The two-party system

Annabelle Stewart, Staff Writer

America was built on the basis of freedom. A freedom that originally allowed its people to choose a president from the masses, instead of the few options that we see today. Though we have more than just two political parties, America is held captive under a two-party system that drowns out the voices of those who don’t fall within either of the “majorities.”

The first President of the United States of America, George Washington, wished to avoid the clash that such a system would create. In his farewell address, he states ”However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” But the early Americans still enacted such a system. The main purpose of these parties is nowhere near the agenda in which we follow today. Instead the parties fought over the interpretation of the constitution. More specifically, what should be declared constitutional or not, and what powers the government should be allowed to have within the young country.

During Washington’s Presidency, America was a much smaller country when it came to the world power it held. It was run under the Federalists, and Democratic-Republicans. The biggest issues between these parties had to do majorly with the interpretation of the Constitution and what direction the new country should move in.

This system slowly evolved into the complex one that we see today, one in which each party has its own viewpoints with little to no common ground. The choice that Americans have between one or the other suppresses the true ideas behind the democracy that the country strives to be.

A true democracy involves the people having a voice over every area of government. But in the system America is currently operating in only allows Americans to choose between a select handful of predisposed people. Even then, only about 61% of Americans show up to vote on such officials, as shown in the 2016 election. This means that the elected officials only had to receive a total of 31% of all Americans to vote for them in order to take office. These numbers are even smaller for local elections, with only 27% of eligible voters participating in municipal elections. Many people report not voting because they did not like the candidates that dominated the two-party system.

Voting is a foundation for the democracy in which we live; it has allowed us to grow and change despite the challenges that the system withholds. It may sometimes feel as if there is no good choice when it comes to elected officials. Two options do not allow variance or different perspectives than the ones that the American people have followed for years. The decision of who our nation will put it’s trust in for the next four years may be suffocating at some points, however, the bubble you fill out on a ballot at some point in your life will matter more than you can think. In this system it is up to you, the people, to decide on the lesser of two great evils.

Other countries have been able to successfully fight the underrepresentation of the two-party system, like Germany, who follow a multi-party system. This allows people to vote freely without feeling suppression from the larger parties. However, this might not be a possibility for America due to the large amount of supporters on each side. Instead, the state of Maine follows a system of ranked voting. This allows voters to choose who they most and least support, on a scale. Initially, one would think that this system would still suppress the smaller parties. But, with this system, voters will no longer be scared for their vote to be “thrown away”. Instead, if the person that they have ranked as their most supported receives the lowest percentage of votes, they will be removed from the ballot and their vote will be counted as the candidate they have ranked second. Since this system is already enacted within America, it would be an easy switch to promote this way of voting on a national level.

The two-party system only gives power to those in the “majority”