Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hurrah For the Two Party System!

The two party system attracts a lot of criticism in America.

Some critics hate it because they say the parties are too alike in practice and even in ideology. Is this a bad thing? Our parties, for the most part, agree on quite a bit. They agree on the Constitution, democracy, and most Democrats even agree about capitalism. Would the critics rather have a party or two that was opposed to the entire American system?

The two party system moderates the extremes. Liberals have found that speaking and acting too extreme leads to not being elected to office. Most Americans are moderate and vote for moderate presidential candidates. The triumph of moderation means that change occurs with great deliberation. This too rankles some, but the Founding Fathers designed it this way. We debate and discuss changes sometimes too long, but this is better than fast paced change that comes from poor information or emotional appeals.

Our two party system creates real competition in most areas. Democrats and Republicans must remain true to the voters. The recent Republican Congress lost touch with the voters who rightfully kicked them out of office. Now the GOP has worked hard to return to the basic principles that got them elected in the first place. The Democratic Party has struggled with their extremist wing and will have to figure that issue out before Americans will trust them with foreign policy as they did for much of the twentieth century.

West Virginia desperately needs a two party system. Historically it has vacillated between eras dominated by Republicans or Democrats. Odds are that the passing of the New Deal generation and their children will lead to another swing back to Republican dominance. West Virginia's pattern reflects a tendency of the people to get so fed up with the ruling party that they reject it entirely for a generation or two until they get tired of that regime. State Democrats should be fearful that six of their legislative incumbents ended up tossed out by the voters.

However we do not need complete Republican rule in West Virginia for decades; that would lead to corruption and abuse as well. We need a healthy and vibrant two party system that responds to the voters' needs.

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