This week, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot, and several others were injured, by an Illinois man who targeted 20 GOP lawmakers practicing for the annual Congressional baseball game. The shooter, identified as James T. Hodgkinson, was shot by officers at the scene and later died, and described by friends and family as a frustrated critic of the Trump administration.
We have certainly had a fair share of tragedy in this country, but at no other time in my lifetime have I witnessed this level of division based solely on politics. The takeaway is that political strife is moving from heated debates and increasingly dangerous acts to life-or-death scenarios. And while the 2016 elections certainly feels like the crux of our national contempt, the underlying issue stems from the fierce partisan divide in this country. It can be scary.
But Americans are strong and often times violence and terror has had the eerie effect of forcing people to set aside differences and work together toward reconciliation. We came together after 9/11 with no regard to race or political affiliation, to help one another and grieve losses from one of the most horrific events in our history. The time is now to heal our broken politics. There are a lot of factors to consider. We think one important way to neutralize this toxic polarization involves a national conversation about fixing our elections.
What’s the connection? Well, we need to feel like our votes matter, that our voices are heard, and to bring civility back to our politics. We believe that our winner-takes-all elections have helped fuel and accelerate the political divides. And we know that it doesn’t have to be this way.
This summer, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) plans to introduce FairVote’s signature reform proposal, The Fair Representation Act. This new era of polarized politics is dangerously broken, and the Fair Rep Act replaces our dysfunctional system with a new way of electing members of Congress. Simply put, the bill does 3 things:
Requires U.S. House members to be elected by ranked choice voting in multi-winner districts, both in primary and general elections;
Smaller states will elect all states from one statewide district, ensuring that everyone is represented;
States with more than 5 members will have independent commissions that draw multi-winner districts of 3,4, or 5 members based on neutral, common-sense criteria.
The result is fair representation where more voters can elect a favorite candidate and no one party dominates an area with a “winner take all” voting rule. All Americans deserve elections where their vote can meaningfully impact elections, no matter where they live -- and without the abhorrent thought they should turn to guns to be heard. The path towards a more perfect union starts now.