Are We Herding Ourselves Off of a Cliff Because of the Two-Party System?

by Drew Lucas


Everyday people silence themselves, lie, conform, and give public opinions that they don’t agree with for the sake of fitting in with others. Acceptance from other human beings is a natural human desire and social need that the majority of us Americans strive to feel constantly.  This desire for connectedness and acceptance often gives way for error and mistake in our human evolution.  Groupthink is when people change their opinion, in order to achieve a common consensus among the group and/or keep the peace in a current situation.  This societal trait has been studied in various psychological experiments in past years.  The Stanford Prison Experiment shows how people will innately adapt to their given roles, regardless of personal morals.   Milgram’s Shock Experiment shows how people will obey authority, even if it means doing things that will hurt people against their will.   The Asch Conformity Experiment shows that a person would give an incorrect response despite his own inclination of the actual correct answer, just because his “peers” would all choose an obviously wrong answer.  The last example is what is going on way too often in electoral politics these days when it comes to public opinion.  Too many people continue to vote for a ‘lesser evil,’ even when they know it is not the best decision.  Groupthink and a concentrated media ownership in America have got us stuck in a two-party system that has not benefited us in many years and runs off of “big money” interests.

The general public is mostly apathetic of politics;  and most of the of (mis)information Americans do hear about comes from six media corporations. That’s right- 90 percent of the media in America comes from six corporations.  Conglomeration of media companies has caused America to suffer the from a concentrated media ownership.  There is a major lack of diversity in viewpoints because of this.  Corporations pay the media outlets for advertising, therefore they are influenced by corporate interests.  Stories will be omitted or biased to not offend the advertisers and owners.   For instance, reporters have to pretend to like their advertiser’s product whether they actually do or not.  This is happening on a larger scale too- such examples would be Enron or Solyndra.  With bias like this happening, the diversity of viewpoints is decreased and the people have a small track perspective on the happenings of the world.  There is nobody to challenge the accuracy of the reports since there are so few.  This results in people blindly believing that the two-party system (Dem-Rep) is the only option since that is what corporate media keeps telling us.

People continue to vote for Democrat or Republican, and one could theorize that this is due to our pack mentality.  This apathy and blind trust allows continued dominance of these two groups on legislation decisions such as war, which they have helped perpetuate through the years.  These are wars that the people don’t necessarily agree on going into.  Alternate news sources exist, yet are harder to find.  Independent candidates are rarely allowed on major television debates, forcing them to join one of the two parties to get any media coverage – such as Bernie Sanders .  Many Independents talk about real issues people deal with everyday but get no major broadcast or consideration.  People continue to vote for “the lesser of two evils” without questioning mainstream media or looking at any alternative news sources.  It is important to understand the implications of the concentrated media ownership and be able to analyze each situation before you believe everything you see on television.


When fanatical Patriotism is actually xenophobia and ethnocentrism, it could also be seen as an example of the sub-paradigm to Groupthink.  This sub-paradigm is also very interesting and challenging to overcome.  It goes on in the theory to say that the more loyal that the group is to one  another, the higher the chance they have to fall into this mob mentality.  This mentality is often caused by a feeling of invincibility because of power in numbers.  It will result in suppressed creativity, mutated personal opinions that meet consensus of the group, irrational behavior, and/or sheep like behavior.  Often times, there is a poised and confident leader of the group that stands out to make decisions that the rest agree on- such a leader is Donald Trump.  This is how some cults have been started.  For humans to evolve and learn from one another, we must continue to question our behaviors and always be true to ourselves regardless of the group.  As you’ve learned, Mark Twain is a huge individualist, and he also said once, “We are nothing but echoes. We have no thoughts of our own, no opinions of our own, we are but a compost heap made up of the decayed heredities, moral and physical.”  Although grim, it does speak some truth.  It is ironic how even in countercultures that you still have people that blindly follow others that confidently display a different message.  To live life to the fullest, it is a suggestion to think on your own, only act on personal opinions, always question authority, and be true to yourself.

“Thinking things through is hard work and it sometimes seems safer to follow the crowd. That blind adherence to such group thinking is, in the long run, far more dangerous than independently thinking things through”  -Thomas Watson, Jr.,