The Duopoly is Dead, Long Live the Duopoly

Duopoly ideology is so entrenched in our political thought that apologists of the two party system speak as if it were somehow part and parcel of the constitutional separation of powers, confusing so-called 'divided government' (when one party controls the executive while the other controls the legislature) with the system of checks and balances, as has been shown here before. Perhaps even more insidious is the way in which it smuggles itself back into the discourses of commentators (present company not excluded) who consciously put it in question.

A self-described "Democrat (recovering Republican)" at the TPMCafe, by the moniker of Stillidealistic, asks, "Is it time to reconsider the two party system?" The author provides a short historical sketch of the early development of the two party system, emphasizing the fact that the Constitution does not address the party system in any significant way, and then expresses exasperation over the contemporary state of partisan polarization. We read: "I know there is no practical way to do it, but I'd like to see the 2 party system go away, have an open election and the 2 biggest "vote getters" have a run off." But, for all intents and purposes, is this not how the two party system already effectively functions? Is this not that same as saying: abolish the two party system, but maintain the two party system? Perhaps the surest way to make the two party system "go away" is also the simplest and most practical. Support third parties and their candidates for office.

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