Two-Party System in America
This article is about the two-party political structure in the United States. This article presents some problems that have been caused over the years and some potential solutions.
Two-Party System in America
American politics…something that many Americans feel strongly about, yet may not understand fully. Over the history of the United States, there has been two parties at any given time to be considered the major parties. The parties of the current system are the liberal Democrats, which implies “will of the people,” and the conservative Republicans, which implies “rule of law.” Third parties have existed; however, they have not been effective at gaining votes and winning elections. The two-party system in America has been a subject of intense debate, especially in recent history. With our two major parties slipping farther and farther away from the center, bipartisanship is becoming harder and harder to attain. This means that elected officials from either party are not working together across party lines. This has caused a myriad of problems. It is imperative that voters take initiative to educate themselves about the candidates running in local and national elections, and recognize that there are choices other than Democrat or Republican.
Trust in the political spectrum does not exist for most Americans, as they tend to vote for “the lesser of two evils.” This is because neither the Democrats nor the Republicans accurately address the core values of most Americans when standing on their political platforms. This means that taking a liberal stance or a conservative stance is difficult, and Americans tend to stand somewhere in-between liberal and conservative. This is an intentional strategy used to keep the American people divided, most only resonating with the topics that are covered in the media at the time. When voters are undecided about which party to vote for, they tend to base their final vote on a specific issue.
It appears as if this leaves only two sides to be heard. There are only two choices, left or right, up or down, big or small. In the public sphere, there is rarely a negotiation or a compromise that both sides agree on. One of the main reasons for this is that all the time spent on one issue takes away from the time spent on other issues. While the apparent ignorance of specific issues is obvious to the voters, it becomes the catalyst that sprouts a new party or encourages a candidate to run independently. As great as this may be for the voters, these “third parties” don’t have a loud enough voice. The media pays them little attention, and they have a very hard time receiving campaign contributions.
Furthermore, another problem that arises out of the two-party system revolves around the electorate. In most regions in the United States, voters tend to be consistent with their voting habits. This means that, for the most part, a region that votes “Democrat” will always vote “Democrat,” likewise, the opposite is true. Often times this will leave the election up to areas that are generally split between Democrats and Republicans. The deciding factor will depend on which candidate can most sway the undecided voters, which usually leads to candidates targeting a specific minority population.
Targeting a specific population takes away the candidates ability to “connect” with everyone else. This may cause dissatisfaction among potential voters, but because both candidates are guilty of this, the effects are not noticed on Election Day. A candidate will prop up a minority population by promising to allocate funding to welfare programs or to social integration programs. This will take away funding from other areas vital for America’s growth, and drive the national deficit further down the drain.
With all the evidence against a two-party system, there are those who still believe it works. “Uncommon and unconventional ideas remain non-influential, so policies and government do not change rapidly. While smaller parties find this exceptionally frustrating, proponents of the two-party system suggest that it enhances stability while eventually allowing for ideas that gain favor to become politically influential. Bickering of narrowly based ideological factions in multi-party systems can lead to a torpid legislative process. These factions, if they gain enough influence via winning seats, can adopt a ‘by any means necessary’ mentality of furthering their agenda which can include purposely blocking or delaying important legislation. Two-party systems offer stronger, majority governments which can pass needed legislation without the fetterence of minor parties.” (http://www.worldlingo.com/ma/enwiki/en/Two-party_system)
Recently, there was an Intelligence Squared debate, which is a specially designed debate that includes several industry professionals and geniuses that cover a range of controversial topics. The particular debate, as mentioned above, involved New York Times columnist David Brooks and Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington being for the motion that the two-party system was making America ungovernable, and New York Times Magazine contributor Zev Chafets and political satirist P.J. O’Rourke being against the motion. Before the debate began, 46% were for the motion, 24% were against, and 30% were undecided (Bloomberg, 2011). I will share some of the key points from both sides.
David Brooks (Bloomberg, 2011): “…most of them are in it for the right reasons, but they’re stuck in a rotten system.” “…which forces them to behave in ways that are worse than they are.” “…tribal mentality…”
Arianna Huffington (Bloomberg, 2011): “…prisoners of conventional wisdom…” “…obsolete prism of right versus left…” “…favorability rates of the two parties are constantly declining.” “
Zev Chafets (Bloomberg, 2011): “…have always said that America is ungovernable…” “The American system is a resilient system.” “…accountability and voice…effectiveness…quality of regulation…rule of law…and control of corruption…all of those…scores above the 90th percentile in the world, which is an ‘A’.” “
P.J. O’Rourke (Bloomberg, 2011): “…the problem is us damn voters…” “The American two-party system is not a very good political system, but we Americans are not very good at politics.” “…have shown an ability to reconstitute, or replace themselves when the nation needs it most.”
After the debate, 50% were for, 40% were against, and 10% were still undecided. With these results, Zev Chafets and P.J. O’Rourke were the winners by changing the most minds (Bloomberg, 2011).
The core values of American voters are not honestly and completely represented by either party in our two-party system. While a complete disbandment of the current parties may bring about much needed change, it will only open up the door for two more parties to take their place. The voters need to utilize social networking websites and educate themselves on various political parties and of the candidates running in each of the parties. It will be detrimental to America’s future if the Democrats and Republicans remain the prominent parties in our political structure. The voters will be the voice of change to end this two-party charade and bring about a multi-party structure.