Most of the Founding Fathers had a negative view of political parties. In his farewell address to the nation, George Washington warned about political parties saying, “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.” In spite of Washington's warning, political parties were formed anyway.
From 1796 to 1828 the first political parties were formed. Starting with the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, two opposing factions arose. Each was concerned with how the new government was to be organized. The Federalists believed in a strong central government. Their philosophy and beliefs would closely mirror the Democrat Party today. The Anti-Federalists strongly supported the rights of the states. They would more closely align with Republicans today.
Second, legislatures organize themselves and conduct business using party affiliation. The legislative branch of government is the most powerful arm of the three branches of government. Legislative bodies hold closed meeting of party members, called a caucus to decide on questions of policy or leadership. The Republicans hold a caucus meeting and the Democrats hold a caucus meeting-both at the state and federal level. Unfortunately, conservative, moderate and liberal philosophies do not hold caucus meetings or control the legislative agendas- parties do. When someone says they vote for “the man,” not the party, they fail to understand the power and function of a caucus system in a legislative body. The Party in the majority controls appointments, Chairmanships, the agenda and countless other things through the caucus.
Third, party affiliation should be a matter of conviction, not convenience. Often, people align with a party so they can vote in primary elections or based on family tradition or geographies. Even candidates will align, file and run affiliated with a Party they have little philosophical agreement with. That decision is made out of convenience, not conviction. While no political party is perfect or has all the answers, there is a distinct difference between the two major parties and honest citizens should align with the Party that reflects their convictions.