Why We Must End the Two Party System: How to Grow a Third Party

Jan 1, 2018

The short answer to why we must end the two party system and grow a third party is to quit the extreme division which is down to a 50-50 split in the country. Our current situation is the inevitable outcome of the American political system, which ensures there will never be a strong third party—the existence of which would be a powerful incentive for compromise.

We need more political parties to promote compromise — and this is how we build them

Is having only two parties representative of what life is like? Are their only two groups of people who believe in only two different ways to run the world, or a country? No, there are many views on how a country is run, and none of them are perfect. That includes the two-party system, which creates the us-or-them mentality. Having only two parties is like having only two judges, when you need a third judge to make judgments decisive—and compromising. Do people want a third party, or a fourth or a fifth—or several? In recent years there has been a growing desire for a third party as more and more people register as independents. Three parties would be many times superior to two parties—more than three would be even better. If we don’t end the two-party system, America’s divisiveness will grow and nothing will stop that. All this talk about we need to just get along is a waste of energy, because that’s not how things change.

          “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” — Buckminster Fuller

In simpler terms: If you change the environment, people change.

Why do Third Parties in America Never Succeed?

“There will never be a viable third party in America unless we have runoff elections.”

As long as we do not have runoff elections, we will never have a viable third party—or, for that matter, several parties. Right now, in almost every place in the United States—and certainly in the presidential election—the candidate who wins is the one who gets a plurality of the vote—which means whoever gets the most votes (even if it’s not the majority of votes). This means that if their are three candidates in three different parties and one gets 49%, another gets 48%,  and another gets 3%, the one with 49% wins—which means the victor is elected by a minority! It would also hold true if one got 34%, another got 33% and another got 32%, the winner would be the candidate with 34%—a minority, and a small one at that. Rule by the minority is dictatorship* Rule by majority is democracy.

Even with a third party, without runoff elections, a small minority can win. In the above example where one party received 3% of the vote, if there was a runoff, there would be another election with just the two top candidates and both of the two main parties would be talking compromise with that third party in order to win the runoff. This gives the third party great power, but the real result is there was compromise. Of course without the runoff, the winning candidate would be elected with a minority of the votes.

A ballot showing the two-party system only allows two choices
We need more choices than just Democrat or Republican

A Nation Divided in Two

The current plurality system is a bad system—and that’s the reason there are only two parties in this country. Again, it’s us or them. It is the Democrats or the Republicans. It’s truly a nation divided in two. How many parties does a nation of 331 million people need? At least three, maybe a few more, but one thing is for certain: dividing us all into just two parties is wrong—and stupid. We must end the two party system.

In many elections, I voted for my candidate of choice for only one reason: He was the best of only two choices and I didn’t like the two choices very much. Or should I say, I voted for the candidate who I disliked the least. Yes, there are periodically a few small political parties with good candidates, but if I voted for one of them, because of the plurality system of electing, I would probably be taking a vote away from the candidate I liked most of the two big parties, and I would be helping to elect the candidate I liked least.

Under those conditions, a third party will never grow. Most people will wise up to this, but not all. Some people will think they are moving forward by voting for a third party because that’s what they believe in. Those people don’t believe in compromise, which is the cornerstone of democracy. But with runoff elections, a third party (or several) can grow—and quickly and easily. Probably in one cycle.

How Runoff Elections Will Grow More Parties

With runoff elections, where getting more than 50 percent of the vote decides the winner, a third party can force an election into a runoff and this gives power to the third party. Candidates from the two big parties will have to compromise with the third party to win—and compromise is the essence of a democratic republic. With a runoff election, a voter has real power by voting for a third party, because the people will realize that if enough vote for a third candidate (even if he is an independent and not a member of a political party), then the election will automatically go into a runoff. This gives each person who votes much greater power—and a great incentive to vote, increasing the number of people who will vote—as their vote will really matter.

The Electoral College — Time to End a Bad Idea

In the U.S., we have state and local elections, and a national election for the President (and Vice President). Because of the Electoral College, the national election system is broken. In the 2000 election and in the 2016 election, the President was elected by the Electoral College—without winning the popular vote. That should be proof enough for all those who believe in democracy to end the Electoral College. In both elections we had a President who was elected with a minority of the vote. One went to war, which cost trillions and tens of thousands of dead. The other President ruled in a dictatorial manner, often proclaiming his powers were unlimited, a true failure in democracy. Without getting rid of the Electoral College, we cannot have runoff elections  for the Presidency—and these two examples are proof that we need a President elected by the will of the people.

How Would Three or More Parties Govern in Congress?

The House in session with the two-party system having members seated by party, separately, in the House of Representatives With only two parties, one on the “political right” and one on the “political left,” those who want to compromise on the passage of a law have no choice if they  don’t agree with the majority of  their party. This happens constantly in the current system with both parties. With a third more “centrist” party, many in both parties will join the third party and both of the major parties will have to compromise with a third party to get anything passed.

There could even be two centrist parties, but no matter what, the power structure that the two parties currently enjoy will be broken down and laws will pass on compromise. The era of two parties—”us or them”—will end. And the people will see that the centrist parties have power and they will be even more likely to grow. Even if we had a very small, more centrist, third party of just three congressional members, the two main parties would fight to compromise with it because a majority must be reached to pass a law. That will cause more growth of a third party—or even more parties. Members will start talking to other party members to gain their support. Candidates who don’t understand the value of compromise, will not be elected—unless they get voted in as members of extreme parties. But even in that situation, other parties will have to compromise with the extreme parties.

The End of “Across the Aisle”

Ending the two party system will also mean that the two chambers of congress will end the division in seating, from two groups—where currently the two parties talk about each other as those “across the aisle”—to at least three groups (if not more). How stupid is that? Members of different parties will then be sitting on the same side of the “aisle.” God forbid! But it’s either that, or redesign and rebuild the seating layout in both houses—maybe add more aisles. That would be a good thing.

As long as we have only two parties in the United States, the divisiveness will grow and kill the country. There is a lot of talk that everyone’s attitude needs to change. Well—duhhh! Many have been saying that for decades. But that will not happen by just hoping it happens, or even working at it. We must change the system. And the sooner the better. End the two party system before it’s too late.





* Dictatorship is often thought of as one person being a dictator. But all dictators have the support of a large segment of the population when they come to power. All dictators come to power because of that support. Sometimes dictators come to power with a majority of the vote and that would be the dictatorship of the majority (which can also happen in a democracy), but constitutions are set up to protect the rights of the minority, the U.S. Constitution, being a prime example of one. But all political conflicts are about the rights of the majority vs. the rights of the minority. That’s where the political arena is.