Are Political Parties Doing Us More Harm Than Good?

Herb Bowie
6 min readJun 25, 2021
credit: iStock / kbeis

I’ve been making the case lately that the Republican Party is in decline, and needs to reinvent itself.

But perhaps something even more radical is needed.

For when we look at the current state of our two-party system in the US, nothing about it makes any sense.

Here in Seattle, where I live, our mayor has announced that the current term will be her last, and so we have a whole host of new faces appearing in our primary, the results of which will determine the two candidates who will be competing for the mayoral seat in the fall.

But neither of them will be a Republican.

This is because our parties have largely divvied up our national electorate along the urban/rural divide, which means that a Republican mayor in one our big cities is about as likely as a snowball fight in Florida on the Fourth of July.

Here in the state of Washington, starting in 2008, we have what are known as Top 2 primaries, meaning that the two candidates receiving the most votes in a primary move on to the general election — no matter what their party affiliation (or lack thereof).

This innovative approach to our elections was, of course, not advanced by either of our parties, but was brought forward and made into law through our initiative process, and approved by almost 60% of the voters.

What this means is that neither the candidates, nor the journalists, nor the voters, can simply check the usual boxes and mail in their efforts — we all have to start at ground zero, and evaluate issues and candidates without relying on rote party characterizations and preferences and affiliations.

Which arguably results in a better informed electorate, and a more meaningful democratic process.

And so what, exactly, are the Democrats and Republicans good for?

Both of our modern parties are charter members of the mutual vilification society, in which they spend vast sums of money in order to raise more money in order to fund marketing campaigns based, not on the most accurate and pertinent facts, but on fine judgments of which attacks on which opponents will be most likely to motivate their members to dig ever deeper into their…