why does america have a two party system

For the last 163 years, the president of the United States has been either a Democrat or a Republican. No third-party candidate has come within shouting distance of the presidency. Why is that? Shouldn't we be worried? Reporting from the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia,
examines America's two-party system by rooting through the strangeness of U. S. electoral history, in this strangest of election years. Polls suggest that voters for either major party candidate this year, and yet the vast majority of us will vote for one or the other. The reason we're stuck with this two-party system has to do with how U. S. congressional and presidential elections work. America's plurality electoral system -- -- means that each state has a set number of electorates, and whichever candidate gets the majority of votes wins them all. Since there is no reward for second place, there's little incentive to create or back a party that will get some of the votes, but not the majority. Over time, the system encourages the dominance of. The U. S. is one of just a very few countries that uses this FPTS system. Most other democracies use proportional representation to elect officials, rather than a winner-take-all system.


This results in multiple political parties sharing duties. Japan, for instance, has along with several smaller parties. In Israel, of affiliates are represented in the national legislature. So why have political parties at all? Actually, we didn't use to. During the first presidential election, there were no political parties and in fact George Washington won without even campaigning. Many of the early Founding Fathers were and Washington publicly warned of their dangers. Nevertheless, U. S. politics were quickly dominated by two major parties. Each went through various incarnations, but by the mid-19th century we had the Democratic and Republican parties as we know them today. Many critics contend that the two-party system is unjust, limited voters' options at the polls. The system also leads to corrupt practices like. But the situation is not likely to change any time soon. The reason is simple enough: Democrats and Republicans dominate the legislatures that make the very laws that govern elections. And they like the status quo just fine. -- Learn More: Britannica: PBS: CNN: Two-party system, in which the electorate gives its votes largely to only two major parties and in which one or the other party can win a majority in the.


The is the classic example of a nation with a two-party system. The contrasts between two-party and multiparty systems are often exaggerated. Within each major party in the United States, the Republicans and the Democrats, many factions are struggling for power. The presence of divergent interests under a single party canopy masks a process of struggle and compromise that under a multiparty system is out in the open. A fundamental distinction must be made between the two-party system of representatives, the presidential system, and the absence of. In Great and the United States members of the national representative assemblies are chosen from single-member districts, and the candidate polling the largest number of votes is the winner. Such an compels a party to strive for a majority of the votes in a district or other electoral area. Usually only two fairly evenly matched parties may successfully compete for office in a single-member district, and a suffers recurring defeat unless it can swallow up one of the other parties. Parties do not thrive under the certainty of defeat. A third party may have a substantial popular following and yet capture few seats in the representative body.


With, for instance, 20 percent of the popular vote spread evenly over an entire country, such a party would not win a single seat. (Under full proportional representation, it would be entitled to 20 percent of the seats in a legislative body. ) The rise of the in Great Britain, for example, virtually deprived the of parliamentary seats even when it had a substantial popular following. In addition to the single-member-district system, in the United States the presidential system induces parties to seek majority support. No fractional party can elect its presidential candidate, and third parties in national politics have proved to be protest movements more than serious electoral enterprises. The two-party system is said to promote governmental stability because a single party can win a majority in the parliament and govern. In a multiparty country, on the other hand, the formation of a government depends on the maintenance of a of parties with enough total strength to form a parliamentary majority. The weakness of the ties that bind the coalition may threaten the continuance of a cabinet in power. The stability shown by the government of the United States has not been entirely due to its party system, it has been argued, but has been promoted also by the fixed and strong position of the president.


The two-party system moderates the of political strife. To appeal for the support of a majority of voters, a party must present a program sympathetic to the desires of most of the politically active elements of the population. In the formulation of such a program an effort must be made to the conflicting interests of different sectors of the population. This enables the party, if expedient, to resist demands that it commit itself without reservation to the policies urged by any particular extremist element. In effect, the party is a coalition for the purpose of campaigning for office. In Great Britain and differences in program and in between the two major parties have been perhaps greater than in the United States. Nevertheless, in all of these countries a broad area of agreement exists among the leading parties. With two major parties of similar views and of approximately equal strength competing for control of a government, it is possible for governmental control to alternate between the parties without shifts in policy so as to incite minorities to resistance.

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