So I’ve been pondering for a few years how to “fix” the problems of the “Two Party System”. I think I’ve finally gotten somewhere.
We were not designed to be a “Two Party System”, but to have some hysteresis in it. In theory, we ought to have more than two parties winning; but in practice, if you are not in the top dog position, or the only likely alternative, you are a wasted vote.
European Systems often have proportional parliamentary membership, so ‘minority parties’ can form coalitions and gain some power. The fault with them is that often some minor party becomes the “king maker” and can threaten to bring down the whole government (via withdrawal from a coalition) if not given whatever they demand. That system grants too much power to minority parties, rather than too little, and tends to fractious results. Thus our founders decided to put more bias toward the winner take all style.
What do to, what to do…
In The Wayback Times
Long ago it took months to ride your horse from Oregon to Washington DC and take office. A term needed to allow for the very long travel and communications times. Having a 2 year term was about as short as things could ever hope to go. But now? Now we have instant communications and cross country flights are about 6 hours, max. Maybe 9 if you go to Hawaii.
It seems to me that our system was designed for, and adapted to the faults of, a time when it was not possible to move faster or change more often than every couple of years.
Why not update that?
Also from the Wayback Times, the V.P. was not just a “same party hack” but was from the opposition party. The Winner was the president, but the V.P. slot went to the the opposition. The president was elected by the Senate then. IMHO a better idea than Yet Another Popular Vote – subject to all the failings of “people voting for themselves the largess of the public purse” Yet it is just not going to happen that we return to that Republic form instead of the Tyranny Of The Masses. ( It was not without problem either, with rampant cronyism).
So how about 1/2 a loaf?
The Bright Ideas
FIrst off, why not just return to the structure of the original Presidential Election, but not change who votes?
The V.P. is the tie breaker in the Senate. Having that be from the opposition of the President was one of the “checks and balances” that was thrown out when we changed to direct election. Now he’s just a ‘yes man’ to the President. So why not have the loser of the Presidential race be V.P.?
In that case, it’s more balanced. There is much more reason to work together and much less reason to foster hatred and resentment. The winner WILL be working with the loser, and for their entire term. The minority view will still be ‘represented’, just as tie breaker in the Senate.
Now, for the House and Senate.
There is no reason at all that we can’t have the seats awarded by “time proportional to votes”. Most likely limited in some way so you don’t have someone ‘Senator for a day’ from the “Cranks And Quacks Party”. Say the top 4 vote getters, or “6 month cut off” for Senators, “1 month cut off” for House seats.
So, say, the vote from my House District ( 2 year terms ) was 60% Democrats, 30% Republicans, 5% Libertarian, 3% Socialist, and 2% “others”. The Democrat gets the seat for 24 x .6 or 14 months. The Republican gets 7 months. The Libertarian gets 1.2 months. That’s 22.2 months. So there’s 1.8 in rounding error. So you could round up the 0.72 of the Socialists for a 1 month term, or you could have a ‘cut off’ and distribute that 1.8 months among the others. Perhaps give it all to the “lowest winner” so minorities have reason to work together (so the Libertarian gets 3 months total) or divide it equally or proportionately ( I can see cases for any of them, though I lean toward accumulating all the ‘less than a month’ fractions into the lowest vote tranche that was over a month as an ‘else clause’)
Have the order of the terms randomly assigned (so you don’t have the ‘crazy month’ at the end of each 24 month cycle ;-)
Seems to me that this would provide proportional representation, let folks “see and be seen” and get to know the ropes of D.C., while also serving as a well needed “chastening” of any Politician who started to take his office for granted… Get out of line, you start losing ‘months’ each election…
The large number of ‘junior’ folks would also rapidly move to dump the self serving ‘seniority’ system.
Many more minority voices would be heard, yet the nations business could still get done. “Party line” gridlocks would be broken simply by the passage of time as the inevitable ‘rotations’ break up logjam coalitions.
Only downside I see is a bit more turnover and turmoil. Frankly, I think that would be a good thing.