American politics look the way they do because, much as they may protest otherwise, the average American likes televised two-sided conflicts. We like debates with two participants. We like elections where we turn states red and blue. Everyone says they hate these things–and they should, because it’s how we always end up with two candidates who don’t represent us at all–but very few people actually do.
If our political system were actually responsive to reality, it would recognize that some issues only have one “side” (and thus are no longer political issues in the first place), and others have way more than two. Ideally, the entire idea of “sides” ought to go away, but as that’s likely impossible I’d settle for way more than two parties, way more collaboration, way less grandstanding over things that oughtn’t be political issues in the first place, and most importantly way more critical thinking.
I don’t know what would have to happen to get any of this to happen. It’s honestly probably too late, given how much money and power is invested in keeping things exactly how they are, but the public is not as innocent as everyone wants to pretend. Though they would protest otherwise, most people like this stuff. It reminds them of football and action movies. This is how we end up with two diametrically opposed political entities even over issues it doesn’t make any sense for them to be diametrically opposed over.
I like football and action movies, I just don’t think their logic should apply to governing a country. Governing should actually be pretty boring to the average person if we were doing it right.