In Defense Of The Two-Party System
Even though this may be the most inopportune moment imaginable, the assertion must still be made. Democracy absolutely requires political parties in order to succeed. We ignore their virtues at our peril.
Let us list some of the functions of political parties as emphasized by experts. Party labels send a signal or "cue" to voters. The single most important factor determining our vote is party affiliation. To protect us the Constitution fragments power with separation of powers and federalism. Parties knit government back together just enough to enable it to function. Further, parties perform their own checking function by providing a vehicle for the opposition to restrain the excesses of the party in power.
Parties moderate politics. A healthy two-party system tames and moderates competition by forcing candidates to appeal to the broadest constituency. Parties collect and organize voter preferences in order to transform them into policy if they win. Parties manage our electoral process. They recruit candidates, and provide them with research, money, and an organization.
Now it would be foolish in the extreme to assert that parties are currently conferring all these potential benefits. They stand in need of genuine reform. But that reform should enhance, not endanger, the essential benefits of a healthy party system. It is still a mistake to "throw the baby out with the bathwater." I'm Bob Evans, and that is my perspective.