Two Parties: Two Americas

From the election period to the inauguration, the divide in America has been continuously highlighted. Even within the Republican Party, a rift seems to have formed. According to a poll from Politico, only about 53 percent of Republicans and Republican-supporting independents would support Donald Trump in the 2024 primary election. But if the main split in America is due to the two parties, how did America end up with such a system? 

The Founding Fathers’ intention was that no party should have a majority in the government. The majority would oppress the minority, especially when in a position of power, and this would devolve into conflict. The Founding Fathers wanted to have many factions separated by differing views to prevent the formation of a large party. Unfortunately, once a large group did form, the only way to prevent a majority party from taking power was to have a competitor do the same. Now, very large political parties attempt to appeal to a large group of people at the same time to gain their support, solely to have more power than the opposing party. 

The Founding Fathers were relatively successful in preventing a single majority party from forming, except for the fact that it resulted in two majority parties instead. Furthermore, these political parties are mostly static; the only times where political parties break apart or change is when a large event unites a significant majority of the people. An example of such an event was the Great Depression, which ended the Republican streak and caused the Democratic party to return as a majority party.

The Problem of Having Two Parties

Our current two-party system is detrimental to our country, as the two parties are stuck engaging with each other in deadlock. The two majority parties are afraid of the other gaining a majority, and therefore the parties are unable to change their views in fear of losing their current supporters. This deadlock also trickles down to lesser “third” parties who don’t have enough support to be elected in positions of power. The small percentage of voters supporting them are encouraged to vote for the larger parties, as their votes will have a stronger impact. It is impossible for a third party to compete against them.

Political parties try to appeal to a large general audience by having a broad viewpoint on key subjects, while only having to eliminate contradictory views. A voter is presented with two choices on a given subject, usually split along major political parties supportive of or against it.  A voter may not completely agree with a certain political party, but there are enough shared views to not vote for the opposition.

The root of the problem lies in the electoral college system, where the majority winner in each state receives all of the electoral votes from the state. The electoral votes are important as the presidential candidate will need to win more electoral votes than their opponents to be elected as president. Therefore the winning strategy is to simply get the majority of votes in the states with the most electoral votes. To win elections, candidates don’t have to win over their constituency; they instead grow their political party until it becomes the majority.

A Vote Out

The deadlock is only so powerful because voters have only one vote. The United Kingdom has a voting system called the “alternative vote” where voters can number their 

alternative candidates. In case their first candidate that they are supporting has no chance of winning, they can still support other candidates. To encourage voters to vote outside of the two parties, voters must feel that their votes will still have an impact on the outcome of an election. Otherwise, voting for a third party is simply “throwing away one’s vote.” Our current electoral system must be fixed, and incorporating a third party into the mainstream can fill the gaping hole between the two main parties.

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