From time to time, the question of whether or not American style democracy is really working comes up in political discourse. Many Americans maintain that we should have a two party system and that it really works because we can actually get things done. Defenders of the two party system will often compare our system to Europe and tell us, "Look at Europe. They have so many political parties, they can't get anything done."
So let's put that to the test with one example. In Japan and Europe, we find that they are far more efficient with their transportation system. Japan and Europe both enjoy very advanced, very efficient public transportation systems. Japan is famous for its high speed rail system, the Bullet Train. The Bullet Train has moved far beyond what I knew it to be as an adolescent both in terms of speed and technology. Both Japan and Europe have had excellent public rail systems for decades.
My mom has been to Europe many times over the last few decades and tells me first hand that the rail system in Europe is convenient, easy to use, and picks you up and drops you off where you need to be. She says it's great to be able to get on a train at the airport and take it to a stop that is within walking distance or a short cab ride to where she wants to go in Germany.
Both Japan and Europe have coalition governments. You know, the kind of government that never gets anything done because there are too many parties? Yeah, that style of government.
The rail systems in Europe and Japan were built with the consent of coalition governments, multiple parties, each vying for their voice to be heard, and they were heard. All of them. In contrast, the United States is plagued by a two-party system in gridlock. This system is backed by enormous sums of money and safe seats in Congress. The gridlock is exacerbated by the infamous Tea Party and other ultraconservatives who don't seem to want government to work. At least not while Obama is in office.
The coalition government has us beat beyond transportation, too. Europe and Japan both have universal health care with a single payer system, despite a coalition government. Europe has a thriving space program that is continually making new discoveries. Europe has the Large Hadron Collider, the largest particle accelerator in the world and Europe beat us to the discovery of the Higgs Boson. Europe has a much higher rate of union membership than we do. Japan and Europe both have excellent worker benefits instituted by law, that treat workers more like humans. All of this was achieved with a coalition government.
Our political system is locked in duocracy, a two party system, claimed to be far more efficient than other political systems. But upon casual inspection of the facts, comparing the differences between the two styles of governments, such a claim cannot be supported. Besides, in a true democracy, two parties would not rule the country to the exclusion of all other parties. A choice of two is not really a choice.
The duocracy enjoyed by the Democrats and Republicans excludes many other political parties who cannot get free air time on any local stations in the US. Third parties have been effectively blacked out of national news reporting. Meanwhile, the duocracy gets free air time any time they want it, from the four major networks, Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC.
If we really want to get things done in this country, we need to break the duocracy, a monopoly on political power. In any country, no two political parties should have a monopoly on power and still be called a democracy. Remove that monopoly and you'll find politicians more accustomed to compromise for all rather than exclusion for the benefit of a mere few.