Representation for all

Single party rule is anathema to freedom and individual liberty, and almost everyone on any side of the political spectrum would tend to agree, and thus point to our current electoral system and process as “see, we’re not a single party state, you can vote for Team Red or Team Blue”. The problem with this becomes apparent as soon as you see what either of the two party Duopoly gets up to when they control both executive and the legislatures of either the US government or a state government – they make decisions and legislation with no input from the other party, and basically rule by decree. At best you end up with a situation where one or two marginal members of the party revolt and hold the party hostage until their demands are met.

In other words, you have single party rule, with at best a small number of oligarchs making the decisions while the other party is completely excluded.

Alternating single party rule is not a healthy form of government, nor is periods of partisan Gridlock where neither side will work on any substantive legislation for fear of giving up a chance at Single Party Rule in the next cycle. In the process, most of America is disenfranchised – not just the partisans of the side, but every American who disagrees with the two major parties and never gets a hearing and never gets a seat at the table.

The good news, though, is that this is neither inevitable nor even normal among the developed world – true multiparty democracy is the norm in almost all of Europe and in most democracies around the world as well. In Europe, on average there are five parties that hold double digit numbers of seats in the lower houses, and almost all governments are coalitions of smaller parties cooperating for a particular goal. Even opposition proposed legislation sometimes gets through despite the wishes of the largest party, because of side deals and cross-partisan issue coalitions that form. Not only are there multiple major parties, but dozens of smaller parties with one or two members in the legislature exist, all with the power of voting and speaking on legislation. And this isn’t a new phenomenon; this has been the norm in Europe for the entirety of the post-world-war period in most cases.

The way to get there is fairly simple, too – allow parties to be on ballots, and then based on the percentage of the vote they receive, they get representation. And some places manage to keep both single member districts and maintain proportionality, via top-up seats (in the case of Germany). By this manner, having either a single vote or two votes (individual person plus a party vote) yields geographic accountability as well as a legislature that represents the ideological and partisan makeup of the electorate.

The best news is that this is possible in Virginia, too – there is no Federal requirement for single member plurality districts being the sole determinant of representation, nor is there a requirement for onerous ballot access laws. The commonwealth could end ballot access issues overnight with a single vote, and could amend the constitution to allow for extra seats to be added based on the popular vote to help ensure proportionality. Imagine that – a time where your vote is counted for actual representation even if you don’t vote for the winner in a two-party race!

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