The Democratic and Republican Parties are the Primary Obstacle to Democratic, Republican Government

In an op-ed for New York Newsday, Jacqueline Salit, the president of, argues that the primary obstacle to representative government in the United States is the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government.  In the piece, entitled "Goodbye Two-Party System," she writes:

Name a problem — poverty, war, out-of-control spending. The political parties offer themselves as the solution to all of the above, and more. We respond by voting for first one party, then the other, then back again. We want to let the world know we are unhappy, but we haven’t yet developed the creative capacity to rearrange the world around us . . . This is American politics 101. The cure for whatever ails us is . . . more of the same. . . . But Americans are starting to move beyond the parties, even beyond partyism. That’s the dynamic story unfolding on the edges of the midterm battleground.
Salit goes on to make the case for open primaries, but on the model of the so-called "top-two system" like that in Washington and soon to be implemented in California.  As you probably know, on this model, all candidates for a given office participate in the same primary election, in which all voters are allowed to cast a ballot, and the top-two vote-getters proceed to the general election.  While the argument for open primary elections, as such, is quite persuasive, closed general elections are not likely to result in a more representative government or more perfect Union.  Supporters of top-two have yet to make a strong case to support the counter-intuitive notion that restricting the scope of choices on the general election ballot will lead to more political competition and more adequate representation.  That aside, Salit concludes by questioning the very existence of the reigning two-party state:
The parties are so deeply embedded in government and in the structure and design of America’s electoral process that they never have to justify their existence to voters. But at a moment when there is across-the-board dissatisfaction with partisanship, shouldn’t they have to? Shouldn’t we have the opportunity to create alternatives — nonpartisan (rather than bipartisan) governance, campaigns based on healthy debates about new ideas, unorthodox coalitions and an environment that fosters innovation?  Right now the parties stand in the way of all that.
Thanks to The Hankster for the link.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good Lord!! The title alone tells the whole story. Come January/2011 it will be most interesting to see what happens knowing everyone is positioning themselves for the 2012 presidential elections.