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Make note of the stability of the present two political party system

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Introduction

Abstract In Two Parties - Or More? The American Party System, Dr. John F. Bibby, a professor of American politics at the University of Wisconsin, and L. Sandy Maisel (1998), a professor in the department of government at Colby College, make note of the stability of the present two political party system: Each has sustained dramatic swings of fortune - landslide victories, demoralizing defeats, cliffhanger wins and losses, major splinter movements, and realignments of bases for electoral support. Despite the fluidity of voting patterns over the decades and political dislocations created by two world wars, depressions, waves of new immigrants, industrialization, urbanization, globalization, and changes in lifestyles, the Republican-Democratic two-party system endures. (p. 48) Dominating electoral politics since 1854 (Bibby & Maisel, p. 21), the two-party system has stood up to such challenges with the assistance of several American institutional arrangements, such as the single-member district system, the Electoral College, and media influences including the Commission on Presidential Debates. During this time, the two-party system has helped to maintain political stability, fostered political legitimacy, and promoted national unity. To preserve this stability and retain the additional benefits of having a two-party system, the United States should continue to encourage this system, as opposed to a three-party or multiparty system. ...read more.

Middle

56). While proportional representation systems provide "incentives for the creation and perpetuation of multiple and distinct parties," the American arrangement brings with it "incentives toward the creation of two broadly based parties that are capable of winning district-level pluralities and majorities in the legislative chamber" (Bibby & Maisel, p. 56). Kay Lawson, a professor at San Francisco State University and supporter of the multiparty system, believes that the United States needs to change the electoral system to a proportional representation system to encourage the growth of minor parties (Lawson, 1997, p. 66). This transformation would not be an easy one, particularly because the single member district system is deeply rooted in American tradition, as the system dates back more than a century. Bibby comments on altering traditional systems in general: "A truly viable multiparty system would require a change in some basic institutional arrangements to which, for the most part, Americans seem firmly committed" (1997, p. 21). Therefore, since the electoral system is unlikely to change, minor parties will always be "condemned to almost perpetual defeat (Bibby & Maisel, p. 56)" because the United States is inclined to form two major parties under the single-member district system. The Electoral College system for electing presidents is another institutional barrier to multiparty politics. ...read more.

Conclusion

As stated previously, a winning candidate must have a majority or sizable plurality of the vote under the single-member district system; Bibby believes that this requirement of obtaining the majority to win the election "lends an aura of legitimacy to elected officials that in the case of the presidents and governors strengthens their position to lead the nation or their states" (p. 74). Nelson W. Polsby and Aaron Wildavsky echo this opinion: "...this increases the chance that winners will have the backing of a sizable number of voters and the legitimacy to lead Congress and the nation" (Bibby, p. 74). Conclusions Noticing these benefits stemming from the existence of the two-party system, Bibby states, "Perhaps it is because the United States has operated a political system within the context of stability, consensus, and incremental policy change for so long that its advantages tend to be overlooked and taken for granted" (p. 77). Such longevity exhibited by the two-party system is unheard of in foreign governments. The endurance of this system can be attributed to the sense of unity and legitimacy that it provides United States citizens, along with its "high compatibility with American society, culture, and governmental structures" (Bibby, p. 74). The United States government should continue to encourage the two-party system to ultimately maintain the advantageous relationship it has had with the American public. ...read more.

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