George Graham

End Two-Party Gridlock


It’s not true that America has only two political parties. There are more than 50 political parties in the United States. It’s the press that makes it seem only two parties exist. Only Democrats and Republicans get any media attention.

Now, there are rumblings in the media urging the Tea Party to separate from the Republicans. The suggestion was made by Michael Lind today in Salon,com, for example. Here’s an excerpt from Lind’s article:

The United States doesn’t have enough political parties. Two is not enough.

Most modern democracies are multiparty systems. They use fair electoral methods like proportional representation (for multimember legislative districts) or ranked choice voting, sometimes called the alternative vote (for single-member districts) to ensure that the full spectrum of political opinion in the society is represented among elected representatives.

Lind suggests;

Under a different, more fair electoral system, the Tea Party would be a real political party. It would not be stuck in a loveless marriage bickering about “crony capitalism” with Wall Street kleptocrats.

Lind is not alone in proposing the Tea Party form a separate political organization. There is a strong separatist movement building within the Tea Party, and several pundits – Sarah Palin for one – have been proposing the radicals go it alone. Tea Party bloggers have been calling on Palin to become their first President so who knows what’s in store for 2016?

Obviously, America’s two-party system isn’t working. One party is left, the other right, and never the twain shall meet. It’s a recipe for the kind of gridlock afflicting the current Congress.

I lived in Canada for a long time, and I was a founding member of the New Democratic Party. Looking back, I think the existence of a strong NDP can be credited with many of the great reforms in that country. Even though they weren’t in power federally, they had enough support to keep the two major parties honest. It was the NDP’s influence that steered Pierre Trudeau’s administration to the left, for example. And today, Canada has one of the most progressive – and effective – governments in the world.

Of course, I wouldn’t want the Tea Party to hold the balance of power in America. Heaven forbid!

But I would applaud the media’s acceptance of more than two parties. There are several parties to the left of the Democrats, for example. But you never hear or read about them.

I see at least four separate political forces in America – the progressives, the centrist left, the centrist right and the radical right.

They make uneasy bedfellows. Centrists and progressives irritate each other. So do centrists and right-wing radicals.

The system would probably work much better if these four groups were represented by viable political parties, free to form alliances – or not – as they wish.

All it would take to change the system is for the media to acknowledge the existence of parties other than the Republicans and Democrats. Sadly, there are so many political parties that covering them all would be impossible. If some of these tiny splinter groups would merge with others that have similar goals, they would have a much better chance of gaining recognition.

And America would be better for it.

Click for a list of political parties.

Click for Lind’s article.

Click for Palin’s views.

Click for a Tea Party blog.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for