Counterpoint: Are political parties necessary to govern effectively?

Dylan Schor, Contributing Writer

The 2016 Presidential Election was probably the most jarring election for our current student body.  It was a mean-spirited campaign on all fronts, with minor political disagreements between individuals even tearing up relationships.  Sometimes, the conflict wasn’t even about beliefs – it was about the two-sided, no middle-ground party system in the United States, the so-called “land of the free.”  

With our current electoral system, it is practically impossible for anyone who is not a Republican or a Democrat to win a major federal office.  Even if an individual argues for beliefs that resonate with the vast majority of the people and would make a great president, it will be a major uphill battle to win the election unless he/she is a member of one of the two major parties. Due to the system of primaries, where only registered members of one party can vote for the party’s nominee, Americans are usually left with the choice between a staunch leftist and a hard-nosed conservative, with no middle ground option. Additionally, people who are seen as “too radical” for their party typically do not get the backing of the establishment, and the millions of dollars of funding which come with it.

“People are often found blindly voting for candidates that they wouldn’t want to support,” said sophomore Charlotte Kerpen.  “Having separate political parties supports this idea which can ultimately end up harming the American democratic system.”  

The main problem with the division is that politicians become solely associated with their respective parties, as opposed to becoming more associated with their personal morals and beliefs.  The Democratic Party’s primary in 2016 is a prime example of this.  Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton built up wide fan bases within the party, despite their notable political differences.  Economically, Senator Sanders’ socialist mindset was much more radical than Secretary Clinton’s, isolating him from the establishment.  

However, Sanders was essentially forced to run as a Democrat since there was no way he would be able to receive any electoral votes as an independent.  As a matter of fact, a third-party candidate has not won a state since 1968, and has not received an electoral vote since 1972.  Thus, once Hillary narrowly captured the Democratic vote, partially due to her strong relationship with party leaders, and the system of super-delegates, supporters of Sanders were outraged due to the animosity of the campaign.

“I feel that political parties are not always appropriate because instead of learning about what candidates believe and support people just vote their party. This can be dangerous,” said math department teacher Ms. Tina Marie Gallagher.

Although individual politicians and members within each political party are very diverse in regards to their ideas and philosophy, they are often seen as just being part of a larger, more important entity.  In this way, political parties under our current two-party system limit thought in the country to whoever’s leading each side.  Not only does this take away the voices of centrists or independents in the biggest democracy on the planet, but it forces Americans to be stuck voting for the “lesser of two evils,” leaving many in the country feeling unrepresented.

“The candidates representing the two major political parties are the only true ones recognized when you think of a presidential election, and when both of those people’s views conflict with those of a voter, they either vote for somebody who they disagree with, or decide not to vote at all, which leads to an election that isn’t predicated on the beliefs of the American people,” said sophomore David Gold.

Another key point to recognize is that with major political bodies comes serious corruption. Heavy donors often times pay politicians to enact their ideas, and although getting rid of political parties will not entirely fix this, it would definitely lessen its effect. Instead of giving money to the Republican party, they would have to give to each individual person, reducing the impact of the donations.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, representatives of parties tend to only vote against the other. This is seen with the various government shutdowns that occurred within the past several years, especially the most recent one, which began on Dec. 22 of last year.  In regards to contentious issues like gun control, border security, and healthcare, both sides agreed something had to be done.  However, the Democrats refused to support any solution the Republicans proposed, and the latter party refused to compromise. President Trump began to threaten Democrats, and repeatedly stated that he would use his executive powers to fund a wall along America’s southern border.

Another example of this tendency to vote strictly for members of one’s party is the nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016 to the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama.  Politicians on both sides agreed that he was one of the best men for the job, being an intelligent, experienced, and relatively centrist person.  However, Republicans refused to appoint him to the court, citing “Obama nominated him” as the chief reason why.

        In the end, under our current two-party system, political parties are forces that threaten the integrity of our democracy.  They isolate and polarize a majority of the country, and seeing the two parties as individually one force many times leads to immense division and hatred.  While exploring a multiple or even no party system seems unlikely, the current system represents just the vocal minority of America.