Have you ever wondered why the two parties are split so evenly? In America we have the Democratic and the Republican parties and they are so evenly balanced. It seems bizarre almost that it should work out to be so close. There's a good reason it does, we want it to be.
There are a couple things in place that ensure that the two parties stay balanced.
The Middle of the Road
Despite what it may seem like, they are a very significant number of people whose political beliefs are a mixed bag of things from both 'Democratic' and 'Republican' beliefs. There are plenty of people who are fiscally liberal and morally conservative, people who are fiscally conservative and morally liberal, or so many other things.
These people are the key group in what keeps the parties balanced.
Parties don't like to be losing
Nobody likes to be the inferior party. So when a party finds itself to be the losing party, they adjust their stance on issues to reclaim people they lost and gain new followers they never had. They find an issue that they're really losing people on and swap their stance on it. It's very easy to do. Since a party is comprised of it's elected officials (or campaigning individuals), they just swap their stances over the course of an election season and the zeitgeist that comes out the other side is the new party stance. TADA!
This is what we call progress.
People don't like change
It's true. We all want change, but when you start to talk about the sacrifices necessary to affect that change, people recoil. The healthcare reform championed by President Obama is a perfect example of this (I refuse to use terms such as 'Obamacare and shudder at their utterance). When one party gains the majority, especially if it's in congress and the presidency, they will pass a great deal of legislation that aligns with their own beliefs. People are generally very moderate, and legislation will pass that they don't agree with. They will see this as being the fault of the party in power and will align themselves in opposition to compensate.
That's the game of it. It's the situation we find ourselves in and will forever find ourselves in unless we change something drastically. We live in a two party system and this 50/50 split is something that cannot be done away with under our current systems.
Is this good?
You might initially think that, because it would seem that it would cause legislation to need to be really good in order pass. However, I certainly don't think it is good. Because of our two party system, people must force themselves to vote for what they would often consider to be the lesser of two evils, the one they disagree with less.
Historically, third parties and independent have long struggled to gain any representation because they never gain 50% or greater representation in any area. For example, suppose 10% of the population supports the Green Party as their favorite, but the Green Party would still never get any seat in Congress because they'd never have greater than 50% favor in any district and people don't vote for them because they don't want 'waste' a vote on them when they could vote for the more-likely-to-win-seats Democratic party. Recently, the Republican Party has had to shift their values to be in line with the Tea Party so that there aren't two different conservative candidates fighting against each other and splitting the conservative vote.
Because third parties have struggled, voters have to vote for a party which doesn't represent their viewpoint as accurately as they would like. Congress is supposed to represent the views of the people in their respective districts and their are large swaths of people in this country whose viewpoints are not represented at all.
The worst part of all this is that because we only have two parties, they treat each other not just as competitors, but as enemies. If we had multiple parties, alliances could be made. Parties could compromise with each other, pledging to support each other on different legislation. They would be sometimes allies instead of perpetual enemies.
Because there are two parties and dominance alternates between them, every time control changes hands, they spend a ton of time undoing the work of previous congresses. This wastes time.
Why does this happen?
Our current voting system doesn't support multiple parties well. We've become entrenched in a two-party system which it just simply doesn't allow us to break out of. No third party ever gets any representation because people don't want to 'waste their vote'. If a portion of, say, the Democratic party started voting for the Green party, then neither Democratic of Green representatives would be elected. This is a problem.
A single-vote system only supports situations where a person supports a single candidate to the exclusion of all others. That's simply not how people work, we each like various candidates and parties to various degress. Our voting system only works perfectly in a two-choice system and that's simply not how elections should operate. I may like 'A' more than 'B' and 'B' more than 'C' but our current voting system doesn't allow our votes to reflect that.
Having a single-vote system was great...before we had computers and other devices which could automatically count votes. To do a more complicated voting style would have been near impossible and would have introduced a great amount of error to the process. But we have the means to do this now and we definitely should.
There are other ways to vote, and I've talked about them before. I plan on putting together an online survey to get some data and try out a way that I've devised.
I'm reading the Silmarillion right now, thus the videos.