The Centrist Project’s plan includes strategically identifying a small number of states with a political climate favorable to candidates from “the sensible center,” recruiting promising candidates, and supporting them with a campaign infrastructure, as we discuss further on. The genius of this plan is that, while challenging, it is eminently doable because the number of seats required to deny either party a majority is small.
In other words, many forms of populism are neither Republican nor Democrat, does that make them part of the "sensible center"?
EDIT: Do downvoters care to explain their objections?
Example (of my own, not from any Centrist literature): charging a commensurate fee to pollute a river rather than strictly allowing or outlawing it. The business would prefer to be allowed to pollute for free (Republican Party principle) while the environmentalists would prefer that the pollution not be emitted under any circumstances (Democratic Party principle). But a structure that accurately prices the impacts and externalities of the pollution respects the environmental and health values, and the business can choose the most beneficial option for them: prevention, change of product or process, or just paying the fee.
If you do nothing and allow anyone to pollute anywhere they want, then you get a public health crisis and many people die and many more get sick.
If you prohibit the pollution and heavily police the people who try to pollute anyway, then you have to pay for all the efforts to enforce the prohibition plus you have the possibility of job loss as those companies go somewhere else that does allow them to pollute freely.
If you allow the pollution but charge a cleanup fee, then you have the increased beauracracy, etc....
There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.
Many people vote against a party rather than for because of the barrage of negativity each party pushes out against the other. That's why attack ads are both prevalent and distasteful: they work.
"Centrist" is simply the idea of focusing on agreements, areas where there exists broad consensus, and leaving the other issues for later. Americans agree on many issues, but Congress focuses on where we disagree (job security I guess).
I'm not sure why you think there isn't a center in American politics... the media oversimplifies political discourse, but the center still exists in higher dimensions.
Even with the Internet making alternative views increasingly accessible to younger generations, the real flaw lies in our voting system, the biggest oversight of the founding fathers. First Past the Post inevitably leads to a duopoly / 'team' mentality, whereas approval voting could possibly solve many of our nation's woes.
The Roman empire lasted a couple of thousand years, the medieval empires up to a half a century, the British empire a bit more than a a quarter, the American, well, almost a quarter (with a violent change about right about the middle of the period, so...). Interesting times, and all that.
I've sometimes thought that the rigidity of the US Constitution (i.e. it's not revised completely ever 50 years) is both its biggest benefit and its weakest side. If only the founding fathers made a clause like "and thou shall revise whatever we've written every 50 years in the light of new facts, because we are just men, and fallible."
IOW, politicians don't change the rules because they suddenly grow a conscience. It has to be presented as an existential choice.
The only other bone I have to pick is with the term "centrist." Meaning what, exactly? Predisposed towards compromise? Absolute neutral in the D&D sense? Unabashedly quantitative utilitarianist?
The way HBR defines it, to be a centrist, one would have to know the extreme positions on a topic and programmatically move towards a middle or compromise position.
Sums it up perfectly...
Also, controversial opinion here I'm sure, but imho that gridlock is mostly good thing. The less the government is able to do, the more of a stable and predictable state the country is in, making forecasting and planning more reliable. The one exception is the government's inability to reign in deficit spending, and perhaps their longer term inability to ensure solvency of social programs.
Obviously people don't want to feel uncertain because of volatility in government. The gridlock is intended to curtail legislative havoc a single party might cause if it got too big.
The problem is partisan gridlock only staggers when party interests conflict. Even then, that type of legislation is likely less unreasonable because of its partisan origins - the originating party has to make it palatable through willingness to include concessions, listen to the other party's concerns, address them in modifications and reattempt getting it passed.
The thing is both parties share much in common, and much of what they'd both agree to expand is concerning if not disenfranchising.
- uncritical fealty to institutional authority
- endless war
- the disregard for our privacy in their approval of expanding surveillance
- their disavowal in the strongest terms of any obstacle to their right to secrecy because national security
- deregulating campaign funding
- complicating a law, legislating it, and then relying upon that expertise to guarantee a cushy retirement in the private sector
- a worsening addiction to defense spending
If anything, I'd say the gridlock actually makes it easier for government to grant itself inadequately-justified powers and broaden its scope beyond deemed appropriate. Voters in this political climate see more of its potential going towards negating a vote for the other guy rather than signaling which problems need most attention.
We have a situation where Congressmen/women ignore their constituents and avoid their own town-hall meetings. And when in Washington (to the voter's frustration) much time is wasted, and bitterly. I guess it makes sense that they exhibit the ability to agree mostly on measures that make the government more ruthless, but it's disappointing nonetheless.
This is simply untrue and false equivalence.
Liberals are at 0.38, and the most extreme they've ever been was 0.39. They have been somewhat more liberal than they were in the 40s, but they've generally been within the same band of scores for the last 100+ years.
Conservatives, on the other hand, are at 0.49, which is the most conservative they've been in the last 200 years. They've basically doubled since the 1970s.
So, objectively, conservatives are more extreme (0.49) than liberals (0.38) today. Also, the most extreme conservatives are more extreme than the most extreme liberals.
I think this may be the first time I've seen this, but I'm quite confused about the claim to be able to make comparisons across time by simple statistical methods. The model has a clear statistical meaning about the similarity of different members of the same Congress, who have all voted on the same set of questions. But surely the issues that the Congress is actually voting on are radically different from decade to decade? Slavery, the Federal income tax, alcohol prohibition, the New Deal?
Meanwhile, thus far the "farther-left (and maybe even insurgent) Democratic wing" for all the noise it seems to make has had little effect on the party. They aren't electing people, they aren't even really challenging incumbents very much.
Contrast this to the steady rightward march of the Republicans over the last 30 years: the rise of the Evangelicals in the 70s, Gingrich's 1994 "Republican Revolution", and more recently the Tea Party wave of 2010 and the explosion of an apparent Trump faction. All of these lead to not only actual electoral victories, if not dominance in the Republican Party in some cases, for the more extreme factions, but were coupled with real threats of incumbents who didn't play ball being "primaried" by more extreme challengers.
As I said, it's possible that the surprising performance of Sanders and the popularity of people like Warren may be the beginning of similar change in the Democratic Party, but until that actually happens it's just not comparable to what's happened to the Republicans.
For example there are improvements to healthcare, taxation and financial regulation which a supermajority of citizens would agree with, but the current system cannot/will not deliver. These improvements do not particularly align with either party's agenda.
Another example, closer to people here on HN; merit-based immigration. Support among citizens is broad and I am guessing it would be a supermajority; however more politically active and powerful people in the US on the left and right oppose it.
Isn't this what the green card system already is?
Which will always be true of sufficiently large groups of humans. The more we insist that we all share common goals, the wider the schism between us becomes.
I guess you could argue that it's a winner-take-all system for donors, but maybe that's better phrased as "the winning donors" or "the donors in power" instead of "the donors" to show that it's not just some monolithic group playing I-win-you-lose with American elections.
Of course, we'll eventually have to change the voting system to an automatic runoff, to prevent the least popular of three candidates from winning due to the other two splitting the vote. And I'm sure there are other electoral specifics that maintains the two party equilibrium.
All things said, like other commenters here, I'm not entirely displeased with the current gridlock.
Edit: see dforrestwilson's comment below to see the update
There's usually a ton of competition, but most people simply don't care. Ask people who they voted for in the last primary for state legislator, and the reasons they voted for them over their opponents. In my experience, people often have a hard time remembering who they voted for the next day, and it's extremely rare for someone to have a good reason why they voted for them.
I've seen a lot of reformist candidates run against corrupt incumbents and lose. It's depressing, but even more so when you see that almost no one bothered paying attention to the race. And then you see the same people complain later - "Why's the government so bad? How come there's no choice and all candidates are the same?"
Voting third party in our system just means that the opposing side has a better chance of gaining office
If you're staunchly Democrat, and you vote that way in an overwhelmingly red state, is that also a wasted vote?
Well yeah. That's why we need proportional representation. People should vote, not land.
The problem is that people feel so helpless in politics that getting them to care about their mostly invisible state legislature, never mind the Federal, is a Sisyphian task.
It really, really, really doesn't. If you can gerrymander Congressional districts and split North Dakota from South to get the electoral results you want, then "land matters" is just a way of saying, "I want power and I'm willing to rig elections to get it."
>We've lost sight of the fact that each state should be its own experiment in democracy
Rubbish: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/john-kennedy-single-paye... . Democracy is the principle that people affected by decisions should, by degrees, get a voice in those decisions. Electoral rituals are not democracy, and in fact, when an election in Louisiana or Texas can determine that people in Massachusetts and California don't get to make our own public policy choices, that's undemocratic.
It's not even remotely close, and that's why the system is so broken.
As a matter of fact, in the last case where a state legislator's seat was contested in the primary at all, I believe I voted for Pat Jehlen, who has a progressive record on economic issues I care about (health-care, wages) and helped pass a bill labeling transgender people (I know some) as a protected class for antidiscrimination purposes. Plus there was pizza at the phone-banks for that bill, and I can always appreciate that.
Who was a theocrat?
But perhaps if there was a parliamentary system where one party wins leadership, then they would have to take the blame for bad results.
Of course the other primary factor in all this is a fourth estate failing to do its job.
Also, duvergers law is not so concrete a truism as people like to think.
>With the compromise constitutional ratio (1:30,000) in mind and given that the U.S. Census Bureau reports that there are currently about 313.9 million inhabitants of the United States, if the Constitution were being followed, there would be approximately 10,463 members of the House of Representatives.
I'd be okay with this. It would really change the make up of our government. Senators would seem far more powerful in comparison.
The electoral college would be completely different as well. Using the population data on Wikipedia, at 1:30,000 California would have 1309 representatives and Wyoming would have 20. That would mean in the electoral college California would be worth 1311 points and Wyoming 22 vs 55 and 3 today.
In a more modern electoral system, most of their other points would fall into place naturally.
The classic example was the smaller party FDP some decades ago. Although SPD and CDU each had many more seats than FDP, both needed the FDP to have more than 50% of the seats. So whoever the FDP joined with, that party became part of the government, while the other became opposition. Some people even subjected that this was too much power/influence for such a small party. (Then, more smaller parties received a significant amount of votes, and things became even more complicated, but also more interesting!)
Can you explicitly vote for nobody?
Our compulsory voting is really "compulsory voting". It's "compulsory turn up to a polling station and get your name marked off". You can drop an empty ballot in the box, draw penises on it, or even just turn and walk out of the polling place.
Also, the OP underestimates the impact of the minor parties. While there are two major parties, one of them is a coalition between two parties (Liberals and the Nationals), and there's a significant block of smaller parties and independents that are big enough that when they vote together they can have a deciding vote on legislation.
Multiple lawsuits have been filed by third-party candidates challenging the CPD's policy of requiring a candidate to have 15% support in national polls to be included in presidential debates. While the lawsuits have challenged the requirement on a number of grounds, including claims that it violates Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules and that it violates anti-trust laws, none of the lawsuits has been successful.
Further reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duverger%27s_law
They are — as best as I can tell — the only group aiming to reform the electoral formulas used across the country.
The U.S. can't keep kicking its defective cans down the road. Duverger's Law will hold it hostage otherwise: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duverger%27s_law
Of course we can. Especially if they happen to primarily benefit the people already in power and in charge; especially if nobody runs on an election reform platform; especially if most of the electorate doesn't understand or can't/doesn't want to make the mental effort to understand what's wrong with FPTP; and especially if people keep getting distracted by other (admittedly very important) issues during campaigns.
None of these things, however, is as effective as sustained, direct action. Even with our broken one-party-two-factions system this is so.
^Just going to leave this here
“Every four years, we suffer through the celebration of democracy (and national nightmare) that is a presidential election,” Brown wrote in her opinion. “And, in the end, one person is selected to occupy our nation’s highest office. But in every hard-fought presidential election there are losers. And, with quadrennial regularity, those losers turn to the courts.”
They turn to the courts because they're systematically excluded from the debate stage.
Recall the republican voter list leaks last year. Now, consider how much money it would take to gather that much information, at that level of fidelity. Now, consider how much of an advantage a sanctioned party candidate has, when you run against them.
The VPP is the most successful third party (most state reps), and it's only active in one state. The complete inability for other third parties to make almost any progress underscores the problems with the parties themselves (independents have been more successful than third party candidates).
Title: Harvard Business School: The U.S. Political System Has Been 'Hijacked'
Thanks for fixing the misattributed title, it comes across as sensationalist.