Neighbors Could Lead Us Out of Two-Party Gridlock [OPINION]
I talk about David Brooks of the New York Times quite a bit on the Patrick Lalley Show. That's because he's very good.
A recent column about the allure of multi-party, coalition democracy as practiced in Europe and elsewhere as a path out of the horrible one-on-one cage match of American two-party system is a great example.
Here's an excerpt:
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. 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 candidate with the fewest first-place votes would be eliminated. Voters who preferred that candidate would have their second-choice vote counted instead. The process would be repeated until you get your winners.
There’s a lot of good in this idea. It’s not particularly new and has been gaining some traction in local government, Minneapolis for instance.
Would it work on the national level? It’s just as likely to work as the two-party system. The fear from a multi-party system where coalitions are the norm to form governments is that you can’t find a coalition and you’re left with gridlock.
Well, we have gridlock now. The difference is that we technically have a government.
I think it’s important to encourage more use of multi-party. I’d really like to see a state take on the idea so we could watch it work in a broader constituency.
South Dakota? There are some interesting aspects to it for South Dakota. However, past ballot initiatives to take steps in that direction – no party on the ballot for instance – have been defeated. It’s hard to see a scenario where the Republican powers that be here would let loose the reins of power, regardless of how divided that party appears to be.
In fact, a conservative Republican caucus based out of the Black Hills that recently emerged is evidence of a deep and serious fissure in the party.
More likely, a state like Minnesota or Iowa would be a great test case. Both states have high levels of civic engagement and voter quality. Both have fairly diverse philosophical electorates.
So hey Iowa and Minnesota friends. Take a shot.
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