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American Politics

Given the predominance of the two-party system in the United States, is there a need for minor (third) parties? If not, why? If so, what impact do they have on the two major parties, if any?

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OTA 105878/Xenia Jones
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The US 2-Party System

The US political landscape had always been dominated by the 2-party system for almost 2 centuries. The 2 party system dominates voting in just about every level of government which means that in America, nearly all of the elected officials belong to either of the dominant political parties - the Democrats or the Republicans. This is unusual in that in democratic countries worldwide, political parties who are significant at times number up to 10. In the UK for example while the Labour and the Conservative parties hold most sway the Liberal Democrats have gained power through the years. Aside from this top 3 other political parties are active even if they hold little or no political seats. The US' first past the post system has never been conducive to nurture the growth of third parties and other independent political entities. The US is a prime example of Duverger's law enforced by the plurality rule election system which marginalizes smaller parties in favour of two vying and equally powerful political parties. IN America's political history, the winner-takes-all practice in Presidential elections plus the single-seat plurality election principles of members of Congress all contributed to the dominance of the 2-party system in American politics. There are of course other parties - third parties and independent candidates. The American electorate practices is not limited to the 2 dominant parties alone. But wins from 'third parties and independents' are rare. In US ...

Solution Summary

The solution is a 1,096-word narrative that discusses the American 2-party system, explaining how it works. Additionally the question of adding a minor party into the mix is also discussed as the effects of bipartisan politics is analysed especially in its effect in policymaking. References are listed for expansion. A word version of the solution is attached for easy printing.

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