FairVote Senior Communications Fellow David Daley spoke with MapLight President Daniel Newman, author of Unrig: How to Fix Our Broken Democracy; and former Gehl Foods CEO Katherine Gehl, co-author of The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy.
Their conversation highlighted the problems caused by having a two party monopoly in politics and how reforming our election systems can help solve them.
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- Gehl describes the idea that there is a ‘political industrial complex’ that has become too powerful and does not adequately serve the needs of citizens (7:00)
- Newman explains what it means for the political system to be ‘rigged’ - having a predetermined result due to the political industrial complex regardless of what everyday people try to do (9:00). He says that to unrig the system we need greater transparency and to rewrite the rules to make the system work better for everyone.
- Gehl discusses how in a two party system without significant third party competition, the major parties do not feel a need to innovate and satisfy their constituents well (10:50). She goes on to explain why she believes top-5 primaries and ranked choice voting (RCV) general elections would increase competition to the two parties and incentivize them to serve the public more.
- Newman says publicly funded elections would be a good reform to pass alongside RCV, reducing the barriers to running for office and increasing political competition (19:55).
- Both panelists suggest that those who want to improve elections get involved with reform campaigns at the state level rather than just focusing on national reform movements (29:50).
- Daley and Newman discuss how multi-member congressional districts with RCV could improve American democracy by achieving proportional representation that better reflects the preferences of the population (42:05). This is the aim of the Fair Representation Act currently in Congress.
- Gehl says she doesn’t think multi-member districts would do enough to encourage legislators to come together and compromise on difficult issues (43:59).
The next webinar in this series, Redefining Representation for American Voters, will be held on October 1 at 12 pm EDT. Daley will interview Danielle Allen, a political scientist and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics; and former two-term Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld. We encourage anyone who cares about the state of American democracy to attend. You can sign up here.