Aging out of the two-party system

By Kayla Ross, Back Page Editor

The two-party system is a fact of life in America; politicians are Democrats or Republicans. Or at least, to have any success, a politician must first choose if they are a Democrat or Republican. 

Sure, other political parties exist and are recognizable by name: the Green party, the Libertarian party or the Socialist party. But, no politician identified as a member of any party other than the Democrat party or Republican party will ever be elected in our current voting system. As someone who identifies more heavily with the left, I currently see the two American political parties as two choices that truly do not differ greatly from each other. The current options are a conservative party and an extremist conservative party. 

George Washington always warned against political parties, or factions. Other founding fathers, such as Thomas Jefferson, found it important to provide citizens with an outline of issues they may or may not agree with. Yes, political parties give Americans an idea of what they may want to vote for. However, from my perspective, political parties are no longer just a factoid about someone. They are categories that now seem to blindly guide voters into what they think they support. 

For example, many Republicans would not appreciate the 14 Republican representatives who voted against healthcare protections for veterans. On the flipside, many Democrats would likely prefer to see more action from our current president on issues such as the climate crisis, the status of women’s reproductive rights and the state of our Supreme Court. Right now, it often feels that Biden is making statements about such issues as if he does not have the power to change them. He sends his thoughts and prayers, like to the rest of us, as if he does not have the executive capabilities. 

Gen Z loves politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It’s not a coincidence. This woman was voted into office because she is one of us. She doesn’t come from money. She has student debt. She has been sexually assaulted on the streets of New York City. Oh, and she is only 32 years old. But beyond all that, she is willing to admit how flawed the Democratic party is, as well as the two-party system entirely. To outwardly admit this as a politician is very unique. Young voters want honesty. We have seen the gilded lies of trickle-down economics, and we have watched and listened helplessly in the past two presidential elections as the oldest possible politicians debated over fundamental human necessities. We want honesty, and we want it from people who have not made politics their only career and livelihood. 

Generally, the expectation is for surgeons to retire before the age of 70. The people we trust to shape our physical health are given a limit. Perhaps it’s time to put a limit on the people we trust to shape the health of this nation as well. Old politicians have made their money from picking their political party and sticking to it — whether the politics have aged or not.  As these old politicians die, Gen Z will not vote in similar replacements. Gen Z will move to vote in representatives who speak with priority of honesty, in place of priority of money and staying power. No matter where the younger voters identify politically, most can agree — the two party system leads to hatred and keeps the same politicians in power. 

As older politicians die, the hard and fast two-party system will die with them. Young voters’ first priority is not aligning with a party; young voters are ready to align with the promise of change.