This country began with no political parties, yet by the Jefferson administration we were in full swing what with the Federalists led by John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, and the Jeffersonian Republicans led by Thomas Jefferson. By the Time we got to Andrew Jackson we had the Democratic Party of today and the opposition was the National Republican party which through coalition morphed into the Whig party. The Republican Party we know today emerged after the Whigs merged with the Free Soil party and made its debut as an anti-slavery party around the Civil War and Lincoln’s administration. The run of two major parties we have had now for almost 155 years is the longest run we have had of parties and a two party system.
The point of the short history lesson is that parties can fade away and morph, as history has proved. One might ask why the Republican Party and the Democratic parties have stood the test of time. Well, it is not a result of altruism, rather over the years these two parties have through state legislatures made it incredibly difficult to start any new party or competition. You simply cannot get on the ballots in a big way. These parties’ establishment membership have essentially coopted the leadership of this nation.
They passed the Voting Rights Act in 1964 that was supposed to provide easier access to the ballot box for minorities, force an end to gerrymandering, and be a noble act of the government. Well, one key provision actually creates safe seats for each party and these safe seats give you the longstanding leadership in each party. You see, you cannot vote all the “bums” out.
As these two parties get further and further apart, seemingly, but continue the kabuki dance drama of fighting when they make sweetheart deals for their establishment membership (rank and file be damned)and continue to spend money to offer programs to get reelected at the expense of this nation and its people.
The two party system has become heavily corrupt and their is no real opposition, no charge to the original ideals of the founders. In Great Britain there are four major parties and a cavalcade of minor parties. Is this better? Not necessarily, but it does give the parties on important national issues the need to have a coalition to succeed.
What I am saying is that we never have a coalition. Even when members of one party like what the other party is offering, incredible pressure is brought by either the Democrats or the Republicans to keep their members in line to do the bidding of the establishment of their party. So we too often reach stalemate or concurrence on issues not at all popular by the electorate, but that suits the establishment of both parties.
None of this is for the benefit of the nation and its people. The two party system may never have served, but now definitely does not serve, this nation. Due to laws in each state, the creation of more parties especially on the national stage becomes a legal labyrinth. Only the electorate at the primary level can truly disturb the comfort of the establishment and perhaps can through popular demand smash the local legal labyrinth to allow for more parties.
At the minimum the four or more party system will create a loss of control by the establishment of the Democrat and Republican parties. With coalition and no majority attributed to any one party, the establishment cannot apply the pressure it has applied to keep its members in line.
Today, the Republican party is shedding members to the independent world and the Democrat party has been taken over by a minority of its membership, the progressives, and when old line democrats realize what has happened they too may jump to independent, if they have not already done so. Many stay in both parties because there is no alternative.
These newly minted independents still retain their opinions and do not become weathervanes of politics, so is it likely that a third and forth party can become a reality with pressure to cut down the legal labyrinth? Will we see new major parties? Will the two party system end? I certainly hope so.