Each country has a political party system to help create peace and order in the government. There are three kinds of party systems: one-party, two-party and multi-part systems. In the United States, we follow the two-party system wherein there are only two dominant parties. This is due to historical circumstance, stability, support from informal institutions, and preservation of the two-party monopoly.
In the U.S. Constitution, you won’t find anything that explains political parties. In fact, framers were completely opposed to forming political parties in the country. They believe that political groups could only disrupt peace and order and create counterproductive divisions. Most of all, they believed that candidates should be judged on their own merits and stance on certain issues, not for the organizations that back them up.
But, it was not long before the framers gave way to the convenience of a party system. This is because they realized that political parties improved cooperation between the executive and legislative branches of the government and made coordinating policy-making easier. Hence, since George Washington, every candidate that ran for the presidential position has had the support of one of the two major political groups of the time.
In the United States, a national committee leads each political party. This committee is headquartered in Washington, DC. In the past, these national committees would only be active every four years in time for the presidential elections. But in the last three decades, they have become full-time organizations that are present during state and local elections.
Aside from the national committees, the Democratic and Republican parties each have their own official campaign committees that are responsible for raising funds to elect their respective House and Senate candidates. In 2004, the DNC raised about $394 million while the RNC had $392 million. The money that was raised by the national party organizations is given to their local and state branches to run their campaigns, including advertising materials, direct mail campaigns, consultants and other related activities. The national committees are also tasked to plan their organization’s presidential nominating convention, as well as promoting the party candidates’ elections and coordinating all the work of the party.
Given all this information, can you tell whether the two-party system is beneficial to the country or not? Knowing its pros and cons should help make an informed choice.
List of Pros of a Two-Party System
1. The two-party system helps people decide whom to vote.
Because there are only two parties to choose from, voters would have an easier time deciding whom to vote. Clarifying issues and simplifying choices would also be easy, helping the people determine who has a better platform and who can lead the country better. Without these two political parties, the public would have to go through a maze to find their way.
2. The two-party system makes it easier for worthy candidates to run for public office.
Aside from coming up with the campaign funds, these political parties can provide a base of support and help mobilize materials to entice people into supporting their candidates.
3. The two-party system makes the government more effective.
These political parties link different branches of the government in all three levels: federal, state and local. These organizations enable politicians to form coalitions and accomplish their plans.
4. The two-party system is easier to grasp.
With only two parties that hold opposing views on major issues, falling into one category or the other is a no-brainer. And because parties are based on corresponding ideologies, people will find it easier to align with one of the two.
5. The two-party system promotes common positions.
Each political party has to find common positions that represent a large group of voters. This forces each group to take a centrist view, not radical extremes, to avoid endangering their respective parties. But when a party is radicalized by way of thought, voters will favor the other group. This makes it clear that people do not support such views, resulting in the system self-regulating itself to ensure that it actively combats extremist views.
6. The two-party system makes organizing elections simpler.
Of course, there are fewer groups to contact and collaborate, making it easier to schedule events and inform the public in advance. Fewer groups also increase the potential for more debates and more public awareness of major issues that need to be tackled.
List of Cons of a Two-Party System
1. The two-party system self-perpetuates through a pluralist system.
Forty-eight out of the fifty US states are given electoral votes on a n all or nothing basis. If a candidate wins 51 percent of Florida votes, then that means he gets all of the electoral votes. This system could be easy to find out where the votes are going, but it limits the chances of a third party to get its candidate recognized, much less voted, by the people. Should there be any problem with the two-party system, the pluralist system is can make the change quite challenging.
2. The two-party system limits debate.
There are several ways to look at things. But with a two-party system, a larger consensus within the group glosses over the finer points on certain topics. This can result to limiting debate in the country, as it is could only be focused on the opinions of just two parties.
3. The two-party system could lead to partisanship.
In countries where there are multiple parties, the winning candidates have to form a coalition with those who lost to effectively run the country. This does not happen with a two-party system because they spend most of their time undermining the other group. This could result in unnecessary legislations being passed while the government works with less efficiency.
4. The two-party system makes the people feel like they have no other choice.
In the United States, it is common to consider voting for a third-party a waste of vote, a disengagement from the normal political process and voting for people who don’t deserve to win.
By weighing out all the advantages and disadvantages of having a two-party political system, you will find out more about what happens during elections.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.