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The Two-Party System
If you're like me, there are times you may not be happy with the political party you're affiliated with. As a Democrat, the way the Democratic National Committee treated Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election was a huge turn off for many voters. We hear many Republicans claim that they don't even recognize their party under Donald Trump right now.
Almost since its start, the US has had a two party system of government, and it is an environment that does not support finding common ground. However, within each party, you have various factions such as the Tea Party for conservatives as an example and the Democratic Socialists as another for the liberals. Talk about two groups that won't be sitting down for dinner any time in the near future.
So with such differences that exist under each umbrella, why only the two parties? The illustration below sums it up in a nutshell.
How the Two-Party System Self-Perpetuates
Alternatives to a Two Party System?
So what's the alternative? As with any great idea, it comes either on the verge of falling asleep or in those groggy moments just prior to waking up, the one where your mind is awake but your body is praying with each passing second that the alarm will not go off.
For this idea, a video (see below) posted by the group RepresentUs featuring Jennifer Lawrence popped up on Facebook. I know, I know. Jennifer Lawrence (you may have seen her in Red Sparrow). But, being a fan of hers, I gave it a chance. What I found was I liked many of the ideas the group presented: Eliminate gerrymandering, call out corruption, supported by both liberal and conservative Americans. In this day and age, anything that gets a consensus approval should be taken seriously.
So take a second to watch the clip then join me below for the radical not-quite-fallen-asleep idea that popped into my mediocre mind.
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How to Expand the Two Party System
In order to combat gerrymandering, why don't we eliminate the voting districts and allocate a total number of reps based upon the party breakdown of each state. As an example, let's look at New York.
The total (active plus inactive) enrollment of the various parties in New York State is as follows, according to the New York State Board of Elections report of Enrollment by County dated April 1, 2016. Percentages are of the total with a declared affiliation.
- Democratic: 5,792,497 (62.7%)
- Republican: 2,731,688 (30.0%)
- Conservative: 159,355 (1.7%)
- Green: 26,271 (0.3%)
- Working Families: 48,344 (0.5%)
- Independence: 475,566 (5.1%)
- Women's Equality 1,283 (0.0%)
- Reform 377 (0.0%)
- Other: 5,986 (0.1%)
Additionally, 2,485,475 persons were enrolled with no party affiliation. (Source)
What that would break down to in New York, with their twenty-seven reps to the House of Representatives, is that the Democrats would get sixteen (27 x 60%) representatives that they could vote for, Republicans would have eight (27 x 30%), Independents would get one, and there would be two spots for the minority parties and unaffiliated registered voters - sort of like wildcards.
Each party then votes for only those reps that would represent them based on whatever they feel most appropriate - geography, policy, gender, diversity. The Democrats are voting for their top sixteen candidates, Republicans top eight, and so forth. It would certainly take more research, but it would guarantee that each state is represented by the political breakdown of each party.
It could possibly allow some of the party to splinter in the various factions we discussed earlier or allow those true independents to get a voice by not having to choose the Democrats or the Republicans.
Once the reps are selected, they could be assigned portions of the state based on the clusters of voters registered by party. It's well known in New York, that many of the conservative voters are in the Adirondack, Central, Hudson Valley, Western, and Long Island regions of the state. The cities, such as Albany, Rochester, Ithaca, Syracuse, and New York City tend to be the hubs of liberal voters.
At this point, the term spit-balling completely applies. And not entirely sure how this would apply to the two senators elected from each state or the Presidential election. But in terms of the state House and United States House, it would allow more diverse representation as a starting point.
What kind of potential issues could be created by such a system? What am I missing here? Would this kind of system force the parties to be more accountable to their voters? Would it encourage voter turnout as the parties would be looking to recruit eligible voters? Thoughts?
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.