Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America

Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America

by Lee Drutman


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American democracy is at an impasse. After years of zero-sum partisan trench warfare, our political institutions are deteriorating. Our norms are collapsing. Democrats and Republicans no longer merely argue; they cut off contact with each other. In short, the two-party system is breaking our democracy, and driving us all crazy.

Deftly weaving together history, democratic theory, and cutting edge political science research, Drutman tells the story of how American politics became so toxic, why the country is trapped in a doom loop of escalating two-party warfare, and why it is destroying the shared sense of fairness and legitimacy on which democracy depends. He argues that the only way out is to have more partisanship-more parties, to short-circuit the zero-sum nature of binary partisan conflict. American democracy was once stable because the two parties held within them multiple factions, which made it possible to assemble flexible majorities and kept the temperature of political combat from overheating. But as conservative Southern Democrats and liberal Northeastern Republicans disappeared, partisan conflict flattened and pulled apart. Once the parties fully separated, toxic partisanship took over. With the two parties divided over competing visions of national identity, Democrats and Republicans no longer see each other as opponents, but as enemies. And the more the conflict escalates, the shakier our democracy feels.

Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop makes a compelling case for large scale electoral reform-importantly, reform not requiring a constitutional amendment-that would give America more parties, making American democracy more representative, more responsive, and ultimately more stable.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780190913854
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 01/02/2020
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 126,354
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Lee Drutman is a senior fellow in the Political Reform program at New America. He is the author of The Business of America is Lobbying (Oxford University Press, 2015) and winner of the 2016 American Political Science Association's Robert A. Dahl Award, given for "scholarship of the highest quality on the subject of democracy." In addition, he writes regularly for Polyarchy, a Vox blog. Drutman also teaches in the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies at The Johns Hopkins University. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Table of Contents

1 - Introduction
2 - Once upon a time, when the two parties were too similar
3 - The parties diverge and keep diverging
4 - American political institutions and the collapse of the four-party system
5 - A binary conflict over national identity is bad for democracy
6 - Two-Party democracy turns out to be a disaster
7 - The Breakdown of Political Fairness (Here come the doom loops)
8 - Are parties the problem or the solution?
9 - The Case for Multiparty Democracy
10 - Designing A New American Electoral System
11 - The Politics of Electoral Reform
12 - The Future of American Democracy

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