To be a successful politician, you must be one of two things: a Republican or a Democrat. As such, to feel as if your already seemingly minimal say has any impact in politics, you must vote either Republican or Democrat. Since the Civil War, these parties have stood opposite each other. While their beliefs and values have changed over time, they still stand miles apart.
In modern times, there are very specific beliefs and values associated with both parties that are very often extreme left or right. In recent years, this has gotten even worse, with the media also becoming politically polarized. When a politician is a part of one or the other party, there are certain policies they must subscribe to in order to appease their party and very often, their voters.
However, what if you believe in gun rights and military spending, but also believe in a strong federal government, or vice versa? The point is, there are many people who believe in some “Republican” policies as well as some “Democratic” policies. Who should these people vote for?
I can hear you saying, “Keith, not every Republican believes in all the Republican ideals and not every Democrat believes in all the Democratic ideals," and you would be 100% correct. However, especially for those politicians in Congress, they rely very heavily on party support to get elected. If they don’t vote for and help implement policies that correspond with their party platform, then it's bye-bye to the free-thinking politician.
I can also hear you saying, “Keith, there are other parties than Republican and Democrat," and once again you would be correct. Yet, when was the last time someone other than a Republican or Democrat was president? The answer is pre-Civil War, and for the sake of this article I am focusing on post-Civil War as that is when the two-party system as we know it began.
It is true, there are other parties besides the Democrats and Republicans but most of them have little to no influence or are just more extreme versions of either party, which is really saying something. When you google “How many political parties are in the US?" the immediate results are always along the lines of “Well, there are minor parties but the major ones are the Republicans and Democrats." So, the inherent issue here is that there are two parties opposite each other on nearly every major issue.
There are many people who do not believe in all the policies of one party, which is one of the many reasons there is such low voter turnout as well. Many people believe there isn’t anyone who represents them and their beliefs. They do not want to support one of the parties because even though the voter supports one of their policies, they may be very against another.
With that being said, I understand there is never going to be a perfect fix for this; no amount of parties could possibly appeal to everyone. However, I firmly believe it is time for the rise of a moderate third party that is simply out to benefit as many Americans as possible, and is not extreme in any political direction.