Our broken two-party political system
Midterm election results follow continuous pattern of partisanship
Democrats lost out in the midterm elections Tuesday night, and the Republican Party now holds the largest congressional majority since World War II. There are now 100 women in Congress for the first time in history and more diverse representation across the board, but for all this progress, it doesn’t look like we’ll be making much more as a government over the next two years.
While the legislature is largely Republican, President Barack Obama still has another two years to his term, and the friction between him and Republicans clearly doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better now. That’s the million-dollar question — how and when are Republicans and Democrats finally going to find a way to work together instead of constantly making everything a partisan issue?
The seesawing between majority parties in Congress is almost comical. With Democrats in the majority, we saw the least-productive Congress in American history with terrible approval ratings. Everyone — not just smug Republicans, but also disillusioned Democrats — voted for the alternative, and now we have a Republican majority. And for those who didn’t want to vote for the alternative, they simply didn’t vote at all.
There’s always more mobilization around getting people to vote in presidential elections than in midterm elections, even though midterm elections are arguably more important and consequential on a local level. Democrats rely heavily on young people, students and minority groups for votes, while the Republican demographic includes older voters who more reliably show up to the polls, especially during midterm elections. But getting people to vote isn’t just about accessibility and awareness anymore. There are so many who make a conscious decision not to vote or simply aren’t interested. There’s little faith in our political system at the moment, and not without good reason. Party politics define the system, and it’s not working.
Hardly any independents were elected into Congress this term — there are Democrats or there are Republicans. The results of this election are practically an immediate reaction to intense dissatisfaction and downright anger from everyone (both Democrats and Republicans) with the arguably failing Obama administration. The polarization between both parties on every issue is so intense that we never seem to be able to come to the middle ground we need.
Politics don’t need to be defined by specific social and cultural issues like they usually are. Democrats appeal more to our generation simply because of their liberal stances on domestic topics like gay marriage, abortion and the legalization of marijuana, while Republicans are usually on the other end of the spectrum. While midterm elections have been dominating the mainstream media, many people were also following the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Oregon and Alaska this week. It might be a more interesting (and for some of us, more directly relevant) issue — but there shouldn’t be so much of a focus on specifics like this instead of the real problem of the entire structure of two-party politics in our government.
Now, with a Republican majority in the legislature and a Democrat in the White House, the only way for our government to get things done is if Obama figures out a way to work with Republicans — but after all these years of partisan politics, clearly bipartisanship isn’t as easy to achieve as it might seem.