The binary choice that winner-take-all elections force onto voters is tearing American democracy apart.
The solution: break the two-party doom loop with proportional representation.
WASHINGTON, DC – Fix Our House released the following statement in response to President Biden’s speech last night in Philadelphia:
As President Biden said last night, democracy in America is under assault. But that assault is made possible and potent by America’s winner-take-all election system which results in a vicious cycle of ever-escalating conflict between our two parties. Single-member congressional districts with plurality elections have resulted in zero-sum political warfare where each side is driven by fear of the other party's potential victory.
“It is dangerous for a nation to be constantly battling over its soul, but that’s where we are, thanks to our broken two-party system,” said Fix Our House co-founder Lee Drutman. “In America’s two-party system, the basic rules of democracy have become contested, just as everything is ultimately contested in a binary, zero-sum conflict. In order to break out of this doom loop, voters need more choices so that they do not feel constantly forced to choose what they think is the ‘lesser of two evils.’ In order to get more choices, we need proportional representation.”
There are conservative voters who want their leaders to respect the rule of law and the outcome of elections, but who also strongly dislike some or all of the Democrats’ policy agenda. But on election day this fall, those voters will be faced with only a binary choice between red or blue. That benefits extremists who demonize the other side, which in turn justifies one side’s fear of the other, leading to more extremism, more fear, and leaving democracy teetering on the edge of collapse.
Proportional representation solves this problem by creating more paths to power and more choices at the ballot box. With multiple candidates per congressional district elected in proportion to their party’s amount of support, nuances in the electorate would be reflected in Congress. No longer would candidates be able to turn division into an effective campaign strategy. They would need to appeal to every voter and campaign on what they are for rather than only what they are against.
The two-party doom loop has artificially divided our nation. America has more than just two kinds of people, and that diversity is part of our nation’s soul. We deserve an electoral system that respects that.