The Inadequacies of the Two-Party System

The Inadequacies of the Two-Party System

Matthew Gearhart, Opinions Editor

Americans have been accustomed to the same electoral system for decades: a system of two parties, Republicans and Democrats; the idea of a third or fourth party has been diminished to a laughing stock. If you inform your fellow American that you’re planning to vote for the Green Party or Libertarian Party, the immediate reply is “You’re throwing away your vote!” This is the result of and the cause for third parties having no power at all when it comes to national U.S. elections. third-party candidates rarely–if ever–get national televised attention. You’ll never find a third party in the national debates and instead will only find Democrats and Republicans clashing it out. In our opinion, the two-party system is inherently undemocratic, polarizing, and troubling for our congressional policymaking process.

A poll by Vox shows that both candidates in the 2016 and 2020 elections are seen negatively by most voters. These elections may have become the only two U.S. presidential contests in history, which a majority negative outlook has occurred. This fact speaks towards the polarity and disillusionment bred from the strict two-party dominance. It’s become more and more clear that both parties have such a stronghold on the government. Establishing long term political authority throughout the executive and congressional branches. This stronghold of power has peaked in recent years, and this peak is a large contributor towards American politics devolving into a contentious, vapid mess where discussion, agreement, and logical argumentation is diminished. And, where mainstream American political theory and policy have become so red and blue. Americans have become so accustomed to the two-parties that many blindly vote for one side every election. The media has fallen under the shadow of both parties as well. It is no secret that national broadcasted news stations like CNN and FOX News have an inherent bias in the manner in which they cover the news. This is mainly the result of special interest money supporting these broadcasts to keep the parties in control.  Maybe you’ve been at a family reunion and somehow politics is brought up, whether it be the Black Lives Matter movement, Trump’s immigration policies or even COVID-19. You soon witness your family viciously berate one another with no sign of rethinking or self-reflection. It’s an all-out war, and is seen all across our country. 

It is clear there is a correlation to the extreme polarity in between the two parties and the negative outlook on candidates in the 2016 and 2020 elections. That correlation is Donald Trump. Since Trump first shocked the country with his sporadic populist policies and ideas, our democracy was flipped upside down. Since we only have two considerate parties, Trump’s unique right-wing populism ended up completely wiping out the Republican party’s agenda considering Trump ran as a republican. An alternative to this failure in a system, in our opinion, is a multi-party system designed as a parliamentary democracy. Mirroring several governments in European countries, it is much more challenging for one loud and angry party to gain control just from rhetoric. Instead of Trump’s populism taking over an entire party that makes up half of the votes in the U.S., a parliamentary democracy provides a route for the rhetoric to be fueled in a new party. Separating Republicans from Trump supporters and substantially reducing the absolute stronghold they have on the U.S. constitution.

The final cherry on top to complete the argument against the two-party system is the failure of the congressional branch to pass laws that are successful, productive, and are actually passed in time. In 1950, both parties were broad and moderate with overlapping appeals. But in a 1950 report about the American Political Science Association, “Towards a More Responsible Two-Party System” APSA  viewed the Americas political state as two parties that were but loose confederations of state and local parties, incapable of bringing forward coherent programs to the voters, and carrying them out when they got elected. Voters encountered a muddle, and what happened in Washington had little to do with what happened in the ballet box. They wanted two strong and responsible parties that did not overlap too much in political takes. And so, APSA recommended a massive centralization of the two parties, with carefully thought out alternative viewpoints. Turns out, the problem with this idea is the “greater execution.” More definable and coherent parties does not give us executable programs. It creates a stagnation, or a gridlock, if you will. The U.S. government is built on checks and balances in between the individual branches of the government. So when one majority house wants to pass a law, the Senate, which is the majority of the opposite party, vetoes it. This is a fundamental failure embedded in the American system today and is one of the main reasons why the American government is in its current condition.