US elections proving the failure of the two-party system

US elections proving the failure of the two-party system

In the U.S., there is an extreme frustration with the status quo of the American federal government.

Many Americans believe the government does not represent them and often inhibits or harms their ability to succeed both financially and socially in their lives.

Thus, this 2016 election season, there has been a growing rise in “fringe” candidates, such as Bernie Sanders on the far left wing and Donald Trump on the far right wing of the American political spectrum.

In spite of this rise, a number of Americans this November will still feel very disenfranchised and as if they are picking the lesser of two evils for the general election entirely due to the reality that the two-party system of the Democrats and the Republicans exists in the country.

Unlike the U.S., the majority of the Western and democratic world, places like Europe, Canada and Australia have a parliamentary system, which elects parties instead of people and tends to allow for smaller and weaker parties to have a say.

Even in our state or local elections in the U.S., we vote for representatives, we do not elect political parties. One major benefit of electing political parties is that they may greater represent us than an individual, who may be more susceptible to corruption and less able to physically share all of the opinions of a large group.

For instance, in the 2015 Spanish general elections, Spaniards voted for four major parties (PP, PSOE, Podemos and Ciudadanos), each one with nuanced and distinct political views making up 90 percent of the electorate. In addition, the remaining 10 percent contained political parties that reflected a large range of nationalist (both Catalan and Basque nationalist parties), social, and economic views.

This type of parliamentary system offers more voices the chance to be heard and gives more power to the people, thus being more democratic. Although America may not be able to switch its political mechanisms from how it functions under a federalist system, the U.S. still has the ability to dissolve the power of the two-party system and its stranglehold on our politics.

Despite having relative anonymity and having limited media coverage, third parties do exist in the U.S.

These parties, if the two-party system collapses, can become viable potential alternatives to the hegemony of the Democratic and Republican parties.

One of the major third party alternatives is the Libertarian party, headed by former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, its presidential nominee. In a recent CNN interview, Johnson described the party, according to Bloomberg, as appealing to people who are "libertarian, with a broad brush stroke -- fiscally conservative, socially-accepting liberal.”

Given the reality of America’s historical political culture of having a very laissez-faire government, it is highly likely that a large number of Americans would be ideologically in tune with the Libertarian party and would decide to vote for the party.

However, while the Libertarian party is one established alternative to the two predominant parties, the Republicans and Democrats are so large that within each of these parties there are members who hold a variety of different and often conflicting ideologies, thus preferring not only one alternative.

A solution, which is not often discussed, is the dissolution partition of both the Democratic and Republican parties into a handful of new but more representative parties.

For instance, instead of just having a large liberal and conservative party, there can be a progressive, nationalist, socialist and viable libertarian party.

For most Americans judging by the popularity of the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees, creating more viable parties and dissolving the Democratic and Republican parties makes sense.

According to a recent CNN poll, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had both unfavorable ratings of over 50 percent each, Trump at 57 percent and Clinton at 52 percent, making them the most disliked presidential candidates since 1984.

If over 50 percent of Americans dislike both of the nominees, then it is highly probable that most Americans would prefer another viable candidate if possible.

One reason that the parties do not separate even though there appears to be a revealed preference from the electorate to do so may have to do with the electoral system in America.

Specifically, American voters select the president and the legislature through a single round of elections decided by a plurality vote.

In the case of a three-way race, the voting system poses an issue for voters who fear that their vote for their preferred candidate may actually draw enough support away from their second favorite candidate as to hand the election to their least favorite candidate.

Such was the case in the 2000 election when supporters of Ralph Nader, who presumably favored Al Gore over George W. Bush, effectively handed over a victory to Bush in supporting the third-party candidate.

To that end, a system of run-off elections (such as in France) or proportional representation in the legislature (seen throughout Europe) could facilitate a scenario in which an alternative to the two major parties would be successful.

Many Americans find that both political parties are representative of an elite class, separate from the rest of society with their own goals and agenda, which control our government policies.

According to Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, "we [the U.S.] are moving rapidly away from our democratic heritage into an oligarchic form of society where today we are experiencing a government of the billionaires, by the billionaires, and for the billionaires."

Sanders is trying to convey the message that disenfranchised voters often do not have a platform or a forum to actively push for their ideas. Voters feel this way because of the extreme corruption that plagues both the Democratic and Republican parties. In their minds, these parties choose to listen to special interest groups rather than the American people who they are supposed to be representing.

Ironically, in an election year marked by outsiders, the establishment and the trap of the revolving door of the Democratic and Republican parties still somehow win.

Cover credit: Pinterest

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