Omar A. Obreggon Cuebas
The two-party political system in the United States is dying. The time for an upheaval of our current political system is now. With the voter turnout in the United States 2016 presidential election was the lowest in 20 years with 55 percent of eligible voters voting. If we take Democracy seriously then we should abolish the two-party system, as it constrains our choices to a limited political spectrum.
The two party system essentially forces voters to choose between the Democratic party and the Republican party. While this may make it easier to choose candidates, there is little to no chance that major partisan issues will be addressed at all. This is due not only to voter decisions, but also due to the inability for an incredibly partisan House and Senate to make any real decisions for the good of the nation.
Many felt that the last election was a decision between two evils. Allowing for third parties to have the same access to ballots and respect that other affiliated parties may have would allow for more options. Having greater access to different political could allow for greater participation from voters. Those who feel disenchanted with the current political establishment would be more inclined to vote then for a third party, rather than simply not voting at all.
A society ruled by two parties is not democratic. While there are major differences between the Democratic and Republican parties, they cannot possibly cover a wide enough political range to satisfy a country as large as the United States. Streamlining the process of making a political party valid and available on the ballots would allow Americans to have a more authentic form of democracy which serves more voices and ideals.
Democracy should be defined by the needs of the people. In recent years, it has become apparent that the two parties do not fit these needs. With 42 percent of Americans identifying as independent, it shows that a large swath of our society believes the two parties cannot represent them. The low voter turnout further shows how little the people of the country believe they are not accurately represented by the two parties. Yet, we continue to hold onto this notion that a two party system is what’s right for America.
The two party system forces for there to be eternal intra-party struggle. Progressive Democrats wouldn’t have to be held back by the neoliberal wing of the party. Tea-Party Republicans could be just the tea party. There are factions within the two major parties and these factions would benefit from being able to split and form their own parties and platforms. Splitting parties may sound negative, but it allows for parties to be unified. This would allow for less intra-party issues to occur as they often pan out between differing party factions.
Candidates with political positions differing from the two parties can emerge may then also have more institutional support. Politicians pushing for non-mainstream positions would better be able to rally around their positions and force their issues to be heard, rather than allowing the big issues to fall away from the forefront of whichever of the two parties resonates with it the most.
Perhaps then, popular candidates like Bernie Sanders would not have to fight tooth and nail within their own party to be respected. He could be part of a legitimate political party that stands behind him. Polls and data indicate that Sanders is well liked among the American public. In our two party system he faced Hillary Clinton who was well backed by the Democratic party, and was forced out of the race after the Democratic primary elections ended.
In a multi-party system Sanders would not be going against Clinton in the primary elections, but rather in the general election as part of a different party. Worthy political opponents should not be shut out from being able to compete just because they are not supported by the two main parties.
We cannot claim to have a well functioning representative democracy when the representative choices are both seen as terrible choices. We cannot continue to allow for our Democratic choices to be restricted. The dualistic American political system should end.