A recent report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace paints a glum picture of democracy in America -- a system that is is fundamentally broken due to partisan divisions, gerrymandering and a winner-take-all means of electing governmental leadership.
In “Renewing U.S. Political Representation: Lessons from Europe and U.S. History,” Carnegie’s research finds that democracy in the United States faces a major dilemma. Authors Rachel Kleinfeld, Richard Youngs and Jonah Belser analyze histories of contemporary Europe and the U.S., and list some of the issues that the nation faces, such as unrepresentative parties that frustrate voters, a divided electoral divided by safe seats and a polarized population.
In thinking about reforms and solutions that could reinvigorate political competitiveness, the authors note there isn’t one magic fix, but instead several electoral changes including proportional representation and ranked choice voting that would go a long way in healing the nation’s broken politics.
They write, “The best structural change for preserving the two-party system while potentially reducing polarization would be ranked choice voting… And though getting politicians on board with reforming the U.S. electoral system will not be easy, structural changes such as open primaries and ranked choice voting would enable a broader spectrum of candidates to have a voice and help restore competitiveness and representativeness to U.S. elections.”
While preserving the two-party system may not be the goal for some in the electoral reform movement, the authors are correct in their assessment that RCV and proportional representation are two excellent and simple changes that can be made to bring more choices to voters and more voices into nation’s political discourse. The report is substantial and comprehensive, but well worth the effort to review.