Two Isn’t Enough: Tearing Down the Political Oligopoly
The following is part of the In Defense of Freedom essay series by Northwood University students. This piece is authored by Riley Hayer.
For 150 years, Americans have been accustomed to the choice between a Democrat or a Republican. For many, the last few elections have been a vote for the lesser of two evils, but there must be an alternative. The two- party system is nothing less than an oligopoly between the Republicans and Democrats. Both parties restrict competition within their market by keeping the price of entry high and keeping the path to reach it regulated, thereby securing their position at the top. Dropping these restrictions and prerequisites to entering the political industry could allow for more competition within the market and better products (politicians) for the consumer (We the people). Something as simple as allowing third parties into debates could change the way America does politics for the better. Allowing free-market competition into the political industry can revitalize American elections with better politicians, therefore bettering the functionality of the government.
Lobbyists and high-dollar supporters of different political parties can have immense sway and power over elected officials. Some would call this corruption, others call it an average day in politics. In an ideal political industry, several political parties dominate the news, the minds of the average American, and the attention of wealthy benefactors and corporations. All their attention must be split between several different candidates who all have different ideologies and values, instead of just one or the other.
Continuing this ideal industry depiction with so many options, both the voters and politicians would not have to take such a black-and-white perspective on politics. Allowing the meshing of ideas and this competition among a multiplicity of political parties would force both voters and politicians to agree on some aspects with an opponent and disagree on others. It would no longer be a flip of a coin when you ask a politician their views (support or opposition), but it would be more likely for them to have a holistic and multi-faceted approach to their opinion. The focus would no longer be on a simple dichotomy between one party versus another.
Competition within every other industry improves the quality and efficiency of products and services. With increased competition within the political industry, we could see an increase in the quality of politicians and the work they do. We the people have more sway over the way a company produces a product than we do our own bodies
of government. Increasing competition within the political industry will incentivize better work and compel politicians to differentiate themselves from the rest of their competing market. It would no longer be a vote for the lesser of two evils, because you would have several people with many different value systems.
Increased competition increases the consumption of a product. Politics – like football – can be interesting at times. If we had only two national football teams, the competition would be far less interesting, and a lot fewer people would care
or consume the content. But that’s not the case, we have several different football teams, each
with their own play styles, coaches, and set of diehard fans. Having several different political parties would generate a greater audience for political debates. For example, the primaries are candidates with all similar ideological values, yet they tear each other apart. The 2020 presidential debate, while interesting, was nothing short of a shouting match between two prospective leaders of America. An increase in political candidates will lead to greater political coverage, a greater pool of quality information, and a greater interest in their content.
Thus, the solution to many of America’s problems lies within the greater issue of improving our terrible politicians. Allowing greater ease of access to third parties into the larger political industry could engage the people into greater political interest, increase the efficiency and quality of candidates, distribute corporate power among many different parties, and force voters and politicians to think more holistically about political issues rather than taking just one side or another.