Thursday, March 10, 2011

Guest Post: Caught Between the Devil and the Deep Sea in a Two-Party System


This guest post is contributed by Phillip Donavan, who writes on the subject of Online Political Science Degrees. Phillip can be reached at his email id: phillip.donavan@gmail.com .

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There could be many advantages to a two-party political system, but what’s more obvious are the disadvantages of having to more often than not choose between the devil and the deep sea – neither option is viable, and it’s always a case of opting for the lesser of two evils than the one which is the better choice.

In a nation as large and diverse as the United States of America, it’s perhaps an irony that you have to vote either Republic or Democrat if you want to exercise your franchise and have a say in who governs the country and what policies will be enforced for the next four years. However, that’s exactly what we’re forced to do, time and again, each time the elections come around.

The biggest drawback of a two-party system is that neither feels the need to achieve excellence – all they have to do to get elected is to be a little better than other, or even just being perceived as being better than the other. It’s a well-established fact that competition drives excellence – in a race with 10 competitors, you must be better than the other 9 in order to win, and so you study each one’s weaknesses and use them to bolster your strengths so you emerge the winner. But in a two-horse race, you know that it’s enough to be just a tiny step ahead of the other competitor and you’re taking home the race. The margin of victory does not matter, only the fact that you won. So a two-party system most often leads to an administration that is not necessarily the best, but one which has come to power by being just a little ahead of the one that lost

Look at the US today – with the Democrats proposing higher taxes just to stay on the sweet side of the unions and the Republicans hell-bent on bombing any nation to the east of the Greenwich Meridian, the American voting public is caught between a rock and a hard place. This is one major reason why many people don’t vote – they don’t feel the need to take time out of their busy schedule and wait in line to cast their vote; why should they, when they know that no matter who holds the highest office of the nation, the country is going to be governed by policies they don’t agree with.

CONTINUED ON THE JUMP...

20 Comments:

Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

With a two-party system, there is a dearth of new ideas – the same policies keep rotating, with just a little tweak here and there. Also, if there are freebies offered by one party which is definitely going to be detrimental to the nation in the long run, the other party will not stop them when it comes to power, simply because of the popularity appeal.

So you see, it’s never a case of doing what’s best for the nation; it’s always the case of doing what’s best for the party, and what will best work in getting reelected to office. How do the voters benefit in such a situation? The obvious, in-your-face answer is that they don’t – they just get by as best as they can, and hope that the next election will bring to power a party that is the lesser of two evils.

A recent debate on the two-party system which featured noted columnist Ariana Huffington and David Brooks arguing for it and Zef Chafets and P. J. O’Rourke arguing against it, had O’Rourke come up with this quote – “Republicans and Democrats don't have ideologies. They just have these vague platform planks made of rotten wood of political expediency. If American party platforms were backyard tree forts, you would not let your children climb in them.” I guess that just about sums the feeling of the general majority against a two-party system.

7:52 PM, March 10, 2011  
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