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The Two-Party System in Old Age

July 10, 2019

Our Two-Party system emerged in 1796 when John Adams was elected president with 71 electoral votes defeating Thomas Jefferson with 68.

As leader of the opposition, Thomas Jefferson, was ruthless in his pursuit of power and was motivated by belief in “revolution.” He was truly a man of the Enlightenment desiring to spread the ideology of unrestrained liberty to our country and the world–though, curiously, not to the men and women he enslaved.

Beginning with the election of 1796, factions representing differences in philosophy, religion, material interests, and lust for power were channeled into a system of two political parties. Since there were always a multiplicity of motivations constrained within two parties, American national politics might have developed into a multi-party system.

The compromise made at Philadelphia in 1787 by which the “Virginia Plan,” proposed on May 29, was rejected and gave us a political system composed of States united by partisan forces organized to give power to one Party that could corral a majority of States in the Electoral College. In order to win control of the federal government, political partisans had to direct their efforts to winning election in the States.

That restrained American politics from divisions dominated by “single issue” parties, but that protection from multiple Party divisions was partially eliminated by the 17th Amendment, ratified in 1913, that provided for direct election of members of the United States Senate.

The consequences were, as described by Claremont University professor Ralph Rossum in his 2001 study, Federalism, the Supreme Court, and the Seventeenth Amendment: The Irony of Constitutional Democracy, to amend the states “out of existence; the interests of states as states abandoned” in elections to the United States Senate.

The final destruction of traditional politics in our day will occur when “Progressives” succeed in abolishing the Electoral College. When that occurs, we will enter a new era of multiple parties.

I gave a talk on June 1 to the Libertarian Party of Virginia Beach, Virginia and observed that:

“1. Donald Trump’s election signaled that our two-Party system is broken and 2) that we are going to see the development of a multi-party system like the multi party systems of West and Eastern Europe.”

What will that “look” like? Here’s what I argued:

“In future elections we may see the growth of a Social Democrat Party and Libertarian Party and a founding of a National Conservative Party. Coalitions with these Parties with Democrat and Republican Parties will shape American politics.

At the state level, that occurred in New York State with the founding of a Conservative Party that, after a few years surpassed. the Liberal Party in numbers of votes and elected Conservative Party candidates to the U.S. Senate, James Buckley and Al D’Amato. During those years I registered as a Republican, but voted the Conservative Party line in general elections.

Who will lead the Social Democrat Party?: New York Rep. Ocasio-Cortez

Who will lead the National Conservative Party?: Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan

The Libertarian Party was formed in 1971 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, by David Nolan. As of November 2017, 154 Libertarians held elected offices in 33 states. In the 2016 election, Gary Johnson was the party’s presidential nominee and William Weld was the Vice President Nominee. Weld is now running for President as a Republican.

One last comment: I expect a Women’s Party will be founded by Mika Brzezinski in time to present candidates for election in 2024.”



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