Most American citizens are familiar with the two-party system of government. The Democrats and Republicans have been the main groups in presidential elections since close to the beginning of American history. However the question arises; is the two-party system still an acceptable voting method to use in the present day United States? Dennis Plane, professor of politics, shares his thoughts on the two-party system:
Q: How did the American two-party system come about?
A: It’s just the natural sorting of things. Initially, in America, there were Federalists and Anti-federalists and the differences between those two parties never really got resolved. Also, the district system of today’s government strongly encourages a two-party system because one member is elected from every district.
Q: What are the major advantages of a two-party system?
A: The biggest advantage is that it is easier for most voters to use. Most citizens are too busy with other aspects of life to really pay a lot of attention to politics. The easier the system, the easier it is for voters to use. Another factor is that the two-party system has been around so long that most people are familiar with it.
Q: What are some of the disadvantages?
A: Politics is not simple. When you take something complicated and get it down to something simpler then certain important aspects are definitely going to be lost. It’s really an over-simplification of something that requires a great deal of understanding.
Q: Do you think the system currently used in the U.S. is still viable?
A: Absolutely, there are still major differences between the two parties and it allows citizens to make choices based on how they feel about those differences. If anyone thinks that the differences between the two parties are negligible or that there really aren’t any, they’re not paying attention. The two parties hold fundamental differences on such issues as education, free market, healthcare, taxes, and many more.
Q: Do you feel as if more Americans are becoming independent?
A: It depends whether you’re looking at the short term or the long term. Since the 1960s the overall trend has been that more people are partisan. In the last 10 years or so the two-party system has seen an increase in number. One of the biggest reasons for the recent rise is that the political elites have become more polarized. There are fewer moderates in congress and the lack of them pulls Congress to both Democratic and Republican extremes.
~Josh Maier ’16, Juniata Online Journalist