University of Memphis

A Call for the Immediate Demise of the Two-Party System by LaDaisha Claybrook @ University of Memphis

Earlier this month, the College Democrats held a Progressive in Politics discussion, which involved local leaders in the Democratic Party. It was your basic liberal discussion, in which panel members told us to vote so that we can take back the house and participate in mobilizing voters, and so on. Honestly, for the most part, I was bored out of my mind. I’ve heard the same thing a thousand times from a thousand different people. It wasn’t until, one student rose up and asked, “What is it going to take for us to fix the Democratic Party,” was my interest piqued. The response was baffling and it was at that moment I decided the Democratic Party is not enough. I am not aligned with the beliefs of the Republican Party, so what party will represent me? Clearly, I can’t be the only one to feel this way or else we wouldn’t have so many voters who voted for Obama and Trump. It’s time to kill the two-party system and make way for the rise of political parties of different spectrums.

In answer to the student’s question, the man on the panel told us there was nothing wrong with the Democratic Party. We just have to vote and take back the house and so on. While I agree, Democrats are in a better position compared to the Republican Party, Democrats should have been in a prolonged state of self-reflection after the 2016 presidential election. Instead, in my opinion, Democrats are depending on Trump to continue polarizing the country in a way that hurts conservatives and benefits liberals. Every time Trump does something controversial, Democrats take it and say this is why we belong in power. Just because Trump and the Republicans suck is not enough reason to vote Democrat. I don’t buy into the whole angry, white male view, but I do think there are a lot of white Americans that felt abandoned by the Democratic Party. Hillary’s “deplorable” comment was almost as bad as her “super predators” comment. I, also, feel that during election cycles Democratic candidates pander to the black vote, temporarily making them feel special, and then forgetting about them once in office. This creates a need for a party that is able to connect to all voters, whether they’re black, white, Hispanic, or Asian. Also, in maintaining the two-party system, we maintain the myth of only 2 viewpoints that matter or that one is right and the other is wrong. I, personally, believe in a revolution, socialism, and the end to white supremacy. Neither party has stated they are for these things, but I know for a fact anyone who lives in an unjust system, anyone who is poor and feels like they can’t break out of their financial situation, or anyone who doesn’t benefit from white privilege could be open to these things. Although I do relate more with the Democratic Party, I like some Republican policies. I feel like the goal is helping people who need it. When it comes to the poor, we can do it with socialist welfare policies or no government, strictly community involved programs. All of this to say, additional parties would incorporate additional viewpoints, even viewpoints already held by Democrats and Republicans. Lastly, both Democrats and Republicans are too polarized. I’m too young to know if this is a new phenomenon or of it has always been this way. I’ve never seen conservative media that was somewhere in the middle. Fox and Breitbart are radical liars that blow every single thing out of proportion. Of course, I’ve never seen it for myself, but as a liberal that’s what I’ve been taught by liberal media. I’m an avid listener to Pod Save America, that’s where I get my news in an entertaining format. A downside to that is they instill a way of thinking in me that could be dangerous. They’re anti-Trump and they’re anti-Republican, so they won’t say anything nice about Trump or Republicans, even if they do something good. As a result, I have nothing nice to say about Trump or Republicans and I can’t think of one good thing they’ve done. This is clearly an issue. If you think of someone as the devil, it’s hard to relate to people who voted for the devil. A new party or parties have the potential to be immune to polarization. If you’re new and upcoming, you don’t have the time to attack other parties, instead you would be reaching out to voters and informing them of your platform.

Picture by Jerry Gantt

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/end-two-party-system-jerry-gantt

6 Comments

  1. George Kantelis

    April 21, 2018 at 11:24 am

    While I agree in principle that we need to rework the party system and perhaps the entire election system on a broader scale, I think you lack a pragmatic argument here.

    The politicians of the Democrat and Republican parties are happy to share the country with each other, and without a massively organized protest, the thought of starting a new party or disbanding the old ones won’t even be considered. Sanders’ open dismay of the Democratic party was the closest thing to convincing a large audience to consider introducing a more balanced cast of political parties, but the momentum around the idea has mostly died down.

    I would like to see some kind of proposal, though. I think most people can agree that polarization is hurting the country and that politicians are using polarization to allocate votes. So with that in mind, how do we fight the two-party system? How do we get more parties off the ground, and how do we convince members of the big two parties to abandon their financial security to pursue a healthier election system for the sake of future generations?

  2. Dominique Kren

    April 24, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    I think that this is a very passionate response to one of the most pervasive problems in American society: the frustrations caused by the faulty two party system. After reading many of the posts from colleagues across the country, it is clear that this is a very common sentiment. I think that this, more than anything, speaks volumes to the state of American society. So often we hear the argument between “the youths” and “the elders” that they know what’s best and we are the problem with society. However, I think through this course it is clear that the problem isn’t an age problem, but rather it is a close-minded problem exhibited on both sides of the aisle. It is clear that the average citizen has had enough, professors and students across the country have come together to look at the problem of the erosion of democracy, however those in power have yet to do anything to affect any positive change. Rather, as you have pointed out, they are trying to wait each other out and hope that the other side messes up enough to push their agenda. However, it seems that there is hope. Through courses like this and the increase of youth led protests such as March for Our Lives, change might finally be on its way.

  3. Erica Garcia

    April 27, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    I like your response, I also think that you bring up true concerns that many liberals have on their minds. I have also considered that we need more parties in order to successfully represent every voter because the two current political parties are restricted by norms. There is that sort of inherent belief that if Republicans win an election than democrats won’t be fully represented. This means that if the republican party wins the concerns of minorities, the black community, and any other group that identifies with the democratic party will not have their concerns considered on the same level as they would if they won. This goes both ways therefore, I understand your aspiration towards seeing a third party arise in order to redefine what it means to represent the American people. I do think that there could be some good in a third party, but there is also a lot of downsides to a multiparty system. For example, as I witnessed with Mexico who does have a multiparty system, the problem is not being represented by a party. The problem is having too many options. This makes it hard when competing for the popular vote because with more competition what usually happens is that the parties struggle with their voices being heard. In Mexico this is currently a huge issue because in my opinion if the country was to limit itself to two parties then I think by the focus being on just two parties any infringement on either side is easier to see. However, if you have multiple parties the blame is sort of dispersed amongst each other because as in Mexico in order to rise over their competitors political parties will often resort to corrupt means in order to secure any political gain. As a result, I am skeptical that a third party could fix the problems of a polarized nation. I would propose that the either the democratic or the republican party redefine themselves and in that way start a new trend that would hopefully lead to a redefined version of a our political parties. When I say redefine I mean that they reevaluate who their target audience and redefine what their purpose is. I think that what is missing is not another option but just good options from the beginning.

  4. Ethan Watson

    April 28, 2018 at 12:23 am

    I have to disagree with you, in that we should scrap the party system replacing it with a socialist system, but I will conceded that is does need reform. I think anyone who isn’t entrenched in the parties can. The problem isn’t that I thin the party system or even the 2 party system is bad; I would say its a matter 2 group polarization driving away from each other more and more. The outliers are screaming louder then the less radical moderates: on the Democratic side there is Antifa a group of radical liberals who protest and often become violent; on the Republican side there is the counter-protesters/Nazis who are known for counter protesting liberal protests and are also known to be violent. These two groups have demonized the other side as you mentioned in your post, and while they are a small group, they both get much more attention by the media and politicians. What the parties need to do is disavow both groups, not say “there are fine people on both sides”, and begin to seek out a more moderate viewpoint, while learning to work on and discuss ideas with those of a different party then yourself. On a more personal note Ladaisha I would recommend Dave Rubin for a moderate viewpoint, and for a conservative viewpoint Ben Shapiro; these men are fantastic orators, and both do great journalism.

  5. Austin Albertson

    April 30, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    The introduction of one or more parties into the American political system is an intriguing proposal to consider, at least theoretically. Your argument, to summarize, suggests that introducing a multitude of viewpoints allows for a heightened level of debate within government and a more accurate source of representation for voters, which are all good things and are hard to argue against. I do think there are some negatives to increased party representation, though, which mainly amounts to a large agency problem. An advantage of the two-party system is that, while it may anger voters, it is somewhat predictable. Representatives and Senators will toe their party lines frequently, providing added importance to who controls a voting majority in each chamber. This predictability, while not without its faults, makes political wrangling amongst representatives easier; all it takes is one vote to flip to change the outcome of a proposition. In a case with multiple parties, there is much more compromising, deal-making, and political positioning necessary to attain a majority to pass a bill, seeing as all three parties will be in opposition to each other. While the nature of compromise usually tends to benefit the whole, it does take longer. Therefore, I think there is reason to believe that the agency problems of a multi-party system could further slow an already crawling Congress. I also believe that the introduction of a multi-party system in unlikely due to the entrenchment of campaign contributors and the need for financing to run large-scale campaigns. It would take a major break from a significant voter base, including those with wealth to donate, to support the rise of a third, or perhaps even fourth party in the U.S., and I simply don’t foresee that happening. Ultimately, I think a multi-party system in the U.S. would be an interesting concept to explore. If we were to have such a system, I think its most likely that a center-focused party is the most likely third-party option, especially as the Democrats and Republicans drift farther and farther apart.

  6. Dobromir Kehayov

    November 2, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with your point that American politics is focused too much on the two party system and that both party see themselves as being able to do no wrong while at the same time being anti-other party to the extreme. It makes it seem like an endless race of one party just trying to get a leg up on the other. At the same time, there are many other parties like the Libertarian party that just aren’t given the light of day because it’s third in a two horse race. Most members in both parties often do not completely agree with the party’s ideals or candidate but still choose them anyway. For all they know, there could be another unknown party that better fits their interest but they don’t choose them because 1. They don’t know it exists or 2. They have no faith that voting for them will make an impact in the grand scheme of things because of how little support they get compared to Dems/Repubs. I think expanding to have multiple parties be given a fair chance would be better. Perhaps not too many to saturate votes but also enough for various people to have choices is the wise move. The question then becomes, how can citizens make this happen in our political system? In America’s history for the most part it has always been a two party race, with one of the two succeeding and the way voting is set up, it would be difficult to get away from that. It would take a lot of effort from all citizens in the country to make it a reality, which begs the question is it possible and how?

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