Saturday, June 2, 2018

One Reform to Save America RCV

Just read One Reform to Save America by David Brooks, an Opinion Columnist for the New York Times.

There are a bunch of different ways to do Democracy. In Western Europe, most Countries have Proportional Representation and a lot of different Parties representing Voter Interests. In the U.S. we’ve gone with a Two-Party system and Winner-Take-All Elections.

But even then, as Lee Drutman of the Think Tank New America points out, America really had a Four-Party system. There were Liberal Republicans from places like the Northeast and Conservative Republicans from the West. There were Liberal Democrats on the Coasts and Conservative Democrats from the South. The Four Groups floated into different Legislative Coalitions depending on the Issue and the Moment, allowing for flexible Bipartisan Majorities.

Now the Two-Party System has Rigidified and Ossified. The Two Parties no longer Bend to the Center. They Push to the Extremes, where the Donor Bases and their Media Propaganda arms are. More and more People feel Politically Homeless, alienated from both Parties and without any say in how the Country is Run.

The good news is that we don’t have to live with this system. There’s nothing in the Constitution that says there have to be only Two Parties. There’s nothing in the Constitution about Parties at all. There’s not even anything in the Constitution mandating that each Congressional District have only One Member and be Represented by One Party. We could have a much Fairer and better System with the Passage of a Law.

The way to do that is through Multimember Districts and Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV). In populous States, the Congressional Districts would be bigger, with around Three to Five Members per District. Voters would Rank the Candidates on the Ballot. If No Candidate had a Majority of First-Place Votes, then the RCV process would kick in.

This System makes it much easier for Third and Fourth Parties to form, because Voting for a Third Party no longer means Voting for one with no chance of Winning. You get a much more supple Representation of the different Political Tendencies that actually Exist in the Country.

The Process also means that People with Minority Views in their Region have a greater chance to be Represented in Congress. A District in Southern California, for example, might Elect a Bernie Sanders-type Progressive, a Centrist Business Democrat and a Conservative.

The current system, wherein a vast Majority of Seats are safely Red or Blue and Noncompetitive, with only a handful of fiercely Contested Districts, disappears. Every District becomes a Swing District, each Vote much more important. Congress begins to work differently because with Multiple Parties you no longer have Stagnant Trench Warfare, you have shifting Coalition-Building.

There’s a reason Voters in Proportional Representation Countries are less Disenchanted with Politics than we are. Their systems work better.

Over the last few Decades, a lot of work has been done to fight Gerrymandering, a Reform that would have only a Marginal effect on our Politics. The good news is that attention seems to be shifting to RCV, a change that would have much bigger and better effects.

In 2016, Voters in Maine passed a Referendum installing RCV. The State’s Legislature has done everything it can to fight it, but it looks like Voters there, after winning in different Courts, will use the system for their June 12th Primary, and have a chance to make the System Permanent.

Representative Don Beyer (D-VA, 8h District) introduced Legislation in Congress last year to make RCV a National system. Groups like FairVote Champion the Reform Nationwide, and Writers like Drutman are tireless Advocates.

Right now our Politics is heading in a truly Horrendous Direction, with Vicious, Binary Political Divisions overlapping with and Exacerbating Historical Racial Divisions. If we’re going to have just One Structural Reform to Head Off that Nightmare, RCV in Multimember Districts is the One to Choose.

to read David Brooks Article.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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