Why We Have Voting Parties

Liliana Cruz, Co-Editor-In-Chief

  The formation of political factions or parties began during the ratification of the Constitution in 1787. These fractions started developing due to the strong beliefs of two groups of the nation’s Founding Fathers. The Federalists, led by Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who wanted a strong central government, and the Anti-Federalists, led by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, who advocated for states’ rights instead of centralized power. What started as simply  Opponents and supporters (Anti-Federalists and Federalists) would later become what we know today as the Democratic and Republican Parties. The political parties themselves and the effect they have on our government and voters have changed a lot throughout the centuries, but the debates on the two-party system and the parties’ increased polarization have remained constant throughout time.

    Political Parties, by definition, are a group of persons organized to acquire and exercise political power, and according to CrashCourse: U.S. Government and politics, political parties are in place to facilitate collective action and policymaking. Facilitating collective action means that political parties make it easier for voters to form groups that will vote in certain specific ways. They also make it easier for elected members to work together and form alliances, which ultimately allows for the writing and passing of policies. 

    The most common and well-known parties are the Democratic and  Republican Parties. However, there are a variety of other third parties like the Libertarian, Green, and Constitution Party that exist but aren’t recognized in all 50 states like their democratic and republican counterparts. Due to this, the U.S. is more commonly seen as a two-party system. The system has been in place for centuries, but the issue of whether it’s helpful or harmful is still up for debate. 

     Some historians suggest that the two-party system promotes centrism and encourages political parties to find common positions that appeal to a wide variety of voters. According to the U.S. History Organization, the American two-party system also allows for a consensus of values.

    “What we sometimes forget is that Americans share a broad consensus, or agreement, of many basic political values,” the organization said. It also stated that while political parties are often seen as necessary evils they still are an important part of the American government and politics.

    “The two broad-based major political parties offer alternatives to voters and help connect citizens to their government.”

    While the two party-system has its advantages, it has also been criticized for its possible complications. In his 1796 farewell address, George Washington warned and advised against the use of such political affiliations. 

    Former president and Founding Father John Adams also expressed his concerns about a two-party system in a letter to Jonathan Jackson in 1780.

    “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”