Soap Box

Failures of the two-party system


Nate Titus


The two-party system in American politics is a joke, a sham and an insult to the very words that make up the phrase themselves. The two-party system in America wasn’t even planned, it simply happened by accident.

Now to be clear, I am not speaking of the two-party system in general; fundamentally, it is a good system and a nice fit for a democracy. George Washington, our first president, didn’t belong to a party because political parties didn’t exist until shortly after his presidency ended. You see, during Washington’s run as president, the first “political party” was forming in the south—the Federalists.

John Adams didn’t run for office under the title Federalist, but he is listed as a Federalist president because he represented that movement in the government; although, the Federalist movement was a bit of a spark for the two-party fire that has burned for centuries.

Adams’ successor, Thomas Jefferson, ran against him for presidency under the banner “Democratic-Republican,” which won him a long term in the Oval Office. Jefferson took these words from the French language, of which he had a fairly strong knowledge of due to his extensive time spent in the country for, shall we say, “personal reasons.”

The term “democratic” implies will of the people, and the term, “republican” implies rule of law. Jefferson’s strategy was brilliant because it caught the attention of the American people. He won that election, but we all lost that day because, little did he know, he began the two-party system in America. Andrew Jackson was elected the first Democratic Party president in 1828.

The two-party system error occurred the day that Jefferson declared his campaign banner as the Democratic-Republican. It’s important to remember, I’m not bashing the two-party system itself. I’m simply dissatisfied with the United States’ current representation of the system.

When Jefferson declared his banner, he was simply creating a form of propaganda to sway voters toward his side of the ballot. What he didn’t realize was that by doing so he had accidently spurred the two-party system as a permanent fixture in the American government. Since then politicians have simply used the titles of Democrat or Republican as a crutch to aid their campaign.

Traditionally, the two-party system should be an easier way for the voters to differentiate between the two candidates that are nominated, as well as an easier way to get the race down to two final candidates. Instead, it has become a way for politicians to say “Pick me if you’re a Republican. He’s a Democrat and they support [insert any controversial topic that might affect the voters’ decision].”

Another way that politicians use the two-party system simply as propaganda could be based on the current president’s party. Some examples would be, “You see the terrible decisions that the president is making? That is because he is a Democrat. We need a true Republican in the Oval Office. Vote for me, and I’ll make the right decisions.” Or, “The president has done a great job so far, an applaud worthy effort. But now that he is through with his second term we need a true Democrat to replace him and continue his work in government. Vote for me.”

Besides the parties simply existing for the purpose of swaying voters, there isn’t an accurate split between the two when it comes to sides of the argument. Finding someone who fills the bill perfectly for either party is extremely rare, if not impossible. The parties have defined sides of influential issues, but no party member stays on their side 100 percent of the time.

The two-party system is an error in and of itself. It’s all about getting votes, self-promotion and tomfoolery.