Exactly, the point of a political party, in the American system, is to win. That is why they cover a larger segment of the ideological spectrum. If the spectrum is shrunk, then you end up with a fringe party, who under our Constitution, have no impact on policy making. In a parliamentary system a fringe party can win 8% of the vote and have influence within coalition governments. Our system does not work that way.
100 years ago the spectrum of left to right spanned both parties. That is why you had a LaFollette as a Republican. Today the left and right have sorted themselves out, with far less exceptions than the past. Despite the sorting out, the two parties are geared to win. That is to win 50%+. In order to win, differant factions within the party have to come together. If they split off into splinter parties, then each splinter will lose and lose and lose. That is the way the Founding Fathers intended it to be. They might not have written this into the Constitution, but the same men created the first two political parties. The original Republicans (now the Democrats) had to balance the interests of the Southern plantation owner with those of the Northern small businessman. They were so successful at this that they eventually destroyed their rivals that we had briefly a one party state during the Monroe administration.
Actually our system is much the same. The difference is that we have coalitions within two large parties. They have many small parties who make up, almost invariably, a majority coalition and a minority or opposition coalition.
There’s good and bad in both systems.
Here I had basically kissed off all hope of reading sane presentation once more.
Your entire post is exactly correct.
Lots of people rage at the GOP establishment, individual politicians, etc, etc, and then hold the Founders up as the paragons of perfection. The truth is our system IS a two party system since it does not allow for coalition building. 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc, party's can't work here under our system. Why don't people ever rage at the founders and try talk about changing the Constitution? So many folks here want to start up a new party (as people declare every election cycle), only to see the idea predictably crash and burn. So why do so few people actually point out the very flaws in the system that prevent these new party's from having any chance of success?
A two party system like ours means it will be only once or maybe twice in a life time that any of us ever gets to vote for someone we are truly excited about in a national general election. That is just how it works. The system is geared to be as much about defeating the opposition as it is about electing our own candidates. Our only real opportunity to shape these elections is within the primary of one of the 2 major party's. It sucks, but there is simply no way around it.