Can The Two Party System Survive?

And maybe more importantly, should it? We all know the story of how Washington was the only U.S. President that was not formally affiliated with a political party and that he warned in his farewell address that political parties are the most dangerous thing to democracy (I am paraphrasing).  And it is not just unlikely, but, virtually impossible, that the party system will ever be removed from politics.  Let’s face it, Washington was a dreamer if he thought anything larger than a city council could operate without parties.  But, perhaps, just perhaps, there might be an opportunity for more than just the traditional two parties.  Maybe.

The Democratic Party is the oldest political party in the US (even though the Republicans call themselves the Grand Old Party) and is among the oldest in the world, tracing its roots to the Democratic-Republican party founded in opposition to the Federalists in 1792.  And the Republican Party is no slouch either, having been founded in 1854 by anti-slavery expansion activists and modernizers, Republican Party rose to prominence with the election of Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president.

With the strong shift of the Republican Party towards its core far right constituency the time could be ripe for the rise of a new dominant party (or more than one). The Republicans have moved so far away from the center as a party that more an more people who considered themselves to be Republicans are left wondering "where do I fit in?"  This may have created an opportunity for one of the minor political parties towards the right to rise to power, perhaps the Libertarian or Constitution Parties, both of whom have similar core beliefs as the Republican Party.  Although the Libertarian Party’s position on abortion might preclude this from happening.  And let us not forget that the Democrats aren’t exactly the same party as they were under FDR.  There are many within the party that feel the Democratic Party has moved to far to the right in an effort to gain and keep political power in national politics.  This could allow for an opening to the left for a rise of the Green Party perhaps.

My point is that all it would take, I believe, for us to see a new party system, is someone of high national stature to switch to one of these "third parties" in a highly visible way.  Much as when Teddy Roosevelt did in 1912 by defecting from the Republicans and joining the Progressive Party.  Now, when Roosevelt lost the election the party basically fell apart and most of the defectors went back to the Republicans.  And the chances are that if a new dominant party rose to prominence, but, then did not win the Presidency, it would probably fall apart as well.  Or maybe we could see the permanent disolution of the two party system by having one or more new parties added to the mix.  Personally, I think it could be a good thing.