On September 17, 1796, during President George Washington’s farewell address, he stated: “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
I think that the fact that a founding father of our country has pretty accurately predicted the consequences of having a two-party system over 100 years ago is very fascinating to me.
The Republican and Democratic parties have been the two primary cornerstone parties of American politics for a long time. The Republican Party was officially founded in 1854, while the Democratic Party was originally called the Democratic-Republican Party and was created in 1792. Eventually the Democratic-Republican Party changed its name to simply the Democratic Party due to a split of members within the party. Today many people think of these two political parties as the only two viable political party choices but what these people do not realize is that they are actually the reason why these two big parties have a stronghold over all other parties.
I believe that in general, a two-party system cannot be defined as either a good or bad thing because, like many things in politics, good and bad are relative terms. There are a whole variety of reasons as to why having a two-party system can be detrimental to the basic principles of a country’s democracy. A major concern about having a two-party system is that some people don’t have their voice heard due to them being within a minor party. I genuinely have a strong distaste towards any “democratic” government that essentially silences its own citizens by making their vote towards a third party basically useless due to there being two major ruling parties. I feel this way because what’s the point in having a democracy when people’s voices aren’t being heard?
Another big point of contention with having a two-party system is that as each party progressively keeps adopting opposing ideas and beliefs, the two parties will eventually drift to the polar opposites of each other. I firmly believe that if this situation were to happen in the United States of America, there wouldn’t be any reason to have the word “United” in the name of our country anymore because we wouldn’t be anything close to united. Additionally I believe that we are already starting to inch closer and closer to this horrific scenario because of a lot of recent events that we have seen unfold.
Although I strongly disapprove of democratic governments having a primarily two-party system, I will admit that having two major parties does allow legislation to pass a lot easier. Having only two parties within the government makes passing legislation a lot smoother because there are more representatives with the same political views, so they are able to agree on issues a lot easier. Yet, I believe that there are still flaws with this advantage. One of the most glaring flaws that I see with the advantage of having two parties making legislation easier to pass is that since there are less political views to oppose the bills, then it limits the ability for new ideas and views to be brought in.
I absolutely understand the feeling of not having your voice heard due to the majority calling it foolish, irrelevant, and useless because I have been in that position before many times. I completely dislike that feeling because it makes me feel like my voice doesn’t mean anything, so I would just agree with the most popular option. In reality, my voice does matter and everyone’s voice matters, especially when it comes to laws and regulations that are being made by the government. Since the basis of democracy is that everyone’s voice matters, when someone’s voice is just ignored, it defeats the whole purpose of having a democratic government from the start.
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