On a purely systemic note, the first-past-the-post US voting system would benefit immensely from ranked voting, which in most forms makes it impossible to waste your vote if you choose a minor candidate.
As an Australian, I also think mandatory voting would fix other problems with the US electoral system, like perceived voter fraud (since most of the population votes, to cast a vote as someone else is harder and more easily detected), access to polling places (since it's a more obvious and immediate injustice to fine someone for not voting at a polling place with a three hour line than to merely deny them a vote), and the election of presidents who didn't have anything close to a majority of the population voting for them. Mandatory voting is much more controversial than ranked voting when I bring it up with Americans, though, and a less important fix.
The "perception" of voter fraud in the US is itself entirely a fraud, created to allow rules that make voting harder.
Mechanisms like mandatory voting and greater access to polling places (and holidays on voting day) are exactly the opposite of what is desired by those talking about voter fraud. So while there is much talk of voter fraud, those options are always off the table.
Voter fraud just isn't a significant thing in the US. The perception of it won't be fixed by dealing with voter fraud, one way or the other.
Unfortunately, that means that the real problem is much harder. It's a combination of authoritarianism, partisanship, and xenophobia, deliberately exacerbated both within and without. We don't get to spend much effort on the genuine issues because we're too suspicious of each other, and spend all of our time fighting about non-issues.
Perception is everything in a society. Police can't be everywhere, and the stability of the system is maintained by everyone accepting the legitimacy of a certain political structure.
There may not actually be fraud, but strengthening the election system wouldn't hurt, and it would calm those who think there is and help stabilize the system during a tumultuous time in our country's history.
Strengthening the system can hurt though, if it discourages people from voting in the name of security.
And putting in stricter voting controls will not stop people from crying foul. These people aren't working off the facts in the first place, so what difference would it make? If their people don't win they'll call it rigged. If these laws don't give them the result they want, they'll continue to claim fraud until they get enough of an advantage to ensure victory.
Multiparty system has failure mode, when one party balloons in size, either by aggressive use of populist rhetoric (NSDAP) or by merging several smaller parties (United Russia). At this point rest either have to unite (producing two party system), or become irrelevant (producing single party system, opening way to totalitarian or authoritarian regime).
So the two party system is the result of a failed multiparty system. This doesn't seem to be an advantage of the two party system. Also the two party system can balloon into a single party regime. We probably need a proper definition on "stable" here.
I would call it tempered (forced to compromise on it's nicer features, like representation, to save core ones, like turnover of power) rather than failed (when even core features are no longer present).
Even if you consider two-party system as failed multiparty one, it has advantage of being already past that bifurcation point. And, considering that alternative route is death of parliamentarianism, it's a nice advantage.
Yes, same failure can happen in two-party system, but chances are different - 'usurper' party has to fight against single opponent, rather than against multiple smaller ones. Question of 'whenever opposition can unite' is trivially true if opposition consists of single party.
I felt this way for a long time, so I put my money where my mouth is and I left. I'm not sure if it will take 10, 20, or 30 years (sometimes it feels like even less!) but it's so hard to look at the American superstructure and see a system that is capable of self-repair or dealing with new problems.
I chose the Netherlands for a variety of reasons, but I guess ultimately it is a question of what values you think are best suited to create a functional society. For me, a life that was less centered on car travel and had a political system that was more robust to new problems is what I wanted the most.
I wonder about this - some have felt this under President $FOO but $FOO still had to concede to a loss or term limits. I feel like actual change of power is important, and the US still has this while a lot of the world is losing it
The US messed around with losing it, too. It didn't end up happening, but it has edged closer and closer for the past couple of decades. The system has twice produced a result that was clearly against the popular preference, and most recently the losing candidate took numerous measures to attempt to make it a third.
Both sides have significant doubt about whether the mechanisms used to count votes are accurate, and it's growing worse. It looks very much like a situation where sooner or later we, too, could lose the ability to have a peaceful change of power.
Extrapolations about the future are always fraught, so take that with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, the fact that everybody is making the same extrapolation just makes it more likely.
> The system has twice produced a result that was clearly against the popular preference, and most recently the losing candidate took numerous measures to attempt to make it a third.
the popular vote is not the popular preference. it's just the total number of people who voted for each candidate under a set of rules where that number doesn't matter. the popular vote would likely look quite different if the popular vote decided the election. people who live in overwhelmingly red or blue states often don't bother voting in presidential elections outside of the primaries.
I have to agree. The US is a two party system, which is extremely limiting. One party badly wants to become an autocracy while the other wants to erode compromise in favor of becoming a single party super majority.
I wish anti-trust actions apply to political parties and break them both apart.
> I wish anti-trust actions apply to political parties and break them both apart.
There are hundreds of political parties in the US; the stable equilibrium is only two competitive factions because of the electoral system. Breaking up currently dominant parties without addressing the electoral system won’t change anything meaningful. You need to fix the electoral system.
Specifically, the solid evidence from across modern democracies is that if you want multiple competitive parties, you need to adopt a system which tends toward proportional representation, like STV with multimember districts, and it helps further to maximize the relative power of the proportionally representative body (Tinkering with voting methods for single-member legislative districts wouldn't actually help much.)
Having winner-take-all elections for thr legislature, investing wxtra power in the less represntative body within the legislature, and having a strong Presidency that is indirectly elected all tend against having multiple competitive parties.
I would so love to eliminate winner takes all from states as part of the electoral college. California is slightly purple and Texas extremely so. That should be represented in their massive vote counts.
> The electoral college was never meant to be influenced at all by political party membership;
Then, frankly, the framers were completely incompetent, because they couldn't have designed a system designed better to guarantee a stable national partisan duopoly if that had been their intent.
> and Washington warned against the siren call of the National political party when he left office.
That wasn't a forward looking warning; the duopoly guaranteed by the Constitutional structure of government had already been firmly established by the end of Washington's first term, with the leaders of both factions in his Cabinet.
> I have to agree. The US is a two party system, ...
I agree with the first part of your analysis, but the rest seems a bit off.
Firstly, the fact that the US is effectively a two party system comes from the fact that your electoral systems is based on district representatives. This winner-takes-all approach will by nature lead to a two-party system, same as it has in the UK.
Secondly, you do not have to assume dark motives ("... badly wants to become an autocracy...") to arrive at extremism within the parties: This is a natural result of gerrymandering and segregation, where safe districts leads to candidates that pander to there single-party base only.
Compare this with most of continental Europe, where you have proportional representation. Here multi-party systems prevail, and as you indicate in the start of your analysis, this does indeed appear to lead to a "better" democracy in the sense that it can handle multi-dimensional shifts in voter attitude much better than entrenched two-party systems.
I'm a fan of ranked choice voting, but I feel the need to add that the de facto 2 party system in the US functions similarly to political bloc majority government formation in European democracies. The difference is the US names the coalitions rather than the individual parties themselves. If you look at either US party you see very different voting trends on platform between different regions, you see sub parties (like justice Democrats or tea party) and a constant shift in platform to keep these groups appeased, very similar in effect to the process of compromise by which majority governments are formed in European democracies. IMO this is a symptom of majority rule and will occur regardless whether you name the parties or name the coalitions. What you wind up with is 2 blocs made up of diverse interests with enough overlapping or converging interest forming through negotiation.
One important difference is that coalitions are fluent, and party P can choose to join a coalition with party Q or party R, depending on their electoral perspectives and alignment of values, even if Q and R are bitter rivals and never would form a coalition between themselves. Those who voted for P won't mind because P would still mostly stick to its program, for which the voters voted.
Can you imagine a reasonably large group of politicians to move from R to D or vice versa, and not lose the voices of their electorate?
Well, that process happens in the voter base, not the groups of elected representatives as it does in Europe. Basically an american "party" has to represent interests (at least with lip service as is often the case) of its constituent groups or lose that portion of the voter base, so majority votes for the two parties changes if the interests of the people themselves change, this happens on a state by state as well as a district by district basis. One thing this system prevents that does happen in European style democracies is no confidence and breaking of those coalitions, which cannot happen between elections in the US like it can in many other countries.
They are private corporations that stifle other choices through various means. Further, those two have nearly complete regulatory capture of . . . you name it. Anti-trust (or RICO) might apply but where would the political will be for that?
compromise has largely absent for 10-20 years now, both parties are in the trend - but it was definitely started by Republicans going back to the 90s under Gingrich, the Tea Party in the 2010s, and most recently Trumpism
the incentives of the system reward trying to gain control of the system by demonstrating how the party in power failed - then compromise and give the party in power points
This has more to do with worldwide propaganda and less to do with changes in the US in particular, and with regard to changes, it probably has a lot more to do with post 9/11 military activity and demographic changes in ally countries than any one particular president or leadership. Also keep in mind their national pride and the propensity for Canadians and Europeans to shit on America as often as they can, which they have been doing for a century or longer.
The US has a lot of problems and has had a lot of problems for a long time. The country might not be capable of overcoming some of them, and that also might not be something new. But, going by the strict definition of democracy, it has never been a good model for democracy, by design. The US is a dictatorship of laws, a dictatorship where the dictators are dead. Maybe it was a good champion of liberty for a long time and faltering more brazenly in that role as of the last couple of decades, but that's not the same thing as being a model for democracy.
That is good, as we are a model of good Federalist Republic.
The continued attempts to make the U.S. a national democracy is an ongoing problem, we need and should revert many of the "democratic" elements that have been put into our system, such as repealing the 17th amendment, we should more limit the power and scope of the federal government reversing bad Supreme Court Rulings such as Wickard v filburn which expended the power of the federal government far beyond what is should be, we should also expand the size of the House (using the Wyoming Rule) there by limiting the power of any one representative person. We should also make the House a 4 year term Elected with a 2 year offset of the president.
And Ofcourse we should be using Instant Runoff / Ranked Choice voting not First past the post.
You're completely missing the point here and the federalist republic argument has always been a terrible one to defend this complete deafness when people criticize the US' democracy. It's like a dictatorship saying they're simply a one party system.
This is hilarious. You literally only read the word democracy and started with the "federalist republic" nonsense without reading any further, which is exactly why you completely missed the point with your post.
The problem is: we're not a 'model' of a republic. We've set aside many of those values in favor of a different and incompatible set, some democratic and many authoritarian.
We have professional police, slavery dressed up as prisons, fiat currency, income taxes, a standing army, no meaningful access to trial by jury for most people in most situations, closed borders, rampant eminent domain to build freeways... it's hard to recognize this state as any serious resemblance to a properly functioning republic.
But I think your overall point, and suggestions, are basically sound and, hopefully, the kind of direction we'll take increasingly seriously as our current state falters.
I'm not who you're replying to but strictly speaking "republic" simply means a government based on rules, technically every democracy is a type of republic. But the US system is a republic very different from a democracy, with democratic institutions but also rules and institutions that cannot be changed democratically and many non democratic processes.
To understand how the US government works it is very similar to the UK under Oliver Cromwell prior to the attempted creation of the third house, it was basically modeled after that period of UK government.
I think the OP is trying to get at the relationship between the constituent States the make up the United States and the Federal government.
Personally I like the idea of devolving authority away from the Federal side and towards the States but honestly it's a giant rat hole that mixes power politics (something Americans do well enough with) and history (something that Americans do not do so well with).
In any case more centralized or less centralized is the work of decades not years so I would hope no one is holding their breath in any direction.
> republic implies strong federalism and democratic does not
This is, in essence, a substantial portion of what is asserted in The Federalist Papers, an 85-part series of letters and treatises written and distributed in 1788 by three proponents of adoption of the US Constitution.
I see, thanks a lot. As far as I could read in the few minutes, the Federalists were opposed to identity theory, Rousseau's idea of direct democracy without political parties, whereas the Federalists were pluralists, like Kant and Aristoteles. IOW, this is not about the current meaning of democracy (as almost all current democracies are both pluralist and federalist, though of course to varying degrees).
Newsweek, a heavily biased media website whose corporation was bought by a millionaire stereo mogul for just exactly $1.00 as a birthday gift for his wife, a former Democratic congresswoman, so she can use it as a yellow journalistic web rag. #caring
I'm a brit, we're not doing much better than the US. But no one really takes the US seriously as a democracy.
Partly for the reason you yourself give: propoganda and fake news. Partly because the US system is just such a mess (the senate has so much power and seems designed to be antidemocratic for a start). Trump and Jan 6th are just the icing on the cake.
>>> (the senate has so much power and seems designed to be antidemocratic for a start).
That is because it is.... and that is a GOOD thing
The Senate is designed to be the State's (i.e the state governments) representative in the federal government, We are a union of 50 independent states, people seem to forget that. it is the United *States* of America, The House of Representatives is the People i.e the citizens chamber, and the Senate is the States chamber of government
it was not until 1913 that Senators were elected by voters, before then State legislators appointed the Senators and IMO we should return to that model
I think we're mostly in agreement: the senate is NOT a democratic institution. Whether it should be or not is another matter.
Fyi, I'd say the senate is more like a house of Lords. Before it was required to be elected it was routinely bought by the richest interests in a state. It represented the interests of the Uber rich. Again, not a judgment just an observation...
The senate is rather like the House of Lords 200 years ago. Many countries have pseudo-democratic or undemocratic upper houses, but they’ve generally been neutered to some extent over time. The US hasn’t done this (no Parliament act, say).
> We are a union of 50 independent states, people seem to forget that.
We haven't forgotten it because it's not the case: First, the Constitution's opening words are "We, the People of the United States," NOT "The States of the United States ...." Second, the issue was conclusively settled at Appomattox and with the ensuing enactments of the 14th and 15th Amendments.
> The Senate is designed to be the State's (i.e the state governments) representative in the federal government
In the modern era that might still be viable if the Senate's power were only to veto enactments by the House, perhaps by a supermajority vote — and with that veto power being waived after X days — instead of what it is now, i.e., a roadblock even for popular House bills. The old "cooling saucer" notion seems outdated.
That would not be proper English nor make any sense linguistically.
If you believe that the Founders thought the States were not independent, and sovereign in their own right then you clearly have not read the Federalist Papers. Take a close look at Federalist 17 as an example
If the States were not separate but equal, i.e the foundational principle of our style of governance, then why call the nation the United *States*, why not just call it America or some other name all together
No the founders clearly believed the States should not be servant to the Federal Government, nor should the Federal Government be servant to individual state governments.
>>Second, the issue was conclusively settled at Appomattox and with the ensuing enactments of the 14th and 15th Amendments.
I disagree that it was conclusively settled, nor do I agree that application of the federal constitution to the states by default makes the states Subservient vassals of the federal government
Further last I check the passage of an Amendment requires the ratification of said amendment by 3/4 of States thus proving they are in fact not vassals as if they were then their consent would not be needed.
>In the modern era that might still be viable if the Senate's power were only to veto enactments by the House, perhaps by a supermajority vote
That does not make any sense historically, legislatively or logically. Having a chamber that can only act in the negative would be a pointless chamber of government.
Bills should be assumed to be Bad and at every level require affirmation.
Your process of legislative review makes about as much sense as a criminal system on the principle of Guilty until Proven innocent.
Laws should be hard to pass, laws should be extremely hard to pass, and federal laws should be almost impossible to pass ensuring the federal government does very little and most governance is done at the local level where it should be done.
In general the government that governs the least, governs the best, and this is quadruple true for a Federal Government
So your entire response boils down to sexist misandry combined with and appeal to authority fallacy and/or credentialism...
>>The whole reason the Framers wrote the Constitution was that the Articles of Confederation were based on the "governs least" principle, and that didn't work out too well.
Well had been alive in that time, I would have been an Anti-Federalist, The Anti-Federalist have been proven right in their fears of what the Federal Government would become, and Madison has been proven wrong time and time again.
However it is complete mischaracterization to proclaim that the Article of Confederation was either a "governs least" document, or collapsed because of it.
The Article of Confederation collapsed not because the federal government governed too little, but rather there was no actual separation of powers between the States and the Federal Government. The purpose of the Constitution was that the States (and the people) would enumerate limited powers to the exclusive domain of the new Federal Government (foreign Trade being one of them, and national defense) but all others would be reserved to the people and the States. Creating a Separate but Equal government, not a superior government
The Articles of Confederation the Confederacy could not enter in to any trade deals with other nations or pay any obligations because it had no actual authority to act on behalf of the states.
The idea that is because it need to "govern more" at that State level is simply false, and Historically ignorant.
> And state legislators appointing senators would make them a lot more visible and make state elections more important.
At the very least, it's debatable whether a state legislature's (hypothesized) collective power to appoint U.S. senators would be an especially-salient consideration for voters in individual legislative races. Quaere whether any light might be shed by data available from before adoption of the 17th Amendment.