The Democrat and Republican parties have been the dominant parties in America’s presidential race. These two have, in alternation, produced America’s presidential candidates, who have gone ahead to win the presidential elections. While the two have dominated the presidency, other political parties and independent candidates have vied for the presidency with no success (United States Department of State, n.d.). Part of this phenomenon is the structure of the election organization, which favors financial strength and sufficient voter amassing for success in the presidential elections. Of interest therefore are the ideological contrasts between the two major political parties and the politics behind the unsuccessful presidential bids for small parties and independent candidates.
Religion, economics and fundamental rights form the hallmark of ideological differences that create a contrast between Democrats and Republicans. As proponents of capitalism, Republicans consider freedom in business as the catalyst to economic prosperity and innovation (Schreiber, et al., 2013). For Republicans therefore, the role of the government in economics is that of a referee to ensure free play and use of talent. On the other hand, Democrats opine against such free trade indicating the complexity of the economy for individual steering. Democrats therefore support the administration’s guidance in matters of the economy. For democrats therefore, free trade provides ground for economic ill, which in essence, harm the lower cadre workers, and thus the need for trade unions to fight for the rights of these workers.
Abortion is yet another issue that elicits difference between Democrats and Republicans. In the conservative Republican opinion, conception grants the child the right to life, which should therefore not be taken away from it (Glaeser et al., 2007). At the minimum therefore, the constitution guarantees the right to life, which is therefore a crime to infringe upon. Conversely, Democrats see the right to choose whether to keep or do away with the child lies with the mother. For democrats therefore, the woman has the right to choose whether the child will be born or not.
In their conservative nature and belief in capitalism, it is an individual’s responsibility on their placement in the societal social hierarchy (Schreiber et al., 2013). For this reason therefore, Republicans protest against government contribution in individual progress. In contrast, Democrats see the government as a vital component in individual upward progression. For them, the government is responsible for everyone in the nation, and should therefore ensure the wellbeing of all, even in extreme cases that require denial of other individual’s rights.
Even in the presence of other political parties, the two major parties have dominated the presidential elections, rendering the small parties ephemeral. The U.S.’s electoral structure is entirely responsible for the state of affairs as it were. The electoral system operates in a manner that the winner takes all, in which case, a candidate with a higher the number of votes per district carries the day (United States Department of State, n.d.). In such a system therefore, the small parties are discouraged from participating, and are sometimes barred from the race as they cannot garner sufficient popular suffrage in the districts and nationwide.
The US electoral system also includes an Electoral College, which determines the candidate that sails through in the elections. Each candidate has electors within district affiliated to him/her, who compose the Electoral College. With a 538 Electoral College votes required for a win in the presidential elections, the third parties are at a disadvantage given their inability to amass electoral votes, as well as enough states within the nation for a clean win (Austin &Tjernstrom, 2003).
Registration of the political parties is more tiresome and difficult before the candidate can proceed to the elections. Given that the Democrats and Republicans have alternatively held power, these two gave passed laws that impede the third parties, while favoring them. The huge finances for registration and the millions of petitions required for the registration, in addition to the number of votes for a candidate all work to the disadvantage of small parties and self-sponsored candidates. Try as they may therefore, these candidates as parties easily disappear into oblivion.
The real hurdle for the small parties and self-sponsored candidates is however,the campaign period, which is not only costly, but drags on over a long time (Austin &Tjernstrom, 2003). Any presidential hopeful needs to launch his/her bid well in advance, a process that start in the primaries and proceeds to the national levels. All these require substantial amounts of money and other resources. Additionally, presidential primaries also determine the candidate who eventually carries the party mantle. Through font loading, the first primary winner gains the party’s support, with all organs supporting this successful candidate. Obama carried the Democrats mantle after winning the first presidential primary against Hilary Clinton.
With such intricacies, time consumption and resource-draining preparations, small parties and independent candidates have slimmer chances in amassing enough support for their presidential bids. The laws and the whole process therefore prepare an environment that bars small parties and independent candidates, while instituting a two-party presidential system.
Austin, R. &Tjernstrom, M. eds. (2003). Funding of Political Parties and Election Campaigns. Stockholm: IDEA.
Glaeser, E. L. et al. (2005). Strategic Extremism: Why Republicans and Democrats Divide on Religious Values. Quarterly Journal of Economics: 1283-1328. Retrieved from http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/jesse.shapiro/research/values.pdf
Schreiber, D. et al. (2013). Red Brain, Blue Brain: Evaluative Processes Differ in Democrats and Republicans. Plos One, 8(2): 1-5. Retrieved from http://fowler.ucsd.edu/red_brain_blue_brain.pdf
U.S. Dept of State (n.d.). USA Elections in Brief. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved from http://photos.state.gov/libraries/amgov/30145/publications-english/USA_Elections_InBrief.pdf