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A.R. Yngve

To outside observers, the thing that American voters take for granted is quite stunning: a working two-party system for a country of over 290 million people.

The system works because each of the two parties can house so many different factions, and the factions yet agree on certain core principles. In practice, of course, principles must give way to compromise, or the parties would fracture under the internal pressure.

Is the gay marriage controversy the issue that may threaten the stability of this system? Because it seems to cut right through party politics: you see opponents and supporters in BOTH camps. It's not as simple as Democrats-For and Republicans-Against.

What if the issue split one or both of the two parties? Then you'd have a three- or four-party system, and it would make the presidential elections much more volatile.

It's not that I'm for or against in the controversy -- let it resolve itself in time -- but if the debate heats up too much too fast, I see consequences beyond the issue itself.

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