In 2016 the United States missed an opportunity. On the left we had a Democratic Socialist (Bernie Sanders) squaring off against a “conventional” Democrat (Hillary Clinton), and on the right we had a populist (Donald Trump), squaring off against a wide field of “traditional” Republicans. It was the perfect chance to highlight the vast disparities between the differing sects inside each political party and do something about it.
Even with an extreme partisan like Clinton, and an extreme partisan like Cruz, there were still two more candidates that held even more radical views competing for their party’s nomination.
But imagine if both parties were split in two, with each party’s most extreme members forming their own political parties based off those beliefs. A populist party for the extreme Republicans and a Democratic Socialist party for the extreme Democrats.
Before looking at the presidential election implications of doing this, lets look at the implications to Congress. The country is divided into extreme partisan areas, areas that elect people like Alexandria Oscar-Cortez and Bernie Sanders on the left, and people like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump on the right.
In an ideal situation each party would have roughly the same number of people (please don’t misunderstand me, there would still be elections which invariably means that there would be fluctuations to this and that’s a good thing). But as long as no one single party gained complete control for too long it’d be fine.
That would mean that depending on the makeup of the government at the time, each “moderate” party would need to work with their respective extreme parties to get their more extreme measures passed. Additionally, to get more moderate legislation passed they would need to work with the other moderate party. A system like this rewards cooperation, since no party can do anything all by themselves, as compared to our current winner take all system that results in politicians hurting their careers when they work with the opposing party. Having more parties in Congress is a clear advantage for the country because the amount of cooperation it encourages.
For the presidential election things get far trickier in a multiparty system though, you don’t want an elected president who only got 30 percent of the popular vote. Ideally, in a multiparty system you don’t have a direct election for the President, you have a parliamentary system like those used throughout Europe. I would propose a system where the elected Congress votes for and chooses the President.
This would once again encourage cooperation between the parties and ensure that the President isn’t extremely partisan, since no one party can elect the President by themselves. The other option for a Presidential system with multiple parties is a runoff election type scenario. However, I think this would still lead to a heavily partisan President, blunting much of the impact of a less partisan Congress.
To be clear, I don’t think a system like the one described above will ever be implemented in the United States, it would require a complete overhaul of our government right down to the Constitution. Still, I said it before and I believe it even more now, we need more than two parties in our government.
The way the United States works right now is we go from one extreme to the other, swinging back and forth between the two, and as a result we drown out the moderates. It’s an extremely volatile system that leaves a large portion of the population feeling disconnected from the government and encourages large partisan divides and big divisions throughout the country.
When America was founded, our government system was the best in the world, and while the country is still great (despite what certain politicians would have you believe about needing to make “our country great again”), our political system is deeply flawed and far from the best in the world. It’s about time we started looking at ways to fix it.