Every person has at least one opinion on any political subject — and some manage to hold multiple opinions, breaking down larger questions into smaller parts. The result is that any issue, including whether or not the two-party political system works, is subject to multiple arguments.
While on the whole the current US system of government works, in that in continues to hold elections, provide services, and collect taxes and fees, the underlying question is whether there is another system that would work better or if the two-party is the best political system.
To clarify, a two-party system does not require legal or constitutional standing. There is nothing in the US Constitution that prohibits additional parties from forming, which is how there are candidates from parties such as Libertarian, Green, and Tea Party on various ballots. However, there is no question that the two major parties, Republicans and Democrats, dominate virtually all elections from school board to President. By controlling legislatures and administrative regulations, members of those two parties can make it more difficult for other parties to form and succeed in elections. In the US, third parties have been able to exert influence on the major parties over the years and even to elect officials to lower offices.
Benefits of Two-Party Politics
Supporters of the current two-party system point to the US’s overall economic security as an example of how the system works. While there have been recessions and even depressions over the past two centuries, the relative political stability of the country has been reflected in economic growth and fairly quick recovery from crisis.
That stability is a result of the fact that governing two groups is easier than trying to govern a dozen. Countries with a strong multi-party system often find themselves unable to govern as no party can gain enough votes in parliament or the legislature to rule by majority. It is also easier to come to a compromise between two opinions than through half a dozen strident ideologies. Lastly, each of the two parties has to develop platforms that appeal to a majority of the population in order to get elected, which promotes centrism and addressing the needs of large numbers of voters, instead of only needing to represent a smaller fraction.
Disadvantages of Two-Party Politics
The biggest argument against the two-party system is that it stifles alternative ideas and choices. Voters are presented with two options and two strategies for solving problems that are increasingly critical and, at the same time, increasingly complex. Having multiple parties would give voters the chance to think outside the box and see alternative viewpoints and solutions.
Majority parties in a two-party system have little to no incentive to listen to minority parties, leaving large sections of the electorate without representation that accurately reflects their views. With two parties dominating the landscape, there is more talk of “mandate” and authority that allows those parties to ignore dissent and to institute rules that make it difficult for third party candidates to run for office.
There has been increasing talk amongst political pundits about the breakdown of the American two-party system. Rather than working together to represent the majority of citizens, they are polarizing and refusing to compromise in order to protect their voter base.
Perhaps the increased debate on the subject is simply proof that the American electorate still cares about their political system and is willing to question whether it works or how it might work better.
Article provided by John Duncan a blogger and writer on politics, finance and sports. He writes about financial topics like money mutual and sports figures like Scott Tucker as well as a variety of political topics.