WHEN GEORGE Washington announced his intent to depart the presidency, he left the American people with a stern warning regarding political parties: ''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."
If only he could see things today.
In the city that bears Washington's name, there is no longer a home for the common man. Instead, the two major parties are beholden to special interests -- not to the people's. Extreme partisans are locked in a perpetual stalemate where power and influence is sold to the highest bidder. Just look at Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham.
Massachusetts is no different. Both political parties are more concerned with holding onto power than with helping people. The politics of confrontation has replaced cooperation. How else to explain the stalled economic stimulus package or the travels and tribulations of Governor Romney?
In a state where residents are leaving in droves, where job growth has dipped to 45th in the nation, where we have lost an educated workforce of 190,000 over the last five years, and where local budgets are being starved by the state, one would think that our elected leaders would get their act together. But they haven't. In the interest of party and ideology, the people are now an afterthought.
As an Independent candidate for governor, the people of Massachusetts can be assured that I'll fight for them. I won't be indebted to any party or interest group, but only to the people of the Commonwealth.
I witnessed what a cancer parties and special interests had become during my fight with Jane Swift and others over the Big Dig. That's why I'll pursue strict campaign finance reform. Using Connecticut as our model, we're going to prohibit lobbyists, contractors, and other special interests from making political contributions.
I also plan on shutting down the tolls from Weston to the New York border. When the Massachusetts Turnpike opened in 1957, state law stipulated that the tolls would close once the money the Pike had borrowed to build the road was repaid. Today, we have paid for that road time and again.
Further, by stabilizing property taxes, I'll do something about the mass exodus of people and businesses from the Commonwealth. My plan will simultaneously increase local aid.
Under my proposal, Proposition One, property values would remain constant from the time of purchase until the property is sold. Thus, homeowners and businesses will have certainty as to their future tax bills.
To compensate for the revenue limitations that may result, I pledge to set aside 40 percent of state tax revenues for local aid, a plan first proposed by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. Today, less than 30 percent of tax receipts go to support localities. Dedicating this much money is an extraordinary commitment, but that's what's needed for our local towns.
To ensure that our priorities remain straight, the third component of Proposition One stipulates that public schools remove all academic and activity fees. There's no excuse for putting localities in a position where they feel as if they have to penalize their children for being active and involved.
None of these ideas belongs to the Democrats or the Republicans, or to lobbyists or special interest groups. They are issues that concern the regular families and communities of Massachusetts, because those are the concerns that should matter.
Throughout the country, our party system has become little but a form of political bondage designed to force people into a straitjacket of hero worship and partisanship. But America was designed as a haven for the individual.
That's why our nation enshrines ''life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in our founding document, and that's why most Americans -- and most Bay Staters -- feel lost in today's political system.
George Washington's farewell address was prophetic in its warning. When Bay State voters head to the polls in November, perhaps we'll listen to his advice.
Christy Mihos is an Independent candidate for governor of Massachusetts.