One third of Americans feel that violence against the government is justified because there is so much divisiveness within the country? Attention, people: This is a democracy!

We, the people, are the government. Violence against the government means violence against each other. In a democracy, violence against the government is a definition of genocide. Those people cowering in the Capitol building last Jan. 6 were not the government; they were the people that we, the government, hired to conduct the business we tell them to.

We have referred to our system of government as a two-party system for so long that we seem to believe that the political parties are an officially designated part of the government structure, instead of being the danger to democracy that George Washington warned of.

So, we elect our congressmen to represent their party instead of representing us. The parties are fine with that. They have come to see themselves not as representatives of the people or of a political philosophy but as two medieval royal families at war with each other for rule over we the peasantry.

In 2016 they abandoned all pretense to the contrary. The Democratic Party decreed that only their anointed candidate would be allowed to run in the primaries. All would-be candidates obediently stepped aside. The voters so resented this dismissive treatment that they nearly chose a non-Democrat candidate, who actually ran on democratic principles instead of privilege.

The Republican Party was so sure it had established a ruling dynasty that it encouraged anyone to run who might thereby bring money into the party coffers. Their voters responded by electing a candidate who not only was not a Republican but who ran against the Republican Party and ran on a complete absence of principle.

We can change this. Amend the Constitution to prohibit any congressional or senatorial candidate from accepting, or benefiting from, money or in-kind support that originates from outside his district. That would force candidates to seek support from their constituents, instead of from their party.

Also, make any candidate for president ineligible for office if, in the past several years, he/she has been a member of, or has actively supported, any political party. That would go far to restore checks and balances to the branches of government.

These changes will have to come from the grass roots, because no politician would ever support them.

TERRENCE McMAHON, Stoddard