Critical Section

Two-Party Politics

Sunday,  01/04/04  12:58 PM

Do you think the U.S. two-party system is optimal?  I don't.  It would be great if there were more points of view represented, more opportunity for candidates with a unique perspective which don't naturally fit into either mainstream party.

The biggest problem with the two-party system is exemplified by the current debates among Democratic presidential candidates over "who is the most electable".  The implication is that any Democrat capable of defeating George Bush in 2004 is better than any other candidate who is not.  The most important thing, in other words, is for a Democrat to win, not who they are, or what they think, or what they propose to do if elected.  This is quintissential two-party thinking, and it works against any innovation.

If you agree, you might ask "what can be done?"  The basic problem is that U.S. elections are won by a majority vote.  In order to win, you have a have a majority.  If there are small parties who have views which differ significantly from either of the two dominant parties, there is virtually no chance their candidates can get elected, because of the "majority wins" characteristic.  One way around this is to have proportional representation.  If there are ten representatives for a given {city, district, county, state}, instead of dividing the {city, district, county, state} into ten regions, with a representative for each region elected by majority vote, let people make ten votes for ten candidates.  The top ten candidates receiving votes win.  This way even a minority candidate with a strong following can be elected. 

This idea also prevents gerrymandering, which has gone completely out of control in many states.

This idea also helps under-represented minorities such as racial, ethnic, or social groups to get representation.

If this proportional voting were used to select electors for the electoral college, don't you think we'd have a much wider range of candidates running?  Candidates would be free to think and say and propose policy according to what they actually believe, instead of pandering to their party's "middle" in order to get elected.

Well, it was just a thought :)

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