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Two Party System in America: Origins, Pros and Cons

Origin

The American political scene is centered on two major parties. There are clear reasons as to how democracy was defined in terms of the parties. Democracy is only workable in the existence of parties (Aldrich, 1995). This means that all democratic nations have political parties. The United States in this case was no exception. It was the parties that articulated the issues raised by their members who were the citizens of America. In order to trace the genesis of the American democracy, it is important to take into account that the American society was undergoing several political changes and was rapidly evolving during the formation of the two parties. It is this kind of fragile situation that led to the arguments forwarded by many organizations that existed.

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However it was generally accepted that all these political forces were aimed at gaining power and taking control of the fledgling nation. All those efforts were driven by the motivation to shape the country in a way that would benefit all the citizens. This led to heated debates that were generated over the right course of action to be taken. It is that kind political atmosphere that led to the origin of the two parties which were believed to give a definite direction to their supporters. All the different sides were incorporated into two parties. These were the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. The name of two party systems was developed by two proponents of the philosophies around the two parties: Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.

The evolution of these parties was entirely as a result of the strength of these two individuals. The two men had differences in their schools of political thought. Hamilton was reputed for his superior interpretation of the US Constitution backed by his strong belief in law and order. He believed in the federal government vested with more powers. Jefferson on the other hand feared tyranny. He favored the literal interpretation of the constitution while limiting governments’ powers in other aspects of citizenship. One of their agreements over the American democracy was that any deal in elections had far fetched consequences. When elections are far apart they tend to expose the country a violent crisis. When they are held quite frequently they keep the citizens in constant excitement. This led to the Americans prefer to a middle ground that fused the two arguments to maintain the state in good shape leading to the mutability of the laws and opinions of Hamilton and Jefferson.

Realignments

The alignment and the realignment of the two parties have taken place over the past decades. This has been defined by many as the path of development (Coleman, 1995). There were two major parties that induced incentives for ambitious politicians to identify with one party or the other. These ambitions emerged only because of the prior existence of the two parties (Aldrich, 1995). It this is argument that led to the theory of political parties as the basis for the development of new institutional arrangements within a given historical context shaped by actors seeking to realize their goals. According to him, this notion led to the parties becoming candidate centered. Inevitably, this led to the creation of the parties and eventually, these parties became stronger and more important in their circles. Further, they were characterized by a highly effective governing capacity with clearly defined cleavages. This led to the reshaping of the parties (Aldrich, 1995). It marked the begging of the realignment of parties. In the begging there was clear nonpartisanship from the parties of Federal and Republican. The new political realignment produced a revived two party system.

In order to have a clear view of how the realignment took place the historical perspective is necessary to be taken into account. The Democratic–Republican Party held power fro 28 years after the inauguration of President Jefferson in 1801. This made the Federalist Party quite unpopular. Its demise in 1812 left the Democratic-Republican Party as a single national political organization. (Hough, 1996).the changes in the US economy and the social structure led to a gradual formation of new political alignments in the one party. These changes were occasioned by the westward expansion, the agricultural evolution in the south and the development of the manufacturing and capital accumulation in the north.

These advancements led to the development of pioneer farmers’ class, the slave system, wealth and influence of the manufacturers, merchants, bondholders and land speculators (Hough, 1996).The Jefferson democratic policies of limited government were popular among members of the urban class and the wealthy. However the minority of American population favored a more active role of the federal government. This resulted in the formation two parties namely the National Republic under Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams and the Democratic Party under Andrew Jackson in 1828 (Aldrich and Niemi, 1990).The events that followed, led to non-reconciliation of the two parties. Instead other parties were formed including the liberal, abolitionists and the free soil party as time progressed. During the post-civil war the Republican Party took control of power and articulated matters of national interest and the Democratic Party was the official opposition party.

However the great depression of 1928 eventually led to the signing of the New Deal that was designed to foster economic recovery. This led to the strengthening of the Democratic Party as a controlling force. According to Aldrich (1995) the 1960s was the critical era that led to the stable era of 1970s and1980s in which the parties were well redefined and took the face they hold to date (Aldrich and Niemi, 1990). The parties were judge according to their candidates and their views rather than on how to change the existing political, economic and social arenas. Over time several party leaders in power have tried to denounce such assertions it is clear that very little has been done to separate parties from their candidates.

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Negatives

There have been several arguments about the negatives and positives of the two party systems in the United States of America. It has been accused of locking out the advancement of a third party in the electoral system. The parliamentary of the United States government can only work well if there is support for more than two parties. However in the present circumstances representation is awarded to the party, according to how many people voted in their line. This means that a multiparty election would not necessarily lead to a more representational government. The unpopular party that does not take into account the needs of the Americans can secure victory at the expense of the majority views. Within these political parties there are interest groups whose views should be taken into consideration. However in the current circumstances a party with a very narrow focus or even fringe position can easily end up representing the other bigger population. This can be as a result of the acrimony that is likely to occur in the other party due to conflicting interests. The disgruntled members can end voting to the opposing camp as a protest for not being considered or not participating in the electoral process all together therefore reducing the numbers in their own camp.

The political ills committed in America are attributed to the failure of the two great American parties. Congress members are preoccupied with their on re-election therefore unable to work for the good of the public. The president on the other hand is concerned with personal popularity (Aldrich, 1995). This makes him spend too much time on leading the nation and out of touch with the congress. In order to pass a policy, the president is forced to form a workable compromise with the congress. Another shortcoming in America is that the elections are based on the candidate rather than the party. Party conventions are held at the national level and everything is done in a hurry unless the media points out the loopholes in their manifestos (Aldrich, 1995).

Aldrich further argued that the officeholders have created, maintained, used or abused reformed or ignored their political parties. This means that the strings weaknesses, formations and roles are driven by politicians. Parties act as vehicles for politicians to achieve their ambitions. Political parties have also been shaped by the technological advancements negating their original attraction of formulated policies. In the 19th century political parties were the only feasible means to conduct elections, currently television, air travel, and the computers allow the politicians to create and organize personal campaigns. The voters on the other hand have taken a different approach in the electioneering process. The members of a given party are forced to vote ideologically between the liberals and the conservatism their decisions are no longer based on district service delivery but on what the candidate of the office offers. However the choice of the candidates is limited to the party which ensures uniformity in their visions thus limiting innovativeness of the candidates.

The dynamics of these parties have changed over time. The political parties have locked out potential and capable candidates who are not their members. They tend to control the political careers of most people because of their popularity. Balkanization of the country can easily occur in situations of political turmoil. It is now evident that there are states that always vote in predetermined manner. They cast to a particular party in all the elections thus posing a threat to the democracy itself. The interest of the minority groups can at times be taken for granted since the party leaders enjoy popular support across the country. Their votes are regarded as non consequential. It is therefore important that party leaders practice political maturity by addressing all the concerns of their citizens even if they do not count in numbers.

References

Aldrich, J. Why Parties? Chicago: Chicago press.1995.

Aldrich, J. and Niemi, R. The sixth American Party system: The 1960s Realignments and the candidate-centered Parties, Duke University Working Papers in American Politics. Volume No. 107.1990.

Coleman, J. Why Parties? The origin and transformation of party politics in America the journal of politics. Vol 58 no 4 1214-1217 1996.

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Hough, J. Hanging party coalitions. New York: Algora publishers. 1996.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 22). Two Party System in America: Origins, Pros and Cons. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/two-party-system-in-america-origins-pros-and-cons/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 22). Two Party System in America: Origins, Pros and Cons. https://studycorgi.com/two-party-system-in-america-origins-pros-and-cons/

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StudyCorgi. "Two Party System in America: Origins, Pros and Cons." November 22, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/two-party-system-in-america-origins-pros-and-cons/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Two Party System in America: Origins, Pros and Cons." November 22, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/two-party-system-in-america-origins-pros-and-cons/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Two Party System in America: Origins, Pros and Cons'. 22 November.

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