Let’s do a little thought experiment. You’re a student in elementary school, and you didn’t study for a pop quiz. You know you will 100% fail this quiz.
The teacher suddenly says this test will be peer-reviewed. Well, that doesn’t help–the girl next to you is still mad at you sticking gum in her hair. But wait: now the teacher says you get to choose the classmate that grades your quiz. You can get your buddy to grade it now.
Your buddy, however, is scared that the teacher will see that he lied to get you a better grade. Now imagine that your mother is the teacher, your buddy is your brother, and she lets you both get away with everything. Now all of a sudden you’re always getting the top scores in your class, whether you deserve it or not, and can just play games all day. Maybe some golf?
This is what’s happening in our government. We have a President, who is supposed to provide checks for Congress, being in the same party as them. The same in-group. These two branches of government are then supposed to choose who goes into the Judiciary branch, which is supposed to provide checks for them. But guess what? They’re in the same party, too.
Sure, there are actually two major parties. But two parties aren’t enough. As soon as one party gets a majority in all three branches of government, they become judge, jury, and executioner. Then, you get what is happening right now.
Note: please do not read the following as an “us versus them”. When I say “Republican”, I am referring to the Republican Party, and not its voters. Same with “Democrat”–I am referring to the Democratic Party, and not its voters. This is about the government versus its constituents, not Democrats versus Republicans.
Congressional Republicans are drawing the district lines in their states. They are literally choosing who votes for them. They currently have a member as the President, and they have a majority in both the House and the Senate. They are taking advantage of a deficit of judges in the Judiciary branch to appoint as many Republican judges as possible. They are even planning on increasing the number of seats to appoint more1. These judges are being chosen for one reason other than being Republican: they are young. This is important because Federal judges serve until they quit or die.
They don’t have full control yet, but they will in a couple more election cycles. Each election cycle, whenever one party has more control, they will add in another measure to gain even more control. When the party in control changes, it benefits from prior power grabs. Republicans can only stack the courts with Republican judges because in 2013, Democrats got rid of the filibuster2. The difference is, this time there will be so many Republican justices being thrown in, it’s almost all but assured that Republicans will be the ones to bring a one-party system into fruition.
The solution is not to simply vote the Democratic Party into a majority. Every time this oscillation happens, the power the controlling party gets increases. It will continue increasing until it gets to the point where one party will no longer have to give up its control.
The solution is to break away from the two-party system. Remove the barriers to entry that third parties and independents have right now. Australia has done a remarkable job at this3. Voting is compulsory. It is not just a right–it’s an obligation you have to your country to ensure its democracy works. Voting is also done with preferential ballots. Let’s take an example to explain how that works: if there are five candidates, you number them one through five in order of your preference. If no candidate secures a majority when counting everyone’s first choice, the candidate with the least number of votes is removed from consideration. Everyone’s first choice is recounted. Those that had the eliminated candidate as their first choice now have their second choice counted, and so on4. This solves the following issues faced by our voting system:
The viability of a third party candidacy. Right now, the consensus is that a vote towards a third party is a wasted vote. Ensuring that there are no wasted votes would eliminate this concern and dramatically increase votes towards third party and independent candidates.
A representative that is not representative of their state’s population. By making voting compulsory, even by imposing a small fine as a penalty, voter turnout will drastically increase.
Gerrymandering. While not solving for it completely (or quickly), adding third-party candidates into the mix will make it a lot more difficult to do successfully.
Feel strongly about this? Contact your representative below and let them know you want compulsory and preferential voting!