Let’s Consider European-style Proportional Representation

It’s high time we had European-style proportional representation.

We practically have four parties already anyway.

We have the Democratic party–moderate wing and progressive wing, and we have the Republican party–moderate wing and radical right wing.

Right now it seems like the moderates have control of the Democrats and the radicals have control of the Republicans.

Everyone gets frustrated with this state of affairs. Progressives help elect a nice moderate Democrat and then they don’t get the real progressive change they want to see. (If you didn’t see this coming with Obama, then you don’t remember the Clinton campaign.)

Moderate Republicans see religious prolife weirdos driving their party to it’s doom and wonder who they’re supposed to vote for now.

Third party candidates always turn out to be spoilers, but people vote for them because they just can’t bring themselves to only vote for the lesser of two evils.

Doesn’t it suck that we can only have two choices? We pretend that the country is divided into two–Democrats and Republicans–but in reality there’s a lot of different views than that, which is why more and more people call themselves “Independents” instead of sticking to any party.

I think it’s time for something different. European-style representation could change things in a positive way.

Ok, I’m an American, so I’ll admit to having limited knowledge of European political practices, but this is how I understand it…

If we had European-style proportional representation, we could vote for any number of choices, and if parties number three and four (five, six?) get a portion of the vote, they would receive seats in Parliament (excuse me, Congress) according to what percentage of the population voted for them; that is, if party three gets 12% of the vote, they get 12% of the seats in Congress.

In this way, third and fourth parties can actually get their voices heard in the halls of government instead of being completely shut out.

If you worry about groups of wing nuts (left or right!) getting undue power under this system, consider this: a marginal group that can only muster a small amount of votes for their party will have a voice, but not a very loud one; a member or two of the Prolife Nazis aren’t going to change much in the greater scheme of things, and then that group can’t bitch and moan about not being heard. Sure, we hear you; we’re just not voting with you…

And why not give voice to the diverse ideas percolating in our society? When you’re brainstorming for answers to a problem, do you only ask two people? Why limit our intelligent, creative American genius to only two rigid sets of ideas on any issue?

Remember that even people you don’t like may occasionally come up with a good idea. Didn’t the Nazis invent the Volkswagen?

The only groups I would exclude would be those who openly advocate overthrowing the government by force. This would eliminate the scariest craziest fringe parties, or else they would have to learn to at least give lip service to the idea that we should all work together in a democracy.

If we don’t come up with some different way to hear all the voices in our society, there’s always going to be big chunks of the population who are frustrated at not being heard, hollering “liberal bias” or “right wing noise machine” depending on who’s in power.

Democrats will continue to elect candidates who look progressive and then suddenly turn conservative after the election. Republicans will either turn their party into the crazy dittohead mob or they’ll follow the Democratic model of abandoning all controversial positions after coming to power.

Proposing a change like this in our government is a big idea and it would probably take a while before it would get implemented, so let’s start talking it up now. Fortunately, it has the potential to appeal to left-wingers and right-wingers alike, since we’re all kind of sick of this limited winner-take-all kind of game we have going on now.

I don’t see how it would give an advantage to either side, it would just give us all more choices.


One response to “Let’s Consider European-style Proportional Representation

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