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Freedom. What gives us as Americans the right to choose our own destiny? It’s the very thing that sets the playing field, the political system. A big part of the political system, what most people consider to be the system itself, is parties. As everyone knows, political parties most simply are groups of people with the same ideology who contest elections to gain power and make legislation. Political parties have been at the core of American politics since the birth of the nation itself. In three short years, James Madison was the mastermind of not only the Constitution of the United States, but constitutional thought itself at the tail of the 1780’s. Following these creations, he teamed up with fellow founding father Alexander Hamilton to author the Federalist Papers. These documents were a compilation of essays that served as a guide to navigating the Constitution and politics’ inevitable ups and downs. They became an unlikely team in leading the nation, employing the constitutional thought and justification they brought to life. This was short lived. Quite soon into their partnership, Hamilton suggested a national bank, an idea that went against Madison’s core principles as it took away from states’ rights. The divergence in their views became apparent, causing them to claim each other as their personal and political enemy. These old friends formed what would later be known as early political parties, the Federalist and Democratic Republic parties. These parties in actuality weren’t that varied in views. Yet somehow, they found a way to disagree. Commenting upon this, John Aldrich said, “With few exceptions these distinctions between the two major parties are tendencies, not certainties, and differing values are typically matters of emphasis rather than fundamental disagreements” (9). While it wasn’t the opposing views that were all that different, it was the emphasis put upon the opponent being wrong that caused a political ruckus. Thus began the birth of partisanship, strong support for one political party or set of ideals and the reluctance to compromise with the opposers, and with it a problematic nation.
Partisanship became the driving force of our political system, but this isn’t to say everything has gone all that well. In its current standing, politics is failing America. It would be an understatement to say the American public isn’t pleased with its government. According to Gallup News, “One in four Americans (25%) say the most important problem facing the U.S. is government, putting it at the top of the list of their concerns for June” (Reinhart). This is the highest percentage of displeasure since 2013 due to the United States’ partial government shutdown. What else could be to blame for the lack of trust and dissatisfaction within the general public except the political system itself? Within the American government, political parties hold a duopoly; both major parties dominate the political scene. To make matters worse, nothing has developed over time except the creation of a “political industry”. The political industry is unlike others of its kind because the key participants, often invisible to regular citizens, regulate the rules of competition. It’s due to this aspect where the intended role of the political system goes astray. Rivals within the system distort rules in their favor which in turn stifles competition, and leads to a stalemate in political action. In their article “Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America”, Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter note in regards to the political industry that, “These biased rules and practices have many competitive consequences, including a sharp decline in legislation passed, the near extinction of moderates in the Senate and the House, declining bipartisan support for laws enacted, and many others” (2). For this reason, it’s evident the cause of the failure of politics is none other than the system it was built upon.
Despite the long standing of America’s political system, the situation isn’t as helpless as it seems. We, as a collective, hold the ability to change this failing political system with a power higher than the political system itself. More specifically, Americans are invested with the power of the Constitution, quite literally, the law of the land. Noah Feldman, political activist and author acknowledges in his TEDTalk that the Constitution is, “an evolving, subtly, supplely designed entity that has the specific purpose of teaching us how to manage factional disagreement where it’s possible to do that, and giving us techniques for overcoming that disagreement when that’s possible” (1:34). Through this remark, Feldman relays the idea that we are our own saviors. The structure of this document holds our nation under a loose collection of bylaws through which our country may develop and adjust as necessary. It becomes the ultimate tool for our troubles, giving citizens the power to speak out if they disapprove of how the government is functioning and form groups to bring about fundamental change if they do so wish. Therefore, the American public holds a possessive responsibility over their own freedom to lead their country towards as future they desire, to create a solution. In retrospect, only one solution is apparent to remedy this matter. An implementation of nonpartisan normalcy is what our nation needs to fix our failing political system and increase public approval.
To start, the United States should implement nonpartisan primaries. Non partisan primaries would entail all candidates for the same office running against each other without segregation of their political parties. This execution would have two major benefits. Most importantly, it would force candidates to appeal to a general electorate. The partisan primary system gives favors to more ideologically pure candidates and contributes to the election of more extreme officeholders and increased political polarization. The competition is so intense among fellow party runners that, “when two candidates of the same political views present themselves in a single constituency, each of them is forced to attempt to distinguish himself from his rival by a movement to the left” (Michels 7). Oftentimes, candidates hold the same strategy in their elections, both presidential and otherwise. In the private party primaries, candidates will advertise themselves as extremely right or left to correspond with their parties. Once the general election comes, they’ll appeal as more moderate to gain votes from the other side. This causes feelings of uncertainty to stir among those who follow elections from the very beginning. With such a drastic shift in what candidate’s claim to be their standing, what can actually be believed? Holding nonpartisan primaries would motivate candidates to run with more concrete views and subsequent increased stability of the political system. Furthermore, opening primaries would reduce barriers that independent candidates need to get over in order to compete on an equal level. Not only would this minimize party advantage, it would aid in embracing the Senate Fulcrum Strategy. This strategy is considerably quick and effective as a plan to break political gridlock by electing a couple centrist independent senators who hold a problem solving mindset. These senators will focus on progress and legislation rather than appeasing their party. In doing so, they’ll reinvigorate the democracy by acting as a swing coalition, able to deny a majority party or force change from the center. Centrist ideas are more likely to be accepted by both sides of the political spectrum and therefore will spark more political action. While this idea may seem too eager, nonpartisan primaries actually have already taken root within our nation. California and Washington have taken initiative by implementing open primaries. Well known Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, wrote an article voicing his opinion the adoption of open primaries as a solution. In this he claims, “California, which probably mirrors the diversity of America more than any other state, was racked by polarization until voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2010 that adopted a “top-two” primary system. The move has had a moderating influence on both parties and a salutary effect on the political system and its ability to govern”. Schumer explicitly expresses his favor towards open primaries for its ability to encourage participation among citizens and undo tendencies towards default extremism. He and many others of his political standing are quite optimistic in the future effects open primaries will have upon their own states. In short, opening primaries is a righteous beginning into rectifying our failing political system.
Correspondingly, members of United States politics should work towards nonpartisan redistricting. In recent years, members of both parties alike have been using the tactic of gerrymandering. This tactic, “allows the majority party in any given state to redraw legislative district boundaries so that they are always able to control the most seats, even if they win fewer votes” (Agbafe and Bonsall). Gerrymandering is able to be done because the state legislators draw the district lines. However, allowing partisans legislators draw their own lines is clearly a conflict of interest among the welfare of the states. Gerrymandering leads to a multitude of negative impacts, political cartels, reduction of competitive seats, extreme candidates, and minimized accountability of elected officials. This process makes it nearly impossible for the minority party to be competitive. When lines are drawn in another’s favor, it is irrelevant how many votes a party may gain over the other. The lines can always be drawn to diminish their influence. While obviously unjust, this deceptive scheme adds a feeling of comfort among incumbents. When elections are rigged in this way, it becomes unnecessary to vy for majority vote. Consequently, this means elected officials aren’t attentive to the constituents and hold their seats for longer than they should, causing politics to lose a competitive edge. While this issue is endemic to many states, it’s especially important within swing states where the superior party can determine the outcome of the elections. With this in mind, independent redistricting should be applied within the United States. This action would reverse the effects of gerrymandering. Through redistricting, America will get back competitive districts, attentive incumbents, the absence of political noise, and the honesty once present in American polity; it wouldn’t be difficult at all. In fact country already holds the tools to make this possible. Brian Olson, software engineer in Massachusetts, has written a program to draw, “optimally compact equal- population congressional districts in each state” (Ingraham). In his TEDTalk, “Engineering Elections Without Bias”, Olson notes “People want reform. Even some elected officials want it, and the legal mechanisms are achievable. If we could have a change now, we could have a big effect on the future of our political process. If reform comes to enough places, enough states, we might even be able to get a national standard, and a national standard might let us really hold up our core value of equal protection under the law for all”. Through his speech he justifies that there is an issue, we have the means for the issue, and there isn’t anything to say that this solution can’t be achieved. Redistricting shouldn’t be be something to fight over among parties. It should simply be a bureaucratic process run by statistics, simplistic and unbiased. Introducing nonpartisan redistricting would be the second step to mend the failing political system.
As soon as these two nonpartisan ideas are in action, all that’s left is to eliminate party control of the House and Senate rule by abolishing the partisan attitude, the idea of only two major political parties being options.The bitter fight between Democrats and Republicans has halted government in its tracks. Each side becomes more extreme to outweigh the other, basing their political agenda on demonizing the other. They engage in political machinations which include, ” manipulating the rules of Congress to get their way, stymie their opponents, or deny them office completely” (Coblenz). Rather than fight for something, all parties seem to do is argue against the other. The more hostile each side becomes, the more clouded the public becomes. Their once open ended minds have been twisted into believing that there are only two solutions or two sides to each issue, the approaches taken by the respective major parties. The duality of it all lessens our political debate and creates a paradigm, Democrat or Republican? This needs to be repealed. Voters need to be well informed of new choices and new ideas. Through this, the stalemate that exists from the confrontation of two parties will be broken. Moreover, not only would a less partisan mindset suppress gridlock, it would better cater to the public’s needs. The presence of modernization has created an impact among society. With growing affluence, the interests of the public has broadened. “Topics such as environmental quality, lifestyle choices, and consumer rights have expanded the boundaries of politics” (Dalton 42). People don’t want the same things they did 200 years ago. Because of this, how can they adhere to the same old parties of the past? Adjustment of how parties play a role into the political system would increasingly improve the system’s current state. From Diamond’s view, “it is possible that new types of parties are better suited to meet the demands and expectations of today’s citizens than those that were established by previous generations of political elites” (4). By looking further than the two major parties that partisanship sets in front of the public, the public can get more of what it wants. Whereas the Republican and Democratic parties are broad and insistent upon their customs and rivalries, third parties are new, open, and specific in its purpose. Third parties focus their efforts and funding for legislation relating to their ideals. By at least being open to these groups, the public and the system itself will benefit.
While it is adamant that nonpartisan normalcy is the best solution to remedy the failing political system, some believe this is not the case. In fact, some do not even perceive an issue at all. In light of statistic, some claim that the wellbeing of American polity is purely opinionated. Thus, our political system surely is not failing. This argument is preposterous, as results of American polls will tell you otherwise. As of September 6, 2017, 65% of Americans held “not very much” or even worse trust and confidence in the legislative branch (Gallup.com). This statistic is not without its reason. As Richard Michels believed, “The political party is founded in most cases on the principle of the majority” (3). Parties based off the will of the people are seen to be a mechanism of politics for the public, a way for them to come together. Unfortunately, partisanship does nothing except drive the collective apart. As previously said, partisanship has caused a divergence among the people by which it should bring together. Because the political system doesn’t follow its intended purpose, how could it be anything other than failing? Not only that, some also provide dissent about nonpartisanship as a solution. However, with the extent of drasticity of duopoly, what else could could be the solution? Duopoly is quite possibly the worst thing our nation could have. Founding father John Adams once wrote, “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution”. Even at the start of the nation, he could tell the consequence that the opposition of parties would harbor over the United States. In any event, any counter argument proposed to combat the idea of a failing political system is ultimately incorrect.
By all accounts, American polity is a sensitive subject. With various opinions and prominent issues concerning the welfare of the nation, there’s a lot of room for discourse. Despite all its flaws, the political system is necessary. The political system is important. Most definitely, it is something the American people need to believe in. The power given through the political system is what controls our government, our laws, and basically our lives. Because of this, every U.S. citizen should be aware of the presence and role the political system has on their daily lives. We as a nation hold responsibility to be informed and to be the shareholders of our future. Given this understanding, it is of utmost importance to address the fact, our political system is failing. No sole group can fix this. It must be the work of the American people, working together and counteracting partisanship. Only by implementing nonpartisan normalcy and regulation can the issues at hand be absolved.

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