posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 08:02 PM
There's a common theme that runs in pretty much any class about Government. Any lower-division class that is as unless you want to focus on it for a
thesis or such it never really comes up in upper-divison as most by then has bought the hook line and sinker and no longer think about it.
Is America's 2 party system institutionalized or socialized?
Until today I'd probably have just said it's institutionalized. Our electoral college means that it's all one or all the other and thus drives a
trend to a two party system where one party wins over the other.
But in a thread about the 2 party system, being my usual skeptical-self, I was prepared to take the opposite side of the author of that thread (who
himself does not really understand the party system anyway but that is another argument). But instead of immediately taking the opposite of the
author of that thread, the idea popped into my head, is the two party system really institutional?
After all, just before the Civil War there were about 5 partys, which is why Lincoln won with only 40%+ of the vote. (I think off the top of my head
it was about 43%.)
Before that you had all sorts of parties: whiggs, know-nothings, free nations, Jacksonian Democrats, Jeffersonian Democrats, Constitutional
Most of these parties are not well known because they never made it to the Presidential office, however, many held offices within their State
governments and the Legislature.
So that seems to show that a two party system simply is not institutional.
So where did it come from?
I hypothesis it was born out of the Civil War. The Civil War pretty much oblitterated the multi-party system. If parties weren't merging to defeat
the Republicans, then the Republicans were arresting them without Habeus Corpus to prevent more "insurrection".
What was left after the Civil War were two parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. At that time, the Democrats were about restoring the Union to
its former self and the Republicans were mostly about punishing the South and ending the Union the Constitution and everything we hold dear.
We all know who won that battle...
Today the parties have more or less flip-flopped but the scar remains and both parties take advantage of it.
And the people?
Well they've forgotten that it's all about their States and are raised to believe that there's only two choices.
In a sense, I hypothesise, the battle between the Democrats and Republicans is simply the continuation of the Civil War.
I believe that 1,000 years from now, maybe 2,000, long enough that the bias views of America by Americans and foreigners are gone, historians shall
look at America and realize this and realize that the Civil War did not end and up until 2004 is still going.
The sides switched parties, but the fight is the same.
In 1861, the South was fighting for heritage and traditions and states' rights, and the North was fighting for Union but led by a party (The
Republicans) that was more or less fighting for the increase of Federal Power. (Which Federal abuse of power caused the war in the first place). The
Republicans fought to make us the same, and after the Civil War the Democrats fought politically to keep us different.
Today, the Republicans fight for heritage and traditions and the right to make your laws and society based on traditions and religions. They fight to
keep us different, which is what is best about us. The Democrats fight to end all that, to make us all "the same". One national way of life,
incorporating everything from every culture imaginable.
So in that, I think the party system is actually socialized.
There have always been two parties, so we don't realize that we don't need two parties. If a party ran for its state, say a "California Party"
and it was ravenously pro-Californian and all about letting Californians do what they want, it might get some popularity, maybe even a lot.
It would mean there would be a 3rd party in Congress, and that party would block things that harmed Californian self-governance and put forward things
that helped California.
But we don't think like that anymore.
We don't realize that during the Civil War there were slave states on the side of the North and non-slave states supporting the south to the best of
We don't think that way anymore.
Since the Civil War we polarized, it's all one thing or all the other. The North was all free, the South was all slaves.
Because now there are no slaves, we believe that the war was won, and we do not realize that the party system we have today is the remainder of that
war and is just as violent and hateful as the sides that fought across America from 1861 to 1865.
Why we have not gone into another Civil War is simple, nationalism.
After the Civil War, the south was incapable of going to war again, the Northerners felt that what was created after the Civil War was theirs, because
they fought for it.
And that has stuck rather well.
But the polarizing sides of the Civil War remains.
And I believe it is that social factor that truly creates the two party system, not the electoral college.