Running Head. PARTIES
Name: Andrew Green
Course: POL 201
Why America has two political parties
The American political system is unique in a way in the sense that only two parties dominate the political space .Indeed since 1852 there have been only Republican or Democrat candidate in the top two presidential election except in 1909 when Theodore Roosevelt ran as a third party candidate and came second. This aspect remained with the two parties dominating not only presidential elections but also other elections. Indeed according to experts “And before the Republican Party and the Democratic Party were the two major parties, the Democratic Party and the Whig Party were. Before that matchup, the Democratic Party and the National Republican Party were the dominant two. And before that? The Democratic-Republicans and the Federalists reigned”(Blake, 2016, 4).
Smaller parties thus have been small players only showing up occasionally .This concept has also been witnessed in Congress where few representatives have been elected from third parties. In the current political environment Senator Berne Sanders remains the only senator to have been elected as an independent. However the irony is that he has been running for presidency under Democratic party. This according to experts this situation has been as a result of the design of the American political system.
Thus according to experts this system exists because “the U.S. political system is set up for two major parties, because it awards seats in Congress and the presidency with a winner-take-all method. Candidates running for Congress need only to get a plurality of the vote to be elected. In 48 of 50 states, presidential candidates get all of a state’s electoral votes — the way in which presidents are elected, state by state — as long as they win a plurality of the vote in that state” ( Blake , 2016, 6). This aspect was subsequently explained by French sociologist Maurice Diverge who advanced the Duverger law. The law states that the two party political system is possible since “third parties can’t compete because there is no prize for winning, for example, 15 or even 25 percent of the vote. This leads voters to choose candidates who are most likely to win, and it leads the parties to try to broaden their appeal to half of the electorate — and ideally more” ( Blake, 7).
This aspect is further compounded by the fact that the two dominant political parties have already established roots and will often frustrate any third party candidate making it hard for third political parties to win an election and to remain relevant. Indeed the existence of electoral votes further complicates the political process and system a concept that makes hard for independent parties to win any election. This aspect makes it hard for new parties to run an election and only rich and wealthy people have demonstrated ability to run as independents.
Thus America has two part political system due a combination structural factors notably single member districts and winner take all elections. This aspects make it hard for new political parties to challenge existing two dominant parties. With a winner take it all, a third party may find it hard to win election a concept that forces less dominant parties to compete in any election.
Why do many Americans abstain from partisan politics.
Over the years Americans have become frustrated by the existing status quo in regards to party politics .Indeed a growing body of knowledge from research has established that many Americans are abstaining from party politics with a growing number identifying themselves as independent. Indeed according to a study conducted indeed “In one of America’s largest-ever investigation of the electorate, where 8,000 Americans were interviewed, two out of three Americans have had it, despaired over political divisions and disengaged from politics. With a 1% margin of error, the demographically balanced research found that only 8% of Americans can be called die-hard Democrats (Progressive Activists) and 25% are hard-core Republicans (Devoted Conservatives and Traditional Conservatives)”(Corbin, 2020, 8).
Indeed in a number of studies it was established that a number of Americans felt that the existing issues affecting parties were not common to their held value or value system. In this case the constant mudslinging and party politics as well as representation did not present or advance the American values. Indeed parties have been increasingly been used to wage ideologies that can be considered to be unacceptable.
According to Corbin (2020) “The country is split on a range of major issues (immigration, white privilege, international trade, climate change, national security, xenophobia, feminism, DACA, guns, health rights, LGBTQ rights, and so on). Members of the Exhausted Majority are fed up with the polarization infesting American government and society. They are flexible in their views and willing to endorse different policies rather than kowtowing to a single political party. They believe bipartisanship is necessary and expect the same from their elected delegates”(8). Thus with this understanding many people are constantly identifying as independents and refusing to be drawn in party politics. They also dear the dangerous ideologies advanced by part politics.
What role should political parties play in America ,What role res do they play
Political parties are entities or institutions comprising of individuals with shared ideologies and values. Indeed parties in any country are the pillars of democracy and are responsible for participating in elections, through their members and leaders. In this case political parties have a role to play in participating in democratic processes such as election. They are supposed or required to legislate and advance policies aimed at improving the life’s of the citizenry and for the common interest of the country.
Thus political parties are expected to “Select Candidates. Political parties nominate candidates for political office. They narrow the field from a multitude of wannabes to a manageable few credible candidates. This simplifies the voters’ role and brings a certain order to what could be a chaotic electoral process,…Mobilize Voters. Political parties inform and energize their members. They send out brochures, run media campaigns, knock on doors, and call voters on the phone. …Facilitate Governance. Parties also bring order to the process of policymaking. As party members, individual politicians have a ready-made group of allies that will usually cooperate with their efforts to pass and implement legislation. They are also expected to “Monitor the Opposing Party in Power. Parties also serve as critical watchdogs for the public. The adversarial relationship between the major parties ensures that the party out of power (not in possession of the presidency) will keep a close eye on its opponent and notify the public of any wrongdoing or policy misstep”(Shmoop, 2020, 3).
In the US political parties still play the same role but in most cases they have been accused of advancing their own self interest other than those of the whole country irrespective of party lines. While political parties were supposed to participate in subsequent elections and to advance their ideologies which are aimed at improving the lives of Americans, the parties have become symbols of disunity with allegiance to parties superseding national interests. This is a serious issues that poses serious implications to the principles of democracy advanced by America
Do you think America would be better served with a weaker party system perhaps with more that one party.
The existence of two dominant political parties in the US political systems has been criticized with critics advocating for more parties or multi part system. I strongly believe this should be the case due to a number of reason. The existence of two political party system has over the years divided the country into two groups that is the traditional religious groups in rural areas and regions who hold particular values often seen to progress white supremacist and the Cosmopolitan group with wide raging ideologies. This concept has over the years exposed the American democracy and created divisions in the country. While at any time allegiance should be to the US Constitution and the federal nations , the divergence ideologies have created divisions in the country a concept that threatens the very existence of the country. In this case with many political parties it would be possible for individuals to relate to different parties and not just two .This can diffuse the existing challenges and conflicts between the groups.
Indeed according to experts “Having more than just two viable parties would do more than provide an outlet for frustrated libertarians, socialists, or anti-Trump conservatives. Even if you don’t agree with any of the parties that are likely to emerge in a multi-party system, having more of them could improve our politics in subtle ways that go well beyond our choices in a presidential election” (Schmitt, 2016, 2).
It’s to be understood that “the basic failure of American politics is its rigidity — we’re locked into two distinct camps, divided not just by ideology but by region, race, cultural identity, and to some extent, gender. For the most part, each conflict of policy and identity breaks along exactly the same lines. Each camp is armed with more than enough money and unshakable strongholds in certain states and branches of government. There’s no room for compromise” (Schmitt,2016, 5)Thus, with many political parties the concept of party affiliated policies and lobbying would be a thing of the past. Indeed experts agree that with many political parties the political divide being witnessed today in the country would be a thing of the past. Imperatively it would be easy to address issues affecting Americans without adopting retrogressive political ideologies and stands.
To understand the effect of two party politics Abeshouse (2017) opines “Americans may be as divided over politics today as they were in the lead up to the Civil War of the 1860s. In Washington, DC, hardly a day passes without Democrats and Republicans accusing the other party of betraying the nation and its core values. Around the country, partisan allegiances are fracturing relationships at the level of the family, neighborhood and community. Religious congregations are coming apart over politics. So are marriages. Partisan rancor worsened after the April release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation of President Donald Trump and whether his campaign cooperated with the Russians in the 2016 presidential race. According to a recent poll, 68 percent of Republicans believe that the Mueller report cleared Trump, but only eight percent of Democrats feel the same way” (6).
Thus in light of the issues and challenges posed by the two party system especially in polarizing the nation and the many challenges caused by the politics such as mudslinging , ideological differences, policy limitations, gerrymandering among others it’s evident that America can only be better served by a multi party system. Based on evidence and recent happening the increasing polarization of the country due to political alignment .This alignments have been made possible by the existence of political parties that are focused on selfish interest rather than the interests of the country. Imperatively the parties have advanced the concept of racism as different races and ethnicities align to particular party.
Abeahouse, B (2020). The Disunited States: How partisan politics is polarising the US. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2019/8/2/the-disunited-states-how-partisan-politics-is-polarising-the-us
Blake, A(2016, April 11). Why are there only two parties in American politics?. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/04/27/why-are-there-only-two-parties-in-american-politics/
Corbin, S (2020). Most Americans are politically exhausted. Here’s how they can change Retrieved from https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2020/02/20/politically-exhausted-americans-majority-bipartisanship/4800603002/
Shmoop (2020). Role of political parties. Retrieved from https://www.shmoop.com/study-guides/civics/political-parties/role-political-parties