Americans are losing confidence in their democracy, with many believing that its future hinges on a complete reform of the system. According to a new Pew Research Center poll, 65 percent of Americans agree that the country’s democratic political structure needs to undergo significant changes or be fully overhauled in order to survive. This demonstrates the critical need for democratic reforms to make our democracy more equitable and efficient.
They should work to make substantial improvements to our electoral system that enable unaffiliated candidates to participate in the democratic process. This can be achieved by enacting ranked choice voting and modifying the rules for presidential debates. They should take action on redistricting to make the system more balanced.
They can also create new laws that do not disenfranchise moderate voters to further level the playing field. More primaries generate safe seats as a result of gerrymandering, bolstering extreme candidates in low turnout primaries attended by mostly extreme voters. This system makes bipartisanship more challenging in the Senate and stresses the value of maintaining the filibuster.
Indeed, the Supreme Court’s latest silence on the Commission on Presidential Debates’ rules demonstrates why Americans believe that democracy’s future depends on significant reforms. The Supreme Court has declined to consider the appeal to the panel’s onerous rules, which make it virtually impossible for third-party and independent candidates to run for president.
Candidates must receive 15% support in national polls in September of an election year to be deemed eligible to participate in the fall debates, according to the panel. This barrier is insurmountable for any candidate who does not have the backing of a major political party. The same threshold is an unsolvable paradox, since third-party candidates lack major-party support to begin with, and there is no way to hit 15% in national polls without voters watching them in real time.
Not only is it undemocratic to block too many unaffiliated candidates from engaging in debates, and in turn the political narrative, but it also goes directly against the will of the people. Polls about the topic consistently show that most Americans, especially from the younger generations, want to observe more unaffiliated politicians seek office and win.
They need to change their electoral system in addition to reforming presidential debates. The new “first past the post” method has hollowed out the political middle by encouraging extremist candidates to win primaries. Parties aren’t compelled to find ideas that have widespread public support. Parties are pushed to do whatever it takes to preserve influence and collect funds. This explains why, according to a Pew Research Center poll, six out of ten Americans think the Republican and Democratic parties are “too extreme in their positions.”
In an election, ranked choice voting is a much more democratic method that requires voters to rank candidates in order of preference. Unaffiliated candidates have a fighting chance, and the results are more centrist, representing the opinions of the majority of Americans. Reforms in redistricting are also needed. Legislatures around the country are redrawing maps to ensure that the party in power in the state government retains more seats. Americans should choose their leaders, not the other way around, and changes are required to end gerrymandering that is unbalanced.
It’s also crucial to follow the laws that promote bipartisanship. The filibuster is a crucial mechanism for ensuring a degree of bipartisanship in the legislative process, and removing it will eliminate the crucial phase of negotiation. Given how lacking bipartisanship is today, retaining the filibuster has undoubtedly never been more relevant, when major legislation is passed with minimal support by reconciliation.
This was the case with the $2 trillion coronavirus bill, and it would almost definitely be the case with the $3 trillion infrastructure package. Both bills include provisions that have not been reviewed or taken into account in a vital bipartisan manner. Direct payments are likely to be valued as a stimulus by the majority of Americans. However, there have been no debates or attempts to find a consensus, and few Americans are likely to be aware of all of the clauses.
The current system provides no stable options or plurality of ideas, which is why more unaffiliated candidates are desired by younger voters around the country. To make our democracy genuinely by and for the people, they must act on these democratic and electoral changes while preserving the rules that promote bipartisanship.