28 percent of millennials (18-33) identify as Democrats, 18 percent as Republicans, and 48 percent identify as independents, according to the Pew Research Center.

There is a notion that one’s political party affiliation must completely represent their ideological inclinations. The conversations held about politics in our society involve such questions as, “are you a Democrat or Republican?”. Polling research, such as that conducted by news organizations and academic institutions, often focuses on organizing their subjects into being only Democrats or Republicans. During the political campaign season, candidates claim that their unyielding sense of support for their political party makes them virtuous, and state that this is a reason why the people should vote for them. Our country has seemingly established a tradition that the people must define themselves by the political party they align themselves with. This tradition has resulted in the degradation of both individual autonomy and self veneration.

Why political parties exist

The proper functionality of political parties has been misconstrued. Political parties exist to provide individuals the opportunity to come together for the advancement of particular ideals they agree upon. Political parties serve as the embodiment of various philosophies. They do not exist for the purpose of construing the intellectual and moral character of its followers, nor do they remain stagnant over the course of history. They are simply the product of a society’s assemblage of particular ideals. Political parties either change or die out completely in response to various political movements that occur at different points in time.

The last statement accurately describes the political party landscape within our nation. Our country was founded with no political party system in existence. This precedent did not last long, as the Federalist Party was created for the purpose of advancing the authority of the federal government, as well the freedoms of large scale businesses. The Democratic-Republican Party came next, and it advocated both a smaller government and an agrarian-like economy. At the time, the citizens of the nation defined themselves by these political parties, and they assumed that the parties would be everlasting. This would prove to be a fallacy of contemplation, as both the Democratic-Republican and Federalist Parties eventually faded into obscurity.

As the preferred ideals of the masses changed, the Democratic and Whig Parties were established. The people at the time identified themselves by the existence of the Whig and Democratic Parties, and they assumed that the parties would remain prosperous. But, the nature of the political party system changed yet again. The Whig Party eventually dissolved, and the Republican Party took its place. The Republican and Democratic Parties then represented the political party system.

Rand Paul taking picture with millennials.
Rand Paul taking picture with millennials.

Political parties are not everlasting

While the Republican and Democratic Parties have endured within our political party system for quite some time, this does not mean they will be everlasting. If our nation’s history tells us anything, it is that the nature of political parties necessitates change. The physical existence of the parties themselves may change, or the ideological makeup of the parties may be altered in response to social movements. The existence of both the Republican and Democratic Parties is something that may or may not last in the future.

The ideological makeup of the parties is something that has already changed on many occasions. The Republican Party was originally established for the advancement of abolishing slavery within the nation. It began with a sense of progressivism, for it established a platform that involved the advancement of both the size and responsibilities of the federal government. The party’s identity of big government favoritism was abandoned for conservatism during the 1980’s. This remained precedent until our recent election cycle, in which the Republican Party altered its previously held sense of conservatism for nationalism and populism instead.

The Democratic Party started as a party dedicated to the preservation of slavery, as well as the promotion of states’ rights. During the 1960’s, progressive liberalism became embedded within the beliefs of the Democratic Party, something that grew until it com—pletely overtook the identity of the party. Just like the Republican Party, our recent election cycle altered the ideological tradition of the Democratic Party. The party has shifted away from progressive liberalism, and it has adopted a true sense of governmental socialism.

Ideas stay the same but parties will change

What all of this shows is that political parties cannot be used as a way to personify the human condition. The ideological identity of political parties depends on the ever-changing preferences of the people. More so, these preferences can result in the abandonment of the political parties themselves, as well as the creation of new ones. The true intellectual principles of humanity, however, do not rely on the preferences of the people, and they are not subject to abandonment or change. Philosophies in their purest form, like: communism, progressivism, and conservatism, will not change. The only thing that changes is society’s predilection for these ideals through its utilization of political parties.