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Why Americans Are Losing Faith In Democracy

Why Americans Are Losing Faith In Democracy

4 min read
Why Americans Are Losing Faith In Democracy
Good Party Politics Team · May 11, 2023

Democracy has long been heralded as the cornerstone of American society, promoting ideals of freedom, representation, and the power of the people. However, in recent years, there has been a growing trend of Americans losing faith in this cherished system.

This loss of trust is especially prevalent among young people disillusioned with the two-party system and seeking meaningful political reform.

The rigged nature of the two-party system and its dysfunctional partisan politics have created a dark doom-loop, trapping voters and hindering progress on pressing issues like climate change, inequality, and individual freedoms. It is, therefore, essential to understand the reasons behind this loss of faith and explore potential solutions for fixing the broken political system.

The Problem with the Two-Party System

The Rigged Nature of the Two-Party System and How it Limits Voters' Choices

The rigged nature of the two-party system stems from various factors. First and foremost, the duopoly of power established by the Democrats and Republicans has resulted in a political environment where third parties and independent candidates face significant barriers to entry.

The two major parties enjoy substantial financial and institutional support, making it challenging for nonpartisan candidates to compete on a level playing field. This rigged system diminishes voters' faith in the electoral process and restricts the emergence of alternative voices.

Moreover, the two-party system stifles political reform by reinforcing the status quo. The major parties have a vested interest in maintaining their control over the political system, and they often resist meaningful changes that could disrupt their established power structures. This resistance to reform hinders the implementation of necessary solutions to address the nation's pressing issues.

Why Independent Candidates Struggle to Gain Traction and Why Voters Feel Trapped

Nonpartisan candidates often face significant challenges in gaining traction and attracting widespread support due to the following reasons:

1. Limited Resources

Running a political campaign requires a significant amount of money to pay for advertisements, staff, and travel expenses. Political parties can access a network of donors willing to contribute to their campaigns.

In contrast, unaffiliated candidates must rely on personal savings or grassroots fundraising efforts, which may not be sufficient to compete with well-funded political parties. As a result, nonpartisan candidates often struggle to get their message out and reach potential voters.

2. Party Loyalty and Branding

Political parties have a long history of building loyalty among voters through consistent messaging, shared values, and party branding. Voters often identify with a particular party and are more inclined to support affiliated candidates.

The existence of strong party affiliations makes it challenging for unaffiliated candidates to break through this loyalty and convince voters to consider alternatives. Party branding creates a sense of trust and familiarity, making it difficult for nonpartisan candidates to build a comparable level of support.

3. Primary System and Ballot Access

In many democratic systems, party candidates are selected through primary elections or party conventions, where members select their preferred candidate for the general election. Nonpartisan candidates, however, often do not have access to a similar mechanism as they are not affiliated with a party.

Consequently, they must navigate complex ballot access requirements and collect a substantial number of signatures to appear on the ballot. These barriers further hinder their chances of gaining traction and restrict their presence in the electoral process.

4. Lack of Infrastructure

Political parties have well-established infrastructures, including local branches, volunteers, and campaign offices. These structures enable parties to mobilize resources, conduct grassroots campaigns, and connect with voters at the local level.

Independent candidates, lacking such infrastructure, face difficulties organizing their campaigns effectively and reaching out to voters on a broad scale. This limitation impedes their ability to compete with party candidates, who benefit from a ready-made support system.

5. Lack of Media Coverage

Major political parties have well-established relationships with the media and can often get their candidates' coverage. Unaffiliated candidates have to rely on their efforts to get their message out, which can be challenging without the support of a political party or a large network of supporters.

6. Perceived Viability and Strategic Voting

Voters often feel trapped due to a perception that unaffiliated candidates have limited chances of winning in a competitive election. They may opt for strategic voting, supporting a major party candidate who aligns closely with their views rather than risking their vote on an unaffiliated candidate they perceive as having lower chances of success.

This strategic voting phenomenon reinforces the perception that nonpartisan candidates are unlikely viable options, perpetuating their struggle to gain traction.

Losing Faith in Democracy

The following are some reasons behind Americans' loss of faith in democracy and how the two parties contributes to this loss of faith:

1. Polarization and Divisiveness

With only two major parties, politicians often resort to extreme positions to differentiate themselves from their opponents and appeal to their base. This polarization hampers constructive dialogue and compromise and reinforces an "us vs. them" mentality among the electorate.

The result is a highly partisan political climate, where issues become more about winning for one's party than about finding effective solutions. The constant gridlock and inability to address critical problems undermine public trust and contribute to the perception that rule by the people is broken.

2. Lack of Meaningful Choice for Voters

The two-party system limits political discourse and stifles the representation of diverse views. With only two major parties, political discourse often revolves around issues that these parties prioritize, leaving little room for alternative viewpoints.

It creates a political environment where voters are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils rather than candidates that truly represent their values. As a result, voters may feel disillusioned and disconnected from the political process, contributing to a loss of trust in democratic governance.

3. The Influence of Money in Politics

Political campaigns require substantial funding, and this reliance on money often means candidates must cater to wealthy donors and special interest groups. Consequently, the interests of big donors and corporations often take precedence over those of ordinary citizens.

The perception that politicians are more responsive to the demands of their wealthy donors rather than the needs of the general public fuels mistrust and reinforces the notion that the system is rigged in favor of the wealthy elite.

4. Erosion of Democratic Norms

The erosion of democratic norms, like respect for the rule of law, an independent judiciary, and a free press, has contributed to the decline in trust in democratic governance. Attacks on the legitimacy of institutions attempts to undermine electoral processes, and the spread of conspiracy theories erode the foundational pillars of a democratic government.

5. Perception of Corruption

Scandals, campaign finance controversies, and revolving-door politics have raised doubts about the integrity and accountability of elected officials. Money's influence in politics has led many to believe that the interests of powerful lobbyists and wealthy donors overshadow their votes and concerns. Such perceptions undermine the belief that democracy is a fair and just system.

Solutions for Fixing the Broken Political System

It is crucial to implement reforms that address the flaws of the dominance of the two parties and promote political pluralism to restore faith in a democratic government. One potential solution is the adoption of ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. This system eliminates the "wasted vote" argument and encourages voters to support candidates who align with their values, even if they are not from the two major parties.

Campaign finance reform is another vital aspect of fixing the broken political system. Stricter regulations on political donations and increased transparency can help reduce the influence of money in politics and restore confidence in the democratic process. By leveling the playing field, candidates from all parties, including nonpartisan candidates, can compete fairly and present their ideas to the public.

Additionally, ending gerrymandering, the practice of drawing district boundaries to favor one political party is crucial for promoting fair representation. Gerrymandering perpetuates a system where the two major parties maintain control, stifling political diversity and discouraging independent or 3rd party candidates from running.

The Role of Independent Candidates and Third-Party Movements

Nonpartisan candidates and third-party movements have a significant role in revitalizing democracy. They bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas and challenge the status quo. Millennials and Gen Z, in particular, are increasingly embracing alternative political movements and seeking diverse representation that addresses their unique concerns.

Building a robust independent party or supporting third-party candidates can help break the dark doom-loop of the two-party system. Greater diversity in politics brings minority representation, gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, religious tolerance, and more women in politics, fostering a pluralistic society.


The broken political system in the United States is a cause for concern, leading to a loss of trust in democracy. However, potential solutions such as ranked-choice voting, campaign finance reform, and ending gerrymandering, as well as the support for independent candidates and third-party movements, offer hope for a more functional democratic government.

It is time for political leadership to take action and address the systemic issues plaguing American democracy. The future of American democracy depends on it.


Political Dysfunction
Independent Movement
Why Americans Are Losing Faith In Democracy
By Good Party Politics Team
The politics team is focused on transforming the political landscape by promoting transparency, accountability, and positive change. They aim to engage citizens in the political process, encourage informed decision-making, and support candidates who prioritize the common good. Their mission revolves around creating a more fair and just political system, fostering collaboration, and breaking down traditional barriers of partisanship.