For the last 175years, the United States has been held tightly in the iron grip of political duopoly. Political scientist now refer to this phenomena as the Duverger’s law which posits that a two-party system will always be the outcome in electoral systems in which plurality voting(a type of single winner election) determines the sole representative of a particular district(Sabato and Ernst,2007) . In simpler terms, the law puts forward the idea that when the voters have one vote each, and subsequently get the opportunity to vote for one candidate only to determine a legislative seat, the outcome is a political system that presents two dominant parties.
The United States perfectly fits the Duverger model. A single politician often wins each election, with most of the elections held using a fashion of simple plurality voting known as First Past the Post. The candidate that garners the most votes becomes the ultimate winner of the election and there is no need of a majority (Leigh, 2013). It is this law that can perhaps explain the United States political duopoly well, where the Republicans and Republicans have been able to maintain a stranglehold on American political scene since the 1850s. There is an old age adage that says that in a democracy people get the government they deserve. One however wonders, how much choice is there when there exists only one vending machine which only offers Pepsi or Coke products when there are individuals who would prefer to choose milk? I am of the opinion that the United States political system should have a third political party, and this article seeks to give reasons why embracing this paradigm shift is the best option.
Firstly, a third political party will end the partisan gridlock that has made congress less effective. The level of hostility that exists between the Democrats and the Republicans is the direct cause of this gridlock. Over the past thirty years the United States has grown more partisan, making congress lose its effectiveness. Each side has become more extreme , basing their political agenda on demonizing each other. Politicians in each camp engage in political machinations that include partisan gerrymandering and the manipulation of Congress rules to get their way or even deny them office completely. As a result, it skews the discussion of the important issues facing the nation that need to be dealt with. News outlets such as the New York Times and Fox News similarly find themselves largely incapable of dealing with issues outside the conservative paradigm. Whether it is dealing with the debt ceiling, the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL) or climate change, the media ends up framing every issue as a simple debate between the Republican and Democratic positions.
More parties in the United States would also mean that they will represent the voter’s views better. There is a growing number of Americans who do not identify with the two dominant parties. A surprising popularity of Bernie Sanders, who many saw as a party-outsider, indicates that Americans are in a political space where they want options that are outside the two major dominant parties. Two parties run the risk of only adequately representing the people’s views along a single axis. If a situation arises where the views bifurcate along two varying axes, the two parties cannot reflect diversity in political views. American voters have been known to span a wide political spectrum; from conservative left-right cultural axis to an elitist populist that is on the up-down axis.
Lastly, a third party would boost proportional representation that will lead to an increase in civic engagement. The winner-take-all voting system that presently exists in the United States only yields negative campaigns that in most occasions turn off voters. The main reason for this voter apathy is because a candidate who wins by gaining more support than his opponent, smearing an opponent and sullying the entire election process can be an successful winning strategy ,but with negative consequences. When voters get an option to fully express their preference, they are now able to align their views with their party of choice which encourages their participation in the electoral process.