By Collen Haggerty
The two party political system in the US has proven so polarising, divisive and destructive in this latest election season that it is almost certainly time to modernise and take a lead from other countries (including Israel) and introduce a system that includes some form of proportional representation.
A system “in which parties gain seats in proportion to the number of votes cast for them” is not without some major faults (it can lead to small splinter groups holding decisive power disproportionate to their share of the vote) but it at least gives a voice to everyone and an achievable route towards governing and stops the disenfranchising of up to half the electorate.
It will require a huge shift in the demographic (enter young voters of every creed and color), one of the parties to get all three branches and a charismatic leader brave and strong enough to metaphorically punch their way through. Good Luck to us and the US of A.
The night of the 2016 presidential election I was in a subway car in New York City. On the train was a group of suited Hillary campaign workers nauseous at the results of the night, wiping tears from their eyes, standing in abject silence. There were also the three 18-year-old girls I had spent the night collecting poll results at the Associated Press with, who had a rather similar look to the campaign workers, but with a youthful innocence that made their expressions all the more depressing. I was sad too.For many Americans, especially New Yorkers, the election of Mr. Trump pumped us full of abject fear. That night, there was a man on the subway, presumably homeless, eating a massive, sloppy meatball sub. He snickered at the collective sadness of the car, swinging his sub as he spoke. With sauce splattering everywhere, he said: “I don’t give a fuck about Trump. I’ve been fucked from the start. The government doesn’t give a fuck about people like me. Doesn’t matter. Obama, Trump doesn’t matter. My life’s been fucked from the start.” Although I do not agree fully with this statement, I think there are important aspects of it to take into account in order to truly understand the impact of the American dual-party system on the people who it is supposed to protect.What I finally understood is that American politics, as it stands, might as well be a demented game of ‘shirts versus skins.’ Since that moment on the subway, I have come to understand that the American dual-party system is so much more detrimental than could have ever been imagined. Both parties make promises they do not intend to keep and politicize delicate issues in order to further their personal and political agendas, whether that be accumulating wealth or accumulating power. While this may be true, it would take major litigation to break up the Democrat and Republican parties, as they are already backed by incredible amounts of money, power, and status. What we have in this country is an illusion of choice, and without a severe upheaval of American tradition, very little could stop the hegemonic resilience of the republican and democratic parties. This is exemplified perfectly in the 2020 Presidential election. Despite the fact that many, if not most, progressives do not support the nomination of Joe Biden as the democratic candidate, rebuking many of his policies regarding mass incarceration, war, and race in America, he is considered the lesser of two evils. If Donald Trump wins the election, it is very possible that women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, children, the poor, and immigrants will be put in imminent danger. Unfairly, voting for Joe Biden is the only way to stop this from happening.Mr. Trump’s incredible failure in handling the COVID-19 pandemic in America should make it imminently clear why the dual-party system is a cancer. Instead of uniting the country as one in order to stop the spread, he politicized a national health crisis, calling on people to not wear masks and to not socially distance, all in order to galvanize his voters against the Democrats to win the election. Whether or not he believes COVID-19 is a serious issue, he politicizes it in order to fulfill his own personal and political agenda, resulting in the death and sickness of hundreds of thousands of people in the United States alone. If Mr. Trump is to win the Presidential seat for the next four years, he will have the blood of COVID-19 victims on his hands.There is very little doubt in my mind that the Republican and Democrat parties are incredibly toxic to democracy. As of now, American politics does technically allow for other parties, like the Green party and Tea party, for instance. But the corporate and political backing of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee will not allow widespread support of these candidates. As I stated previously, our binary-party supporting politicians will continue to convince us that their governing does more good than harm, but until the dual-party system is broken, whether it does more good than harm is irrelevant. Under the dual-party system, the people who truly need the support and protection of the government do not receive it, for the hardships they face on a day-to-day basis are politicized senselessly. Over time, I believe that the warfare between the democratic and republican will only become more venomous to Americans as fragile issues such as climate change, racial inequality, public health, and the economy reach their breaking points. An unstoppable, revolutionary protest movement is sweeping the nation in the name of equality, and fairness for all. Perhaps this will finally bring the change we wish to see in our country.