The massive divide our nation is experiencing provides a compelling reason to reevaluate the American election process. Making structural changes to our system could address many underlying causes of this division and ultimately unite Americans.

For years, voters have expressed their desire to cast their vote for someone outside of the binary choice they have been given, but they fear that a vote for a third party will be wasted, or worse, unintentionally result in the election of the establishment party candidate they like least.

George Washington’s farewell address is often remembered for its warning against hyper-partisanship: “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.”

John Adams, Washington’s successor, similarly worried that “a division of the republic into two great parties ... is to be dreaded as the great political evil.”

Americans should welcome the departure of the two-party system and instead encourage members of either political party who feel disenfranchised to create new political parties that better fit their ideologies and beliefs. Watching cable news, you’ll see views on the far ends of the political spectrum, but the majority of Americans are centrist and simply want the government to effectively provide core services.

Most importantly, rather than continuing to force the square peg of their political beliefs into the round hole of Republican or Democrat, voters would finally have the opportunity to support a party with which they truly identify. As many aspiring presidential candidates have learned, attempting to force an established political party to morph to fit one’s belief is an exercise in futility.

One day a “Texas Independent Party” may flourish from a centrist ideology that focuses on fiscal issues and core government responsibilities such as education, health care, infrastructure and public safety. The Texas Independent Party could balance out the fractious far left and right leanings of the incumbent parties.

We should also consider abandoning the divisive primary election process that has been in place since 1968. Instead, all American voters should cast their ballots on the same day in a national primary.

This would serve to dilute the undue influence of some states over others and prevent the inevitable devolution of political campaigns from civil discourse to mudslinging. After all, the old sports adage that “over scrimmaging” is more damaging than it is helpful certainly applies here.

Finally, to allow newly created political parties to flourish, we should consider shifting our government to a parliamentary system. The partisan polarization that has eroded many citizens’ faith in government could be replaced with the means to create coalition governing.

Each political party would have the opportunity to be part of a process that governs our country, while limiting the partisan divide that has metastasized throughout the last five decades. Throughout the world, parliamentary systems of government have proven successful and have been the preferred method of governing in places throughout Europe and beyond.

To make fundamental and profound change in government, the architecture must be changed. Changing the people who occupy the offices every four years provides for entertainment but not true transformation. If you are discontent with where our political process has led us, now is the time to demand change.

Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, represents part of San Antonio in the Texas House of Representatives.

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(15) comments

Robert Braeking

What two party system? We have but one party. It is the career political class. The labels are for our edification. They are all in bed together.

Chris Tucker

Mr. Braeking, I completely agree with you. Overall the local, state and national career political class has and continues to betray EVERY American by not fulfilling their obligations while creating division to distract the Citizens. Additionally the media (of all types) are willing participants with the career political class. Vote for the person not the party.

Bailey Jones

[thumbup]

Wayne D Holt

I'm casting my vote with Robert, Chris and Bailey. There is a Uniparty in Washington. This is the simple explanation why, though the American people have made it plain for decades that we are sick of endless foreign wars, both Republican and Democrat teams somehow manage to continue sending trillions of dollars into a national "defense" black hole that defends us being in places we aren't welcome and have no business being.

The Uniparty also brings us such financial innovation as skyrocketing riches for the obscenely wealthy and stagnant wages--or unemployment--for the vast swath of Americans who still have to toil to put food on the table. Fiscally conservative Republicans cheer it on. Populist watchdog Democrats become lap dogs when the gravy is being distributed.

The system itself has been corrupted by too much money, too much power and too little real restraint by We The People. I'd be willing to settle for just two parties that actually vied to make the American people, healthier, wealthier and wiser. As it is, we have a political class that's made looting the public a non-stop orgy of corruption. I'm not confident increasing the number of teams with corporate logos on their jerseys will be a big improvement.

Richard Illyes

This could be accomplished by having a second block on ballots for races having more than two candidates. Independent and Third Party candidates such as Greens and Libertarians could receive a first choice vote while a major party could receive a second choice vote, which would be used if the first choice did not finish in the top two.

This would end voting for the lessor of two evils which the present system forces.

Independent and Third party candidates would occasionally win and would vote case by case with either major party in the legislature, allowing them to influence public policy in an effective way. During times of serious division many Independent and Third Party Candidates would probably win, allowing relief from the divisive and extreme positions taken by the major parties.

Carlos Ponce

We have multiple parties more than two.

First there are the two major parties. Each has a primary where the ideals and platforms are decided upon by the winners. In the Democrat Party you have the Liberal Left, the radical Liberal Left (Socialists) and other factions. The Republicans have TEA members (Taxed Enough Already), Christian Coalition and other factions. To the winners go the definition of party platforms.

The Communist Party still there but they now back the Democrat nominee.

The Green Party put Jill Stein on their ticket - a candidate described by Hillary and other Democrats as a Russian agent.

The Libertarian Party nominated professor Jo Jorgensen as its candidate in 2016.

The Constitution Party nominated Don Blankenship.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation Peace and Freedom Party Liberty Union Party nominated Gloria La Riva.

The Alliance Party/Natural Law Party nominated Rocky De La Fuente.

The Prohibition Party/ American Independent Party nominated Phil Collins.

Bread and Roses Party - Jerome Segat.

Rudy Reyes - Legal Marijuana Now Party.

Bill Hammons - Unity Party.

Brian Carroll - American Solidarity Party.

Mark Charles - Independent .

Jeff Mackler - Socialist Action.

Joseph Kishore - Socialist Equality Party.

Howie Hawkins - Socialist Party USA/Solidarity.

Alyson Kennedy - Socialist Workers Party.

Johannon Ben Zion - Transhumanist Party.

Gary Miller

I would gladly support a national primary day. My only objection would be the extra advantage it would give incumbents. Another change badly needed is a constitutional amendment requiring "citizen only voting". Some states are diluting citizen votes by using local election laws, legal under present constitution, letting non citizens vote without seperating ballots for local or national elections. With our present electoral college system they can't increase their delligate count but if popular voting ever had value they would gain power not fairly achieved.

Ted Gillis

Mr Larson just wants another party to vote for because he’s become upset with the one he usually identifies with, and doesn’t want to turn to the party he has shunned and voted against all of these years.

Carlos Ponce

He has a wide variety of choices.

Charles Douglas

In my opinion, taking Mr. Larson's Op-Ed, and considering what Mr(s) Tucker, Jones, ILLYES PONCE, and Miller suggested about it....points to keeping what we have and making needed improvements to what has made America a bright light on a hill to the rest of the world for generations! Nothing wrong with the system we have, that a little cleaning and shining up won't cure! Now,.. take the present situation, letting Congress people remain in office for thirty to fifty years, to set up their own rules of engagement with powerful, foreign, rich, Lobbyists and special interest groups is the most asinine thing which the people could ever have allowed to happen in this country! I'm talking about both parties! Poor politicians go to Congress working for their constituents, once they get established, rooted in, and comfortable, they feel safe to start becoming corrupt by approving salaries, raises, and benefits they do not deserve. They start devising get rich schemes by taking big campaign & foundation donations from lobbyists, and so on ...becoming powerful and filthy rich! Right now we are having discussions about reforming the police in America. What's so difficult about reforming Congress? After FDR ...we reformed the Presidency! As it turned out we completed only half of what was needed! There should be term limits on Senators and House Of representatives and There is no doubt about it! They are products of our society, just like doctors and police officers! If there is a need to regulate those professionals, I am more convinced that ever that we would be better off limiting Congress to two terms like the President is now!

Gary Miller

Charles> Absolutly! Term limits is one change that could rescue our government from corrupt politicians. Two terms for every candidate for any office. A two term pause before running for another office would keep the corrupt out a little longer. Multiple parties is a feature of Parliamentary governments but is also the fastest way to dictatorships. True or real Democracy has produced Hitlers, Stalins, Pol Pots and other such. Popular voting in local or state elections was included in our Constitution as Democratic norm. Popular voting was not offered in presidential elections because the danger of dictators being elected in a democracy.

Charles Douglas

Free Cap Hill ....Viva Free Cap Hill, .....coming near you soon! Just remember yall ask for it! I'm going to watch! This, and what has happened recently with the looting and burning is all in the devil's plans! If Joe Biden wins, multiply what has happened recently by a thousand! All for you!

Wayne D Holt

Mr. Douglas, you might need to explain to folks what that means. By the dearth of news coverage on the topic, one would never guess six blocks of the heart of an iconic American city have been ceded to outlaws and is now being claimed by a warlord. The city and state governments have been neutered, police retreated and there are credible reports businesses within the Capitol Hill Automomous Zone (CHAZ) of Seattle are being hit up for protection money.

Beyond amazing to behold the complete abdication of civil authority to terrorists who have just claimed an entire neighborhood.

If government does not believe it has what it takes to restore civil order to a mass kidnapping of American citizens, the 2nd Amendment provides a serviceable alternative.

Ted Gillis

You and you’re 2nd amendment solutions.

Tell me Wayne, was George Floyd given his 2nd Amendment rights?

Carlos Ponce

Ted must believe in the Joe Biden defense:

"Instead of standing there and teaching a cop, when there's an unarmed person coming at them with a knife or something, you shoot them in the leg instead of in the heart is a very different thing. There's a lot of different things that could change," Biden said in a meeting with community leaders at Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del.

Pardon me for thinking this but I seriously doubt if Old Joe can hit someone in the leg on purpose, much less a running man.

How about Ted Gillis, how good are you on the moving target range?

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