Why a Two-Party System?
American history has basically been one of duality. Two groups, for whatever reasons, have dominated most of U.S. history.Early on in the history of the republic, a major division was whether or not to declare independence (Whigs and Tories). The next significant issue was the writing of the Constitution. Here, two groups developed at the Constitutional Convention: confederationists (states rightists) and nationalists (as discussed in Chapter 3). Once the Constitution was written, the nation divided over ratification: Federalists (for ratification) and Anti- Federalists (against ratification). When the first parties developed it was into two: Democratic-Republicans versus Federalists.Probably the most significant issue dividing the nation was slavery: North versus South. After the Civil War, as noted in this chapter, the division was primarily between farm (rural) interests and industrial (urban) interests. Finally, in recent decades a major division written about a great deal is that between the Frostbelt (industrial Midwest and Northeast) and Sunbelt (South and West).Thus, most of the great issues to divide the United States have resulted in two groups.