Pro: Two-party system offers stability
Nov. 6, 2011 at 5:06 a.m.
If it ain't broke don't fix it.
That is the attitude of those who believe the American two-party political system works well.
Gino Tozzi, lecturer of political science at the University of Houston-Victoria, said that history has a lot to do with the continuation of the two-party system in the U.S.
"The real engine that started rolling and forming political parties was the American Revolution," Tozzi said. "You had loyalists and you had those that supported the new country, revolutionaries.
"I think it really started during the Constitutional Convention, the debate between the Federalists and the Non-Federalists."
Tozzi also touted the growth of the party conventions in keeping the two-party system in place.
"In the 1830s and '40s, parties decided during party conventions who their presidential candidates would be," he said. "In the early 1900s, voters began getting more involved in the primary system, but the ultimate arbiter was the party convention.
"This really changed in the '60s and early '70s and conventions became more of a symbolic event.
"Today, we look at the convention and there is much pomp and circumstance. It's the way for a party to unify and congeal around a candidate, build a platform and advertise themselves," he said.
On the website idebate.org, Kevin J. Minch, assistant professor of communication at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., points out several reasons the system has served America well since the days of Thomas Jefferson.
"Two-party systems better reflect mainstream, centrist views," he writes. "In order to remain competitive with only one other competitor, parties will tend to moderate their platforms."
In addition, Minch writes, "Two-party systems are more stable.
"Because two-party systems tend to be less volatile in terms of election results, voters retain their representatives as incumbents longer. This means the level of experience of legislators is greater. This results in better and more consistent policy, and more effective scrutiny of the executive."
Minch makes another point in favor of two-party systems.
"Governments in two-party systems are more able to drive their policies through the legislature as they (in most cases) have a clear majority of the representatives there.
"This means they can implement important changes quickly and without compromise."
Victoria County Democratic Party Chairwoman Kelli Gill thinks the two-party system works well.
"There are differences between the two parties in the philosophy and values placed on issues like quality education, affordable healthcare, and equity of wealth in a tough economy," she said. "In that sense, the two-party system can work as long as there is a willingness to come together to find solutions rather than sticking to rigid ideology and fear-mongering."