No it's true. Party line votes have increased from approximately 60% in the 1970s to around 90% today.
You know what other change occurred right about that same time? The implementation of the two track rule in the Senate, and shortly afterward (mid 1970s), reducing the cloture vote from 2/3rds of the Senate to 3/5ths. What these changes did was make it easier for a minority party to sustain a filibuster on any specific piece of legislation. It no longer stopped other business, and you didn't have to get more than a small number of folks "on the other side" to end these filibusters, so the need to write legislation that reaches across the aisle was reduced.
The result is that the parties themselves have become more polarized, the legislation they write is more partisan. Specifically because they can be so. This is clearly not a feature of whether we use direct or proportional representation, since that didn't change over this time period. Filibuster rules did. You want fewer party line votes, and less partisan parties, and less partisan legislation? Make the filibuster stronger. I know it sounds counter intuitive, but that really would fix the issue.
By adding additional voting blocks to the mix, yes. There's no reason we need to rely on people having to jump ship to support a party that's the polar opposite of their own just to have a decent amount of dissent.
Except that nationally, the percentage of each party doesn't change that much from cycle to cycle. The same can be said for smaller parties which would now presumably gain more national seats. So while you'd shake things up a bit initially, over time, you'll still have polarization and party line votes. It's not like the 22 members of the house in the Green party in this hypothetical future, representing the 5% of voters who voted Green, are going to chose to vote anyway other than in accordance with the Green Party platform. If anything, I'd argue that by increasing the number of third party members into the mix, you'll have *more* partisan voting, since right now any given Dem or GOP rep may represent a wide swath of positions on various issues important to the party, but to varying degrees. Smaller parties tend to be super focused on a smaller number of issue. A representative from a smaller party is going to be very much about what his party stands for. If his positions are slightly different, he'll go join (or form) a party that perfectly matches those positions (or those his constituents want). Right now, a Democrat elected from a district with a large military base, is likely going to vote differently on funding for military bases than the norm of his party. In your scenario, he'd be replaced with a guy from a different smaller party and that seat will become more aligned with a party than it was before.
Now in terms of voting coalitions to achieve a majority, your point is valid. I suppose it depends on how we define "partisan". Although you used the term "party line voting", which is not quite the same thing. I'd argue that having more smaller parties will increase the amount of party line voting among the representative body, precisely because there's more granularity in the parties themselves. Again though, we can call this a semantic difference.
]The point is that the two cases are close enough that it doesn't matter much. Other than a few minor cases of dissent, made at the risk of alienating the party as a whole, there's very little of this happening. I appreciate that you went through the trouble of pulling up cases of dissent, but those are becoming increasing rare, and much less relevant than they were 50 years ago.
Again though, I don't think that has to do with how we elect representatives, so changing how we elect representatives isn't the way to fix it.
Right, but 33%-40% of them are primarily concerned that they have the D or R in font of the name. If you aren't willing to change your vote from one party to the other (and many people consistently vote for one party of the other) than does it even matter if the person is representing "you?" At that point there's no need to tailor the person to the district's culture at all, you only need them to be less offensive than the opposing side.
It matters a lot. That one person, right there, is beholden to the voters in his district. And in most districts, a shift of a few percent of voters will make the difference to holding or losing that seat. It's also not just about shifting votes, but voter attendance. Ironically, not having mandatory voting allows for a high degree of party loyalty voting, while still allowing for personal like dislike to affect the outcome in a district. So yes, when people vote, they vote along party lines, but the same percentage of voters in each party aren't going to show up and vote each time.
Dunno. I just don't see the problem you're trying to solve here.
You know, if you could at least try to find a source for this claim it'd make this whole discussion a lot easier.
I think that somewhere near 99% of voters like that system.
I'm not going to be some nutjob and demand proof of everything you say in a friendly forum debate, but this one kind of stymies discussion a bit.
Purely anecdotal and speculative on my part. I'm pretty sure that if you asked any group of people if they want to be able to vote directly for the person who represents their US congressional district, or would prefer that person to be selected by a political party based on say national proportional vote and some system of seat assignment, a very very high percentage of them would prefer the current system. Again though, despite me asking you multiple times what exact method of proportional representation you are proposing, you haven't actually described it to me, so I can only speculate. But if we were going to something like a closed list method (voters don't vote on the "who" in the list, just for the party, which then selects which members on their list sit in which seats, after the fact, based on their proportion of votes), I would not be surprised if 99% of folks here in the US would respond with something ranging from bewilderment at why you'd ever do something like that, to straight up outrage, followed up with "This is why we have the 2nd amendment".
If you have a more modest proportional representation proposal, which you think more people would be ok with, then tell me what it is. Right now, I'm guessing.
So at worst it's exactly the same as now, where we don't know how much average income, education level, wears white after labor day, geographical differences, police jurisdictions, etc. affected the outcome. All we know is that people who are acting in their own self-interest made those decisions maybe using some of what's above, and maybe not, behind closed doors. Except we're trying to do it in the open, in a way the fairly represents both parties, instead of favoring one over the other to an unnecessary degree.
That's the point (the bolded bit). We know who made the decision. My point is that the vast majority of people will never know the exact process used to make the decision, how it was weighted, calculated, etc, much less even understand it, no matter how "open" and "transparent" it is. What really matters is knowing who made a decision and whether the population likes or dislikes the result of that decision. How the sausage is made is less important than whether it tastes good. And if it does not taste good, who do I blame for this?
We can reward or punish political parties and their elected members, because we have the power to vote. What is our recourse if the "fair and non-partisan" process results in something we don't like? We don't really have one, right?
That's a problem. It may be non-partisan. It may be fair. It may even be "better". But it's not remotely democratic. I think that things that are political in nature should be subject to political processes. And that means that the voters have some reasonably direct say on things. Either by directly voting, or by voting in or out representatives who made the decisions. For all its flaws, redistricting by the party in power preserves this. Any other method does not.
In the end you put in place objective criteria to determine when it's gone too far. Which is what the supreme court is weighing in on right now. Having a metric to determine if the districts are drawn fairly is half the battle.
Again. Who writes the metrics? Who decides what is "fair"? I say, let the voters decide if they like or dislike the results, and give them the power to vote for/against the party that created that result.
Thus we need to make sure there's sufficient ability to transition between those in power, and cycle new groups into the mix. Perhaps think of it this way: Trump is the first real outsider to be in office in generations, and while I may disagree with his policies, having some 'fresh blood' in the politics is good for the country. How do we make the system more amenable to people like him getting elected?
I think the parties do have shakeups like this from time to time. I'm going to put on my partisan hat for a bit here, but we've seen two relative decent shifts in the GOP over the last 50 years or so. People forget that when Reagan showed up on the scene he was blasted as being an outsider to the party, wasn't a "true conservative", etc, etc. Today, we think of the GOP as being pretty much defined by his politics, especially in terms of economics and foreign policy. It's hard to say at this point if Trump will be that sort of change as well. I suspect so. He represents a further shift away from social conservative positions, and even more focus on small government economics, focus on foreign policy, etc, etc. Reagan needed the religious right block to win majorities, but Trump has figured out that blue collar workers can fill in that gap (and that frankly, he doesn't need the religious right nearly as much as they need him). So he focuses on jobs and gains votes. It's all the economy for him.
And if that remains the same, and if the current economic figures are any indicator, the guy will win re-election in a freaking landslide in 2020. I could be wrong though.
On the Dem side? I don't know if there's been much changes. They've been moving steadily in a direction for that same period of time. Honestly, I think they've just become more and more obsessed with their social justice agenda, and while that worked for them in the 60s and 70s, has resulted in a steady decline ever since. I suspect that this will hit a tipping point for them in the next decade or two, and will force a change in their party. What that will be, I have no clue. But right now, they desperately need to clear the old guard out and get some fresh blood in there. The aging 60s era activists who are running things today are not working for them IMO.
Edited, Jan 19th 2018 4:37pm by gbaji