Jul 13

The Tyranny of the Two-Party System

In Brief—The Two-Party system, Democrat versus Republican, is destroying democracy. It is anti-competitive, anti-freedom and anti-democratic. Ranked Choice Voting or Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) will restore the incentive to vote and will help restore a measure of democracy. Only you have the power to change the stifling system in operation today.


 Republicans and Democrats are Killing Democracy—

You go into the grocery store and find only two brands of bread for sale, no gluten-free despite your allergy. You want to buy a new car but there are only two makes even though other countries offer at least six makes. Where’s the competition? Where’s the freedom? Where’s the democracy?

This is the situation with just the two parties from which to choose the candidate that will lead the country for the next four or eight years. You can choose one of three options: 1) you can vote for Candidate A in the Democratic Party or Candidate B in the Republican Party;  2) you can “throw away your vote” by voting for Candidate C in a Third Party;  3) you can simply not vote because you believe that Candidates A and B are both bad choices and Candidate C doesn’t have a chance of being elected.

Third Party Candidates Are Arrested—

Jill Stein, Green Party nominee for president and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, were arrested in 2012 for peacefully attempting to take part in the presidential debate of the Democratic and Republican nominees. The major parties arranged for her to be arrested thereby denying voters a chance to hear what a valid candidate would have to say on important issues affecting the country and the world.

Such exclusion is standard operating procedure for the two major parties and excludes not just the Green Party but the Libertarian Part and other qualifying Third Parties as well. It’s called a monopoly and what’s even more revealing, is that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney detailed that the questions asked would adhere to a narrow range of issues that were acceptable thus guaranteeing that many important issues would never be discussed.

United States’ Deplorable Record on Voting—

According to the International Institute for Democracy and Assistance in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2000 the United States ranked 139th out of 172 countries in voter turnout with an average of only 48.3 percent of eligible voters casting a ballot in general elections. In 2008, that percentage voting for president was higher at a bit over 57 percent due in large part to voter hope that Barack Obama would bring the change he promised. The factor most affecting voter turnout turns out to be the limited number of choices available to the voter. The choice between Democrat and Republican turns off roughly half the potential voters.

The Center for Public Justice puts it this way,”…when voters’ choices are more limited and their votes are regularly wasted because they have been cast for a losing candidate, the incentive to vote is weaker.”

Ranked Choice Voting (Instant Runoff Voting)—

There is at least one way this undemocratic and anti-competitive Two-Party system can be overcome, Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) or Ranked Choice Voting. Here is how it works.

How It Works—

Imagine a ballot with the names and party affiliations of all the qualifying candidates next to empty boxes. The voter then places a number “1” in the box next to the candidate that is his/her first choice. S/he places a “2”in the box next to her/his second choice. If there are more than just two choices, s/he places consecutive numbers in the boxes next to the candidates’ names. One, two or more choices can be selected. The votes for each candidate are tallied. If the voter’s first choice fails to get the highest number of votes, the voter’s second choice kicks in and so on. The voter can have as many or as few choices as s/he cares to make. The voter then has an incentive to vote; the number of voters thereby increases.


If you want a graphic illustration of the ballot I have just described, Google “Instant Runoff Voting” and click on the Wikipedia article, then track down to the illustrated ballot.

The two major parties and their allies, the 1%, will do everything in their power to keep the present system from being replaced by a method that guarantees fairness in voting. They threw their weight against change in California and through lies and confusion convinced a majority of voters to vote against their own interests. They don’t want to diminish the perks they receive under the present system. They will oppose any effort to achieve fairness but the voters have the power to reject their siren song. It may be only a municipality at first but smart voters can overcome the status quo desired by the fat cats.

Start now applying pressure. The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.


1 ping

    • Donna on July 16, 2014 at 00:52

    The Instant Runoff Voting is being used in Oakland now and has mixed reviews. Even if voters could have several candidates and a choice of ones that might match a voter’s political opinion, there would still be the hurdle of the Electoral College. Look at the Bush-Gore race and even assuming the ballots were counted right, those who voted for Gore rightly felt that their vote didn’t count for anything because all of the electoral votes went to Bush. This happens every presidential election in my state which is so dominated by the Republicans. A Democrat might think that there’s no point in voting for president because all of the electoral votes go for the Republican candidate anyway – so why bother?

      • Don Bay on July 16, 2014 at 17:22

      Let’s keep it simple. You are absolutely right about Ranked Choice or Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) being inappropriate at the national level where the outmoded 18th Century Electoral College system renders many votes null and void in Republican states. Ranked Choice Voting and IRV are great in elections at the local and state levels, but the Electoral College makes them pointless at the national level. This is a serious problem that needs to be corrected by switching to a Popular Vote system that is in keeping with the 21st Century.

      Your point is so valid, in fact, that I am in the process of writing a full blog piece on the anachronistic and undemocratic Electoral College that robs many voters of their vote. It’s coming soon so please stay tuned and do your utmost to dump the outmoded Electoral College.

    • Don Bay on November 18, 2014 at 16:34

    This pingback reminds me that my piece regarding the outmoded Electoral College system remains a good goal. However, eliminating the Electoral College unfortunately leaves intact the problem of Big Money. Until we remove the malign influence of Big Money, as exemplified by the billionaire Koch brothers and other political action committees (overwhelmingly far-right-wing), we still have an enormous problem. The people’s (i.e., the 99%) goal MUST be to eliminate the influence of Big Money that is poisoning the little democracy remaining in the USA. Once we overcome the poisonous influence of Big Money, let us direct our energies toward eliminating the Electoral College and giving new life to “One Person, One Vote.” First things first.

  1. […] the undemocratic flaws with the two-party system and the outmoded Electoral College. See my pieces The Tyranny of the Two-Party System and The Thievery of the Electoral College. Today, thanks to an aware and perceptive reader, we will […]

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