Two Party System is dumb, an alternate idea…

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.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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7 Responses to Two Party System is dumb, an alternate idea…

  1. Nick says:

    Representative government is a legacy of an era where it took weeks to get to Washington, or Westminster etc It’s the solution when it takes time to get there.

    However, in this day and age, communications is not only cheap but fast. That removes the need for representatives.

    What I suggest is this.

    Elect a representative for local matters. However, all decisions have to pass a final vote based on proxy votes. Everyone nominates a proxy representative, and its proxy votes that matter for the final passing of any bill Your proxy representative doesn’t have to be your local rep.

    You can change proxy at any time.

    If just one rep sets up a system where you can cast your vote online and they will pass that proxy on, everyone can have a vote on an issue if they want. For those that want the status quo, the just select the local winner.

    If you’re in a state where you are a minority, you still get an equal vote on any issue.

  2. EM have not read your whole post but I suggest that worst system is any type of proportional representation because it allows fringe parties to get into parliament and excerise power, in coalitions, well above representation of the population. In the semi-state ACT (Australian Capital Territory) in the recent elections the Liberals (conservatives) won 8 seats Labor (social democrates) won the same 8 seats and the Green party won 1 (losing 3 they held previously) but the greens rep now will be a minister and has agreed on long list of Green paper policies with Labor to give them power. A disaster in the making -90% renewal energy mainly windmills in 5 yrs, gay marriages, lights out at night, soft drugs etc.There are only three electorates and the one the greens won had 7 seven seats requiring only 14% of the vote to be elected. If the system as described below -ie for single member preferential, applied no Green candidate would have been elected.
    Non-compulsory first past the post system can result in well organised parties who do not represent the majority of the population getting to power. Please note Adolf Hitler was voted into power with about 30% of the vote.
    I suggest that the best system of electing representatives is that which applies for the lower house of representatives for the Australian Parliament ie COMPULSORY, PREFERENTIAL single member electorates of equal population size of about 0.5% of the population. In preferential voting each candidate is numbered and the one getting over 50% of the vote after eliminating low ranked candidates is elected. .
    To improve that a bit further, would be to have citizen initiated referendum annually such as in Switzerland which can a) change the constitution b) disallow certain acts of parliament c) force parliament to consider certain new acts and d) remove elected representatives. For a) b) & c) the initiation might require say 1% of all eligible to voters while for d) in a single member electorate that might be a petition of 25% of eligible electors.

  3. Nick says:

    And first past the post is equally disasterous for people who are in a minority. One party dominates, and invariable it flips between two parties, occasionally with a third wielding control out of all proportion to their vote when its a hung situation.

    Look at America. All the focus on a few states, the rest? Who cares. They are voting fodder.

    Hence the reason to move to one person, one vote. Proxy voting makes that work.

    1. Corrupt MPs. Lots in the UK. Proxy voting partially solves it, because on discovering the corruption people move their proxy and that MP has very little say. What’s needed to really solve this is the right of recall.

    2. Parties that lied to get elected. Currently in the UK the LIb Dems lied over tuition fees. Without the right of recall we are stuck for 5 year with the liars. However, with proxy voting, people could switch immediately no wait. So unpopular governments get removed sooner.

    3. Manifestos – Not doing what was promised.

    Proxy votes don’t solve this. If MPs don’t bring an act to a vote, it won’t be passed. However, people can always register a protest – change your proxy.

    4. Manifestos – Doing what wasn’t promised.

    Not a problem if people vote for it.

    5. Manfestos – a package.

    There a package. However with proxy voting, you can pick and choose.

  4. Rob L says:

    Fundamental problem in the US is campaign financing – leading to inevitable corruption.

    Only way to beat it is to make all contributions illegal, (including cheap rates on advertising etc). With all candidates given equal money for advertising by an electoral commission.

    I do like the idea of each party having dominant power during the year for a period proportional to their vote – perhaps updated by mini-polls every year. Though really all it is doing is forcing consensus, as any unacceptable policies or decisions will be removed as soon as the next party is in place, you would need some sort of mechanism to prevent excessively fast changes in policy impacting long term programs.

  5. Chuckles says:

    I’m a great believer in the 2 party system, one on friday night, and one on saturday night works for me.

    In ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’ and other books, Heinlein offered a number of alternative systems, some of them very tempting –

    Elect the person who gets the least number of votes. They’re so unpopular, everyone will watch them like a hawk.
    Make it mandatory for politicos to finance the costs of any law they pass out of their own pockets. After a suitable interval (law dependent), hold a referendum to see whether the populace thinks it was a good enough idea that they should get their money back.
    etc etc

  6. Sandy McClintock says:

    I have to agree with several comments. The Green minority in Australia has had a disproportionate effect in politics because of proportional voting. EM’s time system seems reasonable and would have prevented this.
    However I am starting to feel that ‘liars in politics’ are really serious issue; “There will be no Carbon Tax under a Government that I lead…” got Labour into power here but they changed their tune once elected and when it became clear they needed a handful of Greens to stay in power. The law in Australia prevented us from sueing those that lied (we now have the carbon tax) – immunity for political liars needs to be removed!
    I do like the idea of proxy, and on-line voting! each party has a mix of ideas with good bits and bad bits (known as a ‘sh1t and cream sandwitch’). With on-line voting one could pick the best ideas (cream) from each party – I like it ;)

  7. SadButMadLad says:

    What ever system is implemented it will always fail until the size of government is taken into account. If it’s large and overbearing, no matter what system is in place, it will be abused by those who can game the system. And a large government will do anything to keep itself large by controlling and regulating everything it can. Part of the solution is cutting down on the excessive red tape and cutting back on the power of the government.

    For instance does it really need the president to take control of the disaster recovery after Sandy. Wouldn’t it be best left to those who actually know how to do the job. What does the president know about disaster recovery? Has he been trained? Does he have experience?

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