Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Mel Pearlman

The failure of America's two-party system


October 30, 2020

By Mel Pearlman

As America limps toward completion of the 2020 election campaign this coming Tuesday, it has become increasing clear that a majority of Americans are frustrated, angered and fatigued by the American political process.

A major factor for this emotional negativism among the American people is their realization that they are being corralled by the Democrat and Republican parties into choosing a president who is the lesser of two evils.

Whether by design or happenstance, the two parties have combined to enshrine into law a political and electoral structure, which perpetuates one party or the other in power to the exclusion of any other political group.

This narrowing of political expression is a logical consequence when a political party, born from new and creative ideas ages and loses its way; and when its only remaining purpose is to cling to power. It also has a secondary effect of creating a political “farm system” that pretty much produces mediocre candidates for higher political office.

As a result of this dysfunctional and exclusive two-party system, there is little political space for the people to express or reconcile their broad and complex aspirations and feelings for their country’s future. Both parties, married to special interests and narrow ideological interests, and the money these interests supply, no longer are capable of reconciling opposing positions to reach policy decisions in the public interest.

Thoughtful, creative and pragmatic solutions are nowhere to be found in the agenda presented to the American people. The proof is in the dysfunctional US House of Representatives and the US Senate, where in both chambers ideological purity and identity politics prevail over sound policy considerations, and where little or nothing gets done, except for the quest to be re-elected.

I am reminded of the quotation, “While Nero fiddles Rome burns”. Our nation is literally and metaphorically burning, while a broken two party political system fails or is incapable of dealing with real environmental damage, a decaying infrastructure and racial tensions and class warfare.

The current political system encourages placing blame for our problems instead of encouraging solutions to the challenges confronting our nation. There are many things wrong with our country, but the US Constitution is not one of them.

Whether climate change is caused by nature or mankind or by both makes no difference. The environmental damage is real and needs to be addressed.

Racial inequality and class differences are real, but blaming this problem exclusively on white privilege will not solve these issues. Let us not forget that white men and women did enslave black men and women; but let us also remember that white men and women in the hundreds of thousands gave their lives in the Civil War to end slavery as well.

All current Americans must take responsibility, but not blame, for the existing racial and other inequalities, and work together to end this flaw that plagues American society. Violence on the streets and inaction in Washington will not solve these issues. We are more likely to erase inequality by taking a long piercing look at ourselves in the mirror; for that is where the ultimate solution can be found.

While more and more citizens are expressing their displeasure with the two party system by registering independent or not at all, there are steps being taken by citizen groups to try to reform the Congress and the way candidates are chosen.

IndependentVoting.org is working to open up state primaries to all registered voters in order to give more citizens a voice in the selection of candidates and to increase the relevance of moderate voters in the selection of nominees by the two major parties. There is no legitimate argument for voter suppression. Floridians have an amendment on the ballot for open primaries. I urge Florida voters to support this amendment.

Another citizens group, “NoLabels.org” is working to save and improve the two party system through its efforts to enlist members of Congress from both parties in a new bipartisan caucus known as the “problem solvers”.

Every American must take responsibility for the health of this nation. No problem in a democracy is unsolvable. But there are no solutions and no winners when the country is divided; and for all practical purposes is not speaking to one another.

Although we are going through a very tough time with Covid-19 inflicting our nation, our country is also politically sick; and in both we are searching for an antidote to cure our ills. Let’s start the healing process with reciprocal respect.

If you wish to comment or respond you can reach me at melpearlman322@gmail.com. Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, respectful and civil manner.

Mel Pearlman holds B.S. & M.S. degrees in physics as well as a J.D. degree and initially came to Florida in 1966 to work on the Gemini and Apollo space programs. He has practiced law in Central Florida since 1972. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; was a charter board member, first vice president and pro-bono legal counsel of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as holding many other community leadership positions.


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