The Center for Voting and Democracy has published a document titled The 2002 Elections and the Case for Reform, in which they lay out their case for electoral reform in the United States. Interestingly enough, they claim that 75% of elections are close to being infailably predictable:
We can confidently make these projections without knowing anything about the quality of the candidates and inequities in campaign finance because we use "winner-take-all" elections in districts that generally tilt clearly toward one party or the other. This lean is no accident, as state after state enacted incumbent protection plans in redistricting over the past year. With only a few exceptions, incumbents and party leaders gerrymandered districts to guarantee the reelection of incumbents, as well as the over-representation of whatever party controlled the redistricting process in their state. In California, the Democratic Party incumbents actually paid "protection money" in the amount of $20,000 apiece to have their legislative districts drawn to guarantee them a safe seat, an audacious example of political "insider trading."
This document supports something I've believed since the early 90s... that our electoral system needs to be switched from a two party duopoly to a more scalable representational system.
I'm certainly not an expert, but our current elections work like so: 4 candidates run for office, and if the canditates receive 28%, 24%, 24% and 24% of the vote respectively, the candidate that received 28% of the vote wins, even though 72% of the voters made a different choice. I realize that the numbers are rarely that extreme, but I exaggerated to make a point...
Many people in the US support a party other than the Republican or Democratic parties... I generally favor the Green Party (but I'm a Nader Green), plenty of people are Libertarians, then there's the Pirotians, the Communists, &c.
All of these people deserve some sort of representation, but given our two party system, they'll never get it because they don't constitute enough of a voting block in a given area (even if there are a million greens, they all live in different neighborhoods) and thus they never matter electorially. Even if they are able to advance a certain issue, they never have "their own" working for them somewhere in government... which in turn leads to even more collecting of money, hiring of lobbyists and ends up with Washington D.C. being clogged with the "special interests" that supposedly run the show these days.
Unfortunately, I have no idea how to begin advancing an idea such as switching our government to a parliamentary type system... I know that an important emergency cleaning step is needed, and that's to remove all private financing from elections and temporarily switch to a purely publicly funded electoral machine, where every candidate on the ballot is given equal resources and time on camera, and getting rid of slimy attack ads coming from 3rd parties.
Only temporarily, of course.Posted by illovich at November 14, 2002 12:06 PM