US political parties need more time-outs

Washburn Review Staff

A political party is an organization created for the purpose of winning campaign elections and then governing while in office. In our country, we have two main political parties that govern us. The U.S. political parties today, you could say are enemies. They are in a constant battle with one another, and the way they interact with one another is embarrassing.  

Political parties now represent a brand name. An example is when a voter does not know a candidate but votes for them based on their party affiliation. In 2012, an attendee of the Westboro Baptist Church ran for a seat on the state school board. Even with all of his beliefs, Jack Wu received many votes for this position even though he did not win. The main reason that he gained so many votes was because people who didn’t know him voted for him for his political party. 

The political parties should understand that each party has different ideas and that it is OK. They need to realize the need to work together and create some sort of compromise because it would be better for legislature to come up with something together and not push the ideologies of one party upon our nation. This country went several decades during the 20th century of working together. That is not the case today.

The U.S. only has two dominate parties that govern. The primary factor that leads to the two parties is Duverger’s law. Duverger’s law applies when a country uses a single-member district electoral system, then you will get two parties.  

There are three reasons why we get two parties according to this law. The first reason is that candidates are not going to waste their time and effort on a party if there are multiple parties running because they are unlikely to win.  A candidate running for office rationally looks at the two strongest parties and chooses the one that represents what they believe in. Over time, this creates a two-party dominate system.

The second reason is that supporters or activists say the same thing. They don’t want to waste their time, money and effort on a candidate that isn’t going to win. They choose one of the two dominant parties to support.

The last reason is because of voters. Voters do not want to waste their vote. If there are several parties to chose from they are going to vote for the one most likely to win. Thus, they will choose from the two dominant parties. Over time, these three factors create two parties. 

There are other factors in the U.S. that prevent third parties from being created. There are state laws that make it hard for new parties to get access to the ballot. Each state has a different way of implementing this whether it is petitioning or having to win so many votes in an election to be on a ballot. Public financing of campaigns establishing a party is another factor.  This prevents other parties from becoming popular because the two established political parties do not want more competition.

Although it is OK to have two dominate political parties, the problem with our government is that it is bi-cameral. One party can control the House of Representatives and the other could control the Senate and that is why it is so hard to pass legislation. The two sides must compromise. Our two political parties are not working together, which is creating a need for a change in our political system.