From the Founding to the present, Americans have always expressed a distrust of political parties. Hardly a day passes without someone’s—the president, a Senator, a Representative—attacking politics in Washington for the spirit of partisanship. If only elected officials, they sigh, would set aside their parochial, partisan interests, Washington could get down to the important business of doing what is best for America. For instance, in 2011 President Barack Obama said that Washington D.C. suffered from the “worst kind of partisanship, the worst kind of gridlock.” Of course President Obama and others make these complaints as members and leaders of their own parties. This complaint assumes that parties are powerful forces exercising immense influence over the behavior of those we elect to govern on our behalf. The reality is somewhat different. Complaining about partisanship is always good politics, but it is not clear that parties are as powerful as we think they are or that we could or would want to live in a world without political parties.