Are we actually seeing the beginnings of the move away from a (two) party system in politics? Before you cynically laugh off this idea, there are a number of trends pointing in this direction.First, there is a fairly strong independent streak among the youngest generation of voters, the Millennials. Recent numbers from a
Pew Research Poll shows that the Millennial generation (roughly ages 18-32) identify as independent rather than identify with any particular party. The poll also suggests that Millennials actually have strong political feelings, with a majority having more liberal views.
It has been reported elsewhere that Millennials are more put off by partisan politics, going hand-in-hand with their embrace of independent political principles.
Second, with the ever-increasing partisanship in Washington, a backlash has occurred with the emergence of bipartisan groups like No Labels working to make sure government leaders focus on governance rather than bickering. No Labels offers a place for non-partisanship to flourish. The group has been successful in a number of initiatives, including the Make Government Work and Make the Presidency Work action plans and promotion of the “Problem Solvers.”
The organization continues to add “Problem Solver” legislators to its ranks.And finally, although least positively, changes in campaign finance laws which have helped fuel the growth of Super PACs. The size of these PACs and the ability to concentrate resources (read: money) on a particular candidate or group of candidates provides less incentive for a person to run on a particular party platform, particularly when that party may not have traction in a certain location.
So what does it all mean? Are political parties of the way of the past? Maybe, but even with all these changes, the parties remain strong and a source of cohesion and power.
What the data suggests, however, is that we may be moving toward a sizable shift in politics driven by increased demand for bipartisanship and good governance, the Millennial generations dissatisfaction with being labeled as either Democrat or Republican, and the ostentatious increase in money in politics through non-political party organizations. Whether all this means the political party system is a thing of the past (for good or bad reasons) or the parties will adapt to these changes, we will have to wait to find out.