Democrats and Republicans. Blue or Red. One or One. For most of America’s history, there has been a system of two parties overwhelming the rest, whether it be called the Democrats and Republicans or the same values under older names. They’ve always been at war with each other for power within the government. This past election cycle has been a demonstration of the flaws within that system, as it does not display the feelings of the majority.
In George Washington’s Farewell Address, he famously warned against the issues that could come from partisan fighting. “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.”
All those years ago, George Washington knew of the dangers that could come from this two party system, and how it would end up as a never-ending stalemate. Frankly, when we look into modern American politics, how can we say that we are not in this situation? In a place of stagnation, where there are two sides that only represent the totality of views of a minor part of the population? In a place where one’s voice feels drowned over that of the smaller group with the bigger microphones?
The biggest flaw within this system is that with the two polarized extremities, there is no place for a middle ground. We see within our Congress system that the two parties cause nothing to get done, as seen in this past congressional session, because congressmen are more focused on pushing the agenda of their party than they are for reaching a sense of middle ground. In the way Washington describes it perfectly, this idea of revenge is what seems to be driving it. It’s as if the parties have to one up each other at every turn.
This is where I find most of the flaws within the two party system. In the past presidential election, we saw two candidates who represent the respective parties– and a lot of people caught in the middle. There are arguments for both sides, if we stick to the issues, but it’s rare for one to meet someone who is completely one way or the other when it comes to every issue unless they are a party activist. There is no way that one can be.
America needs to change, and find a way to make progress and evolve as our Democracy forges on. With two polar opposites and a majority of people stuck in the middle, it seems as if most of America has a similar take on the systems that we have at hand.
I do not have a solution for this problem. Americans are stuck in the middle of this divide, and it is hard to find a way for us to move from it. There has yet to be a successful rise of a third party within our history, but that doesn’t mean that there is not the potential to be. Even then, would the same cycle inevitably occur? Would this new third party not just simply replace one of the older ones? Is a multiparty system just another big division for us to handle?
It’s hard to say. The most important thing at the end of the day is to have conversations in which we break down what can be done about the systems that we are involved with. As Americans, it is our right to questions our government, how it operates, and do whatever we wish in order to fix it to be the way we desire it. The people have the power after all, it’s just a matter of if they use it or not.