|The symbols of the "Two Party System"|
Before entering into an impassioned rant, let me disclaim: I do appreciate certain liberties the two-party system grants me that I would not receive under a one-party system, or dictatorship. I quite enjoy being able to voice my opinions, as I am doing now. That being said, simply because it is preferable to some other systems, does not mean it has no flaws.
It is this two-party system which perpetuates ad hominem attacks, the hampering of free exchange of ideas, an uninformed public voting strictly along party lines—essentially, not only narrowed choices, but narrowed thinking.
On all sides of the political spectrum, thirst for change has manifested itself. It’s been apparent especially in the past few years, with a little known candidate Barack Obama incessantly promising fundamental “change” in the nation and the seemingly sudden rebirth of the Tea Party movement— both of which were the result of grasssroots, anti-establishment movements.
It’s obvious: the status quo is flawed, broken, failing to solve many of today’s most pressing issues, from healthcare to foreign policy despite the deceiving short-term fixes it seems to offer.
All the time we see Republican and Democratic candidates alike alleging certain principles and making myriad campaign promises, only to become slaves to compromise and special interest groups upon entering office. Furthermore, the American voting populace continues to choose congressional and presidential candidates along party lines because no viable alternative exists in their eyes, and it seems increasingly difficult to advocate an alteration of the status quo as it becomes more and more an idiosyncrasy of our country.
But why is this ossified two-party system so American? What makes it indispensable?
Our Founding Fathers foresaw the dangers of such a system. John Adams said, “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”
Perhaps the most famous adversary of political parties, George Washington, presented some surprisingly accurate predictions about the outcome of political parties, or “factions” as Alexander Hamilton labeled them.
He explained that they inevitably “serve always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration,” and “sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.”
But bringing it back once more to today: it seems that regardless of possible alternatives both new and old, the two-party system has been adopted as an American ideal.
As Santa Rosa High School’s AP Government textbook says, “Once established, human institutions are likely to become self-perpetuating. So it has been with the two-party system.... Most Americans accept the idea of a two party system simply because there has always been one.” Apparently such explanation suffices for the American people.
Sadly enough, it seems there is no bright light at the end of the tunnel to solve the issue, and many, like myself, will continue to be forced to vote for less than ideal candidates. Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
With that, a toast to party lines: Mitt Romney 2012.