The Washington Post published an article today that looks at how the polarization of our political system in the United States might be addressed. Anyone who has been paying any attention to politics in the last 10-15 years knows that we are living in a highly divided political time. It certainly feels to most people that something is very broken in our political system; and that is a shame.
I have shared here previously that I am wide-eyed idealist who believes that working within the political system can bring about social change. I believe in representative democracy and abhor citizen initiatives which, in my experience, usually turn into a battle over which side has the most money with which to buy ad space or TV time.
In my day job, I have been doing state level policy work for more than a decade. I live in a state, Colorado, which has term limits, frequent citizen initiatives which have absolutely tied the hands of the legislature when it comes to budgetary issues, and a balanced budget amendment.
I appreciate the attempt by the authors of the Article in the Washington Post to dispel the myth that making these types of changes at the federal level would fix the polarization of our political system. Many people think that these types of changes are quick fixes, but our experience in Colorado has shown otherwise.
In a nutshell, the article dispels the myth that these changes will reduce polarization in Congress:
- A third party candidate
- Term limits
- A balanced budget amendment
- Public financing of campaigns
The article lays out some common sense solutions that the authors feel could make a difference, including:
- Realistic campaign finance reform
- Changing redistricting rules
- Filibuster reform
- Requiring people to vote
While I don’t agree with all of the assertions in this article, especially the requirement that all people vote or risk being fined which I have seen fail miserably in countries like Argentina, this is a good start to a conversation that is desperately needed in this country.
The problem is that the dominant paradigm in our current political system does not promote these types of reforms or even encourage their consideration by Congress.
What do you think? Do you think that the general public could force Congress to consider these types of reforms if we demanded it loudly enough? What would that look like? Do you see ideas that you agree with or disagree with in terms of the ideas for reform presented in this article? What do you think is missing in this list? How do you think we could get more people to engage in the political process, given the uphill battle to reduce partisanship in Congress? What other thoughts would you like to share?
I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks so much for reading!