The Fair Representation Act (FRA) has recently gained traction and media attention with the promise to transform American elections. One issue, which has grown more prominent, is the increase in political polarization. The FRA promises to help shift away from polarizing politics and has gained traction among media thought leaders.
Jon Ward’s Yahoo News piece summarizes the arguments for ranked choice voting (RCV) in connection with the Fair Representation Act, noting it should “reduce extremism in politics, making politicians more responsive to the majority of voters.” Thomas Edsall’s new column in the New York Times points out agreement among some experts that the FRA encourages coalition building, including a recent Bright Line Watch survey of 500 political scientists found that 73% supported repealing the law which requires single member districts. Edsall quotes political scientist Lilliana Mason, who stated “I do think such a shift would decrease polarization because it would eliminate the zero-sum nature of American politics.
The FRA also fosters a more representative democracy without allowing any single ideology - mainstream or not - from monopolizing reforms. One of the many reforms the FRA advocates for is the creation of multi-member districts to allow for more proportional representation in the U.S. House. Thomas Edsall argues the FRA has the potential to ensure a wide array of representation that more accurately reflects the views of the American people. While this would still include some polarized views, it would do so in a more proportionate and representative way, so that no single perspective (whether the alt right, the moderate middle, or the far-left) could dominate Washington politicking.
And the problem the FRA solves has never felt more relevant. Ward’s Yahoo News piece points out that in the current winner-take-all system, the majority of members are actually encouraged to take more radical stances to gain support among a smaller group of members within their party. Many elected leaders are threatened more by primary challengers than opposition in the general election. Under RCV, candidates would need the approval of a wider array of voters, and therefore adopt a set of views more reflective of their constituency.
The current systems which make up American elections often encourage candidates to push radical views to win office and disincentivizes good governance. The FRA promises to solve many of these problems, and create a Congress which more accurately reflects the American people - and more are noting the powerful potential behind this reform.