Thursday, December 17, 2015

Increasing American Democracy

The USA likes to think that it is a model democracy, the best in the world.  Unfortunately, I do not agree with this view.  The US has a number of undemocratic characteristics:

  1. It is constitutional to redraw district boundaries to benefit your party, i.e. gerrymandering.  This technique is used to increase the number of representatives of your party and effectively devalue or eliminate the votes of citizens for the other party.  You can take a state that has a slight majority for party B and 10 districts and elect 8 representatives of Party B and 2 Party A representatives.  Just draw the boundaries so Party A's voters are concentrated in two districts.  Check out Figure 1 below for some gerrymandered districts.
  2. There is effectively no limit on the money raised to support a candidate due to the "Citizens United" ruling by the Supreme Court.
  3. People seem to vote blindly for incumbents, even though they hate Washington and Congress in general.  This I cannot explain.
  4. There are ways to remove citizens' voting rights by demanding tests that they cannot pass, like having a government-provided picture ID.  My niece does not have such an ID as she does not drive and has no passport to my knowledge.
  5. The only thing the two parties agree on is that there should not be a third party.  They make sure that no third party will ever take hold in the USA.  So we have a situation today where the two parties are polarized left and right, socially and economically, with no moderate alternative.
Figure 1: Gerrymandered Districts
So how to improve on this less-than-good democracy?

My idea is that we should combat gerrymandering and the lack of a third party by voting in the other party's primary.  If I am a Democrat in a Gerrymandered district that favors Republicans (and I am), then I should vote in the Republican primary for the district representative.  I will vote for a more centerist candidate than your anti-abortion, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-gun control, anti-Fed, anti-tax, anti-union, anti-Obamacare Republican voter.  Maybe that more moderate centerist candidate becomes the Republican candidate, and then they win the election through Gerrymandering.  Now I have a more moderate representative than I have today.

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