I have two thoughts on this:
It seems to me that a winner-take-all election for an immensely powerful head of the executive branch of the government necessarily creates a two-party system (or something similar to a two-party system, as has happened in Germany), even if you ignore all other issues. Since there is no general feeling that having a powerful president is inherently problematic, there will not be a strong third party.
It’s not entirely clear to me what concrete positions a hypothetical center party would take. The two parties aren’t that far apart, if you ignore identity politics issues. One party wants taxes a bit higher, the other wants taxes a bit lower, but they’re not that far apart. One party wants basic health insurance to be governed by legislation, the other by the free market, but they’re both pretty similar ideas. There is no room for a center party because there is no space between the two parties, regardless of how angry they are at each other. In fact, the anger might be an example of narcissism of small differences, where the two sides are so angry at each other precisely because they hold similar positions, and need other ways to differentiate themselves. Hence, to focus on nonsensical issues like trying to ban people from bathrooms, or complaining about Dr. Seuss.
1a. The proposal here is not to get rid of the two-party system, but rather, to reduce polarization. My view here is that polarization is harmful.
1b. The proposal attempts to work within the two-party system, rather than create a true third party.
1c. Why do you think a two-party system has to do with a strong executive? Mathematical arguments suggest that plurality voting eventually results in a two-party system, because you’re usually wasting your vote if you vote for anyone other than the two candidates with the highest probability of winning. Similarly, mathematical arguments suggest that instant runoff voting will eventually result in a two-party system, because out of the top three candidates, the most moderate will often be “squeezed out” (instant runoff voting isn’t very kind to compromise candidates). Other voting methods are much more mathematically favorable to multi-party systems. Therefore I tend to assume that the voting method is the culprit. However, abstract arguments like this don’t necessarily reflect reality, so I’m open to the idea that a strong executive is the real culprit. But why do you think this?
1d. What happened in Germany?
2a. Gun control and immigration preferences differ a lot between the two parties. Recently, preferences about police funding are very different. I think budgetary differences are large. I believe there are many other issues. I have seen graphs illustrating that the increasing political polarization can be seen rather vividly by only looking at how politicians vote (IE it’s gotten much easier to predict party affiliation from what legislation a politician supports). Also, similar graphs for voters (IE it’s gotten much easier to separate republicans and democrats based on survey questions).
2b. But you’re right, policy questions are not really the main driver of polarization or of my personal perception of polarization, or even of my wish to reduce polarization. Rather, identity politics (the pressure to identify with one side or the other) is the main driver of all three. My wish for a “new center” is a wish for a (widely recognized) tribal affiliation which offers an alternative, and a “return to sanity” in the media resulting from this. (The point of the “kingmaker” mechanism is to incentivize rhetoric from both sides to be less extreme.)
(The point of the “kingmaker” mechanism is to incentivize rhetoric from both sides to be less extreme.)
What do you do if both defect?
Select whoever defected least.
An important mechanism for avoiding this failure mode would be to encourage new-centrists to be involved in political primaries.
My read is that the winner-take-all voting system causes the two-party system, which in turn amplifies polarization. Maybe voting reform can be the/an issue to unite the center? If we can destabilize the two-party attractor, I expect a new center would be a natural consequence without further effort (or things would shift such that “new center” is no longer a meaningful/useful concept).
It seems to me that a winner-take-all election for an immensely powerful head of the executive branch of the government necessarily creates a two-party system (or something similar to a two-party system, as has happened in Germany), even if you ignore all other issues.
Germany has neither a winner-take-all election nor a two-party system.
Germany does have a winner-take-all mechanism for the executive branch; the parliament is appointed proportionately, but the chancellor is the singular head of government, and is appointed by the Bundestag in a way that, in extreme cases where consensus cannot be reached, regresses to plurality voting (FPTP).
I’m not familiar with the German situation, but in Denmark (whose system served as a model for the German system), while there are multiple parties, there is still a two-bloc system, where each party either aligns with the red bloc (supporting the Social Democrats / Socialdemokraterne) or the blue bloc (led by the Winstar party / Venstre), with the prime minister always coming from one of the two major parties. I presume the situation in Germany isn’t so different, and that this is what Lucas2000 is referring to by “something similar to a two-party system”.
Germany is currently governed by a coalition between the major center-left and center-right party if you want to use the traditional terms. That’s something different then one of two parties right or left from center.
The head of government in the German system also has a lot less power then a US president.
New parties are able to enter parliament and as long as they have >5% and gets seats nobody sees those votes as wasted.
One party wants basic health insurance to be governed by legislation, the other by the free market, but they’re both pretty similar ideas. There is no room for a center party because there is no space between the two parties, regardless of how angry they are at each other.
Enable or enforce price transparency in healthcare. Seems easy to appeal to both sides (whether or not implementation is simple).