The American two-party system pretty much doesn’t work any more. It’s broken and the Republican and Democratic politicians broke it when they started representing their parties and not their constituents.
Back “in the day”, if a politician represented a farming district his first obligation was to farmers; urban area representatives stood for urban interests, etc. No matter what party they belonged to, all the farming-district reps stood together, all the city-district reps stood together. You could tell what type of constituents a politician had by how he voted and his committee assignments.
Looking at the platforms of today’s politicians doesn’t give a clue what the interests of their districts and constituents are, but you sure know their party affiliation.
Is there any practical way to give the two-party sytem back to the citizens?
A start might be nonpartisan elections, but recent Hillsborough “nonpartisan” elections such as the Board of Education and the Charter Study Commission have shown we simply end up with party regulars running, quietly (and financially) supported by their parties. All that changes is the lack of a party affiliation listed on the ballot.
The rise of independent politicians might help, although I have no clue how they would finance any but the most local contests. Maybe if independents start winning local contests and proving themselves to their constituents they may eventually work their way up without becoming part of the old system.
The two major parties are much too entrenched to suggest they disband and we start again, but one hopes [0ne can always hope.] that there are at least some Republican or Democratic idealists who are trying to work from within to bring back representation of the people.
If the current two-party system doesn’t change – from the local elections on up - I fear for America as a democracy.
- Susan Gulliford