Why God Created the Two-Party System

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In the beginning–as you know–God created the heavens and the earth. On the Sixth Day, after creating cattle, creeping things, and the first two people (Genesis 1:26-28), sleepless, fidgeting, and for no particular reason, He created what we call “the Two Party System.”

(In God-language: מערכתדו-מפלגתית.)

Now, why the Two Party System? you ask. As opposed to something else?

As it turns out, that was the very question in the Creator of Everything’s own mind at that very time. You might think He’d have consulted with Adam and Eve, the first two humans He’d made in His own image. But there’s no evidence He did that.

God (known to some as “Yahweh,” or to King James readers as “Jehovah”) seems to have reasoned that, well, One Party would jeopardize His position as the One monotheistic deity. So that was out.

“No way that will fly,” he vowed quietly to Himself—although there was no one else there able to hear His words (Adam and Eve out of ear shot at the time) uttered under His breath in Hebrew, the only language created at that point.

And—He further reasoned (having created Reason itself, and this being a wholly new thing)—a “Three Party System” would threaten His intentions to become a Trinity within the next 4000 years. The number Three needed a divine patent: the Hindu Trimutri, the Buddhist Trikaya, the Christian Trinity etc.

So that was out too.

The Supreme Being, looking down on His Creation, basically seeing it as “good” although already showing causes for concern, mulled it over. “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do,” he realized, in an insight channeled through Harry Nilsson, 5968 years later. “Two can be as bad as one. It’s the loneliest number since the number one.”

Nevertheless, in His infinite wisdom, God chose two. “Two are better than one,” He said to Himself, inspiring a scribe to set this down as Holy Writ. (See Ecclesiastes 4:9-11.)

God was probably not aware at the time of the twenty-first century French philosopher Alain Badiou’s argument about the ontology of numbers. (But, although I find Badiou the most provocative communist thinker of our time, and recommend him for your attention, let’s not digress.)

God thought to Himself (even before popping that Serpent on Eve, tempting her with that fruit and bringing evil into the world): There is good, and there is evil. If there are two parties—-He further reasoned—one will be good, the other bad, and they will alternate in good/bad role-play to the very end of time.

It was a bold scheme to stabilize Creation, with one side blaming the other, everyone kept off balance but nobody really rocking the whole boat. You have to admire the genius of the divine plan.

When, six millennia later, God created the United States of America—as the Promised Land, Number Two (following the earlier Israel)—He created Two Parties to perpetually blame one another and associate one other with evil. Alternating in power, the two would both pledge fealty to Him.

There would be no basic differences between them, of course. (They would routinely join together in bipartisan prayers to Himself.) The people born in sin and stupidity would just keep electing them alternately. Even if one did something horrible it would be forgotten and forgiven by the next election (one held for the two-party legislature every two years). And relying on this base-two system, even the most awful of presidents could be elected for two four-year terms.

God ordained that the people vote for one of the Two Parties. Or at least vote for somebody within the ritual dominated by the Two Parties. God said: “If you don’t vote, you have nothing to say.”

But exercising “free will”—as naked Eve did in front of the fruit tree way back when—some humans don’t actually go to the ballot box! Just like they don’t go to the Holy Mass and take Communion! They reject the rite, finding it an insult to their intelligence.

They challenge the argument that the “competition” between the Two Parties produces any kind of progress. They note that many progressive movements, like those for gender and racial equality, have been sidelined into dead-end electoral politics.

When people rise up in outrage following another police murder somewhere, the media in the service of the Two Parties condemns “outside agitators” for teaching local youth how to make Molotov cocktails.

Local clergy unite with cable TV talking heads to urge God’s obvious solution: Register to vote! Get out and vote, for one of the Two!

They say: Be responsible, for God’s sake! Be grateful you don’t live in a ”multi-party system”—where two parties don’t trade off inevitably and there’s real competition between ideas!

That’s what we’re hearing now, quite literally, by pundits, politicians and press. They are the voice of the serpent in the garden, asking you (standing there naked, innocent and naïve) to eat the fruit, assuring you that it won’t kill you, will taste good and make you wise.

Sometimes the clever serpent affects a Brooklyn accent.

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” So Jesus addressed the above-mentioned God in the famous Lord’s Prayer. Since there is no way either Trump or Clinton will ever deliver us from evil, and are much more likely to hurl us headlong into hell, let us avoid the temptation to choose between the two evils, neither of them less poison than the other.

Both are—or at least should be—-forbidden fruit, the swallowing of which leads to eternal shame.

Don’t bite, Bernie supporters! Don’t cave into the theology of the “lesser evil.” That’s the devil talking. Just say no!

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu