Voices & Choices

Five reforms to fix our nation's inequality of democracy

Five reforms to fix our nation's inequality of democracy

In a new op-ed in The Hill, Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens suggest five reforms that could improve Washington’s “broken policymaking.”

Democratic reforms would tend to make both parties more dependent on ordinary citizens — all citizens, treated as equals — and less dependent on partisan cadres of ideologically extreme donors and activists. As a result, each party would take more centrist, democratically responsive positions. That would facilitate the policymaking needed to cope with national needs and problems that are currently being neglected.

Our research has uncovered a great deal of evidence concerning what sorts of reforms would actually increase democratic responsiveness. The most important and most promising reforms fall into five groups:

  1. Give equal political voice to all citizens.
  2. Curb the political power of money.
  3. Democratize the electoral process.
  4. Improve House and Senate representation of all citizens.
  5. Overcome remaining sources of gridlock.

Regarding group 3, the authors point out that low-turnout, one party primary elections empower “big donors and extreme ideological activists” which leads to the nomination of “extreme, unrepresentative candidates.” They rightly note, independent redistricting commissions should be used to end partisan gerrymandering, and, that rankled choice voting can lead to proportional representation, which would address the “one-party primary” district conundrum.

Ranked-choice voting can give voters more choice among a broad range of candidates, including those from a third or fourth party or no party at all – which would put salutary pressure on the major parties to field the most appealing possible candidates.

It’s an interesting read from a pair of university professors known for their work on economic inequality. See the full op-ed here.



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