Since the Constitutional Convention of 1787, two major political parties have run the American political system. In 1787 it was John Hancock and the Federalists, competing against Sam Adams and the Anti-Federalists. Today it’s the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. But is this system a good one?
In 2010, the Democratic Party lost control of the United States House of Representatives. In an interview on October 23, 2010 with the National Journal, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell commented that “[t]he single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” This vitriolic partisan statement is but one small example of the bitter partisan politics that have dominated both sides of the political spectrum for many years.
Some may argue that we don’t have a two-party system in this country. We do have independent politicians, but in the Presidential elections they’ve played a very small role. Abraham Lincoln is the only independent Presidential candidate to win the Presidential election in the history of the United States. President Lincoln was a member of the Republican Party, but as he was the first Republican Party member to be elected, this made him an Independent candidate. However, independents rarely exert much control or authority. Are there exceptions to this claim? Yes. Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut was a former member of the Democratic Party, but in 2006 the Senator ran as an Independent, as a member of the “Connecticut for Lieberman Party” (his own party), and won. Senator Lieberman wields enormous power in the Senate. However no true Independent – in the sense of being an Independent for their entire career instead of changing parties for political reasons – has ever wielded great power in United States politics.
In Pennsylvania, state judges are elected. This means that they are either Republican judges or Democratic judges. These judges are politicians. They get donations to their campaigns from political action committees made up of lawyers, who will undoubtedly have cases in front of those judges. In Pennsylvania, the Voter ID law was an issue that came before a Republican judge this fall leading up to the 2012 Presidential election. The judge originally found in favor of the law, but when it was returned to him by the state supreme court he issued a stay on the law until after the election.
Countries like England, Denmark, and Australia that have coalition governments must rely on each of the many parties to work together in order to make their government function. While this may seem more complicated and confusing, the system actually makes more sense. Each party is set up more like an interest group, where one can vote for the people they feel really represent their best interests on specific issues.
This still isn’t the ideal system. The ideal system for United States politics is a non-party system. Why have a party? What’s the purpose of the party? Candidates should be elected based on who they are as candidates and what they say they will do to help their constituents. Having the massive party funding and the stigma that’s associated with that party makes the election process less about the candidate and more about the party. The fact that one can just “vote the ticket” for all Democrats or all Republicans is a travesty. How can a voter be allowed to blindly follow the party they support? The breakdown of intelligence and responsibility in the hands of the voter at this level is awful.
I aspire to a career in politics. I want to eventually run for national political office. But I can’t shake the feeling that with the current partisan politics and the vitriol spewing from both sides of the aisle it will be a difficult job accomplishing anything in Washington. We need a change. We need to encourage our elected officials to work together for the betterment of the community and of their constituents rather than for their party, be it Democratic or Republican. We need to put aside the elephant and the donkey and embrace the reconstruction of a great nation. The United States is a great nation, but it’s a nation in need of repair. Let’s begin the repair that must occur. Let’s fix the partisan politics and make sure our democracy doesn’t just continue plodding along, but becomes a truly great engine for change.