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Debates Forum

  1. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    12 Jul '09 18:33
    Here we'll take a further look at the 5th item in my Executive order list (Proportional representation within the House of Representatives).

    If the Federal law mandating single district elections were overturned, and every state adopted a uniform system of proportional representation for the selection of their House members, how would things look?

    We will assume that in elections where minor party candidates have a chance of winning something that more people will vote for them. Thus in a House election where, oh, I don't know, let's say the Democrats got 40% of the vote, the Republican 35%, the Green Party 15%, and the Libertarian Party 10%, how would the House of Representatives look?

    I will assume, for the sake of simplicity, that the election totals were the same in every state and that 10% of the vote gets you 10% of the state's seats. The composition of the House would be (approximately) as follows:

    Democrats: 184 seats
    Republicans: 151 seats
    Green Party: 61 seats
    Libertarian Party: 39 seats
    Total: 435

    I think this would have an enormous impact on revitalizing the American political system. Too many people complain of having only two parties to choose from (neither of which they really like). Allowing for more minor party participation in the House would allow more parties to have a realistic chance of winning something, thus broadening the list of available choices to the voters. You could conceivably vote for a fringe party without "throwing your vote away."

    Instead of seeing all the Democrats on one side of the issue and all Republicans on the other, you might see more caucusing, with one party siding with one party one some issues, but with another on different issues. For example, I could see the Libertarian Party members in the House voting with the Republicans on some economic issues, and with the Democrats on some social issues.

    On the surface, the Senate races would be unchanged. The man who gets the most votes wins. But with minor party members getting name recognition in the House, it's conceivable that could carry over to a win in a Senate race. The same with the Presidency. A popular Green Party House member could parlay that into a plausible run for the White House. I foresee how the whole thing would have a trickle UP effect.

    So that's my idea. I propose we storm the Bastille and demand it be put into action immediately.
  2. 12 Jul '09 18:46
    Why only in the House of Representatives?
  3. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    12 Jul '09 18:54
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Here we'll take a further look at the 5th item in my Executive order list (Proportional representation within the House of Representatives).

    If the Federal law mandating single district elections were overturned, and every state adopted a uniform system of proportional representation for the selection of their House members, how would things look?

    W ...[text shortened]... s my idea. I propose we storm the Bastille and demand it be put into action immediately.
    Well, you do lay out that plan's advantages nicely. I will say that.

    I'm happy keeping the BNP equivalents out of Congress. Your plan sounds nice in the abstract. But, when the KKK elects 6 people to Congress and they get up on C-Span from the House floor and start telling us how we have to deport all blacks and Jews, the negatives of that plan might start cropping up. Yes, I'm exaggerating, but hopefully making my point.

    Also, I like having someone who represents my district in Congress. In your system, no one represents my district, but only the state in general.

    I also don't like that the party decides which Congressmen get to be on the slate. In New York, for example, a generic Congressional ballot would probably run about 35% Republican, 55% Democrat and 10% other parties. This means that both major parties are guaranteed to have plenty of seats. If a party favorite gets into ethical trouble, the party can guarantee he still stays in Congress by putting him high on the slate.

    I don't know if you're following the NY State Senate mess. But, say the Dems want to regain control of the state senate. so, they go to Pedro Espada and say "Listen, we don't care if you're convicted of those pesky corruption charges. Come back home to Mama Democrats and we'll put you high enough on the slate to ensure that you're int he Senate for 10 years." (I know he's returned anyway at this point, but bear with me.) Under the current system, a Congressman has to be elected every 2 years and can be thrown out if the district is unsatisfied for any reason.
  4. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    12 Jul '09 18:56
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Why only in the House of Representatives?
    The Senate elects 2 people from each state. The only way would be to abandon that and have the Senate be allocated based on national vote allocation.
  5. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    12 Jul '09 18:56
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Why only in the House of Representatives?
    That's the only place it would be feasible. Each state has two Senators. Not much point in having proportional representation there. But most states have multiple Representatives. California has 53. A 10% vote in California would get you 5 House members.
  6. 12 Jul '09 18:59
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Here we'll take a further look at the 5th item in my Executive order list (Proportional representation within the House of Representatives).

    If the Federal law mandating single district elections were overturned, and every state adopted a uniform system of proportional representation for the selection of their House members, how would things look?

    W ...[text shortened]... s my idea. I propose we storm the Bastille and demand it be put into action immediately.
    The two parties have a stranglehold on the American political system. So who do you suppose is going to come along and make the change? Will it be the powers that be who are a part of both political parties? Not likely.
  7. 12 Jul '09 19:05
    Originally posted by sh76
    The Senate elects 2 people from each state. The only way would be to abandon that and have the Senate be allocated based on national vote allocation.
    Yes, so let's abandon that. Or marginalize the role of the Senate, for example only for judging constitutional changes.
  8. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    12 Jul '09 19:07
    Originally posted by sh76
    Well, you do lay out that plan's advantages nicely. I will say that.

    I'm happy keeping the BNP equivalents out of Congress. Your plan sounds nice in the abstract. But, when the KKK elects 6 people to Congress and they get up on C-Span from the House floor and start telling us how we have to deport all blacks and Jews, the negatives of that plan might start c ...[text shortened]... every 2 years and can be thrown out if the district is unsatisfied for any reason.
    Having six KKK members in Congress is the price you pay for having a democracy. It is certain that other parties might include a hard core Christian party, a socialist party, a neo-fascist party (other than the Republicans ), etc. You have to trust the voters to make good choices. I don't think that extreme fringe parties would get more than one or two seats. In smaller states they wouldn't have a chance unless they got something like 20% of the vote. Only in the largest of states would an extreme fringe party have a chance of getting someone in.

    About who chooses which Congressmen get to be on the slate, there are many different ways that could be handled. For example, you could vote for a certain party and then vote for your favorite candidates from their party slate. If there was some disgraceful bum, he would still lose (one would hope).

    Not having your own "personal" Congressman is a potential drawback. But I'm sure something could be done about that as well.
  9. 12 Jul '09 19:07
    Originally posted by sh76

    I also don't like that the party decides which Congressmen get to be on the slate.
    That doesn't have to be a problem. For example, the party could draw a list of candidates and then the candidates with more votes are chosen instead of people higher on the list with less votes. This is how it works for parliamentary elections in Holland.
  10. 12 Jul '09 19:10
    Anyways, having some KKK members in Congress is not as bad as having Reagan or Bush as president.
  11. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    12 Jul '09 19:26
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Yes, so let's abandon that. Or marginalize the role of the Senate, for example only for judging constitutional changes.
    Okay; here's thing thing, KN. Your basic premise in many of these suggestions for American government is to eliminate federalism and decrease the self-governing roles of the states.

    For historical reasons, that just can't be done without the possibility of fracturing the country. The country was built on the idea that the states retain some sovereignty.

    Would it be more efficient to eliminate states' rights and go with one national government?

    Well, would it be more efficient for the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg to be folded into France? Maybe, but it's not going to happen.

    Why should Monaco get to be independent and make oodles of money because of its lax tax and gambling rules?

    Because it exists as an independent country and you can't simply wave a magic wand and fold it into France.

    If the federal government goes to Texas and says "you don't get representation as a sovereign state any more, you must abolish the death penalty, you must enforce strict gun control, you must adopt socialized medicine, you must allow gay marriage and you have to eliminate all vestiges of religion in your public sphere," Texas would say "Screw you! We're making our own country!" And, Louisiana and Mississippi and Kansas and Oklahoma and Utah and Alabama and a dozen others would do the same."

    If the EU suddenly told Sweden to cut its corporate tax rate and stop coddling criminals and soften gun control laws etc. etc. what would Sweden say?

    Okay; EU-Sweden is not a perfect analogy to US-Texas, but it's closer than you might think. For better or for worse, the US is one country, but retains elements of 50 sovereign countries; and you need to keep that in mind when proposing sweeping changes for the United States.
  12. 12 Jul '09 19:44
    Maybe this ain't relevant, but Ireland has a proportional representation + single trasferable vote - you get to vote for guy who's gonna lose anyway, so he can feel all happy and annoy the government, but your vote gets transferred to your second preference so the people you *really* hate don't get elected.

    I think it works reasonably well, but unfortunately Ireland has had a long string of mish-mash coalition governments each more interested in keeping power than doing any long-term strategic planning for the country - worse still (I think) is that the coalitions get to form themselves *after* the ballot, so the guy you voted for might *actually* end up propping up a coalition with those guys you *really* hated.

    f.
  13. 12 Jul '09 20:00 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by sh76
    Okay; here's thing thing, KN. Your basic premise in many of these suggestions for American government is to eliminate federalism and decrease the self-governing roles of the states.

    For historical reasons, that just can't be done without the possibility of fracturing the country. The country was built on the idea that the states retain some sovereignty.

    ou need to keep that in mind when proposing sweeping changes for the United States.
    I would not oppose the merger of the EU members into one country as long as the system is good. However, most Europeans do and I understand most Americans oppose abolishing federalism as well. However, that doesn't mean it's a bad idea, just that it's an idea which isn't going to be put into practise. But I am not a US policymaker, so nothing of what I say is going to be put in practise anyway.
  14. 12 Jul '09 20:03
    Originally posted by fergalish
    Maybe this ain't relevant, but Ireland has a proportional representation + single trasferable vote - you get to vote for guy who's gonna lose anyway, so he can feel all happy and annoy the government, but your vote gets transferred to your second preference so the people you *really* hate don't get elected.

    I think it works reasonably well, but unfortun ...[text shortened]... for might *actually* end up propping up a coalition with those guys you *really* hated.

    f.
    As far as I can tell, Ireland has done really well since joining the EU, surpassing for example the UK (but has been hit hard by the crisis). So as an outsider I wouldn't say these "mish-mash" coalitions have done so badly.
  15. 12 Jul '09 21:03
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Anyways, having some KKK members in Congress is not as bad as having Reagan or Bush as president.
    What is so awefull about Reagan and Bush that cannot be said about other Presidents, including the one we have now?