Members of the United States House of Representatives have been elected by district for centuries, but it’s time to make the switch to party-list proportional representation. Electing members proportionally would make gerrymandering impossible, help third parties, and better represent the American People.
Proportional Representation Would End Gerrymandering
Gerrymandering is when a state intentionally draws its congressional districts to benefit one party. A court forced North Carolina to redraw their map a few years ago, and Maryland’s districts are grotesque and deformed.
Under proportional representation, there would be no districts to gerrymander; instead, members would be apportioned according to the vote in each state. This would mean Republicans in Maryland and Democrats in North Carolina would be a lot better represented.
It Would Help Third Parties
Under the current system: third parties rarely win, because voters are afraid they would split the vote and allow the major party candidate they dislike the most to win with a mere plurality.
Proportional representation, however, isn’t winner take all, meaning voters can support their favorite parties without worry — especially if we use a system like proportional favorability voting, which I discussed the merits of in my last article.
If we went with PFV: voters would get to weigh in on every candidate, making any kind of vote-splitting impossible.
What About Independents?
Critics may claim that proportional representation will make it impossible to run as an Independent, since you only get to vote for a political party. This is not the case, since Independents can run under a non-partisan list — or even a list with just their name on it.
This would actually result in more Independents being elected, since voters won’t be afraid of splitting the vote.
It Would Better Represent the American People
Under the current system, we only have two parties: the Democrats and the Republicans, who only represent the moderate left and the moderate right. Libertarians, Progressives, Paleo-conservatives, and Paternalistic Conservatives are largely unrepresented.
Since third parties and Independents will be elected more frequently under proportional representation, the American People will be much better represented. Furthermore, political parties would be forced to co-operate and build coalitions to get anything passed.
It Won’t Take Power Away from the States
A criticism of proportional representation is that it’ll take power away from the states and give it to the federal government. This is untrue, as we can simply allocate seats to each state like we do now, and allocate those to political parties based upon the percent of the vote they got in that state.
Furthermore, I ain’t proposing any changes to the Senate, which is the chamber that actually represents the states.
What About Small Communities?
A claimed benefit of using districts to elect House members is that they ensure small communities get representation, rather than just the state at-large.
The is not the case, since first-past-the-post ensures politicians stay corrupt, bending over backwards for their donors at the expense of their constituents. Proportional representation would be a step towards returning power to the people, as third parties win seats and corrupt incumbents lose the protection of the spoiler effect.
Abolishing House districts would mean every politician would represent their entire state, which may seem like a bad thing, but five members of the House ran unopposed in 2020, getting 100% of the vote — indicating their districts are too small to attract enough candidates.
Furthermore, small communities can create their own lists! For example: the Jefferson List could include candidates that support state-hood for Jefferson (a region of northern California and southern Oregon).
Some communities, like Southern Blacks, will be much better represented without gerrymandering disenfranchising them.
Switching from district-based representation to proportional representation will abolish gerrymandering, help Independents and third parties, and better represent the American People. It won’t take power away from the states or disenfranchise small communities.
With redistricting on the horizon, I hope my fellow Americans will realize the need for proportional representation. We can’t continue supporting an electoral system that systemically creates a corrupt, two-party system — we have to try new ideas to fix our dying democracy!