Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Poll Analyses
Share on Facebook 7 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/18/10

Thinking beyond the two party system

By       (Page 1 of 4 pages) (View How Many People Read This)   1 comment
Author 24998
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Ross Levin

This piece was written as part of GreenChange Blog Action Day. Learn more here.

I'm not going to pull any punches here. I detest the two party system. I believe that it undermines representative government. It makes our government more responsive to corporations than to citizens. It decreases the chances of progress and it results in many good ideas being shut out of the national political debate.

The limits imposed on this nation by the two party system are slowly leading to its demise. Partisan gridlock in Washington, outright corruption, the absurd difficulty of kicking out incumbents, corporate control of Washington, and the infamous backwardness of many local governments (among many things) are all symptoms of this same disease. And I do not use that language lightly.

Many have said that there is no difference between the two major parties. This is obviously false. However, they can accurately be described as two sides of the same corporatist coin. On one side of the coin, Republicans give away billions to the "defense" industry and appoint lobbyists to head government agencies and are just blatantly corrupt. And when you flip it over, Democrats...well, give away billions to the "defense" industry and appoint lobbyists to head government agencies and are just blatantly corrupt. Sure, there are many differences, too - Republicans generally support less regulation, Democrats tend to be pro-choice, Democrats are generally more supportive of health care reform attempts, and Republicans have recently turned into the party of Oppose Anything That Would Vindicate Obama. In the words of Bill Maher,

We have a center-right party and a crazy party. Over the last 30 years, the Democrats have moved to the right, and the Republicans have moved into a mental hospital.

These are not great choices. And that's the essence of the duopoly on politics: it limits voters' choices to the point of them not having a very representative government. When they want climate change legislation, they get nothing. When they want single payer, they get nothing. When they want to end the war in Iraq, they get an increase of military contractors.

This limitation of choice is not a coincidence. And that brings me to my first bullet point...


Incumbent politicians - and their parties - are looking out for their own interests, not yours!

Basically what I'm saying here is that the two party system is not as much of a naturally occurring phenomenon as many people believe it is. There are many laws and practices in place that create a vicious cycle of third party failure. As election law expert Richard Winger points out,

The U.S. voter has less choice for whom to vote than his great-grandfather did.

Although the U.S. has made great strides during the 20th century in enfranchising citizens who formerly were denied the right to vote (women, blacks, poor people), we have been losing ground on the parallel problem of what choice a voter has, once he gets a ballot.

In the 1896 general election, every single congressional district in the nation had at least two candidates on the ballot. The average district had 3.1 candidates on the ballot.

In the 1912 general election, the average election ballot had 4.1 candidates for Congress. But in 1984, there were only 2.3 candidates for Congress on the typical general election ballot, and one-ninth of the districts (49 out of 435) had only one candidate on the ballot.

The modern-day voter's choice is even more limited in state legislative races. In 1984 6,881 seats were at stake. An astounding 2,815 (41 percent) had only one candidate per position on the ballot.

In some important states, such as Texas, Massachusetts, and Florida, over half of the legislators were elected with no one on the ballot against them.

The blame for the declining number of choices on our ballots can be laid squarely at the feet of state legislators. Many of them have made it far too difficult for candidates to get on the ballot.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3  |  4

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).


Well Said 1   Supported 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Ross Levin Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Ross Levin a young activist who also writes for,, He first became active in politics in the 2008 presidential campaign through Mike Gravel's quixotic run for the Democratic (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Obama DoJ indicts NSA whistleblower...are you mad yet?

Protest Activism Nonviolence does not equal complacency

Take action on the BP disaster: protests near you (including national events on 6/12 and 6/26)

Glenn Greenwald: 'This is what the Democratic Party does; it's who they are'

Here's some quality, independent media that's worth your time

More change from the states: New Mexico joins the Move Your Money campaign

To View Comments or Join the Conversation: