Perhaps one of the most unique features of how politics works in the United States is the two-party system. On one side there is the Republican Party. On the other end, there is the Democratic Party. While there are other political organizations that exist in the United States, only the two mentioned gets any real attention on a national scale, mainly because it has been that way for as long as any of us can remember.
For years, there have been organizations and independent individuals who have tried to break the two-party system to introduce their own brand of politics. Texan Ross Perot ran for president in 1992 and 1996 and received 19% and 8.5% of the total number of votes respectively. Perot is the only independent candidate to garner that many votes. Another independent candidate, Howard Phillips, also ran twice, both in 1992 and 1996. None of them succeeded.
As they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and even today many people believe that the two-party system has been working well for the United States. It is not hard to understand that most people tend to side with tradition, especially if concepts like familiarity and loyalty are part of the equation. There are more than 300 million Americans living right now and about 170 million are registered to vote. 72 million are registered as Democrats while the Republicans have 55 million. Around 42 million are registered as independent voters. Basically, it is a numbers game.
That said, a significant number of Americans are now emerging to question the effectiveness of the two-party system. Many say the system is polarizing not only the political makeup of the country, but the entire structure of how Americans should live their lives. It has become an “either or” and leaving no room for everything else.
Arianna Huffington debated in her column that the two-party system is only good in providing short-term solutions to big crises such as the increasing costs of health care, the dwindling quality of public school education, and the dilapidation of infrastructure. And because voters are primed and conditioned to choose either one, choices are not only narrowed, but potential alternatives that might stem outside the two-party system are not even considered anymore.
Huffington summed the two-party system as “a stale marriage that needs a third party to spice things up.”
It might take a while before the desired effects of anti-two-party system campaigns becomes concrete. But it is clear that breaking the system down is a better alternative. It is only a matter of time before most Americans will realize that.