There is a wonderful article by Kristen Eberhard that outlines how little the two-party system represents most Americans. Ms. Eberhard points out that:
Independents—people who don’t identify with one of the two major parties—are the biggest and fastest-growing group of US voters. At last count, 40 percent of Americans considered themselves independent. The same is true in Cascadia: in Washington, an estimated 44 percent of registered voters identify as independent; in Oregon, one-third of registered voters are not registered Democrat or Republican. The trend is even more stark among younger Americans: nearly half of millennials consider themselves independent…
The United States’ archaic winner-take-all voting system allows the candidate with the most votes to win the whole election, even if he or she does not win a majority of the votes. Third-party candidates are almost always doomed to fail…
The article goes into much more detail on how the system could be fixed. This article was written in April 2016, before the results of the election. Given how polarized the electorate has become following the election, it’s that much more clear that there needs to be a political refresh.
One reality that’s become abundantly clear is that there is no monolithic Democratic party, just as there is no monolithic Republican party. They might vote in-step (sometimes), but Donald Trump couldn’t be more politically different from, say, Dean Heller, just as Jared Polis couldn’t be more different than Maxine Waters. Could they work together? Yes. But why do these wildly different representatives need to be handcuffed to each other?
When you work within a party that routinely works against your constituents’ interests, you are in an impossible situation. But imagine, at the very least, splits within the major parties. Tradition aside, isn’t in clear that there are at least 4 (and probably more) major parties in the USA? Put extremely simply:
- There are Alt-Right Republicans. The populist, Donald Trump supporting social conservatives. They don’t care so much about traditional conservative issues.
- There are the Traditional Republicans. The party of Reagan and the first George Bush.
- There are the Liberal Democrats. The new folks who are shaking things up. Maxine Waters, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders. They are going to push for progressive social causes.
- There are the Traditional Democrats. More moderate, these are the folks who sit in the centre. Dianne Feinstein, Joe Biden, etc.
And of course you also have Libertarians, Greens, and a variety of Independents.
A system of at least 4 parties means more representatives can vote with their conscience. It means compromise. It means real checks and balances. It means working together to create a more equitable election, with fewer gerrymandered districts – essentially keeping each other honest.
Multiple parties moderates extreme policies, but it also pushes more traditional politicians to be forward-thinking. It challenges the establishment, and puts new voices in the House and the Senate.
Obviously, it’s a lot more complicated than this. Obviously there are more factions in the Republican and Democratic parties, and obviously my summaries are extremely simplistic. But the two-party system is horrible and broken and doesn’t represent the vast majority of Americans. I think we can all agree that it’s time for something different.