The Evil Party and the Stupid Party

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Contrary to popular myth, the Constitution does not enshrine a two-party system. We have, in the past, seen the rise and fall of vairous parties. The fall of the Federalist party in our early history, the rise of the Republican Party thereafter, and, of course, the Know-Nothing Party and the Dixiecrats. However, I think politics has grown beyond the ability of a third party to challenge the dominance of the Democrats and Republicans. The reason for this mainly our winner-take-all elections.

The Constitution does not mandate winner-take-all elections for conrgesscritters. Congressional districts are not mentioned at all in the Constitution. As things stand now, a citizen who does not vote for the winner in his district has little representation in Congress. Letters to one's congresscritter contrary to the critter's Party Line are likely to be ignored. And letters to congresscritters of ones own party, but not in one's district, are also likely to be ignored. (And has anyone ever looked into academy appointments and political contributions?)

A better way would be at-large elections. Virginia, for instance, has 11 seats in Congress. Give each voter 11 votes, to cast any way he wishes. We may spread our votes amoung 11 candidates, or cast all 11 for one candidate, or 3 for one, 2 for another, and 6 for a third. Then some third-party candidates will get elected, and all of us will have the ear of a few congresscritters. (It also avoids all that nasty redistricting.)

But what of the one-seat states? Congress has been locked into 435 seats for a long time. Long ago, there were about 50,000 citizens per congresscritter. Now that is 500,000. Congress needs to expand my a factor of ten. We should have about 4-5 thousand of them. With modern technology, Congress does not have to meet live very often anymore. When they do, they can go to the MCI Center. Meanwhile, the leadership of the enlarged Congress can stay in Washington, and the rank-and-file can stay home with their voters.

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Ted said:

Solution (possibly)--Instant Runoff. Let people vote for two candidates, a primary and a secondary. If a candidate gets over 50%, election over, if not, drop all but the top two candidates. If someone's first choice is dropped move that vote to the one that remains. Now people can actually vote FOR someone and not worry about "wasting" their vote vice voting AGAINST the greater of two evils.

Jack said:

That still does not get proportional representation. It's still a winner-take-all system, and a party with 20% of the votes in the first round would still not get any representatives.

Ted said:

Perhaps. But it still means that the winner got over 50%. It also means that individual districts get to pick their own representatives.

And do you really mean you want to have 5,000 congressmen with all the personnel and cost involved to support them?

5 or 6 hundred perhaps, but 5,000?


Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

no, we ought to do this parliament-style. Each party fields 11 candidates (in Virginia), ranked 1-11, and people vote for a party. So, using this past election as an example, the top 6 democrats and the top 5 republicans would represent

you'd probably want to rotate, rather than voting for all 11 at once. So 5 one election and 6 the next.

1,000 seems like a nice number of congressmen. So you guys would get 25. the Senate should always be FPTP, though, cuz they're old school like that.

Ted said:

Voting by list would do away with the whole gerrymandering scam now, wouldn't it?


Jack said:


The problem with that system is that the party ranks the candidates. My way, the people do. The party can still put up their 11 candidates, but WE chose which ones get in.

charles said:

Too much game theory.

I do think we should add a bunch more house members, and probably divide the top 5 states into two states. California would be easy, not sure where you'd draw the lines for Texas though.

anyway, whether or not you think the constitution has a say in this, the supreme court has ruled that it does, and that people are constitutionally required to vote for individual representatives from proportional districts drawn with an eye toward not disinfranchising groups designated based on trivial and unimportant physical or historical characteristics.

Jack said:


Can you cite me some cases to read? I think you would find a system such as I propose would pass muster.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

voters could choose the ranking of candidates through a series of (open) primaries

5,000 Congressmen. Great name for a rock band.

Some people I know who are pretty experienced on this issue told me we are locked into a two-party system as a result of changes implemented after Ross Perot and these changes greatly hindered Pat Buchanan's run on the Reform Party (I might have remembered that wrong) ticket.

Ted, you know anything about this?

e-tranger said:

What I wanted to know is - which is the Evil Party and which is the Stupid Party?

Jack said:


One's own party is the Stupid Party, and the other is the Evil Party.


Did you notice the whopping turnout we had for the last Democratic Primary?

Ted said:


Since the states establish their own ballot access rules I'm not sure what changes the Feds could've made to really have changed anything. If anything the campaign finance rules have made money available to 3d parties IF they can get on the ballot and get people to vote for them.

Of course that is a huge IF.

Interesting, Ted. To clarify, what I heard was that the Two Parties made changes to increase the barriers to entry to 3rd parties. I'm going to get more details and will continue the discussion here.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:


I think it was you who said, "I can't be botherer by people who are too lazy to vote" or some such thing.

whatever, the bottom line is people 'on both sides' agree that some sort of reform on this front is in order.

Jack said:

I don't think I said that.

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