It’s Time for the United States to Eliminate the Two-Party System
It’s how we got ourselves into this mess — and it’s the only way out.
The United States needs to eliminate the two-party system.
In fact, that seems to be one of the only things that the two parties can sometimes agree on — that the parties don’t represent us as people.
Some may disagree. But let me lead you into the tangled web that we call the two-party system — the fractured reality that has pulled us into the mess of 2020. By this point, if we had just realized our mistakes and been able to rectify them earlier, we could have saved thousands of lives, millions of jobs, mountains of money and debt, and a lot of people’s mental health. But, alas, we are stuck in this nightmare, and it’s up to us to figure out how to come back from it.
The US was not always a two-party system.
It’s true that for most parts of history, Democrats and Republicans have been two of the most prominent parties. In fact, throughout most of history, they’ve been the majority, and they’ve been the critical ones listed on the ballot. But not always. And even when it was a two-party system, Democrats and Republicans weren’t always the ones leading it. In the very beginning, it was the Federalists versus the Democratic-Republican party. In the 19th century, parties like the Whigs and the Know-Nothings became staples of the political time period and created a legacy that most of us still learn about in American history.
But even so, even if the United States had thrived as a two-party system for most of its history, that’s just it — it’s history. Right now, we are living in a completely different time period. There aren’t thirteen colonies anymore — there’s fifty states. There’s a deadly pandemic that’s flipped our worlds upside-down. There are human rights issues that are more hotly debated now than they have ever been in the past. There are millions more citizens now than there were when our country was first founded. And the stakes are a lot higher now.
And sure, there’s the Green Party and the Libertarian party and (depending on the state) maybe a couple of others. But does anyone really vote for those guys? I mean, I say that facetiously, but truly. I can count on one hand the amount of people that I know that have actually voted Green or Libertarian in the past. Most people, even if their political ideologies are libertarian or independent or align more with another party, they vote either Democrat or Republican because when they don’t, they’re accused of throwing away their vote. Especially in 2020, there is propaganda all over the Internet, with hashtags like #settleforbiden and posts that scream, A vote for third-party is a vote for Trump! or A write-in vote is a vote for Trump! And yes, I concede that in these particular circumstances, any sort of third-party or write-in vote is not necessarily a proactive way of using our voice as voters. But it’s also pretty unfair that that’s our reality.
Politics revolve more around social issues than ever.
Politics didn’t used to be so socially-oriented. Human rights, although always affected by politics, were not always so directly part of political platforms. But now, in an era of immigration rights, reproductive rights, police brutality, systemic racism, and more, we’re bringing all of these social issues to the forefront and refusing to let politics ignore their existence. Personally, I’m totally on board with this decision. For decades, we have failed to realize truly how much privilege, government, and politics is influential on human rights, and it’s time that we make that a crucial element of civic involvement. But in doing that, the two-party system gets just a little bit more complicated.
Most people describe politics as a spectrum — the far-right conservatives, Republicans, Independents, Democrats, and then the far-left liberals. Seeing politics as a spectrum is, perhaps, one step in the right direction — at least we’re no longer expecting our political identities to fit some sort of rigid formula. But it’s also getting arguably more irrelevant. Because some people’s position on the political spectrum on social vs. economic issues differ greatly.
As someone who identifies as a strong liberal, I can say that I believe that economics and social politics are undeniably intertwined, and that one affects the other profoundly. But not everyone is successful in seeing the link between the two, and thus, we are left with a disconnect.
For example, I have a friend who is a pit of a political anomaly. He’s gay, so he’s super into LGBTQ+ rights. He is fiercely pro-choice. He supports immigrants. He supports the Black Lives Matter movement and the defunding of the police. He supports education reform.
But he hates the idea of raising taxes for the rich, and opposes it without fail. He likes the right to own a gun and refuses to believe that guns are responsible for some of our country’s deep-rooted issues. He doesn’t see the functionality of universal healthcare, although he supports people receiving healthcare, he just doesn’t like how socialist universal healthcare sounds. He is staunchly capitalist.
And herein lies the disconnect.
Now, what is my friend? A Democrat or a Republican? A Libertarian? Well, no, because he thinks the government should step in and defund the police. An independent? Sure, maybe. But where does that leave him?
Where does that leave all of the other people out there who are like him?
The two-party system is failing us.
That’s why we’re in this position. We are under the assumption that all of our views need to align well with the views of our chosen party. But that’s just not achievable. There are socially liberal people who are fiscally conservative and vice versa. There are millions of people in this country, and each one has a distinct philosophy of how this world should work. Sometimes there’s no space for everyone on the spectrum because mix-and-matching political ideologies between parties is not usually viewed as an acceptable thing to do.
I know kindhearted Republicans who hated Trump and disagreed with him but still voted for him in 2016 out of loyalty to their party. I know Democrats who despise Joe Biden with everything they have and are still voting for him in this election. I know conservatives who realize all of Trump’s faults, but, due to their attachment to one specific ideology of the Republican Party, are having trouble setting aside their morals from their political principles and voting for Biden. I know people who struggle to vote for Biden because their morals do not align with their political principles (like, they may agree with his party, but they are bothered by the fact that he’s been accused of sexual assault, for instance).
So how did we get here?
Answer: the two-party system.
What if we voted on policies instead of candidates? What if we voted according to our morals and personal beliefs rather than just loyalty to a party? Why are we holding ourselves to this old-fashioned system? Our country is almost 250 years old. A lot has changed since its birth. It’s time that finally, we accommodate that change and help build a better government to represent who we are.
There’s a variety of ways to eliminate the two-party system. I don’t know enough about politics to weigh in on which one would be most effective, but we do have a plethora of options — handing more power to the states, voting issue-by-issue rather than by candidate, eliminating the electoral college once and for all, even creating more parties and ensuring that they’re on the ballot, changing the political spectrum into more than just a straight line, incorporating more social issues into party identities, and encouraging the government to abandon two-party ideals and campaign for change, not principles.
It will take some time to do, and it’ll be a while before we can truly see the positive changes that this will make in our society. But it’s long overdue. It’s time now that we realize the consequences of staying tied to tradition.
It starts now.