Sept. 1, 2017
Lee Drutman talked about how some problems in US politics could be addressed with proportional voting on Governing.
Regardless of how it’s done, proportional voting has the potential to address two major problems with our politics, says Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at New America, a nonpartisan think tank. Under our current winner-take-all system, most votes don’t matter. Districts are either comfortably Republican or Democratic, and the only important contest is the primary in the locally dominant party. Many officeholders are more concerned about being unseated in a primary if they break with party orthodoxy than they are about winning general elections by appealing to broader groups of people.
Under proportional voting, more votes would matter. Even the conservative precincts of, say, New York would have a chance of electing one of their own, since candidates with a minority share of the vote would be able to claim a seat. And the need to win over more voters would alter the incentives that currently promote demonization of the other side. “They would have to build coalitions,” Drutman says. “They would have to compromise.”