An Examination of America's Two Party System Essay

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An Examination of America's Two Party System

Democracy in the United States is based on the indirect representation of the people by elected officials who are usually chosen by direct vote. Almost from the beginning of the United States' history, however, two parties have shared the great majority of the elected positions from the local level to the presidency. However, up until the mid-1850's when the Republican party was formed, other parties such as the Whigs, Federalists, and Anti-Federalists did not last very long. The Democratic Party has existed for much longer, tracing its roots from Thomas Jefferson's Democratic Republican Party beginning around 1792 (Encarta). The two largest parties have changed, third parties have
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The two-party system is said to promote governmental stability because a single party can win a majority of political offices and, with less bickering between differing and partisan legislators, govern more efficiently. In a multiparty country, on the other hand, the formation of a government depends on the maintenance of a coalition of parties with enough total strength to form a political majority. The weakness of the ties that bind the coalition may threaten the continuance of a cabinet in power. The stability shown by the government of the United States has not been entirely due to its party system, it has been argued, but has been promoted also by the fixed tenure and strong constitutional position of the president, as well as checks and balances built into the constitution to prevent one branch of federal government from becoming too powerful.
The Founding Fathers of the United States did not mention political parties in the Constitution. When George Washington left office he warned the country of the "baneful effects of the spirit of party"(Crabtree 18). and James Madison believed that the new nation's politics would be structured around a greater number of "factions representing various segments of the electorate" rather than the overwhelmingly bi-partisan arrangement that exists today (Barone 64). Others felt they existed only to manipulate the independent will of the voters. Yet, by the end of
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