Thursday, November 9, 2017

Vox explains how proportional representation can solve gerrymandering and help minor parties

I was originally planning on writing about the Virginia and New Jersey election results today, but Vox's How to break the two-party hold on American politics struck my fancy instead.  Watch as it explains how proportional representation can solve gerrymandering and help minor parties.

Replacing our current system with proportional representation will make more room for the wide range of views in US politics.
Matthew Yglesias expands on this video in The real fix for gerrymandering is proportional representation.
Creating majority-minority districts to ensure racial representation can look a lot like “packing” Democratic voters into lopsided seats. Aiming at fair fights sounds nice but will end up violating communities of interest. Aiming for partisan fairness will necessarily involve some odd squiggles, since neighborhood-level partisanship can be very disparate.

So I asked this scholar: “What about proportional representation?”

She said that when she teaches redistricting law, she does proportional representation last because it solves all the problems and the point of the class is for the students to work through the different complexities and legal doctrines governing the American system. That seems smart as a pedagogical approach, but as an agenda for political reform, solving all the problems is a good idea.
This is a solution that would address several issues I've explored here, redistricting/gerrymandering, Duverger's Law, and minor parties.  It would make the first essentially irrelevant, it would eliminate the conditions for the second (single-member districts with first past the post winners), and would allow people to cast votes for minor parties without "wasting their vote."*  It's also a really radical solution by U.S. standards, but a Crazy Eddie like me might just approve of a radical solution to preserve and improve democracy.

*I disagree with this characterization.  To me, the person who wastes a vote is the one who stays home.  At least people voting for the Libertarians, Greens, or Constitution Party are making a point.


  1. Staying home is a vote for "None of the above."

    1. Well, it is that, although it wouldn't be as good as if that choice were actually on the ballot.