Traditionally, Americans could justifiably take pride in our two party system, as the most representative expression of the will of an electorate, in comparison to alternative modes. In our American system, winner takes all, and for such reason, there is an identifiable and responsible polity. The public’s perception of its success is always addressable in the succeeding election.
By contrast, in countries which feature proportional representation, it is regularly required of the party which received the plurality of votes to negotiate with a small (usually extreme) losing political party in order to constitute a quorum requisite to form an operating government. The necessary concessions in party platform so negotiated were not the choice of the successful party’s electorate.
While there are many experts who feel that the American system needs certain modifications, such as the elimination of the Electoral College system and greater protection of access to the polls, historically, our system has consistently proven to be acceptably fair and representative.
In earlier writings, we have lamented the recent polarization, and consequent fragmentation, of our society into separate insular groups, each respectively sharing an identical belief and militantly opposed to any and all other such groups which maintain an opposing view. We have noted the antipathy existing between such groups which has led to what we have previously termed, “the death of civic amity.”
Reference has been made to the intention of our founding fathers, that the freedoms protected, especially, freedom of speech, would provide a necessary platform for regular, useful debate between citizens holding opposing views. Such anticipated respectful and positive exchange of disparate opinions, consistent with the English utilitarian philosophies of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, was thought to result in salutary national policy.
However, the recent inability to constructively interact and responsibly exchange opposing ideas has frustrated the founders’ aspirations and their plans for the proper democratic process of governance. People of disparate views have virtually declared war on others over differences on issues (such as a women’s right to choose, immigration policy, gun control, governmental assistance to the needy, climate change, gay rights and a host of others) rather than submitting such controversies to constructive debate. Usually, it is a single issue which is the object of great emotional concern and is reductively (and foolishly), determinative of the single issue voter’s choice of society and candidate. This, among other concerns, distorts any rational comprehension of the democratically expressed will of the populace; and may well result in such a voter overlooking other platform positions of the selected candidate, separate from his mono-focused issue, to which he has been decidedly opposed.
The traditionally understood approach to the selection of a candidate has demonstrably been based on the voter’s general assessment of the candidate, and the selection of the person who is perceived to be most representative, on balance, of his point of view.
The American democratic philosophy and system are fundamentally hampered by short-sighted, single issue voters (who, regrettably, are all too common) so that the manifested message of the voters is irresponsibly fractured and distorted. It bears repetition that a vote for a candidate solely because he is perceived as supporting, for example, Israel or gun control, can unintentionally and irresponsibly, be a vote to support other policies in his platform to which the voter may be energetically opposed.
The plethora of vital issues and available choices of proposed resolution have by our basic philosophy been matters upon which the will of the people is materially relevant. The single issue (mono-focused) voter selfishly and irresponsibly distorts the heard voice of the voting public and thus is functionally destructive to the operation of a democratically responsive government.