Most conservatives have watched, often choking back laughter at the antics of the Democrats post-presidential election. Many still do not accept the Trump victory over Clinton. I will never forget the shock on the faces of Hillary followers in New York expecting there to be a coronation of the first female President. Instead they got slapped in the face with their first dose of flyover American reality as Donald Trump rolled to victory due in large part to voters from Middle America who the Democrat Party largely ignored. From the top down in the Democrat Party the consensus for months was that not only would Hillary win the election, but estimates of her winning margin were from 4 to 10 points over Trump.
The shock and awe of the huge loss has engulfed all Democrats who find themselves looking for direction and answers while waiting for someone to step up to take leadership of the party. The last two DNC heads have left in disgrace. The party is in total disarray.
While the G.O.P. is still basking in election victory, the thrill of snatching that win from the jaws of defeat is waxing thin as the realities of the political war have made chest thumping and nose thumbing of Democrats passe. Republicans vs. Democrats: some things never change.
But 30 days after the inauguration, and as both parties fight to learn how and why the Democrats lost and the Republicans swore in their guy, I have begun to wonder if having two parties is even necessary. The two party system has been around for a long time. But has it worn out its welcome? Do we really need two parties? The Constitution does not require two. There are no federal laws that require two. So why do have two?
Proponents are quick to say having at least two parties allows voters to hear, see, and understand through debate the differences between candidates running for office and their political ideals. That is an admirable idea that was principle in the original two party establishment. But unfortunately for Americans, denizens in party politics have turned that wonderful ideal into a slug fest. And during the fight the “discovery of ideals” principle is pretty much lost at the hand of the major task of parties: raising money.
Before television, politicians were forced to sway voters through newspaper stories and interviews and personal appearances. There was no internet, no television or radio, so in-person meetings were critical to attract voters. With the advent of electronic media, speaking to voters became much easier and much more effective. In fact many politicians spend more time and money finding ways to impact voters through media than meeting with voters face to face. Would these processes change if there was one party or NO party at all? Candidates would be forced to stand on their own and to sway voting opinion based solely on their principles, ideals, and presentation of those to voters. I think so. Why?
In the last 20 years, elections have become angrier, more contentious, and more hateful in election than previously. Partisan political issues are seldom discussed or are actually debated by candidates less and less. Candidates instead opt to allow their parties raise tens of millions of dollars much, of which is spent to dig up dirt to turn into vicious radio, print, internet, and television ads attacking opponents. Instead of having civil debates on issues, these non-stop attacks force opponents to respond in kind. There is no time and no longer any desire for civil debate. Instead in the two party system the drive is to find a man or woman who parties can push to victory in each election.
In this atmosphere of non-stop rancor, we watch in horror as peaceful demonstrations that 40 years ago would end with speeches now turn into full scale riots. Anarchy is actually now on the U.S. political horizon. Many feel that totally doing away with two or more political parties will immediately stop this.
It is at times like this we all turn back the pages of time, scavenging for scraps of speeches and writings of our forefathers to get their perspectives on all things political. What about the two party system?
George Washington said this: “I have intimated to you the danger of parties of the State. The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of REVENGE natural to party dissension, which in different countries and ages has perpetuated the most horrid of enormities, is itself a frightful despotism! And this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries of what results causes the minds of men to SEEK SECURITY AND REPOSE IN THE ABSOLUTE POWER OF AN INDIVIDUAL….and sooner or later a chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors turns this disposition toward the purpose of his own elevation….on the ruins of public liberty.”
No matter what your personal feelings about Washington, you must agree he was concerned as evidenced in this writing about the danger of abuse of power and the escalation of individual power, hate, and control in the party system. It is almost like he was looking ahead a couple of hundred years and spoke to us prophetically. Were Washington’s concerns valid?
I think they were. And as we watch and listen to the vitriol from both parties in this post election cycle, it is apparent that little that has been or will be accomplished during the Trump Administration will be effective because of the public fighting about each from both parties. What would the landscape be if there was just one party?
Getting elected would require effective and thorough communication of ideals and principles by candidates to voters. Instead of today’s preferred method of converting voters — intimidation — voters would hear and see real debate in a public forum, something our forefathers established. Certainly there would be angry words, outlandish allegations, and raucous debates. But in actual debates, allegations made can be confronted, discussed, and resolved. In today’s endless news cycle, news never dies. It only turns a page at midnight.
I have no idea if moving to a single party would work in the U.S. or would even be possible. I suppose Congress could pass such a law (if there was a consensus for it) and with a presidential signature make it happen. I’m not sure it would be successful. Maybe we are too far gone. Maybe there are not enough Americans who would agree with it. But one thing is certain: the U.S. election process is full of cracks that must be addressed and repaired. It will take hard work and consensus of those 535 folks who work in the Capitol Building. And it will take a President who will set aside personal feelings to promote the common good of America. I think we should give it a chance. To quote then candidate Trump,”What is there to lose?”