Jeff Jarvis has undertaken the task of defending America's two party system:
[I]n Germany, for example, you can vote for the Greens with some confidence and good conscience that, if they're big enough, they can join with the liberals and in the end, you're still supporting a left-leaning government and your party leaders are at least part of the government's cabinet. A vote for the Greens is a vote for the left, not a vote discarded.There's more there, and its worth reading, but I don't think I agree with the entirety of his piece. I don't believe the two party system is the 'demon-spawn' my university friends in Toronto seem to think it is, but I don't think Jarvis' defense is the one I'd choose.
That's not the way it works here, of course. We elect one person for President and that has nothing to do with which parties win elsewhere.
This means that our system forces voters to make a choice -- but at least it's our choice.
When it comes to the presidency, only one person can win. When it comes to Congress, for that matter, only two parties can efficiently win, given our system of majorities and supermajorities needed to get the work of the people done and given the fact that governments won't fall because of any legislature's failures or whims and given the size of the country and the cost of running for office and marketing a message here. The same system operates down to the state and local levels.
And that system works. It is more stable and effective than any other you can name.
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