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Debates

The Two-Party System Is Making America Ungovernable

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  • Arianna Huffington on Two-Party Governance

    Clip: Arianna Huffington argues for the motion "The Two-Party System Is Making America Ungovernable."

  • Arianna Huffington on the Two-Party System

    Clip: Arianna Huffington argues for the motion "The Two-Party System Is Making America Ungovernable."

  • David Brooks on the Two-Party System

    Clip: The New York Times' David Brooks argues for the motion "The Two-Party System Is Making America Ungovernable."

  • P.J. O'Rourke on the Two-Party System

    Clip: Political satirist P.J. O'Rourke argues against the motion "The Two-Party System Is Making America Ungovernable."

  • Zev Chafets on the Two-Party System

    Clip: Zev Chafets argues against the motion "The Two-Party System Is Making America Ungovernable."

Debate Details

The Republican and Democratic parties are entrenched in calcified partisanship, where politics is played as a zero-sum game. The rise of the Tea Party, liberal backlash, and the exodus of moderate voices from Congress all point toward the public’s growing discontent. Has our two-party system failed us? Is this a call to change our two-party system of governance?

The Debaters

For the motion

David Brooks

Op-Ed Columnist, New York Times

David Brooks has been an Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times since 2003. He has been a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, a contributing editor... Read More

Arianna Huffington

Co-founder & Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post

Is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, a nationally syndicated columnist, and author of thirteen books. She is also co-host... Read More

Against the motion

Zev Chafets

Founding Editor, The Jerusalem Report

Is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine and a former columnist for the New York Daily News. He was the founding editor of the Jerusalem... Read More

P.J. O'Rourke

H.L. Mencken Research Fellow, The Cato Institute

Is America’s premier political satirist, the H.L. Mencken Research Fellow at the Cato Institute, and the bestselling author of 13 books, including... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • The American people want alternatives, and what we've seen with the Tea Party and the election of an upstart like Barack Obama are grass roots, anti-systemic movements.
  • The two-party system has produced politicians who govern to the extremes of their political parties and there is a silent middle that is left with nowhere to go.
  • Both parties are beholden to large corporations and can no longer be trusted to serve the public interest.
Against The Motion
  • We've had choices outside the two-party system—libertarians, Ralph Nader, Ross Perot—but at the end of the day, people vote for the major party candidates.
  • Multi-party systems look good from the outside, and yes, governing coalitions can be made, but much of the time it's a prescription for a stalemate.
  • Conflict encourages the policing of power.
  • Americans like divided government. For 38 of the last 60 years, presidents have had to work with legislatures controlled by the opposing party.

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The Research

The Research

Why Parties?: The Origin and Transformation of Political Parties in America

John H. Aldrich
June 1, 1995

Top Does America Need Another Party?

Washington Post
April 30, 2010

No, America Isn't Ungovernable

Peter Wehner
February 12, 2010
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