View Poll Results: Would this system work?

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  • Yes, it would work better than our current system.

    6 66.67%
  • Possibly, with some improvements.

    2 22.22%
  • No, this system has fatal flaws.

    1 11.11%
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Thread: Proportional representation

  1. #1
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    Proportional representation

    In the United States, Congress' approval rating hovers around 10%, yet we all know that the vast majority of incumbent congresspeople will be reelected. Why is this? Because everyone loves THEIR representative, and thinks that the problem lies with everyone ELSE'S representative. To combat this problem, I suggest a system of proportional representation. I've been looking into how other countries operate their proportional representation systems...and none of them work quite the way my idea does. So I'm asking the good people of DebatePolitics to help me figure out the flaws in this system, why it wouldn't work, or (if it's salvageable) how it could be fixed. Here's how it would work:

    The United States is divided into 435 congressional districts. On Election Day, voters would get to cast two votes: One for their district's representative, and one for which party should control the House of Representatives. The nationwide vote totals for which party should control the House are then counted. For this example, assume that the Democrats get 47% of the nationwide vote, Republicans get 43%, Libertarians get 5%, Greens get 2%, Constitutionalists get 2%, and Socialists get 1%.

    Only parties which meet a 5% threshold would be eligible for congressional seats. This is to prevent fragmentation and extremism. Parties which do not meet the threshold are excluded, and the proportions are rebalanced among the remaining parties to determine how many seats each party gets. So in this example, Democrats would get 49.5% of the seats, Republicans would get 45.3%, and Libertarians would get 5.2%.

    Which specific representatives would get to take office? That's where the local representative voting comes into play. The candidates from each eligible party are ranked, in order of their margin of victory. So if there were five congressional districts where the Democrat ran unopposed (and therefore received 100% of the vote), those representatives would be the first to be awarded a seat. We then continue awarding seats to the Democrat with the next-highest margin of victory, until all of the seats to which Democrats are entitled have been taken.

    Note that this system does not guarantee that the candidate with the most votes in any specific district will be elected. For example, if Rob the Republican narrowly edges out Dave the Democrat (49.5%-49.3%) in a certain district, but the Democrats have already seated all of their members who received a plurality in their district (i.e. had a margin of victory greater than 0%) and are still entitled to additional seats, Dave will be elected from that district! Similarly, if the Republicans seated their last member with a 0.8% margin of victory and are not entitled to any additional seats, Rob will not be entitled to a seat despite "winning" the district.

    The advantages that I see are that it would be much more representative of the overall will of the people nationwide, while still preserving the right of the people to choose their individual representatives instead of merely choosing a slate of candidates from a political party. The disadvantage is that in a few districts in which the election is very close, the candidate who receives the 2nd-most votes might actually "win" and get a seat in Congress while the candidate with the most votes would "lose" and not get a seat.

    What do you guys think? Are there additional drawbacks or benefits that I'm missing? Do the drawbacks outweigh the benefits? I'm interested in what YOU think, not what some dudes in wigs thought 200 years ago.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Proportional representation

    I think your idea is poppycock. A congressional district votes for a candidate but those votes are thrown out by the majority of voters outside that district.....why even have a vote? Why do liberals hate the Constitution?
    I love the smell of burning moonbat in the morning.

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    Re: Proportional representation

    Quote Originally Posted by conservativeguy View Post
    I think your idea is poppycock. A congressional district votes for a candidate but those votes are thrown out by the majority of voters outside that district.....why even have a vote? Why do liberals hate the Constitution?
    your first sentence makes no sense. Your second is pure BS. This has nothing to do with the Constitution. Really love how those who claim to love the Constitution the most fail to actually read or comprehend it.
    Last edited by StillBallin75; 04-02-12 at 10:44 PM.
    Nobody who wins a war indulges in a bifurcated definition of victory. War is a political act; victory and defeat have meaning only in political terms. A country incapable of achieving its political objectives at an acceptable cost is losing the war, regardless of battlefield events.

    Bifurcating victory (e.g. winning militarily, losing politically) is a useful salve for defeated armies. The "stab in the back" narrative helped take the sting out of failure for German generals after WWI and their American counterparts after Vietnam.

    All the same, it's nonsense. To paraphrase Vince Lombardi, show me a political loser, and I'll show you a loser.
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    Re: Proportional representation

    One flaw is that a group of people in whatever district can legitimately claim to have no representation, depending on how the math works out.

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    Re: Proportional representation

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    One flaw is that a group of people in whatever district can legitimately claim to have no representation, depending on how the math works out.
    The same happens in our current electoral system.
    Nobody who wins a war indulges in a bifurcated definition of victory. War is a political act; victory and defeat have meaning only in political terms. A country incapable of achieving its political objectives at an acceptable cost is losing the war, regardless of battlefield events.

    Bifurcating victory (e.g. winning militarily, losing politically) is a useful salve for defeated armies. The "stab in the back" narrative helped take the sting out of failure for German generals after WWI and their American counterparts after Vietnam.

    All the same, it's nonsense. To paraphrase Vince Lombardi, show me a political loser, and I'll show you a loser.
    - Colonel Paul Yingling

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    Re: Proportional representation

    Quote Originally Posted by StillBallin75 View Post
    The same happens in our current electoral system.
    I mean in this case, a whole district. I should have been more clear.

  7. #7
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    Re: Proportional representation

    One comment I have is that I don't see the 5% threshold as necessary. Even if you have some extremist party gain, say, one seat, I don't see that as that big of a deal.
    Nobody who wins a war indulges in a bifurcated definition of victory. War is a political act; victory and defeat have meaning only in political terms. A country incapable of achieving its political objectives at an acceptable cost is losing the war, regardless of battlefield events.

    Bifurcating victory (e.g. winning militarily, losing politically) is a useful salve for defeated armies. The "stab in the back" narrative helped take the sting out of failure for German generals after WWI and their American counterparts after Vietnam.

    All the same, it's nonsense. To paraphrase Vince Lombardi, show me a political loser, and I'll show you a loser.
    - Colonel Paul Yingling

  8. #8
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    Re: Proportional representation

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    I mean in this case, a whole district. I should have been more clear.
    I see what you're saying now. You make a good point. That's probably the biggest flaw with the system that I can see right now.

    Edit: however, if I tried to have a system that had both PR and congressional districts, Kandahar's idea is probably how I would go about implementing it.
    Last edited by StillBallin75; 04-02-12 at 11:04 PM.
    Nobody who wins a war indulges in a bifurcated definition of victory. War is a political act; victory and defeat have meaning only in political terms. A country incapable of achieving its political objectives at an acceptable cost is losing the war, regardless of battlefield events.

    Bifurcating victory (e.g. winning militarily, losing politically) is a useful salve for defeated armies. The "stab in the back" narrative helped take the sting out of failure for German generals after WWI and their American counterparts after Vietnam.

    All the same, it's nonsense. To paraphrase Vince Lombardi, show me a political loser, and I'll show you a loser.
    - Colonel Paul Yingling

  9. #9
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    Re: Proportional representation

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    I mean in this case, a whole district. I should have been more clear.
    Yep - that's the biggest hangup right there. Where do those 5% seats come from? - because you know full well if the whole country only ranks 5% then any one district isn't going to be even close to a majority. Probably the best you could hope for in any one district would be 10-20% and you've got to come up with 21 of them. That leaves a lot of people out in the cold.

    And what happens if it's one of the smaller districts like DC or ME or NH where there are darn few seats already?
    Last edited by MoSurveyor; 04-03-12 at 09:13 AM.
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  10. #10
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    Re: Proportional representation

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    In the United States, Congress' approval rating hovers around 10%, yet we all know that the vast majority of incumbent congresspeople will be reelected. Why is this? Because everyone loves THEIR representative, and thinks that the problem lies with everyone ELSE'S representative. To combat this problem, I suggest a system of proportional representation. I've been looking into how other countries operate their proportional representation systems...and none of them work quite the way my idea does. So I'm asking the good people of DebatePolitics to help me figure out the flaws in this system, why it wouldn't work, or (if it's salvageable) how it could be fixed. Here's how it would work:
    The problem are politically ignorant voters.Not people who do not think their representative stinks. There are people who pay little to no attention to politics and usually on participate only in the federal elections.The spend their days watching American idol, stupid reality shows, sports and other things instead of paying attention to what their elected officials. This is why I think the get out vote campaigns are damaging.

    Regardless of how much or little someone pays attention to politics everyone has issues they are for and against. So I think the solution is to ban party affiliations on ballots and underneath the candidate's name should be a short list of issues a candidate is for and against and if applicable a short list of issues the candidate has voted for or against.On the voting booth there should be a more thorough list of issues and past votes. In busy polling places there should be booklets on issues and past votes that can be passed out to waiting voters. This would eliminate people ignorantly voting for someone based purely on party.
    "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murder is less to fear"

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