The death of the two-party system? Unlikely

Is the two-party system dying? 

As an individual who so desperately wishes it would, I'm here to offer you a resounding and emphatic... No.

Why? Didn't the founding fathers despise political parties? Didn't George Washington consider political parties the enemy of democracy? Well, yes. Alexander Hamilton called political parties "a most fatal disease", James Madison denounced parties lest we fall victim to the "violence of faction'', Washington feared overly successful parties would create "frightful despotism". 

So to understand why the two-party system endures, we must first understand how we ended up with them in the first place. 

The first reason is because parties facilitate collective representation. Parties consolidate collective interests into a single, cohesive message for citizens to ask things of the government. 

The second reason is simplicity. Outside of individual candidates, each party has a centralized platform. This ensures that even if one knew nothing about particular candidates, a reasonable decision could be made by voting along party lines. 

Overall, parties streamline the government's operational capabilities. 

Why two, though?

In the majority of its gubernatorial, congressional and state legislative elections, America uses a system called single member district plurality, which means that each election produces only one winner. This is almost always a Republican or a Democrat. It is almost never a third-party candidate. Candidates and supporters recognize this, so they align with major parties rather than creating a third. Likewise, the major parties seek to appeal to broad factions to maximize electability. Both major parties have shown an ability to adapt and to stretch to accommodate populists like Trump and Sanders rather than splintering. 

So, now that we understand why it exists, let's explore why it won't die.

First, most simply stated, is money. Donors and lobbyists want predictable outcomes and there is little incentive to back newcomers. It is simply a more sound investment to back a major party player. This system establishes constraints that go a long way toward preventing modern alternative parties like the Green Party or the Libertarian Party from gaining popularity, and encourages independent-minded politicians like Senator Sanders to caucus with the Democrats despite asserting a socialist identity. 

Second is human nature. Our inordinate need of routine. We crave it, it provides structure and meaning to our lives. When disrupted, we become uneasy, agitated even. The simple truth is, without routine we become easily overwhelmed. One might even say we, as humans, fear change; that we actively fight against it, even if it might be good for us. 

Our combined need for simplicity and routine make the two party system's endurance an inevitability. Just like donors and lobbyists want predictable outcomes and maximum return on investments, so too, do we. 

In short, the two party system exists and will continue to exist because both we and the major parties need it. It provides routine and stability and simplicity in the voting process for us and predictable and controllable outcomes for lobbyists. 

It's not all bad, though. The major parties' need to remain the political giants they are ensures that they are ever changing and evolving. 

Those of you who yearn for change instead of running from it, it is happening, just in a way that is quiet and palatable to the masses.

Is the two-party system dying? 

As an individual who so desperately wishes it would, I'm here to offer you a resounding and emphatic... No. 

Why? Didn't the founding fathers despise political parties? Didn't George Washington consider political parties the enemy of democracy? Well, yes. Alexander Hamilton called political parties "a most fatal disease", James Madison denounced parties lest we fall victim to the "violence of faction'', Washington feared overly successful parties would create "frightful despotism". 

So to understand why the two-party system endures, we must first understand how we ended up with them in the first place. 

The first reason is because parties facilitate collective representation. Parties consolidate collective interests into a single, cohesive message for citizens to ask things of the government. 

The second reason is simplicity. Outside of individual candidates, each party has a centralized platform. This ensures that even if one knew nothing about particular candidates, a reasonable decision could be made by voting along party lines. 

Overall, parties streamline the government's operational capabilities. 

Why two, though?

In the majority of its gubernatorial, congressional and state legislative elections, America uses a system called single member district plurality, which means that each election produces only one winner. This is almost always a Republican or a Democrat. It is almost never a third-party candidate. Candidates and supporters recognize this, so they align with major parties rather than creating a third. Likewise, the major parties seek to appeal to broad factions to maximize electability. Both major parties have shown an ability to adapt and to stretch to accommodate populists like Trump and Sanders rather than splintering. 

So, now that we understand why it exists, let's explore why it won't die.

First, most simply stated, is money. Donors and lobbyists want predictable outcomes and there is little incentive to back newcomers. It is simply a more sound investment to back a major party player. This system establishes constraints that go a long way toward preventing modern alternative parties like the Green Party or the Libertarian Party from gaining popularity, and encourages independent-minded politicians like Senator Sanders to caucus with the Democrats despite asserting a socialist identity. 

Second is human nature. Our inordinate need of routine. We crave it, it provides structure and meaning to our lives. When disrupted, we become uneasy, agitated even. The simple truth is, without routine we become easily overwhelmed. One might even say we, as humans, fear change; that we actively fight against it, even if it might be good for us. 

Our combined need for simplicity and routine make the two party system's endurance an inevitability. Just like donors and lobbyists want predictable outcomes and maximum return on investments, so too, do we. 

In short, the two party system exists and will continue to exist because both we and the major parties need it. It provides routine and stability and simplicity in the voting process for us and predictable and controllable outcomes for lobbyists. 

It's not all bad, though. The major parties' need to remain the political giants they are ensures that they are ever changing and evolving. 

Those of you who yearn for change instead of running from it, it is happening, just in a way that is quiet and palatable to the masses.

Posted 
September 14, 2020
 in 

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