It’s only because we shot ourselves squarely in the foot.
I say “we” because, for lack of a viable alternative, I’m a registered Republican. I can honestly say I disagree with a lot of what both of the predominant parties stand for. The Democrats are pretty much anything but — they seem to favor government as nanny, caretaker, parent and omniscient, omnipotent overlord. They seem to be terrified of a population with access to firearms, because obviously we poor idiots are far too stupid to be trusted with sharp objects, let alone weapons. Only the properly indoctrinated and vetted agents and instruments of the aforementioned omniscient, omnipotent State can be trusted with any sort of power. Religion must be suppressed, the media must be controlled, and the subjects – er, citizens – must be taxed until they are well under control and utterly dependent on the government (who will, after all, take care of all your needs). You know, sort of like China or North Korea.
The Republicans have, in my opinion, a better set of basic assumptions. They’ve just let the kooks and extremists take over the party, just like the Democrats have. Individual freedom is great (until it runs afoul of corporate profits, that is). Religion is not just a Good Idea(tm), it should be encouraged. Not that I disagree with that, but hammering at people about religion (especially a particular religion) is not a good idea if you want an inclusive party. A lot of lip service is paid to deregulation, but there are clearly places in which it is in the best interest of the public to HAVE some government controls. And for every move to deregulate something, it seems there’s a convenient, usually pre-selected commercial enterprise waiting to step in and do it better. For a price, naturally. Of course this is all done under the guise of reducing the tax burden, but somehow that tax decrease never quite seems to happen. Then we get the constant preaching about “reducing the size of government” while entirely new bureaucratic empires are formed.
In a perfect mirror of the Democratic party, we seem to have attracted every right-wing nut job there is. Unfortunately, many seem to have wormed their way deep into the White House and Cabinet. Our current President, as well meaning as he is, seems not to have learned that one crucial skill that is absolutely necessary for a leader to have: the ability to distinguish fact from wishful thinking or outright self-serving fiction. As a result, we have endured a long run of increasingly embarrassing and decreasingly defensible performance.
As for a lack of viable alternatives, there’s always registering as an independent (thus ensuring your voice won’t be heard), and Libertarian. Some nice ideas there, but again carried so far to the extreme as to be even nuttier than the Demicans and Republicrats. Oh, for a centrist party that actually makes sense!