The United States of America needs a multi-party for the survival of its democracy, or it will continue its escalation of democratic erosion. The past two presidential elections in 2016 and 2020 have shown a deep, bipartisan division in the U.S. that is negatively affecting its democracy. And if this deep division grows larger at a constant rate in which it is now, the United States is at high risk of losing its democracy completely.
America’s bi-party system has forced the American citizens to divide themselves into two irreconcilable teams. Furthermore, it reduces the American citizens into “winners” and “losers”, instead of citizens finding pros and cons to candidates that would be potentially representing them. Meaning, American citizens are so invested in their “teams”, or which respective political party they identify with, that they dehumanize and demonize the opposing party. Americans are beginning to view the opposing political party as the party that will end democracy or bring about the fall of America, when in reality the infighting and boardline political wars between the two parties will be what brings about the fall of American democracy.
Furthermore on this point, extreme political polarization has caused the country to be divided into extreme “us vs. them” tribes. Because of this, those that most closely identify with one party or the other, being either the Republican party or the Democratic party, are beginning to see the other side as an existential threat. In a poll conducted in 1994, only 16% of Americans said that they thought the other political party was a threat to the nation. By 2016, that number had increased to 44% of Democrats and 47% of Republicans. Therefore, this raised polarization and increased sense of threat to each respective political party’s standing raises not only the stakes of the elections, but also raises the growing chaos and hostility surrounding elections.
This leads us into the problems with gerrymandering and the Electoral College, and how the use of these two tools further drive a wedge between the two political parties. There are numerous issues that can be discussed on gerrymandering and the electoral process themselves, but utilization of these “tools” to suppress minority voters and having the presidential candidate winning all of the votes of a state creates this extreme sense of winner take all. Because of this, the “losers” feel as though they are not represented by the government, which creates a feeling of extreme disdain between the two political parties and mistrust of the “other team”. Likewise, when a certain group or leader comes into power and fears losing that power, which most end up doing at some point or another in history, most will do anything in order to change the rules or create an uneven playing field for their opponents in order to hold on to their power and avoid losing. This creates further deep polarization and mistrust in our political system, because there is this feeling that the two political parties are at war with each other and they must win this political war in order to stay in power.
So how is this two-party system in the U.S. one of the key issues leading towards America’s democratic erosion? The main answer is that it is causing a deep, hostile division in American citizens with each other, and it is also creating a huge issue of mistrust in the government and representatives from both parties. The former could cause huge levels of violent political infighting between the two parties if the levels of hostility between the two continue to progress at the rate in which they are going, because both parties are increasing to believe that the other party is a threat to the entire nation. The latter reason could lead to citizens simply not participating in elections, because they do not trust the process, or believing that they are not actually able to vote for the representative that they want in a fair manor (think claims of voter fraud and “rigged” elections that have majorly surfaced in 2020). These two reasons are extremely important in the backsliding of democracy, because one of the key components of a democracy is the citizens’ ability to fairly and freely vote on who represents and leads them in the government.
So what can we do about this system, or how can we change it, in order to prevent democratic erosion in the U.S.? Really and truly the only way to break this destructive political system is to break the electoral and political systems that enforce it, which is much easier said than done. The American system is not divided as it is, being Democrats vs. Republicans, because the American people only want two choices, but instead it is divided because in these winner-take-all, us vs. them elections, third parties cannot emerge. We’ve seen that done time and time again with the Libertarian party, which is technically the third party in the U.S. elections, but holds absolutely no standing in comparison in the actual elections. A break down what the exact parties might break into to form at least five or six parties can be found in FP’s article.
The ultimate takeaway in having multiple parties is that more people would be represented and less would feel as though they are “losers” or have no trust in the government. American democracy has a lot of improvement that needs to be in the future to reverse the backsliding it is faced with, but incorporating a multi-party system into the elections and in the government would increase the U.S.’s odds of combating democratic erosion by providing more representation for its citizens and breaking out of this volatile “us vs. them” system that America finds itself stuck in today.