MTV Politics: Why Are There Only Two (Important) Political Parties In The U.S.?

(The following was originally published by MTV.)

Simple question: At a time in which both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders represent the “fringe” of their respective parties, why don’t we have more political options? Why hasn’t the Green Party, or the Constitution Party, or the Libertarian Party picked up more support nationally?

Why doesn’t a country of 323 million people have more than two main political parties?

Short answer: Because, well, the Constitution says we can’t. Sort of.

Long answer: The United States is not a parliamentary democracy (see: Norway), in which a party or coalition of parties with the most members forms the government. Instead, the U.S. uses a “winner take all” system. This means that whoever gets the most votes — whether by one vote or 1 million — wins, no matter what. If you come in second, you lose. Moreover, when we vote for president, we’re not voting directly; rather, our votes determine how many delegates each presidential candidate will receive in the Electoral College.

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