Two Party System Debate and Poll
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When the Founders of the American republic wrote the U.S. Constitution in 1787, they did not envision a role for political parties in the governmental order. They sought through various constitutional arrangements such as separation of powers, checks and balances, and indirect election of the President by an electoral college to insulate the new governmental order from political parties and factions. In spite of the Founders' intentions, the U.S. was the first nation to develop parties organized on a national basis and to transfer executive power from one faction to another via an election in 1800.
Electoral politics in the United States has been dominated by two political parties since the administration of George Washington; but they have not always been the same two parties. The first opposition was between Federalists and Anti-Federalists--those who supported a strong federal government and those who did not. Leaders of the Federalists were Alexander Hamilton and John Adams. Both were from the Northeast where Federalist sentiment was strongest. Thomas Jefferson became the acknowledged leader of Anti-Federalist sentiment, and by the time of his election to the presidency in 1800 his party was called Democratic Republican.
The development of political parties was closely linked to the extension of the suffrage as property owning qualifications for voting were lifted during the early 1800s. With a vastly expanded electorate, a means was required to mobilize masses of voters. Political parties became institutionalized to accomplish this essential task. Parties in America emerged as a part of this democratic revolution, and by the 1830s were a firmly established part of the political firmament.
Every president since 1856 has been either a Republican or Democrat. Since the 1860s, the Republicans and Democrats have dominated electoral politics. This unrivaled record of the same two parties continuously monopolizing a nation's electoral politics reflects both structural aspects of the political system as well as special features of American parties.
Today, the Republican and Democratic parties totally pervade the political process. Almost two-thirds of Americans consider themselves either Republicans or Democrats, and even those who say that they are independents normally have partisan leanings and exhibit high levels of partisan loyalty. For example, on average 71 percent of Democratic-leaning independents and 79 percent of Republican-leaning independents voted for their preferred party's presidential nominees in the last four presidential elections. It is estimated that only about nine percent of the Americans are "pure independents."
Americans are tired of not having a choice other than what the two parties force down our throats. There's no way to reform the system, when the candidates are part of the system.
The two party system has been one of the linchpins of the stability that characterizes the American political tradition. The major parties are really broadly based coalitions that already represent a great diversity of views. By welcoming many different opinions, the major parties prevent themselves from becoming narrowly based ideological factions. It is just such stability that is envied by the rest of the world and unappreciated by the American electorate.
The two party system filters out the extreme elements. The multi-party allows the extreme, and often destabilizing, elements into the political system. It was not that long ago that the extreme Nazi party gained credibility by being brought into a German coalition government when none of the major parties could gain a clear electoral victory.
It is no coincidence, or accident of history, that The United States has been blessed with political stability, a much sought after ideal in most of the world an unappreciated routine state of affairs in The United States.