Two questions to ask of supporters of the two-party system
Every once in awhile the pollsters, who no doubt recognize their outsized voice as megaphone-bearers of American political opinion, ask the American public -- when it's least important -- this big question: "Does the US need a major third party?" This one was back in early 2021:
In the survey released Monday, 62 percent of Americans said the third party was needed, while 33 percent said the two existing major parties do an "adequate" job representing the majority of Americans' political views.
It's the largest percentage of people to say the U.S. needs a third party since Gallup began polling on the question in 2003.
So, yeah, this question was asked in a Gallup poll AFTER a major election, which should give you an idea of how the pollster minds operate. "Hey! I know! Big election's over, next Congressional election in two years, next Presidential election in four years. Let's ask America if it needs a third party, now that it's momentarily safe."
At any rate, two items in the news brought this matter up again, ten months before the two-party midterms. Here's the first, by Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti:
So Kamala Harris, Vice-President and thus heir apparent to the Democratic Party's leadership role and likely 2024 candidate for President, has lousy poll numbers and an apparent incapability of doing anything about them.
Meanwhile, there was this interesting little tidbit in Politico, of eight days ago:
There's fun stuff in this piece, but there's also this:
“There’s a civil war in the Idaho Republican Party,” said Idaho Democratic Party chair Fred Cornforth, who recently resigned due to a cancer diagnosis. “There are really three or four parties” under the uneasy Republican umbrella, he explained. “There are the populists — the ones making the most noise — and libertarians, moderates who’ve shifted right of center, meaning they aren’t really moderates any more, and Republicans who don’t recognize their party anymore and will drift over to voting Dem.”
So, yeah, every once in awhile you see little cracks in the Republican Party's facade of unity, amidst a party that is in fact divided. So here's a preliminary question. Is this the growth constituency of the Democratic Party -- people who are so fed up with the Republican Party that they're switching parties? We can already see that, in a period of Democratic Party rule, the polls reveal a Republican Party gaining in party affiliation at the expense of the Democrats. These are disgusted Democratic Party voters showing up in numbers.
Perhaps everyone gets at this point that American politics is dominated by two unpopular parties that nobody is willing to ditch for fear of rule by the "other" party. I don't know; I don't have any statistics to back up such an assertion. Generally, though, it's starting to look irrational to fear rule by the "other" party -- rule by the "other" party is coming whether one likes it or no. Why fear the inevitable?
So here is what you ask supporters of the two-party system: There are core constituencies, composed of voters who identify with a party, and there are swing constituencies, composed of voters who might switch affiliations. 1) Do we really want a political system in which the SWING constituencies are composed of people who are so fed up with one of the parties that they're voting for politicians of the other party out of spite? And 2) do we really want a political system in which the CORE constituencies of both parties are people who vote for politicians of their selected party "no matter what" -- i.e. no matter how empty they are as politicians?