“I Wonder If What We’re Witnessing Is Merely The Painful Birth Of A Three- Or Four-Party US Political System”


As I’ve mentioned before, this Baba Booey of an election makes me wonder if we’re looking at the beginning of the end of the two-party political system in America. Could a centrist coalition be possible if Democratic and Republican bases drift further from the middle? Will independents be emboldened not by Donald Trump’s Thiel-approved Lampanelli-Mussolini mashup but by the lack of concern he’s shown traditional ideological lines? It really doesn’t make much sense that a culture so decentralized and splintered and long tail in pretty much every other way would remain traditional in this one, even if entrenched machinery demands it remain that way. 

Douglas Coupland has similar thoughts in a new Financial Times column, which also opines on “logarithmic technologies” impacting politics and the future of online voting. An excerpt:

I look at the current US electoral situation: 330 million people, and Donald and Hillary are what the system has spat forth. What ought to have been a four-party election (Democrats/Republicans/Sanderians/Trumpfs) instead became a two-party slate so ghastly that the metaphor most commonly used to describe the situation is that of a burning dumpster.

A country’s citizenry is toasting marshmallows over burning garbage trying to pretend everything is OK, and it’s not OK.

OK, that last sentence sounded a bit drastic … if nothing else, everybody agrees that the current US election is a hyperbole leaf-blower — and most everyone agrees that something is going random within American democracy. Both parties have somehow come to equate a possible electoral win by their opponents not as a democratically elected majority win but, rather, as mob rule. Each side believes the other is unfit to govern, period — and so it’s not just a matter of winning an election: the other party needs to be smothered and buried. As a bonus, this election has highlighted a specific perversity of human nature — the fact that believing in something that one knows is illogical or untrue somehow makes it much easier to believe.

Actually, let’s take a chill pill and think this through. Maybe there’s no need to be so cosmic about what can seem like the American two-party system’s mutual suicide pact. I wonder if, instead, what we’re witnessing is merely the painful birth of a three- or four-party US political system — something most mature democracies already have, and something the US ought to have seriously adopted decades ago were it not for the country’s battered-wife relationship with its dual-party system that dates back to the late 18th century.

Technically, all it would take for America to enter the multiparty system is to click its heels together three times and say, “Let’s have more political parties”, and much of today’s schizocracy would vanish. People would be able to better choose candidates they can actually believe in and, as we see globally, coalition building would ensure more adult-like behaviour and a willingness for give and take over issues which, at the moment, allow only unyieldingly polarised righteousness and stasis.•