It is not entirely clear that this widespread dampening of discussing important matters is due to having only two major parties; after all, we have a similar societal aversion to discussing religion but no limitation whatever in the number of religious denominations. On the other hand, other countries such as Greece and France that have a multitude of political parties also have a reputation for open and enthusiastic political discussions. But it is pretty clear that with only two parties the country has become polarized politically beyond what makes for a healthy society.
When a country has only two political parties of any significance, it limits the range of political discussions; if you are on one side then there is a long list of positions you are assumed to have. And if you are on the other side you are expected to hold the opposite view on all of those issues. We feel constrained to only to two alternatives, often termed left and right. More parties could lead to more shades of political color and a broader range of different mixes of acceptable opinion.
The fact of the two-party political organization seems to put pressure on many of us as individuals. We think of ourselves as Democrats or as Republicans and we at least feel some pressure to conform to the side where we feel we belong. If our political party has taken a position against say, gay marriage or in favor of a trade agreement then we may think long and hard about openly taking the opposite position even when we think that position would be just or perhaps only narrowly in our interest. We would not want to place ourselves at odds with our own political tribe. Would this be any different if there were a great many different tribes and we could contemplate finding another that was more tuned to our own mix of opinions? It seems at least possible and it seems that having more parties might well strengthen our dialog if not also our democracy.
Recently I wrote a
fairly extended article on the subject, probably too long to
publish here as a single article. Instead, I plan to release a series
of articles to present the major ideas of that much longer article
and this current article is the second of that series of articles.