A Revolutionary Idea: End the Two-Party System
By: Andrew Arendash
Federalist vs. Democratic Republican. Democrat vs. National Republican. Democrat vs. Whig. Democrat vs. Republican. Red vs. Blue.
The Two-Party system has been around since the country’s founding when Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton hated each other so much they just had to start a party over it. Jokes aside, the United States has always been dominated by two big parties (except the Free Soil Party and Populist Party but they didn’t last long nor win).
That needs to change.
The two-party system discourages alternative views. The Republican Party is far-right and the Democratic Party is centre-right. If you are Libertarian, Socialist, Centrist, Social Democrat, Moderate, or Anarchist then there is virtually no proper political representation of your views in Congress and the White House. The system forces you to align with the party that fits closest to your views. In some cases, that may be based on one or two issues you find agreement in one of the two parties. If you choose not to align, then there’s nothing that can be done to get your views represented in this system.
The two-party system encourages voter apathy and partisanship. When voters feel that neither party can politically represent their views, they may feel disinclined to even vote. People will complain that strategic voting or voting for the “lesser of two evils” is worthless, so the cycle perpetuates itself. In a way, they’re absolutely right. It is much easier to become partisan when there is only one opposing view or voice. The political landscape of Washington at the moment seems to show this disadvantage of our system clearly.
This status quo continues due to our system of First Past the Post Voting system where candidate winning a majority of the popular vote receives all of the electoral votes in that district or state. Third parties are discouraged from participating because it is impossible for them to outperform the Democrats and Republicans in most areas. A third party in this system would split the vote and weaken one of the two dominant parties as seen numerous times in American history.
So, what’s the solution?
Proportional representation. Many parliamentary systems throughout the world rely on this system for legislative bodies wherein the proportion of votes received by a party or candidate reflects the number of electors or seats gained by the party or candidate in an election. The results of proportional representation reflect the actual votes cast. For example (in a hypothetical parliamentary system), the Democratic Party receives 51% of the popular vote in the general election. That party would receive seats or representatives equivalent to the 51% of the vote they won.
The advantages of proportional representations are worth its implementation. Voters may have an actual voice in their legislature. These minority parties would be useful in forming coalitions with a major party to form a majority in the legislative house. Minority parties are a check to the actions of the majority party or may form opposition. Voters would be encouraged to vote for a party that has more than a few agreeable issues.
In order to reinvigorate our American democracy, we need to reexamine the very foundation of our system with constructive criticism and look for new ways to improve upon it.