Parliamentary system and rank choice voting are more fair, inclusive and stable than 2-party primaries and general elections in US Democracy.
Part One, I listed seven forces as the “problems” that caused the Capitol Insurrection. In Part Two I hope to provide a forum for sharing and exchanging YOUR thoughts and ideas, after I share some of mine and others’. I don’t have all the solutions. I don’t know enough and I doubt anyone does. All I hope is to stimulate us to think from multiple points of view, and participate and contribute to a healthy debate for a better democracy and a more perfect union.
Two possible solutions for the “Snakehead #1” – 30 years of polarizing partisanship collapsing into a dead end; and the “Snakehead #6” – The gridlocked and broken government
The answers may be in a parliamentary system, and/or the “rank choice voting” to improve our existing election process in the US.
The dead end of ”us vs. them” extreme partisanship made it possible for Trump to give people the false choice between trusting our institutional democracy, or trusting a president’s PERSONAL power and his claims about the election being “stolen”. This is a wake up call about how dangerously close we can come towards authoritarianism.
A true democracy for the well being of CITIZENS and the PUBLIC, as opposed to serving only money and power, should NOT be a winner-takes-all self-looping cycle. Is there any democracy with multi-party representatives where diverse and minority voices are heard, rather than yo-yo swinging between just two parties? – YES, a parliamentary system like in Germany, France, UK, Japan and other democracies provides a voice for minority voices, and therefore is more stable. It took the horror of the Nazis’ Third Reich hijacking democracy into the nightmare of Hitler’s authoritarianism for Germany to develop their parliamentary democracy. If we don’t learn from history, history will repeat itself. If we are willing to be open minded enough to learn from other models of democracy, they are out there, now. We really don’t have to lose our democracy before we seriously improve our system.
No doubt, it will take a long time to transform the American polarizing two-party system into a parliamentary system. In the interim, there is a fair and ingenious PROCEDURAL way to use our existing two-party system to avoid the partisanship deadend: the “Final Five Voting” and the “Rank Choice Voting”, as advocated in the book The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy, by Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor.
This is how it works, brilliantly:
Under this new voting procedure, instead of two parties holding two primaries for electing state and federal legislators, there will be just ONE open, single-ballot, nonpartisan primary for either state or federal election, in which the top-five candidates qualify for the general elections. Ranked-choice voting means that voters rank their candidates one through five.
If one candidate wins 50% or more votes, that candidate is the winner.
If no candidate gets 50% votes, drop the 5th place candidate off the ballot, but keep the second-choice votes of those who voted for the now dropped-off 5th-place candidate, and allocate these second-choice votes to the other four candidates and see who among the remaining four receives at least 50%. If one of the remaining four now gets 50% thanks to the second-choice votes added from the dropped-off 5th place candidate, a winner emerges. This is like a pretend run-off.
But if there is STILL no majority winner among the remaining four, – no one gets 50% of the votes, take the 4th place candidate off the ballot, and repeat the same run-off among the top three candidates by adding the second-choice votes for the newly dropped-off 4th-place candidate to the total amounts of votes already received by the top three candidates, in hope that one of these three will get the 50% or more majority votes. Otherwise, drop the 3rd-place candidate off the ballot and hold yet another run-off among the top two candidates by applying the second-choice candidates for the third, newly dropped-off candidates to the last two remaining top two candidates. Whoever gets 50% or more votes among the final two candidates, wins.
This voting system would provide elections, especially Congressional races with a level playing field for centrists, third parties, and independents. This system provides a more fair, better represented, more diverse pool of lawmakers and politicians who are not extreme versions of only two parties, thus alleviating the gridlock and one-party-hating-the-other entrenched standoff.
I have summarized these five thoughts of mine as the premises for the above new “rank choice voting” system:
(a) extreme partisanship harms our country and democracy.
(b) an election, primary or general, is more fair when more diverse and higher numbers of voters participate.
(c) extreme partisanship prevents getting legislation passed. A centrist majority from all parties leads to bi-partisanship legislation.
(d) the primary election for either Democrat or Republican parties leaves out any chance for independent candidates. Further, since a large portion of voters of any party do NOT participate in the primaries, either party’s primaries highly likely produce extreme versions of either party or populists.
(e) this system reduces the special interests’ control over election results with their large donations.
The “Final Five Voting” and the “Rank Choice Voting” will be more fair, simpler, and better represented, and will minimize the vicious and destructive extreme partisanship we’ve been experiencing.
Disclaimer: I have not read the book yet; I urge those interested to read it. The above was my understanding and my own supplemental thoughts based on an article about this book: “How to Break Up the Two-Party Duopoly”, by Arnold Kling https://www.econlib.org/library/Columns/y2021/Klingduopoly.html
Possible solutions to “Snakehead #2” – the out of control social media
Facebook, Google, Twitter and tech giants have way too much monopoly or oligopoly power over the kind of information, disinformation, and misinformation everyone gets, and over our institutional democracy. Every day, their hidden algorithms influence us with the kinds of information available to us, and unwanted ads forced upon the public. Private data of all citizens are used, misused, and sold for the gains of these monopolies.
The only power above these monopolies is the US federal government’s antitrust law. Will the Biden Administration have the audacity to grab the bull by the horn in protecting our national security, our privacy, our democratic institutions, and our country’s unity against their unfettered powers, without jeopardizing our first amendment right? AND without killing the golden goose, the backbone of our tech-driven economy? – It is not easy but it must be done since national security and unity is at stake.
Possible solutions to “Snakehead #3” – A president who is a pathological narcissist and self-serving demagogue
Trump’s presidency is by divide-and-conquer, pitting one part of the country against the other, and liberating dark forces for his own power. Trumpism is not vanishing overnight. It will take time before the dust settles. For those who take our democracy for granted, I urge you to read about Joseph Stalin’s Great Purge of 1937 in the former Soviet Union where people turned on each other, even their own families, and millions were killed. Or read about China under Mao’s communist regime and the Cultural Revolution, where citizens were mobilized to persecute one another–tens or perhaps hundreds of millions of people died, merely 50 and 60 years ago. A similar event happened just about 40 years ago in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. And don’t forget the 6 million Jews that died in the hands of the state machine in World War II.
When Americans are led to choose between trusting our democratic voting system, or trusting a president’s personal claims, “a house cannot stand if divided within,” as Abraham Lincoln said. Either we stand by democracy, or not.
Possible solutions for “Snakehead #4” – Systemic racism
Embracing and celebrating our diversity and everyone-is-equal-under-the-law is the very essence of our democracy, our values and ideals. As long as we hold this truth to be self evident, AND worth fighting for, that all men are created equal, racism and racial injustice have no place in what America stands for.
The Biden Administration has a golden opportunity to reform the immigration law that will keep supplying fresh blood for American innovation with talents from all corners of the world. Trump said: “Don’t come here anymore. We are full.” The day when America closes its welcoming door is the day when America will decline, if not already. We will lose global leadership in technology, arts, and humanity when we stop being an immigrant country. We are where we are because America is attracting the best talent from around the world.
Possible solutions for “Snakehead #5” – Decades of Decline in Mass Education
Had we spent a portion of our huge military budget on improving the public education system, we would not have the embarrassment of those bizzare Q followers, the blind faith pawns storming the Capitol, and the believers of all kinds of far-fetched conspiracy theories on social media.
A nation with an expanding population of uneducated and armed masses is a time bomb in and of itself. Education does not have instant gratification and immediate short term results to show in 4 years, or 8 years, but it is the prerequisite for a functioning democracy. Who bears the responsibility to educate youth instead of sending them to either the military, or to the streets, or to prisons? America has the largest incarcerated population among all industrialized nations. I hope someday that America will have the greatest number of college educated youth in the world. Why isn’t it a reality, or even a possibility?
Possible solutions for “Snakehead #7” – COVID-19 and an economic crisis
Just like public education has been neglected for far too long, the public health in America has been ignored, contrasted with cutting edge cancer treatment technology. The pandemic has exposed many healthcare systemic problems and the lack of preparedness for public health crises.
Printing money to help Americans paying their bills is the last but necessary REACTIVE measure, which has negative economic repercussions down the road.
Can Washington come together to formulate PROACTIVE plans and playbooks for dealing with all future pandemics, so that we do not ever repeat the same loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, ever again? So that we can nip it in the bud before it grows out of control? Many countries are doing way better than us in handling COVID-19; can Washington learn from our painful and humiliating failures, and absorb other countries’ success?
Again, I don’t have all the answers. Can we count on our federal government to do their job in protecting us? Can we come together to revive America and keep the American Dream alive f or ourselves and for our children?
What do you think? Please leave thoughts, comments, and contribute to the discussion. Thank you.
About the author
Joanne Tan is the founder and CEO of 10 Plus Brand, Inc., a full service, multi-media branding and brand-marketing agency. She is a brand strategist, brand builder, and marketing consultant leading teams of professionals to decode brand DNA, create brand structure, strategies and stories, and amplify brands digitally with AI enabled content marketing and digital marketing. 10 Plus Brand, Inc. partners with world experts in influencer marketing, digital marketing, and other renowned marketing leaders.
© Joanne Tan, edited by Susan Olson, David Leskin, 2021, all rights reserved.
(For more related information about social media’s role in social catastrophe and as monopolies, here are the latest as of 1/30/2021:
“Behind a Secret Deal Between Google and Facebook”
“Google, Facebook, Twitter and Social Media: what rules do they play by?”
“Tim Cook May Have Just Ended Facebook”
“Apple’s Tim Cook Rails Against Social Media’s Ties To Political Violence”
The CEO implied that platforms like Facebook and Twitter had prioritized conspiracy theories due to their “high rates of engagement.” By Curtis M. Wong