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Intelligence Squared

Monday, March 9 at 2:00 pm

Is the Two-Party System Good for Democracy?

Facing extreme partisanship and polarization, America's two-party system has come under fire. Critics argue that the two-party system runs contrary to the founders' intent and has created a political system that fails to represent the electorate, concentrates power for the elites, and makes compromise impossible. They say it's time for real structural change. But others are more cautious. They argue that the two-party system is necessary to rein in extremes on both sides and promote the democratic institutions that are necessary to the nation's political and social stability. Further, they argue that multi-party democracies around the world -- including Israel, the UK, and Italy -- are now struggling to maintain stability and should serve as a warning to Americans seeking reform at home. As the nation gears up for the 2020 presidential election, we ask: Is the two-party system good for democracy?

Yascha Mounk
Author, "The People vs. Democracy"
Yascha Mounk is an associate professor of Practice of International Affairs at Johns Hopkins University and a postdoctoral fellow at the German Marshall Fund. A columnist at Slate and the host of The Good Fight podcast, he is an expert on the rise of populism and the crisis of liberal democracy. He is also the author of “The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It.”

Norman Ornstein
Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
Norman Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies politics, elections, and the U.S. Congress. A longtime observer and analyst of American politics, he is a co-host of AEI’s Election Watch series, a contributing editor and columnist for National Journal and The Atlantic, a BBC News election analyst, and the chairman of the Campaign Legal Center.

Lee Drutman
Author, "Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop"
Lee Drutman is a political scientist and author focused on political parties and democracy. His recent book, "Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop," makes the case for a multi-party system in the United States. He is a senior fellow in the Political Reform program at New America, co-host of the Politics in Question podcast, and writes for the New York Times, Vox, and FiveThirtyEight, among other outlets.

Katherine Gehl
Entrepreneur & Political Reformer
Katherine Gehl is a business leader, political innovation activist, author, and speaker. Gehl leads Venn Innovations, a national, nonpartisan political innovation group, and is the co-author of the forthcoming book, "The Politics Industry," from Harvard Business Publishing. Gehl is co-chair of the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers, and co-founder and co-chair of Democracy Found. Gehl was president and CEO of Gehl Foods, a $250 million high-tech food manufacturing company in Wisconsin.

John Donvan
Host and Moderator

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