My wife recently read Itʼs Even Worse Than It Looks by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein. This book takes a critical and historical look at the current polarization of political parties in the USA and how we got to this point.

The first part of the book is analysis of the current political situation and how we got here. The second part is a series of ideas for political reform to get us out of the current situation. I think most of these are common sense and ought to appeal to most people. My wife put together a summary of their reform ideas, which follows.

Note: The authors refer to the Republican Party as an outlier party, because it has moved well outside the American mainstream.

Expand the Vote

 1. Mandatory voting

a. “Reflect more accurately the sentiments and orientations of the broader citizenry.”

2.  Modernize registration

a. Burden on government to prove ineligibility

b. Automated; voters can take records with them when they move

3.  Saturday voting (24 hr period — noon Sat to noon Sun)

4.  Open primaries

5.  Any voter ID requirements should be free of cost, including supporting paperwork

6.  Separate federal ballot to eliminate local ballot issues, such as hanging chads, etc.

7.  Redistricting reform

a. End gerrymandering; employ non-partisan committees

b. Open primaries

Reform funding

1.  Enforce existing donor disclosure laws and separation of funding groups from candidates

2.  Reform leadership PACs which allow politicians to give money to each other

3.  Prohibit lobbyist contributions; either donate or lobby, but not both

Restore Majority Rule to Senate

1. Filibuster reform

a. Limit filibusters to one per bill

b.  Put burden on minority, not majority

(1) 3/5ths of Senators present, or require 41 votes to continue debate rather than 60 to end it

(2) divide the 30 hours of debate into 15 for majority and 15 for minority; majority will probably waive debate, which will reduce delay to 15 hours

(3) require filibusters to hold the floor

2.  Expedite the confirmation process


Navigating the Current Situation

1.  Restore public shame

2.  Recreate a Public Space; I.e., independent funding for public media, etc

3.  Create a Shadow Congress

a. Former and other political personalities

b. To debate issues from differing points of view without denigrating opponents positions

4.  Rein in the insurgent outlier party (GOP)

a. Pundits speaking truth to power

b. Presidential leadership

(1) call extremists and obstructionist out

(2) no negotiating for hostages

c. Media

(1) help readers/viewers recognize and understand asymmetric polarization

(2) fact checking within articles and presentations

(3) speak truth (i.e., not Senate didn’t approve a bill, but minority filibustered bill)

(4) clarify voter choices by looking at how candidates would govern

d. Voters

(1) punish outlier party by voting against it

(2) promote and demand respect for opposing viewpoints

(3) challenge legitimacy of Senate filibusters – backlash against obstructionism

(4) beware of spoiler independent parties which dilute mainstream voices

What do you think?