They are exactly in the middle. Pressed by enthusiasts, lunatics, and extremists from left and right they are the golden zone of reason and compromise, the not so radical republican and not socialist democrats. The most powerful American party but so easily put in opposition by extreme wings and movements from Tea Party to rainbow-colored activists with fire in the eyes.
Back in Europe, we have many parties. And the more the parties, the more the trouble and instability. The two-party tradition still produces stability and in the same time ensures everyone with the freedom of expression and the insurance they’ll be represented. We do have our United States Marijuana Party and a Christian Liberty Party, plus hundreds of other parties but somehow we managed to keep the political system within the boundaries of reasonable.
The fractions and sub-leaders in the two big parties coexist as in a family – not everything is perfect, most conflicts are contained within the family and rarely the tensions erupt, nasty words are exchanged, then everything calms down. I don’t think the American people misses the drama and the eruption of short-lived micro-stars, like Podemos in Spain or Syriza in Greece. Our politicians – and voters are more pragmatic and less emotional. We do see big egos but we don’t follow them. We elected Trump and immediately made sure he’s encircled with people who are not like him.
We owe this stability, the full election terms, the generally smooth transitions, no interim cabinets, to the restraint of the American voter and to the third party. Obama and John Bohner, the Clintons and John McCain represent these centrist streams inside every party that flow in the same direction, on the left and right side of the river. On the waterside we have the more extreme wings, who don’t talk to each other, can’t hear each other, so they scream. It’s always the extremes that produce the new ideas but it’s the third party that domesticates and formalizes these political innovations into laws and government decisions. They are the board of directors of the country and I’m sure many meetings and talks we don’t know about throw bridges between the two sides of the aisle in moments when we need to unify our voices into one piece of paper: the next bill, statement or budget.
They are exactly in the middle. Different parties, same ability, and affinity for compromise and mutual understanding. Because the parties are different but the nation is only one.