. Some boundaries are pretty obvious — rivers, for example, serve as borders quite frequently. But especially in the West, it's hard to figure out exactly why some of the states are shaped the way they are. Colorado and Wyoming, for example, are pretty rectangular. Then you look at Idaho, and wonder what the surveyor was smoking when the borders were created. Why does Michigan have two distinct parts, when they could have been made into two different states? What's up with the Oklahoma panhandle — not to mention Florida's panhandle?
Mark Stein answers questions like these, and many more, in his book How The States Got Their Shapes. The book isn't just an exercise in geography, or surveying; Stein looks at historical and political factors that influenced how each of the 50 states were shaped. Some states got royally ripped off in some land deals (the chapter on Maryland, my home state, broke my heart. So much lost land!). Some states played their political cards right and got access to the natural resources that they needed (Indiana). Stein goes into some depth, too, even looking at why there's a little dip in the northern border of Tennessee (surveying disputes between Virginian and North Carolinian surveyors trying to lay out the TN/KY border, among other things) and why some state borders don't quite line up with their neighbors' (Nebraska and Missouri's southern borders, for example).
It would have been easy for this book to have been a dry tome best suited for geography classroom torture sessions. Stein's writing style makes this book not just bearable, but actually enjoyable to read. Rather than reading a textbook, you're enjoying a conversation with someone who has some fascinating facts to share. It's easier to get through the book when the author seems to be enjoying the subject, and that certainly comes through in this book.
How The States Got Their Shapes is a must for anyone who is interested in geography and mapping. Homeschoolers will want this one as part of their library. But beyond that, anyone with a curiosity about history, or anyone who has ever looked at a map and wondered what was up with Montana, or Arkansas, or those two notches in New Mexico's southern border — anyone with those questions and an ounce of curiosity will enjoy this book. And it may even help you win a trivia contest or two."