George Washington told America that political parties were our 'worst enemy.' He was right.

President George Washington warned Americans of the dangers of partisanship in his 1796 farewell address — and he didn't mince words.

The entire address is worth a read, but Washington's descriptions of "the Spirit of Party," which he said "is seen in its greatest rankness" in freely elected democracies and "is truly their worst enemy," are particularly intriguing.

Check out a bit of what he said about partisanship:


It serves always to distract the Public Councils and enfeeble the Public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

Umm, prophetic much?

Of course, when Washington wrote those words, the parties we now see dominating American politics didn't exist. The "Spirit of Party" was burgeoning, however, and it doesn't take a political genius to see that the partisan divide we're currently experiencing was an inevitable outcome of such a spirit.

After all, partisan politics is divisive in its very nature. This is especially true in our two-party system, where supposedly opposite forces compete in a constant tug-of-war for power. In the abstract, that may seem like some form of balance, but in actuality, it's a recipe for deadlock and potential disaster:

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged . . . there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

Perhaps that's why the largest American voting block identifies as Independent.

I count myself among the 42% of U.S. voters who don't align themselves with a political party. Raised in a definitively non-partisan household, I've never felt any desire to call myself Democrat or Republican, Libertarian or Green, or any other party affiliation. In addition, I avoid arguments that center partisanship, and quickly grow weary of the childish, name-calling bickering that too often takes places between people who see themselves as mortal enemies based on red vs. blue.

However, I still get labeled with a political party almost every time I share an opinion on an issue—especially online—despite never stating any party preference. It's virtually impossible to discuss any political or social issue these days without someone assigning you to a party, and then assuming you support the party's platform and ideology whole cloth.

Our brains naturally categorize things, and the prevalence of partisanship leads people to automatically sort individuals into one of two distinct camps. Far too many people don't seem to grasp that it's possible to engage in social and political discourse without being entrenched in "the spirit of party."

People's beliefs and views don't fall neatly into two categories, so let's stop behaving as if they do.

When we step back and think about the depth and diversity of human thought, it's immediately clear that each of us has a unique combination of beliefs and experiences. That makes sorting millions of Americans into two political categories absurd.

And yet, that's what people do all the time when they assign labels like liberal/conservative, Democrat/Republican, blue/red, and left/right to people based on one expressed opinion. They do it without thinking. They do it without investigating. And they do it with deeply ingrained prejudices and assumptions that are not only unfair, but dangerous, as they lead to factionalism and blind loyalty.

Many people decry blind loyalty to party, but don't recognize it in themselves.

The view from top of the political fence is interesting. From what I can see, the problem with partisan politics isn't the partisans who take it to the extreme; it's the nature of the beast itself. Each side demonizes the other so viciously that when one heads down the path of partisan thinking, aligning with one side seems the only truly virtuous thing to do.

If your first response to that statement is, "But the [fill in opposing party] truly IS evil! Someone has to stop them!" take a step back. Folks on the other side are saying exactly the same thing about you, and they believe it just as strongly, for reasons they feel are just as legitimate. That kind of us vs. them thinking can easily lead to a righteous sense of party loyalty, which can easily lead to putting party before country.

Washington saw this coming when he expressed concern that political parties could result in loyalty to one's party overriding one's loyalty to the nation and to the common good. He also pointed out the corruptive influence they can have:

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

We would be wise to heed Washington's warnings, on an individual level if not on a national one. Obviously, America's two-party system isn't going anywhere anytime soon, but it's only fueled by our participation. Let's discuss the issues, but ditch the partisanship. If we continue to cling to divisive modes of governing, we'll never find the unity we so desperately need.

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This year more than ever, many families are anticipating an empty dinner table. Shawn Kaplan lived this experience when his father passed away, leaving his mother who struggled to provide food for her two children. Shawn is now a dedicated volunteer and donor with Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee and encourages everyone to give back this holiday season with Amazon.

Watch the full story:

Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

Usually when we share a story of a couple having been married for nearly five decades, it's a sweet story of lasting love. Usually when we share a story of a long-time married couple dying within minutes of each other, it's a touching story of not wanting to part from one another at the end of their lives.

The story of Patricia and Leslie "LD" McWaters dying together might have both of those elements, but it is also tragic because they died of a preventable disease in a pandemic that hasn't been handled well. The Michigan couple, who had been married for 47 years, both died of COVID-19 complications on November 24th. Since they died less than a minute apart, their deaths were recorded with the exact same time—4:23pm.

Patricia, who was 78 at her passing, had made her career as a nurse. LD, who would have turned 76 next month, had been a truck driver. Patricia was "no nonsense" while LD was "fun-loving," and the couple did almost everything together, according to their joint obituary.

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Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via Twins Trust / Twitter

Twins born with separate fathers are rare in the human population. Although there isn't much known about heteropaternal superfecundation — as it's known in the scientific community — a study published in The Guardian, says about one in every 400 sets of fraternal twins has different fathers.

Simon and Graeme Berney-Edwards, a gay married couple, from London, England both wanted to be the biological father of their first child.

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via Elliot Page / Instagram

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The actor currently stars in Netflix's "The Umbrella Academy" and has acted in films such as "Juno," "Inception," and the "X-Men" franchise.

Page made the announcement on social media where he celebrated the joy of coming out while taking the opportunity to discuss the issues faced by the transgender community.

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