America is at an impasse. Nothing is sacred. Everything is up for debate.
Over the decades, the Democrats have taken advantage of their Black and Latino voters in urban areas. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) became a leading socialist voice, while Black Lives Matter protests and riots broke out.
The Republicans took their rural constituency for granted. We got the Tea Party and President Trump.
Both parties have undermined the judiciary branch and toyed with the mainstream media, while the U.S. military and intelligence services have lost their independence. Neither party is trusted: The approval rating of congressional Democrats and congressional Republicans is 35 percent and 40 percent, respectively.
Only seven percent of Americans have a positive view of the federal government. I repeat: Seven percent.
Making matters worse, redistricting only exacerbated the two-party corruption of the political system. Their oligopoly must go.
The large “tents,” within which the disparate voters of each party sit, can no longer represent them in unison. Too much divides us. And, together, the establishment fights for its own perks and power, not unlike boards and managers who seek to avoid accountability. We live in a world of politics for the sake of politics.
American democracy has a major principal-agent problem, whereby the shareholders of the nation — that is, voters and their elected officials — no longer align.
This conglomerate of national politics needs to be broken up. Competition and transparency need to refresh America’s political system. Elected officials, like managers, need stronger incentives to act in the interest of their voters. More ideas must be debated, so that our societal problems are actually addressed.
Imagine if American voters were represented by a European-style parliament, rather than the presidency and Congress. Imagine further that, unlike in the United Kingdom, American democracy was home to a number of political parties transparently competing for support — not just two dominant players.
Which parties would emerge in the 2020 election?
There would be four major constituencies: A Christian nationalist party headed by President Trump and the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas); a social justice party led by “The Squad”; a socialist party with Sens. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) at the helm; and, finally, a Whig party composed of moderate Democrats and Republicans. The latter would be an “establishment” grouping of the middle, counteracting its more partisan alternatives.
While it may seem like a mess on the surface, this is what an unvarnished America looks like in 2020.
American democracy is home to an exhausted electorate, with different factions angry and frustrated about free trade, overseas wars, racial and sexual injustices, climate change, Chinese trade practices and a never-ending lockdown (just to name a few).
Judging by recent approval ratings, these different factions currently feel unrepresented by the two-party oligopoly, which is more concerned with self-preservation than public service.
Whether via constitutional change to a parliamentary system or a judicial break-up of the current oligopoly, it has become necessary to allow more political persuasions to enter the mainstream.
This would allow competition and transparency to better decide which public-policy priorities the federal government must address. American voters need to feel that they truly matter.
Our Founders viewed America as a shining “city on a hill” that can inspire the rest of the world, while also acknowledging that American democracy is an endless experiment. The next experiment should be to end the two-party oligopoly.
We must allow multiple parties, rather than Twitter, to enhance our democratic system and make for a more perfect union.