When it comes to politics, factions are unavoidable. No matter where you look, bar certain monarchies and dictatorships, parties govern the political game. And not to bash parties, they serve as a means of bringing likeminded people together to support a representative for their ideals. However, there will always be compromises made; no two people will ever agree precisely on every single issue, such is human nature. In a nation of over 300 million people, how can a mere two parties efficiently represent the population?
The two party system in the US is a problem that needs to be solved. Not only does it fail to effectively represent the minds of the nation, but it creates unnecessary classism and ill-content amongst the American people. With only two major parties, much political rhetoric is reserved for attacking the other party’s position, causing useless bickering and infighting. When they should be focusing on accurately embodying the will of the people, candidates are instead creating quotes defacing the opposition’s ability to govern, and slandering the other side for any and everything they can.
Aside from pitting parts of the nation against each other (just look at any map on election night and you’ll see stark borders between supposed red and blue states), the two party system does a terrible job at representing the opinions of the people. If there are only two candidates to choose between, voters are left with little choice, and are sometimes forced to vote for the lesser of two evils simply to keep someone else out of office. Much of this is down to the voting system we have in place.
First-past-the-post voting, or FPTP, is an inefficient and unrepresentative way to elect officials. In this system, you can vote for one candidate, and only one candidate. The person who gets the most votes wins. Simplistic, and stupid. CGP Grey excellently outlines the shortcomings of FPTP in a video on his YouTube channel, and explains how a two party system is unavoidable in this case. In another video, he talks about the alternative vote, a still flawed, but wholly more representative way to carry out elections. In this system, voters rank their choices in order of preference, and votes for less popular candidates are divvied up amongst the more popular ones on account of the voters’ rankings. In essence, you can vote first for the party or candidate, regardless of size or popularity, and still keep votes away from disliked options.
While still not perfect, the alternative vote offers a better option than our current FPTP system. It allows people to align their vote closer to their beliefs, without compromising the election and handing support to candidates they dislike. It also allows third parties to gain ground, and (hopefully) could result in a multi-party system. Such a system would give Americans more options, and an easier way to support their own ideals. It would also (ideally) create a more balanced political landscape, leading to more complex discussions between factions and less simplistic vilification. It wouldn’t come close to fixing everything that needs changing, but if anything has been revealed by our current election, it’s that change is indeed necessary.