Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Low Road and the American Two Party System

If a character evaluation of American politicians was made based upon the printed material going into homes, the television and radio commercials being run across the USA in strongly contested Senatorial and Congressional races you could easily come to a most negative conclusion. If you accepted the evaluation of one candidate of his/her opponent you would conclude that American politicians are incompetent, corrupted, self-serving liars who are a step removed from being imprisoned. Negative attack ads are designed not only to instill fear of the other candidate’s position but also put in question the character of the primary opponent.

Americans are staunchly proud of the two party system. The rules, funding and campaign structure makes a viable third party functionally impossible. A heavy dose of negative attack advertisements is readily possible when you only have one candidate upon whom to focus. A competitive third party would push candidates to utilize far more ads proclaiming their positions and fewer attack ads. As long as the two party system remains the American political scene will be dominated by the low road.


Evie said...

Americans are staunchly proud of the two party system.

This does not apply to all Americans. I've interacted with plenty who, like you and me, would like to see a viable third party.

Josh said...

Also something to note, George Washington, in his farewell address warned against the formation of parties and discouraged them. He was strongly against parties, but he saw that they were forming in the ending days of his presidency, and wanted to try to stop it. Kind of funny how the first president basically set all the precedents of the office of President, and he was the only one to not affiliate with any party.

Evie said...

Party affiliations are probably inevitable, as people with similar interests can have greater influence if they pool their resources. But, the American divide into two parties that, in many ways, are barely distinguishable from one another, is not good for the body politic.