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.