No One is Minding the Store in Our Two-Party System

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by Gordon Anderson

GordonMany people do not like President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, but in his November 20 speech, he stated that if Congress did not like his solution they could pass their own bill for his signature. The failure of Congress to pass an immigration bill reflects a larger problem in the U.S. political system: our current two-party system.

Political parties, almost by definition, do not serve the nation. Rather, they serve the interests of their financial contributors, who do not contribute to the nation, but seek to get something for themselves from the government. With our current two-party system, no one is minding the store. The current U.S. Government can be compared to a Wal-Mart in which people bribe a security guard to get in the store, and, once they do, take what they want from the shelves without paying at the cash register. Our elected representatives are those security guards, and, instead of representing the people, they have become operatives of political parties.

American political parties are coalitions of economic interests justifying themselves through ideological rhetoric. They have become the factions that so worried the U.S. Founders, particularly James Madison:

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

— James Madison, The Federalist 10

U.S. government policies today are determined primarily by political parties, not by citizens. As much as possible, political parties place party loyalists on the ballot as candidates. Once elected, party contributors prepare legislation and hire lobbyists to help these loyalists shepherd it through.

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