“Left Party whip Keith Ellison spoke in Washington today in an attempt to rally centrist support for tighter financial regulation—his liberal coalition has support on the issue from Tea Party leader Steve King, but without more Democrats and Republicans the bill is doomed to fail. Leaders of the Green Party have yet to take a stance on the bill but …”
This might sound absurd in the United States, but it’s not as crazy elsewhere in the world. The American system of government is stable, popular, and backed by the Constitution—and dominated by two political parties. A political system comprised of multiple, smaller parties and shifting coalitions may be unimaginable in America, but it’s the norm in most other democracies. While the United States is one of the world’s oldest democracies, and spreading democracy is a central tenet of the country’s foreign policy, our winner-take-all system itself is among our least-popular exports. In Western Europe, 21 of 28 countries use a form of proportional representation in at least one type of election. What is proportional representation, or PR? It’s a system that aims to gives parties the same percentage of seats as the percentage of votes they receive—and it might be able to end our gerrymandering wars.
Every ten years, state officials are charged with redrawing district maps to account for population shifts in the Census. In practice, incumbent lawmakers often turn into cartographers with the power to change maps to suit their needs. The problem is epigrammatic: Rather than voters choosing their legislators, legislators are choosing their voters. That’s how you get districts that look like Maryland’s third congressional district (see image).
The word gerrymandering is a blend of Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry’s name and his Democratic-Republican Party’s 1812 creation of a salamander-shaped district. Experts, like my colleague Garrett Epps, blame the distorting process for part of the current disconnect in some states between a state’s voters and their representatives. After the 2010 Census, a bevy of Republican state legislatures packed Democratic voters into lopsided throwaway districts, usually in urban centers. The problem has been especially acute in swing states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Democrats have replied by splitting liberal suburbs like Montgomery County, Maryland, into several smaller districts where they hold a slight advantage, but Republicans are still winning this political game at the moment: In 2012, Democratic House candidates received more votes nationwide than Republicans—and Republicans won a 33-seat majority.
Full Article: Should the Victor Share the Spoils? – The Atlantic.