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View Diary: What if legislators didn't have to draw majority-minority districts? Democrats would lose big (71 comments)

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  •  Duverger's law (4+ / 0-)
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    LeftCoastTom, sulthernao, Newt, Odysseus

    The US is not required to have a two-party system, that is just the most stable configuration.

    The easiest way to create a multi-party scenario under our current system is for a geographically compact third party to split from one of the major parties.  That could be a southern white party that only runs candidates in the former Confederacy, so that it is still two parties, but a different two parties in different parts of the country.  It could also be the Congressional Black Caucus seceding from the Democratic Party and forming an African-American party.

    •  In fairness... (2+ / 0-)
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      James Allen, nimh

      A two-party system is most stable for the US because the US favors first-past-the-post elections. The US could make other choices, which would favor other partisan configurations.

      But really, overall the point seems a bit silly. At some point politics is a system under which compromises are made between the interests of various voters. The US system simply puts more responsibility on voters (responsibility which, one could argue, the "Not Democratic" complaint rejects), parliamentary systems put more responsibility on the politicians themselves to compromise. Regardless, at some level of the system, somebody has to make compromises and form coalitions.

      •  My speculation (0+ / 0-)

        Has been that a parliamentary system in the US would result in a political landscape that resembles Israel's.  In the short term, I think a parliamentary system would benefit the right-wingers by creating a more conservative voting option for people who might have voted Republican in an earlier era but want nothing to do with the Tea Party types.  A faction that would vote with progressives on social issues and topics like immigration reform but with conservatives on economic austerity and pro-corporation deregulation could end up as the kingmaker.

        •  It would benefit the left immensely (2+ / 0-)
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          Jyrki, aseth

          because of the simple fact that the left and center (aka the Democratic Party) get a majority of votes and a minority of seats. Adding proportional representation, which you don't necessarily need to have a parliamentary system, but which is what you're referring to with Israel would screw the Republican party in that they couldn't gerrymander their way to safety.

          •  I don't understand Israel's 'system'... (0+ / 0-)

            The only thing I can figure out from their system is that Shas is the designated kingmaker, in favor of whomever promises to shovel public money to their religious schools and overlook corruption.

            •  In many countries with a parliamentary system (4+ / 0-)
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              Jyrki, aseth, Odysseus, Skaje

              such as Israel, they don't use plurality or first-past-the-post voting where whoever has the most votes regardless of percentage wins each district. Instead they use proportional representation, where voters nationwide vote for a party instead and in Israel the threshold is 2% I believe. Most European countries set their thresholds higher at 4-5% so as to keep extremists like fascists out, but also to prevent fragmentation. One reason those parties like Shas play such a large role is that they'll side with any of the major parties in forming a majority so long as their own issues get looked after. In the United States we don't have minorities like that who are so parochial but also substantial in number.

              So if the US had used proportional representation, we'd probably have seen the Republican and Democratic parties splinter into just a few parties. Perhaps for Dems it would be the Progressives, (New) Democrats, and maybe a very small delegation of Blue Dogs, but also see the Green Party win some seats. That would've likely been enough for the majority in the house in 2012 with the minority being the Republicans, the Tea Party, some staunchly Christian right-leaning party, and maybe the Libertarians.

              The best part of proportional representation is that anyone's vote can count and no party/coalition can win a minority of the vote but a majority of the seats (disregarding those below the threshold if one exists).

          •  The Democratic Party isn't 100% progressive (0+ / 0-)

            If you split that into a leftist party and a centrist party, are you sure those centrists will side with the left?

            I could easily see a scenario where neoliberal centrists side with progressives on social issues and with conservatives on economic issues.

            •  But that's not how parliamentary systems (0+ / 0-)

              usually function or would function here. For any side to win the support for a majority in the parliament and thus have one of its own as prime minister, or in this case speaker of the house, they generally hammer out a deal with a few smaller parties about what they will and won't try to pass that session. You don't see one party in the majority coalition vote with governing bloc and the minority bloc on different legislation, otherwise why would the other parties in the majority bloc agree to share power with them?

              And those neoliberal centrists you talk about don't have a whole wide range of support (for something like social security cuts, etc) so if moderate Dems decided to defect to the Republicans in their congressional voting habits, they would pay a much higher price for it by losing seats to the Progressives than they do in reality where a primary challenge is difficult and can endanger a seat.

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