By Caitlin Walsh, Columnist
The United States of America is one of the few countries that use a two party system. And it's always been that way, since the days of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Every elected official has been affiliated with one political party or the other, with the exception of George Washington, who became president before the Federalist and Anti-Federalist parties were formed.
Now, over two hundred years later, this system is beginning to crack. Recent events have shown that the wedge between the Democrats and Republicans in Congress has drastically grown larger – not smaller as President Obama had hoped in the beginning of his term. One of the major signs that there was a problem was the long deliberation over the health care bill. Republicans had hoped – and some still do – to defeat it. Now the Republicans have defeated a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell by filibustering. In fact, Obama has essentially given up on his campaign promise of bipartisanship as the Republicans refuse to work with him.
The problem has gotten a lot worse because of the loss of certain members of Congress. Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts served in the Senate for 47 years before his death in 2009. At the time of his death, he had earned respect from his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. So Kennedy was able to make deals in the Senate and get things accomplished. A year after his death, his loss is still felt as there is no one left who is willing to reach out to the other party.
This two party system has got to change. Instead of a binary, either Democrat or Republican, we should consider a spectrum, with liberal, moderate, and conservative parties. Most members of Congress would fall into one of these categories. Of course there would be some who wouldn't quite fit, such as moderates who lean liberal or conservative more often than their moderate colleagues.
With three main parties, the control and power could be distributed more evenly through Congress. It could solve the problem of whenever one party gains majority of Congress and starts working an agenda that is a complete opposite of the party that had control previously. Or whenever one party completely disagrees with the other party's agenda and refuses to do anything.
Most of the other countries have a multi-party system that covers the spectrum from conservative to liberal. For example, Germany has five major parties in their parliament. No one party has a majority, so at least two parties form a coalition to run the government. Currently the Christian Democratic Union (center right) and the Social Democratic Party (center left) have the majority in the Parliament. Congress doesn't need to copy another country's model, it just needs to fix the system it has.
The two party system has become so broken that it is beginning to harm our country. Our problems are too big for only one party or the other to solve. We really need more cooperation and less separatism on Capitol Hill.