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Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop

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Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop

The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America

Oxford UP,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The situation in Washington, DC, is dire, but it doesn’t have to be.

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Political scientist Lee Drutman sees America’s partisan wars as dangerous to democracy. In this clear and creative take on political stasis, he prescribes specific ways to detoxify the situation. For starters, Drutman argues, America should institute ranked-choice voting in federal elections and stop choosing members of Congress via primaries – a process that intensifies extremism. But the real solution, Drutman asserts, is multiparty democracy of the sort that exists in most nations. Readers will appreciate his common-sense approach to a seemingly intractable problem.


America is no longer a beacon of democracy.

The United States’ once-robust political system has fallen on hard times. In 2017, the Economist Intelligence Unit lowered the republic’s ranking from “full democracy” to “flawed democracy.” American voters and political experts worry about the collapse of public will and the rise of tyranny. At first, many blamed Donald Trump for this turn of events. Then the thinking evolved: Trump wasn’t the cause but merely a reflection of an enfeebled system. The deeper problem is American politics’ two intractable parties, both of which insist that they alone represent true majorities and both claiming ownership of the only solution to what ails America.

While the United States’ two-party system is not new, the lines separating those parties were once messy. Platforms often overlapped. Compromise was achievable. In today’s American politics, it’s no longer possible to disagree in a polite manner. In this poisoned environment, anyone on the other side is the enemy. This state of affairs imperils American democracy. But there is a way out: Most of the world has multiparty...

About the Author

Lee Drutman is a senior fellow in the Political Reform program at New America, a think tank and civic platform. He is the author of The Business of America Is Lobbying.

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