The Two-Party System

Same topic, opposing views

By Tim Baldwin & Joe Carbonari

By Tim Baldwin

On June 30, 2014, Gallup released a poll that showed that Americans have lower confidence in all three branches of the federal government since 1991. I believe Americans’ discontent with politics fundamentally derives from both our political and legal systems. We have the power to change it though.

Politics are controlled by the Republican and Democratic parties, not because they are superior but because election laws make third-party success nearly impossible. Additionally, our constitutions prevent proportional representation. So, say 20 percent of the people voted for a third-party candidate; those people would not have a person in office to represent their interests – ever. Instead, the current one-seat-district system puts all power in one political party and that party will always be either Republican or Democrat.

As it is, we are forced to pigeonhole our political beliefs into two parties that cannot possibly represent the diversity and complexity of our diverse society. This forces candidates to give themselves to the “government-sanctioned” parties instead of the people, and forces people to vote for the “lesser evil” or else never have a vote that counts.

Americans are smarter than perpetually supporting a political duopoly.


By Joe Carbonari

Our national government is not serving us well. Some have suggested that it is our two-party system that must be changed – that we would be much better off with a multi-party system as many other western democracies have. Perhaps so, but I’m not yet convinced.

Our problem is not the lack of opportunity for expressing varied and dissenting lines of thought; rather we can’t resolve our differences in viewpoint and reach sufficiently productive courses of action. Separating into formalized parties representing these various strains of thought might well cause greater divisiveness and an even less compromise-conducive atmosphere.

The concessions made by the major parties to hold their “extremes” might further radicalize them, worsening gridlock – an exacerbation of the problem we have now. Or it just might lead to a marginalization of them, vocal but ineffective, as the major parties were left with their more centrist, establishment cores – more willing perhaps, and able, to find rational trade-offs and cooperation.

For the present, we have what we have, and we are what we are. Regardless of the system, we need to be more knowledgeable, more involved, and more frank. We do not have enough true give-and-take, frank, political discussion on either issues or candidates. What passes for political discourse tends to be shallow, solicitous, and self-serving. Let’s think it through and say it straight.