Most countries have figured out that a two-party system is pretty inefficient. One could write a book or two about why this is so, but suffice it to say that a two-party system is too coarse to properly represent an entire political spectrum.

My question is twofold.

Firstly, I understand that some Americans realise this, and do want more parties. But many also do not want more parties. Here is one poll showing that there's maybe an equal number of people on both sides:


So I will ask a question for each group.

  1. To the people who do not want more parties, my question is simply ... why not? What arguments do these people offer?
  2. To the people who do want more parties, my question is, why do even these people tend to take actions that help solidify the two-party system? Here, I am specifically referring to the notion of being "a conservative" or "a liberal". I've never spoken politics to an American without them using these terms to label themselves. Nobody does this in my country. Surely putting your entire political belief system into one of two boxes and labeling it like that, only helps strengthen the notion that there are only two systems and therefore two parties are the only ones needed to represent them? Obviously there's a "chicken or egg" thing going on here. Maybe these terms exist precisely because they are natural to use given that you live under a two-party system. But perhaps the two-party system exists because Americans really do think in such binary terms to begin with.
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    Most people who want more parties understand that unless a third party gets significant countrywide traction, the only thing they'll accomplish by voting their third party locally is to increase the odds of the party they favour the least winning. Basically, they support the two party system because it's the only game in town. And neither party will fracture because then the other party will have an effective majority as long as it doesn't fracture. – Shadur Feb 13 at 16:16
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    two-party system is too coarse to properly represent an entire political spectrum That's quite the claim, and I'll counter it with some examples: Israel and its perennial mess where small parties can play kingmaker. France, where no matter how many parties are in round #1, only the top 2 go to run offs: the last election came within a hair's breadth of saddling voters with either extreme right (LePen) or extreme left (Melenchon) choices. What makes the US inherently worse than those 2 cases? – Italian Philosophers 4 Monica Feb 13 at 16:59
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica I think it’s hard to argue that the 2-party system isn’t too coarse a tool, but as you say, it’s not clear that other systems are better – divibisan Feb 13 at 18:57
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    There are 328 million people in America. They don't all agree on much, especially politics. This question isn't answerable. – JohnFx Feb 14 at 0:28
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    Why is this question closed? It is obviously about politics, and any potential answer would seem very useful, as evident by the comments here. Can this be reopened please? – user000001 Feb 14 at 11:47