America is in a state of crisis. Social, cultural, and political forces conspire today as never before to limit our freedom of choice in everyday life. Thinking, articulating, and voting are virtually lost arts, too little practiced and too often ignored. Americans seem to have lost touch what matters most – our resilient and independent spirit that has defined us uniquely among nations as a people who value liberty above everything else.
Throughout history, there have been many instances of revolutionary political and social movements, of people questing for ideals, of politicians who transcended politics to lead their people in an enlightened manner. Laying aside the specifics of each movement, their main purpose has been to uplift people, to make them believe in something greater than themselves. Americans, jaded and overexperienced, have lost faith in the efficacy and value of these ideals. In short, resting in the false comfort of conformity and sameness, we have lost hope that the world can be made a better place through inspiration and change. It is time we learned to believe again in the ways and ideas that once made us great.
Most modern philosophies and movements teach simple survival. But there is one theory that goes beyond survival to get to the heart of human nature at its finest and to give Americans what they need most – optimism, renewal, and, above all, hope. It is a philosophy that connects all beneficial and enlightened concepts of governance by transcending them to discover the common spring from which they flow. The idea is Nonpartisanship; its goal is to liberate the American people from the restrictive social constructs in which they live, and to restore to them their rightful freedom of thought and action.
Since the founding of the Nonpartisan concept, various definitions of Nonpartisanship have been postulated. Some have argued that it is a philosophy of governance; others, that it is a political party; still others have viewed it as simply a way of looking at life. These concepts, too, can be underlain by a single definition. Nonpartisanship is made to encompass all other ideas through a series of four simple precepts. These precepts, taken together, form a coherent and empowering way of viewing the world in which we live.1. Independent Thought
The first duty of the Nonpartisan is to think for himself
. It is a simple but revolutionary concept that is surprisingly difficult to achieve in the modern climate. Countless societal pressures keep Americans in the servile position of ideological followers; we are not encouraged to think, but to act in concert with the behavior of others and with others’ idea of the societal good. The Founding Fathers granted us the right to liberty; social conformity threatens to take it away.
The Nonpartisan views the free consideration of ideas not only as his inalienable right but as his sworn duty as an American citizen. He believes that he is not to be indoctrinated like a child into the views and ways of others, but to pick and choose his ideas and customs as an adult. He enlightens himself by throwing off the shackles of social control and freeing himself to think and judge independently of all other people and belief systems. His liberty is not passive but active; he exercises it at every possible opportunity. In his entire life – in his relationships, politics, work, and worldview – he refuses to accept the ways and beliefs of others simply for ease or expediency.
Inherent in this precept is the idea of skepticism
, the principle that one should not believe any idea unless it is supported with logical evidence or, more generally, unless it makes sense within one’s own system of beliefs. By rejecting pressure from peers, superiors, inferiors, or special interest groups in reaching any decision on an issue, by relying only upon facts and the wisdom of his own mind, the Nonpartisan ensures that any decision he reaches is uniquely his, and rests on the basis of his own system of ethics, beliefs, and logical argument.
The Nonpartisan is by definition an individualist
, for he refuses to adopt the beliefs of any organized system or group. This requires distance from such groups, both physically and mentally. However, systems should not be uncritically rejected any more than they should be slavishly followed. The Nonpartisan examines each and every such system for the bits and pieces which he finds beneficial, and claims those pieces for his own.2. Civic Engagement
Nonpartisanship cannot begin without a certain detachment from the world and from others. However, once the Nonpartisan has become separated from the world, he must plunge back into it and seek to better it. The Nonpartisan totally rejects apathy
, for he is obligated by his beliefs to be critically engaged with the world around him. He accepts no part of it that he does not confirm within his own mind, but he leaves no part uncontemplated, and considers no part unchangeable. Thus, the individualist who refuses to follow society must also take an abiding interest in it; this is one of the syncretisms
which render Nonpartisanship an all-encompassing philosophy.
There are many ways to become engaged
with one’s society and community. The Nonpartisan must combat apathy in all its forms; he must continually seek to better his relationships, to heighten his creativity, to improve his experiences. However, the most potent and direct method of effecting constructive change in society is through government. The Nonpartisan must of necessity be politically informed, but he is not to act as jaded politicians act with regard to policy-making. Instead, he must apply thoroughly the precept of independent thought to his government – making decisions based solely on what would be the most beneficial for society, not on what is politically expedient for him or for anyone else.
The Nonpartisan, then, is a new type of politically informed citizen: one who does not simply choose between the imperfect and compromised political factions with which he is presented, but who pursues a governmental system which truly represents the totality of his ideals, goals, and beliefs. The Nonpartisan does not settle for canned, restrictive political ideas; instead, he recognizes that enlightened government can only be achieved through continuous, intelligent debate among an infinity of differing viewpoints, with every citizen taking part in the discussion.
In order to aid this process of meaningful debate, the Nonpartisan understands that all citizens need to be as informed as possible about the workings of their government. He serves as a clearinghouse of information about governance and politics, letting no opportunity pass without providing this information to his fellow citizens. This is, in a sense, the most powerful way for a Nonpartisan to better his society – by giving his fellows the knowledge they need in order to fight for their own ideals, just as he fights for his.3. Third-Party Advocacy
The Nonpartisan advocates free consideration and idealized thought on matters of political import. In today’s political climate, however, independent thought and idealism are virtually impossible to express in any meaningful form. The obstacle is the two-party system, which has dominated American politics since soon after the founding of the United States.
The Democratic and Republican parties squash independent thought among their members and attempt to force out any and all partisan ideas which are not shared by party leadership. This is not to say that these parties are malicious; rather, they cannot survive or emerge victorious without insisting upon the absolute unity of their members. This unity, in turn, guarantees that there will be only two visions expressed at a national level: the Democratic and the Republican. Nay, fewer; for American political realities dictate that these parties act in a manner which will gain them power in the short term – a process which forces the parties to take only the politically safest actions, and to ignore all opportunity to present transcendent visions of governance. The two-party system, rejecting vision among its members and within its leadership, by its very nature squeezes all vision and freedom from the government of the United States.
The Nonpartisan is at all times an implacable enemy of the two-party system that now dominates America. He recognizes that America can do better than these two limp, restrictive entities which ignore the best solutions to problems in favor of those that are politically “smart”. He supports major-party politicians who break with their party leadership on a major issue of principle; third-party candidates and officials; and Independent political figures – all as a means of weakening the two-party structure which inhibits Nonpartisanship from taking root in the realities of government.4. Vision
The Nonpartisan opposes politicians who bow to the two-party system. But what kind of politician does he wholeheartedly support? Simply put, the Nonpartisan hails any politician who unabashedly believes in none but his own beliefs, and is not afraid to express them to the world and to act upon them in the halls of government. Certainly he supports those leaders who agree with a majority of his own ideas of governance; but this ideological agreement is less important to him than ideological purity, honesty, and courage from his governmental representatives.
The viewpoints of Libertarianism and Progressivism are the yin and yang of political thought; they are diametrically opposed, yet together they encompass the totality of enlightened political discourse. Libertarianism believes that one governs best who governs least; Progressivism asserts that government has a strong role to play in the success of a nation. Most political parties and philosophies espouse one or the other of these ideals, or part of one of them; Nonpartisanship supports both of them in totality.
How can a school of thought advocate two ideas which are the exact opposite of one another? By advocating the basis which underlies both concepts. Progressivism and Libertarianism are both products of idealized political consideration. Each takes no prisoners, makes no compromises in its treatment of the political situation. In short, each seeks to govern society, not by simple situational coping and political deals, but by the light of a transcendent vision
Nonpartisans may hold varied opinions, but Nonpartisanship itself seeks to transcend others’ opinions. It advocates vision in politics without specifying what particular vision should be adhered to. Instead, it is the Nonpartisan’s duty to promote all political figures who espouse a vision, while defining his own personal vision of government from a mixture of these two competing, but equally noble, philosophies.
The Four Precepts of Nonpartisanship outline a philosophy that merges the personal with the political in a quest for the betterment of oneself and one’s society. Independent thought, however, is a duty that transcends even the Four Precepts, which may be utterly rejected by a Nonpartisan so long as he is acting of his own free consideration. Anyone who follows slavishly any concept, even the Nonpartisan idea, falls afoul of the Nonpartisan mission.
For the Nonpartisan is a missionary, but he is not an evangelist of ideals; rather, he expounds upon a concept that underlies all ideals. While he may use conventional political means to support candidates for public office, he supports them only to further his goal of increased actualization of independent thought and inspirational action in society. Just as a Libertarian may support a Republican for philosophical reasons that run far deeper than the stated platform of the Republican Party, so a Nonpartisan may support any number of politicians on the grounds that they either espouse or indirectly further a part of his beliefs or of the concept of Nonpartisanship.
Why does Nonpartisanship matter now? Because Americans are being increasingly directed by our national culture to simply accept instead of to think. Because, despite all our technological advances, the American people have never been more ignorant about the society we live in. Because the two-party system has never been stronger. Because apathy has never been greater. Because Americans have never so badly needed a reason to hope.
Nonpatisanship is that hope – a dynamic syncretism of personal philosophy and political action that uplifts all those who follow its path. It is a radical philosophy that seeks to give America back to its citizens, intellectually, socially, and spiritually; however, it is also necessarily political, as it is the modern American political system which is its greatest obstacle to widespread acceptance. Thus, Nonpartisanship is a philosophy, and it is a program of political activism; but in its purest form, it is carried beyond both the intellectual discussion and the ballot box, and becomes a way of life.
-- Jeremy Young