Segments in this Video

Keynote Conversation (09:57)


Yale University Professor of History and American Studies Joanne Freeman explains her connection to "Hamilton" on Broadway. She discusses violence on the floor of Congress from the 1820s to the Civil War and its impact on legislation.

Keynote Conversation: Political Parties (08:09)

Freeman explains the Founding Father's ideas about organized parties, their introduction, and the decline of dueling. Today's Republican and Democratic parties do not have a direct line back to the parties of the 1850s.

Debate "Housekeeping" (02:54)

Moderator John Donvan frames the debate on the two-party system and introduces panel members.

For the Motion: Norman Ornstein (06:31)

American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar, Ornstein states that problems in the American political system are more cultural than structural. Reform is necessary but must be made within the current system's structure.

Against the Motion: Lee Drutman (06:14)

"Breaking the Two Party Doom Loop" author, Drutman states that American democracy cannot survive with a two-party system. Republican and Democratic parties are organized around different geographic causes and each fears the other gaining power; a multi-party system may be the answer.

For the Motion: Yascha Mounk (06:03)

"The People Versus Democracy" author, Mounk states that Americans are living in difficult times and sensible structural reforms are necessary. He discusses systems of proportional representation around the world and how it would appear in the U.S.

Against the Motion: Katherine Gehl (06:24)

Venn Innovations Founder, Gehl states that 40% of Americans self-identify as independents. The industry of American politics does not have healthy competition, accountability, or innovation.

Duopoly Cooperation (08:56)

Donvan summarizes opening statements. Ornstein does not think marketplace competition would work in politics. Lee argues that presidentialism can work in a multi-party system. Mounk cites the need for a majority. Gehl argues that competition forces innovation.

Party Representation (08:13)

Ornstein states that proportional representation will not fit in U.S. culture. Gehl explains how to avoid unsavory political candidates; Lee cites dangers of a two-party system. Mounk argues that primary reform still results in a two-party system.

Q/A: Rank Choice Voting (02:37)

Voting in San Francisco has proven confusing and dysfunctional. Rank voting should occur in Congressional general elections after a primary.

Q/A: Quick Reforms (05:52)

Drutman argues that a multi-party system is practical. Gehl explains how a two-party system forces out Independents and other parties. Ornstein identifies actions that do not require constitutional amendments.

Q/A: Free Market Politics (04:10)

Gehl explains how to avoid a uniparty-system; Lee does not see how a political monopoly would occur. Ornstein considers how to fix the two-party system.

Closing Statement For: Ornstein (02:34)

The U.S. political system is not in a good place but a multi-party system is not the solution. Structural reforms are necessary but the U.S. needs to focus on changing its toxic culture.

Closing Statement Against: (02:31)

No faction should have a permanent majority or minority. A multi-party system requires compromise, provides more choices, and increases enthusiasm.

Closing Statement For: Mounk (02:24)

Electoral systems provide trade-offs. The U.S. two-party system has problems that need to be corrected, but not at the expense of proportional representation.

Closing Statement Against: Gehl (02:35)

The U.S. political system needs changes. Political innovation will take the country out of the "two-party doom loop."

Time to Vote (04:48)

Donvan instructs the audience to vote and thanks panelists for their participation. Panelists reflect on Citizens United and U.S. politics.

Audience Vote Results (00:54)

Pre-debate For: 35% - Against: 27% - Undecided: 38% Post-debate For: 65% - Against: 28% - Undecided: 7%

Credits: Two Cheers for Two Parties: A Debate (00:10)

Credits: Two Cheers for Two Parties: A Debate

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Two Cheers for Two Parties: A Debate

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The two-party system has dominated American politics for more than 150 years, with Democrats and Republicans vying for office on both the national and local levels. With partisanship and polarization soaring in the United States in recent years, however, the two-party system has come under increasing fire. Critics argue that the two-party system runs contrary to the intent of the nation's founders and has created a political process that concentrates power in the hands of elites, makes compromise difficult, and fails to represent the electorate. It's time, they contend, for real structural change. But others are more cautious. They argue that the two-party system is necessary to rein in the extremes on both ends of the political spectrum and promote the democratic institutions that are essential to the nation's governance. They further argue that multiparty democracies around the world—including Israel, Italy, and the United Kingdom—are now struggling to maintain stability and should serve as a warning to Americans. As the United States gears up for the 2020 presidential election, is the two-party system still good for democracy?

Length: 93 minutes

Item#: BVL205456

ISBN: 978-1-64867-644-4

Copyright date: ©2020

Closed Captioned

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