Although there are still many in the United States who identify themselves as party loyalists in the political sense of the term, the overall importance of party loyalty in this country has faded drastically since the Civil Rights movement.
However, the United States’ two party process is the most efficient and ironically the most democratic way to govern a country, thus explaining the continuity of the system.
By only enabling the American public to select from two distinct choices, various coalitions must assemble to reflect the opposite spectrums within the party. This makes it difficult for the Republicans to be too conservative and the Democrats are also forced to gravitate towards the center.
Prior to the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, the base for each party was totally polarized from the electorate of the other.
Democrats traditionally represented minorities and the working poor, emphasizing the value of social equality. At the same time, Republicans were comprised of white-collar professionals and conservative rural voters. Stereotypically, the parties were reflective of two very different sets of ideals and priorities, unlike the present day system.
With the evolution of the minority middle class in America, as well as the industrialization of the South, many changes have taken place that have turned traditional party-line voting into a thing of the past.
Evidence of this assertion is the fact that, since 1964, more than half of the time, the party of the President has been different than the majority rule in at least one house of Congress.
With the influence of the media becoming more prevalent in Presidential elections, there is no question that the campaigns have become more personal and less party oriented.
It is important, however, that the candidates maintain support from their respective parties, so that fundraising can be steady and coalitions can be kept together. If the United States had more than two parties in contention for the presidency, or seats in the Congress, there would never be a sense of mandate from the public.
In France, for example, a complex primary system selected a far right-wing candidate for the presidential nomination after he received roughly 20 percent of the votes.
With a country the size of ours, a divided public with a seriously divided government would lead to stagnation and loosely bound coalitions that would not reflect the most practical and efficient application of the democratic process.
Some may believe that a democracy is not truly represented best by the current system. One must bear in mind, however, that the United States’ method of governance has been the longest continuous democratic system in the free world.
Our Founding Fathers would no doubt deem our democracy a success if they could see that bible-belt conservatives could combine with moderate, fiscally conservative minorities from New England and vote for the same Presidential candidate under the guise of the two-party system.
Likewise, Franklin Roosevelt probably never envisioned that the Democratic Party would form coalitions of gays and minorities with southern Blue Dogs. Our democracy is flourishing because the two-party system embraces almost every American, in one way or another.