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Facing extreme partisanship and polarization, America's two-party system has come under fire. Critics argue that the two-party system runs contrary to the founders' intent and has created a political system that fails to represent the electorate, concentrates power for the elites, and makes compromise impossible. They say it's time for real structural change. But others are more cautious. They argue that the two-party system is necessary to rein in extremes on both sides and promote the democratic institutions that are necessary to the nation's political and social stability. Further, they argue that multi-party democracies around the world -- including Israel, the UK, and Italy -- are now struggling to maintain stability and should serve as a warning to Americans seeking reform at home. As the nation gears up for the 2020 presidential election, we ask: Is the two-party system good for democracy?

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For:

Yascha Mounk

29 Items
Yascha Mounk
  • Author, "The People vs. Democracy"
Read Bio

A book excerpt and interview with Yascha Mounk, author of “The People vs Democracy”

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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"Political scientist Yascha Mounk tells explains to Amanpour why some of Europe's oldest democracies might be on shaky ground."

Thursday, September 5, 2019
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Friday, October 27, 2017
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"Democrats and Republicans belong to increasingly homogeneous parties. Can we survive the loss of local politics?"

Wednesday, July 25, 2018
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"Voters are more open to progressive economic policy now than in the recent past. But they are not opposed to capitalism."

Wednesday, August 21, 2019
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"A new study shows Americans have little understanding of their political adversaries—and education doesn’t help."

Sunday, June 23, 2019
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"The coalitions that sustained the traditional left parties in the West have collapsed. New ones can be built—but it won’t be easy."

Tuesday, October 1, 2019
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"Parties are losing control over their candidates. Two scholars argue that ordinary Americans are the ones paying the price."

Sunday, November 11, 2018
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Yascha Mounk argues, “Nationalism is like a half-wild beast. As long as it remains under our control, it can be of tremendous use. But if we abandon it, others are sure to step in, prodding and baiting the beast to bring out its most ferocious side.”

Saturday, March 3, 2018

“As liberal democracies have become worse at improving their citizens’ living standards, populist movements that disavow liberalism are emerging from Brussels to Brasília and from Warsaw to Washington.”

Wednesday, May 2, 2018
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In his new book, Yascha Mounk writes: “Some of the most important economic decisions facing countries around the world are now taken by technocrats.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Yascha Mounk argues, “Donald Trump won two-thirds of American counties but only a little more than one-third of America's GDP. He did much better in parts of the country where there has been less recent economic investment, where there are fewer highly qualified people, even where the share of jobs that might be automated away in the coming decades is higher.”

 
Transcript: https://www.carnegiecouncil.org/studio/multimedia/20180419-people-vs-democracy-yascha-mounk 

“Finding the right response to automation is both an economic and a political necessity. At stake is not only the broad-based prosperity to which society has long grown accustomed, but also the continued viability of the democratic system itself.”

Monday, July 4, 2016

At this point, why would we expect anything else?

Monday, July 24, 2017
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On Wednesday [March 15, 2017]  at AEI, experts on European politics discussed the results of the Dutch general election.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The world has just experienced a watershed year for populist politics, with antiestablishment challengers winning elections and illiberal regimes modeling an alternative, says expert Yascha Mounk.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dark days this summer showed how government by the people—beset by illiberal populists on one side and undemocratic elites on the other—is poised for extinction.

Sunday, August 14, 2016
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Four reasons not to be cheered by Emmanuel Macron’s election to the French presidency.

Monday, May 8, 2017
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What the rise of populist movements means for democracy.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

With Angela Merkel’s re-election almost certain, Germany’s election has been startlingly dull. But more is going on than meets the eye.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
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Yascha Mounk discusses the global turn against illiberal democracy and the rise of populism across the world on CNN's Global Public Square with Fareed Zakaria.

Friday, September 9, 2016
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At this point, why would we expect anything else?

Monday, July 24, 2017
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Thursday, August 17, 2017
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America is on its way to a full-blown constitutional crisis.

Friday, August 11, 2017

It might not be Trump, but our system is more vulnerable to a demagogue than you'd think.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

We have been surprised by the scale and intensity of attention our work has garnered around the world since the New York Times profiled it last week. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been. Our research, after all, helped contextualize the seismic shifts we’ve seen in some of the world’s long-standing democracies over the past year — and comes to some rather startling findings.

Thursday, December 8, 2016
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WASHINGTON — Yascha Mounk is used to being the most pessimistic person in the room. Mr. Mounk, a lecturer in government at Harvard, has spent the past few years challenging one of the bedrock assumptions of Western politics: that once a country becomes a liberal democracy, it will stay that way.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The citizens of wealthy, established democracies are less satisfied with their governments than they have been at any time since opinion polling began. Most scholars have interpreted this as a sign of dissatisfaction with particular governments rather than with the political system as a whole. Drawing on recent public opinion data, we suggest that this optimistic interpretation is no longer plausible. Across a wide sample of countries in North America and Western Europe, citizens of mature democracies have become markedly less satisfied with their form of government and surprisingly open to nondemocratic alternatives. A serious democratic disconnect has emerged. If it widens even further, it may begin to challenge the stability of seemingly consolidated democracies.

Friday, July 1, 2016
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In recent years, parties and candidates challenging key democratic norms have won unprecedented popular support in liberal democracies across the globe. Drawing on public opinion data from the World Values Survey and various national polls, we show that the success of anti-establishment parties and candidates is not a temporal or geographic aberration, but rather a reflection of growing popular disaffection with liberal-democratic norms and institutions, and of increasing support for authoritarian interpretations of democracy. The record number of anti-system politicians in office raises uncertainty about the strength of supposedly “consolidated” liberal democracies and highlights the need for further analysis of the signs of democratic deconsolidation.

Sunday, January 1, 2017
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For:

Norman Ornstein

8 Items
Norman Ornstein
  • Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
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"Now, Ornstein said, the parties are not only polarized, they are “tribalized.” Both parties suffer from this, he said, but the tribal instinct is considerably stronger on the Republican side."

Tuesday, November 3, 2015
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"Mann and Ornstein posit that democracy in America is being endangered by extreme politics."

Monday, April 30, 2012
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"Our democracy requires vigorous competition between two serious and ideologically distinct parties, both of which operate in the realm of truth, see governing as an essential and ennobling responsibility, and believe that the acceptance of republican institutions and democratic values define what it is to be an American. The Republican Party must reclaim its purpose."

Saturday, December 2, 2017
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Saturday, November 18, 2017
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"The House of Representatives resolves inconclusive presidential elections—and while Democrats may hold most of the seats, Republicans control more state delegations."

Thursday, July 11, 2019
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"We’ve all heard the laments — we’ve made some of them ourselves — that Washington is broken, that our political system can’t grapple with the nation’s big, long-term problems. So what can be done about it?"

Thursday, May 17, 2012
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"Now, Ornstein said, the parties are not only polarized, they are “tribalized.” Both parties suffer from this, he said, but the tribal instinct is considerably stronger on the Republican side."

Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Against:

Lee Drutman

10 Items
Lee Drutman
  • Author, "Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop"
Read Bio

"Proportional voting would reduce party polarization and the number of wasted votes."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017
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"How did Donald Trump succeed at appealing at enough of the center to win the 2016 election, and what kind of candidate do Democrats need to pick to win the center back over? Political scientist Lee Drutman will tell us who these voters are, and how being a swing voter doesn’t necessarily mean being an ideological moderate."

Friday, December 27, 2019
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"In most places, meaningful two-party electoral competition is nonexistent. Rather than being one two-party nation, we are becoming two one-party nations."

Thursday, September 22, 2016
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"American political history suggests that an age of renewal lies ahead."

Monday, November 25, 2019
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"The cracks are growing. But the status quo has powerful forces propping it up."

Monday, September 17, 2018
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"The only way to prevent America’s two-party system from succumbing to extremism is to scrap it altogether."

Saturday, October 19, 2019
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"As Lee argues, the way to move past the crippling division and dysfunction—to escape the doom loop of escalating two-party warfare—is through large-scale electoral reform that would allow for multiparty representation. This type of reform would not require a constitutional amendment, and would make our democracy more representative, more responsive, and ultimately, more stable."

Wednesday, January 8, 2020
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"John Adams worried that “a division of the republic into two great parties … is to be dreaded as the great political evil.” And that’s exactly what has come to pass."

Thursday, January 2, 2020
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"How did Donald Trump succeed at appealing at enough of the center to win the 2016 election, and what kind of candidate do Democrats need to pick to win the center back over? Political scientist Lee Drutman will tell us who these voters are, and how being a swing voter doesn’t necessarily mean being an ideological moderate."

Friday, December 27, 2019
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“Finding the right response to automation is both an economic and a political necessity. At stake is not only the broad-based prosperity to which society has long grown accustomed, but also the continued viability of the democratic system itself.”

Monday, July 4, 2016
Against:

Katherine Gehl

5 Items
Katherine Gehl
  • Entrepreneur & Political Reformer
Read Bio

"When I ran against an incumbent senator, I learned the hard way how well insiders stack primaries against challengers."

Monday, May 20, 2019
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"American politics is, essentially, a duopoly - two political parties that set the rules under which government operates. But Katherine Gehl argues that approach is destroying democracy."

Wednesday, September 4, 2019
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"At a time of deep dissatisfaction and distrust in the U.S. political system, this session will make a case for using the lens of industry competition to better understand our current political state and reinvigorate democracy. This timely discussion will inspire action to shift competition in politics toward a more productive model and spark dialogue about the future of U.S. democracy."

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
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Sunday, December 1, 2019
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"Our political problems are not due to a single cause, but rather to a failure of the nature of the political competition that has been created. This is a systems problem."

Friday, September 1, 2017
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Background

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"Two-party system, political system in which the electorate gives its votes largely to only two major parties and in which one or the other party can win a majority in the legislature. The United States is the classic example of a nation with a two-party system."

Monday, February 3, 2020
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Kathleen Kuiper

"There are lots of political parties in the United States - so how come we pretty much only hear about two? What is the 'two-party system' and why does it hold sway? Is it an intentional part of governmental design, or is this simply how history shook out?"

Tuesday, January 16, 2018
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Taylor Quimby

"Duverger’s Law: The theory that elections in political systems like the United States’ tend to favor the two major parties, making it very hard for a third party to win."

Tuesday, August 9, 2016
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Chuck McCutcheon

History of the Two-Party System and Polarization in the United States

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"Donald J. Trump has won the presidency of the United States, due to strong support among white voters. This is a remarkable turn of events, and it only gets more remarkable when you think back to how the Republican Party began its existence: fighting against the expansion of slavery."

Thursday, November 10, 2016
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Andrew Prokop

"Although the Democratic Party had long controlled the South, Johnson’s association with civil rights began to reshape alliances and led to dramatic shifts in support for each party."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014
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American Experience

"Republicans and Democrats dominate U.S. politics. You have some 1950s political scientists to thank for that."

Monday, May 28, 2018
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Mike Pesca

"With activists mobilized and dug in on the left and right, there is increasing pressure on people in the middle to choose sides."

Friday, January 24, 2020
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Sabrina Tavernise

Third Parties

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"Major third-party presidential candidates have never had an easy time of it, even when they were former presidents or billionaires. Here’s a short history of their mostly quixotic campaigns."

Thursday, August 4, 2016
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Darcy Eveleigh

"Could an independent or third-party candidate make a significant impact this presidential election—especially in Florida, the closest 2012 battleground state?"

Friday, July 1, 2016
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Renee Lightner

"Third-party candidates struggle to gain traction in American elections for a variety of reasons, but they are not out of the game altogether. These outsiders work tirelessly to challenge the ways in which people think about the problems facing our country, and they have not given up the hope that one day one of them will sit in the Oval Office."

Friday, January 10, 2020
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Libby Palanza

Parliamentary Governments

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"The executive is organized very differently in a parliamentary system. In the United Kingdom, whose Westminster system has been adopted in many countries, the executive branch is not entirely separate from the legislative branch."

Monday, February 3, 2020
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Encyclopedia Britannica

"Spain’s ruling socialist party has reached a preliminary coalition deal with the anti-austerity Unidas Podemos to try to form a government after the country’s second inconclusive election in seven months."

Tuesday, November 12, 2019
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Sam Jones

"Though some elements of British campaigns resemble those of American contests, the systems are fundamentally different."

Monday, December 2, 2019
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Yasmeen Serhan

For the Motion

7 Items
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"Could a third party fix the hellscape of fail that is the United States Congress? Ezra Klein explains."

Wednesday, January 7, 2015
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Ezra Klein

"The major American parties have ceded unprecedented power to primary voters. It’s a radical experiment—and it’s failing."

Sunday, December 1, 2019
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Jonathan Rauch and Ray LaRaja

“The most effective third-party presidential candidates were polarizers, not centrists.”

Thursday, January 31, 2019
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Jamelle Bouie

"Presidential candidates and their supporters have recently criticized party rules as unfair or anti-democratic, but those arguments reflect a poor understanding of what a party is."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
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Adam Gopnik

"The shrill cry that American democracy is dying rests on a misdiagnosis. If anything, we have introduced too much democracy in the wrong places."

Tuesday, October 2, 2018
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Frances McCall Rosenbluth and Ian Shapiro

“Today it is obvious that Americans, no matter how unsatisfied they are, are not ready to embrace an alternative to our two-party system,” Vance and Baird said in a statement.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019
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David Gutman

"As something of an outsider in her own political party, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D–Hawaii) seems to understand what drove Rep. Justin Amash (I–Mich.) to leave the Republican Party—though she does not have plans to break with the Democrats."

Wednesday, July 10, 2019
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Eric Boehm

Against the Motion

6 Items
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"The Founders misread history and established a dysfunctional system of government. A case for a little less reverence."

Thursday, October 1, 2015
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Yoni Applebaum

"The presidential system isn't working. A parliamentary one might."

Monday, February 3, 2020
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Jeet Heer

"With the rise of Donald Trump, we need to think seriously about what it would take to form a democratic organization rooted in the working class."

Tuesday, November 1, 2016
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Seth Ackerman

"Progressives should take a page from the inside-outside strategy embraced by the far-right movement."

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
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Waleed Shahid

"The likely outcome of serious independent candidacies and the resulting disruption would be to encourage a new generation of politicos to think about how to construct new electoral coalitions that would better fit the views of the American public and hopefully form a new American majority."

Sunday, January 31, 2016
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Morris Fiorina

"In the post-Trump world of American politics, there are all kinds of potential candidates who make sudden sense. Those quixotic enough to daydream about a new political party aren’t foolish enough to envision a candidacy driven by policy papers or party platforms."

Monday, January 29, 2018
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Juleanna Glover