I was waiting for a paragraph that started "On the other hand, many on the right believe the problem is the Democratic party," or something to that effect. The author says the problem is the two party system. I think this article shows that the problem is that half the country pretends the other half doesn't exist, and doesn't even bother addressing them, let alone convincing them to change their minds.
This has become a growing issue in American politics. As much as a love progressive politics myself. I can't deny the important of strong political opposition and the importance of conservative view points in opposition to progress.
Progressive politics has become ignorant to the people, and as a result the people have turned a dead ear towards it. Instead of trying to convince them of their new ideas and why they're
better than the old ones. Progressives have adopted an assumption of, "the other side is evil and is deliberately holding us back".
It should be hard to cause political change. Most new ideas in politics are truly awful and failures at that level affect society gravely. Disagreement over how to move forward is fundamental to a functioning democracy and the emergence of good ideas. Yet modern politics seems to treat any amount of disagreement as a solemn oath of obstinance. Yes, changing minds politically is challenging, and yes it should be.
Part of the problem is that the left has erased all evidence of the failures of progressive politics (and in many cases the right has let them do so). When you just hear about the civil rights movement and marriage equality, it’s easy to assume that conservatives are just there to hold everyone back.
I’d offer three examples. First, “socialism.” Socialism failed dismally. One of the most colossal failures of a political idea in modern history. So progressives endeavored to replace “socialism” with “social democracy.” But “social democracy” as practiced in Europe approaches the problem from the complete opposite end. It abandons the socialist economic model and builds on a capitalist one. Put differently, it’s not “socialism with more democracy” it’s “capitalism with more democracy.” So progressives have turned social democracy—which is more than anything an affirmation of the success of capitalism, and an utter retreat from what progressives were pushing before—into a win for progressivism.
The second is the sexual revolution. At least in the United States, we have retrenched significantly on that front. Millennials start having sex later, and have fewer partners. “Affirmative consent” has replaced “free love.” The boundary-pushing on things like age have been pulled back hard. The #MeToo movement reaffirmed conservative truths: men cannot be trusted and society has a role to play helping women stave off unwanted and inappropriate advances. (Andrea Dworkin addresses this at length in Right Wing Women, though obviously long before #MeToo. In explaining why many women continue to support patriarchal systems, she notes that the sexual revolution stripped women of a lot of protections that those systems used to provide, with nothing to replace them. While Dworkin was obviously no conservative, she astutely recognized that the progressive tendency to throw out rules can easily end up overreaching. Many have lamented that the #MeToo movement is a return to a more Puritanical approach. There is a lot of truth to that.)
Third, eugenics. The history of support for eugenics in this country has been pretty much erased, even though the evils of Jim Crow get plenty of attention. That’s likely because many progressives backed eugenics. Woodrow Wilson, progressive champion, was a former New Jersey Governor and eugenicist who segregated the federal work force for the first time. He fired existing black federal employees (proving he wasn’t just a product of his time). Meanwhile, one of the strongest opponents of eugenics was the Catholic Church. In 1930, the Pope released an encyclical in which he condemned birth control, abortion, and eugenics as all being incompatible with the traditional Christian view of reproduction.
1. Could you point to things to back up socialism failed dismally?
2. At what point is affirmative consent anything similar to free love. Free love should still be consensual.
3. Eugenics is definitely a stain on progressivism, however I disagree that that has been erased. There's plenty of evidence of the US being swept up in the eugenics fervor.
Literally every country built in socialist economic principles, I.e. collective ownership of capital.
> 2. At what point is affirmative consent anything similar to free love. Free love should still be consensual.
That’s an attempt to reformulate “free love” to fit modern sensibilities. Read Dworkin’s contemporaneous take on the sexual revolution, starting at p. 89: https://www.feministes-radicales.org/wp-content/uploads/2010...
> In the sexual-liberation movement of the sixties, its ideology and practice, neither force nor the subordinate status of women was an issue. It was assumed that — unrepressed — everyone wanted intercourse all the time
Affirmative consent is more than just “consent” (which too often turns into “the woman didn’t physically resist”). Combined with #metoo, it narrows the scope of sex to something shared between individuals under specific circumstances under specific terms and conditions, and demarcates vast swaths of human experience (like the work place) where discussing or propositioning sexual activity is inappropriate. That’s a huge retrenchment from “free love.”
On the other hand, if both parties stopped behaving like the other is an enema of the state and actually attempted to collaborate for the good of the American public, that would be great.
I think allowing other parties would be useful, the problem is even though other parties totally can be voted in, most people don't bother because you could lose your vote altogether if the party you disagree the most with wins. To put the example more bluntly I heard it said that Obama said a vote that isn't for Hillary is a vote to Trump, as in, if you vote third party, you may regret it.
Personally, I don't think two single political parties can represent all the hopes and dreams of all 300 million citizens. I know this may sound controversial to some, but it is starting to prove itself to be a problem.
I would agree with this. The problem with the article though is that assumes that changing the structure of the political parties is the best way to solve that problem. An alternate solution is to solve fewer problems politically, since the best person to advance one's hopes and dreams is one's self, and political solutions (whatever the arrangement of parties) necessarily are about enforcing conformity.
was it intentional or not? ;)
I think that's a great example of how not all problems need to be politicized - sometimes we as a society can make things better without involving the government.
I don't want to run down a rabbit hole of blame here. Rather, I wanted to suggest that it's not just symmetrical, and it's not as simple as "if only we on the left tried harder we could solve the problem unilaterally" -- because I don't think I've ever heard any similar accommodation from the right. I think we've tried that, and need to try something different.
I don't think it's a simple case that the Overton Window has moved to the right. When one reads for example the Democratic party platform of the 1990's, many of the proposals are more similar to what some Republicans argue for today.
In any case, my point is: maybe conservatives are to blame. Conservatives are roughly half the country. If the author wants to make some change, he'll half to convince at least some of that half. Speaking only to the favored half won't change anything.
Proportional allocation of electoral votes might be a useful reform (though it could easily be gamed, if states were to follow Congressional District boundaries you could gerrymander the Presidency) but if Texas and Florida enact it while California or New York do not (or vice versa) it's a massive gift to the Democrats (or Republicans).
Both the UK and Canada have recently failed to deliver proportional representation despite explicit campaign promises because of this.
You may find the national interstate popular vote compact interesting.  Basically each state in the compact pledges their delegates to the national vote winner, but only once enough states to guarantee the presidency have agreed to do so.
That said, currently it seems that any “popular vote” measure that takes away power from small states (like this one, or changing the senate or house) would disadvantage republicans, so it’s probably a nonstarter.
This isn't actually true, for a couple reasons:
1. Small states are already ignored in Presidential elections because most of them are solidly red or blue (see  and note how many small states have no visits at all). Pretty much the only small state that swings in elections is New Hampshire, so I suppose New Hampshire loses a bit by transition to a popular vote, but no other state really does. I'm prepared to bite that bullet.
2. Right now there are tons of suburban and rural Republicans in California and New York whose votes essentially don't count at all in the current system, but would in a popular vote.
People who have studied the potential effects of abandoning the Electoral College have found that it doesn't actually provide an unbalanced benefit to either party, though I concede that as long as Republicans think it would hurt Republicans, it won't happen.
Mind you - we do have proportional representation for the Scottish Government and although it is rumoured that this was part of a design to ensure that the wrong party didn't get power the people of Scotland keep voting for them:
Having grown up in South Africa and having spent a reasonable amount of time in the USA, I admire the local civic mindedness of American communities and the accountability of the political representatives. I am also appalled by the partisanship. I worry that proportional representation could make it worse.
Would it be perfect? Nah. Would it be -a lot- better than what we have? Yes.
With the Senate proportional party, and the House still geographically representative, and then if you add in ranked choice voting, you could break the two party system and have a much, much more representative government.
If the result is that the Senate becomes the most interesting and representative body, gradually shift the bulk of power there on whatever issues it's best at. If the result is that the Senate becomes a disaster, abolish the entire body.
Any chance would tweak the existing sets of alliances, and that would a time confuse and quite the partisanship. But sooner or later somebody is going to realize that pledging fealty to each other is the best way to get their personal priorities achieved. Partisanship happens because it's effective, and encouraging more parties won't deter the fact that 50%+1 of the country can shut the remaining parts out entirely.
Partisanship in the US these days has little to do with agendas and more about identity. Elections have become more about shutting the others out of power. I see that the article hopes that by introducing more parties, they can remove the urge to see one other party as the enemy to be destroyed at all costs.
But I don't think it works. A variety of social and political factors have pushed us here, and they won't be removed by rearranging the names of the alliances. The causes run much deeper, and tweaks to the process won't do more than confuse that for a while. So I'm all for proportional voting, or really any change, just to give me a break from the constant drumbeat of animosity. But I don't expect that break to last more than a few cycles, at most.
The old system had its share of problems but I think that, all in all, the old smoke filled rooms worked better than what replaced them. Using approval or ranked choice voting to have more than 2 parties would solve most of the issues with the system anyways and we ought to do that as well but that seems harder to get in place.
I see this from a quick search:
FairVote is, indeed, the biggest advocate of IRV, and of multi-member districts.
The Center for Election Science (https://www.electionscience.org/) favors a switch to approval voting, and AFAIK doesn't have an opinion on multi-member districts.
Trench warfare is certainly applicable to the situation here as well. We might be lagging behind the US, but polarization is steadily increasing. Nobody seems willing to address the real issues at hand. Instead people are arguing semantics and calling each other nazis, and it's getting increasingly hard to gather a majority for passing a budget, not to mention actually forming a government.
I honestly don't think a handful more political parties will do that much of a difference to combat the current zeitgeist.
There was a little gratuitous Republican-bashing (it is Vox, after all), but outside of one paragraph it was remarkably even-handed. I liked a lot of the ideas presented, too.
I hope we do find a way out of the two-party gridlock.
(Of course, once you see someone demonizing you, there's very little choice on your side but to fight them...)
> we now have... a genuine two-party
Okay, but how did we go from non-genuine-two-party to this so-called genuine two-party? The policy proposals here are fine but they didn't exist in the 60's either. Something non-mechanistic changed.
I don't think its exactly the two party system, but the concept of ideology as an identity that is the modern component of this problem. Rather than dwelling in their own thoughts, being a human being, living and experiencing things and gaining wisdom, people restrain all of their wisdom faculties with these chastity belts of ideology. If ideology becomes one's identity, having impure thoughts is not thinking, it is a blow to your sense of self and therefore dangerous. In the political realm, it means that compromise simply isn't possible in ways that it may have been 100 years ago. There's no "if we get this, you can get that", ideology doesn't see differing people with differing interests, it sees you — sacred, you could never compromise yourself — and when it thinks about the obverse, it can only see an enemy.
Many willingly fit themselves into ideological categories that are quite narrow, and by "identifying" with these labels, they are depriving themselves of the contemplation and reflection befitting the question of a person's identity. I wish for no one's life to be easily summarized by the contortions of such machines, but many seem to welcome the labels. When you express concern publicly that politics has taken over people's lives, this is fed into the machines that have taken over, and they churn out their answer: "Everything is political." You might ask them if they have the causality reversed, but at that point you must wonder who, or what, you're having the conversation with.
I've written about this before and I think this has been a long time coming by the way, starting with the printing press which enabled massive one-way communication over what came before it as the default, two-way communication. (TConsider: Before the printing press, you talked to more people, perhaps in a day, than you would read in a lifetime. Now it's the opposite, you will always read/consume more media than talk to others, by a huge margin. This split is imo not well understood). I'm not exactly convinced it can be defeated merely with mechanistic changes to how voting and representation is done, though that's sure to help, otherwise. The real problem is bigger, deeper, and much more subtle.
Unfortunately, current powers won't let them, and getting popular support for this idea is hard when polarizing is so easy.
So, yeah. You are in fact part of the problem.
Absolutely it began under Obama.
"deniers ... focus on what the authors call a "snapshot fallacy," picking a historical document or fact and stripping it of its historical context"
four years in to the fascist Trump administration
But a 2012 study by Stanford University political science professor Shanto Iyengar and colleagues offers another way of looking at this apparent split.2 It examined political polarization from a different angle — not from how Americans stand on policy issues, but from the perspective of “affect” — how they feel about those on the other side of the political fence. Drawing from survey data spanning several decades, the study found that the feelings of those who affiliate as Democrat or Republican towards members of the opposing party have become increasingly negative since the late '80s.
Another study published earlier this year by Texas Tech University professor Bryan McLaughlin provides additional insight regarding the contributing role of the media in the political polarization of the country.
Media, and social media, have a lot to answer for.
EDIT: here's a CNN political analyst joking about a conversation he made up.
Vox doesn't even remotely address any possible role they must have had in furthering the divide. But sure they have solutions.