It’s divisive, archaic, and shameful.
We have many labels for the two major political parties in the United States, each designed to maintain a clear separation:
Democrats vs. Republicans — Liberals vs. Conservatives — Blue vs. Red — Left vs. Right
Essentially, it’s Us vs. Them no matter which side you’re on. And this is the problem. It’s never Us and Them.
Having a two-party political system and voting process is divisive by its very nature, and the politicians themselves often help widen the gap. You are required to choose a side as each wants to beat the other. Sure, there are independent candidates, but having dominant parties makes it almost certain that they will never win an election.
How many of us lost friends or suffered fractured relationships during or after the Trump / Clinton presidential election? At the very least we probably participated in some heated social media debates. It’s likely that such fallout would have occurred even without the party element as we had the most polarizing candidate and eventual president of my lifetime. However, having only these two choices was definitely a contributing factor. If you didn’t like either option you were forced to choose who you considered to be the lesser of two evils.
Some may feel that we need a way to categorize people of similar beliefs and interests, and differentiate between those with an alternate perspective. So, if we didn’t have political parties, how would we do this? My question is, why do we need to? I get wanting to vote for officials who support your personal views and issues that are important to you, but this can be done without the perpetual box that is party affiliation.
I know folks who vote Republican or Democrat based solely on which side their family supported when they were growing up. People will go in and vote straight down the party line without much thought to who any of the candidates are or what they stand for. There is literally nothing that would make them break this alliance. The respective nominee could be the absolute worst possible option, a certified awful human being proven to be a liar, cheater, stealer and committer of various heinous acts and people will still vote for him or her because, “party.”
Voters in Pahrump, NV recently elected a dead guy just to prevent the seat from going to a member of the opposing party. That’s how much the two sides dislike and distrust one another.
The absence of parties would encourage more voters to actually research candidates and make informed selections based on things like values and transparency. We may actually learn that we identify with the viewpoint of candidates that we wouldn’t have even considered otherwise. It would create more free thinkers and less individuals pledging allegiance to a particular belief structure. It would allow the space to experience evolution of thought.
What could we do instead? Well, there are multi-party systems where someone from each is elected to govern society. This would offer more equal representation, voices heard and views considered. It would eliminate the “one-or-the-other” fiasco and accompanying dissension.
Or, what if every candidate was independent? Taking away the labels won’t remove the philosophies. Politicians will still promote their doctrines and agendas, and those with similar outlooks will support. But at least the resulting group think of established political parties would be more difficult to cultivate.
I don’t know if a system exists where the person who voted differently than you won’t think you’re wrong, and possibly an idiot. But there has to be a better way. A way that focuses more on people than politics.