06/08/2011 12:09 pm ET | Updated Aug 08, 2011

Political Parties Restrict Americans' Freedom

Consider three Americans: a gay businessman who wants to lower taxes; a scientist who teaches evolution but opposes amnesty for the illegal; an agnostic woman professional who wants lower government spending but advocates abortion rights.

Here's the good news about these three: All three have jobs.

Here's the really bad news: They are, for all practical purposes, disenfranchised. Neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party offers the full suite of political positions for these sophisticated, educated, freedom-loving Americans. And there aren't just three of them, there are millions. Tens of millions.

Wherefore art thou, freedom?
Both parties restrict freedoms in one way or the other. Republicans generally score well on economic freedoms, and poorly on social freedoms. Democrats are the exact opposite - with a terrible track record for economic freedoms and a good one for social freedoms (see chart). It is as if the entire population of America decided, back in grade school, to attend either the Civics lessons or the Economics lessons -- but never both.


Obviously, each political party has varied individuals with differing positions. There are also some credible independent voices that don't tow the party line. But while these are nuances, the overarching reality in a two-party system is that the party-line rules the roost.

There is ample evidence for this as well. Gingrich gets schooled if he even dares as much as criticize the GOP's Medicare plan. Romney's success with Massachusetts healthcare is viewed as a problem as opposed to a laudable accomplishment. Unfulfilled & impractical promises of closing down Guantanamo were essential sound-bites in the Obama campaign. Sigh.

The problem is that both the Republicans and the Democrats, in their attempts to cobble together a majority of American support, have patched together a motley assortment of voters. Their political positions are, therefore, not an outcome of principled thinking, but of election-motivated arithmetic yielding finely phrased positions. The outcome? The three aforementioned folks, and tens of millions like them are suffering. They feel forced into supporting a party they don't really fit in with. The two-party system is not just suffocating these Americans, but it is also outright oppressing them.

Whatever happened to choice?
This is the country that has a full aisle in grocery stores dedicated to different types of cereal, and another rather hard-to-ignore aisle dedicated to chocolate. This is the country that has hundreds of disciplines in her finest universities to encourage her young to explore the world from a wondrous array of perspectives. This is the country where one can choose to have any or no religion, be of any or mixed race, and still have a shot at one's dreams. For a country as wide and varied, for a country as addicted to the widest choices that exist on this planet -- does it really make sense to have only two consolidated political platforms? Why must the atheists support tax increases? Why must the minorities support labor unions? Why must the LGBT community support universal healthcare?

Pluralism, in many ways, is a truer representation of individual freedom. Individual freedom is the essence of America. It is only appropriate that America free her political system: give politicians more leeway to differ with their parties, and help more parties & platforms flourish. Put another way, even the Chinese have one political party. America can do a lot better than just two.

Dinkar Jain holds a Bachelors in Computer Science Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and an MBA from Harvard Business School. To read more articles by Dinkar, click here.