According to Gallup, a full 34 percent of country would not be satisfied if their choice for president was just Democrat Barack Obama or Republican Mitt Romney. Gallup:

Thinking ahead to the 2012 presidential election, if Barack Obama and Mitt Romney become the Democratic and Republican nominees for president this year, would you be satisfied with that choice, or not satisfied? January 2012 results

That one in three Americans is unsatisfied with their likely choices for president should indicate a huge failure in our political system.

Instead of politics, imagine we were talking about cars. Let’s say America only had two car companies and a full 34 percent of the country was unsatisfied with the cars made by both companies. That is a huge share of the market left out. That would obviously be seen as a huge market failure. You would expect one or two new car companies to emerge to fill this void and challenge the top legacy companies that have left so many unsatisfied.

In most markets, normally the only reason you won’t see new rival options emerge, despite this incredibly high level of dissatisfaction with the current choices, would be if the two dominant companies had worked together to completely rig the system to make it all but impossible for a new company to enter the market.

This is precisely what has happened in our political system. It is why Americans are dissatisfied with our political choices, yet also have so few of them.

In numerous ways including our ballot access laws, ballot line rules and our use of the absurd first-past-the-post election system, the Democrats and Republicans have gotten together for decades to make it extremely difficult to create new parties and for new parties to gain market share.

Of course the system doesn’t need to be so rigged. We can use different, more open election systems. If we used proportional representation and/or run-off election systems it would be easy for more parties to be viable, thereby  giving Americans more choices. It is because their political systems aren’t totally rigged for the benefit of just two parties that we see multiple parties competing for the presidency in countries like Ireland and France.