Dual party governance? Would this work?

While discussing the mess in congress today, a friend and myself came to the conclusion that looking generally at the political spectrum in America the country is pretty evenly divided. While in the strictest sense the majority is being represented, the minority is not exactly marginal.

Let’s leave aside actual plausibility of instituting this idea and discuss the political mechanics of it instead:

I propose that each state have a dual position governance and representation that must come to consensus on all decisions. That’s right, they only get one joint vote. Instead of the usual election, we would instead cast two ballots. One for the candidate we prefer for the “Conservative” side and one for the “Liberal”. ( feel free to replace those terms with whatever you like, Dem Pub, etc…) These co-governors, senators, etc, would have to make a joint decision on all the major issues that would arise during their terms. I think that this would ensure that more moderate candidates get elected to the seats, and that by extension, more moderate and balanced legislation would be passed.

It would utterly defeat the idea of having the elected representatives represent the preferences of the populace. Suppose that 80% of the states are completely liberal. Blue as blue can be. Exactly one republican in each state, one in the entire state. That one republican? Equal voice in congress to the rest of the populace of the state. 80% (or thereabouts) of the national population democrat? They only get 50% control of the country, regardless.

The only people this would “work” for is a defeated and dying party, who would be legislated to keep control out of proportion to their popular support.

25% of eligible voters self-identify as Republicans. That sounds pretty marginal to me.

Can you think of any examples in which opposing ideologies are routinely required to achieve consensus in order to act, and that arrangement is a success?

Any businesses? Local governments? Marriages?

I’d like to see more non-partisan positions. Works for judges, many mayors and city council members. Why not sheriff and dog catcher and state representative?

Maybe that’s too specific. I wasn’t suggesting that we draw this directly along party lines. Any third party or non partisan could run for either slot.

Some. I know of a few businesses that have co-chairs that have to agree on a course of action. My thought would be that rather than having diametrically opposing candidates, such a system would reward moderacy on both sides, leading to a more level balance of ideas.

Not to be too aggressive here, but what does this actually mean? The political spectrum is pretty evenly divided, depsite those pesky polls and elections saying otherwise?

I think that we were going off of a report on the president’s approval rating being somewhere near 50%. This was a rather loose exchange of ideas. I’m not defending this idea, merely putting it out for debate.

I think that it’s fair to say that a given percentage is not exactly the same thing over greater magnitudes. A small town of 100 means that only 20 people might not like the direction it goes. over a million it’s 200 thousand. Over the 300 some million of the US that’s 60 million people. 60 mill is more than the populations of many countries. Is it a truly fair representation of the people?

This reads to me sort of like an argument against national governance. I mean, I don’t care who you’re talking about; nazis, polygamists, left-handed sheep herders - in a big enough country, there is always going to be a heck of a lot of them in absolute numbers.

And what does this mean? Well, it depends on the distribution. If in every single town, there are exactly 1% of the population of type X, then they’re negligible. They’re a fringe. We can ignore them with impunity - and they know it, and may even accept it, if they’re average people. On the other hand, if 1% of cities are entirely composed of poplulations of type X, and everywhere else has none, then you’re going to have a lot of people looking around and seeing that everyone’s like them (everyone they know, anyway) - yet those other guys are telling them what to do! No representation! No fair! Even the average person might get disgruntled.

This can be addressed pretty good by pushing for states’ rights; if rules may vary by region then this problem pretty much disappears. The dual party governerance plan proposed here, on the other hand, dismisses actual demographic differences, both regionally and nationally. And sure, this might sound like good news to people in a region that favors a dying party ('sure, we have to elect a damn dem, but *all *those other blue states have to elect one of our ‘pubs, ha ha!’), but it’s still detaching their preferences from their representation, to the detriment of the majority of people (by definition!).

Incidentally, I also don’t see any reason to think it will make them more moderate. Until just recently, dems and 'pubs have been pretty equal, representationwise. I mean, give or take a little. Did that make them friends?

No it didn’t. My thought was that by truly opening the process of candidate selection to the general public, the eventual candidates would reflect a broader view. For example, a conservative candidate that completely opposes abortion would have a hard time garnering enough votes from the left, and a Liberal who is in favor of completely eliminating handgun ownership would have a lot of fierce opposition from the right. So when you go to look at your ballot, each person can choose one candidate who best reflects their interests, and one who is the most palatable from the other side. Eventually this would reward moderate positions over extremists. Lefties would select for a liberal republican, and republicans a conservative dem.

Hmm. The first thing I thought of upon reading this was ‘stealth canidates’ - you’d get a guy who is actually conservative running as a liberal. But then I thought, that position is still going to get voted for by everyone, so if there are more liberals, a stealth candidate would lose, because the minority’s vote will be stomped on. And you’d also get the most liberal possible conservative, because the liberals would win that vote too.

So I think you’re half right - the minority party would get the most moderate possible representative of their party - assuming they didn’t just get stuck with a ‘stealth’ candidate that the other side votes in for them. But the majority party has no reason to play nice - they can just vote in whoever they would have got with the single-representative system. With first-past-the-post voting, there’s no reason for them to compromise. In fact, since they have to vote in a guy for the other side too anyway, they might go more with their their-party vote to compensate.

So, at best, you’d get an extreme liberal and a moderate conservative working together, or vice versa. (At worst you’d get two extreme liberals or vice versa, one wearing the wrong ‘hat’.) I don’t see this as being particularly helpful - and of course I still strongly object to disconecting representation from the populace demographic even further than the two-party first-past-the-post system already does.

I never thought of bait and switch candidates, good point.

So can you elect third parties to the extra slot too? If so, what’s to stop say… someone forming the ‘democrats lite’ party which the democrats officially endorse and which echos their opinions on everything and they end up taking both slots anyway? Or perhaps worse, some sort of extreme left-wing communist party wins (or religious fundamentalists to go with the republicans) which would make it even MORE partisan then ever?

Or do you exclude third parties and officially enshrine the two-party system, furthermore making republicans and democrats the official state sponsored parties and removing the chance of small parties from winning local elections and the minor chance of winning anything major?

The first won’t change anything, or will only make it worse. The second will put the republican and democratic parties in charge of the country rather then the people.

Nothing more than what stops them from getting elected now. They are small and fringe. I would assume that a given candidate would fall somewhere along the political spectrum and could be placed into the “right” or “left” column. Those who are so out there that they don’t fall along a traditional line could run in a third column. Nothing stops people from writing in votes now you know

You get to pick one from column A and one from B, not both from one side. Theoretically i suppose one could choose both candidates from a third party column, but I doubt very much that any two such fringe candidates would be able to function together or garner enough votes to win.

If you can write in a third party, you can write in a stealth candidate. Openly. “Vote Cheney for the Democratic President” on Fox News, and all that.

Again, this will only help the majority party, since the minority’s finangling would simply be steamrolled by the majority vote. Much more of this and I’ll be certain that this model doesn’t solve the problem it sets out to.

I was envisioning their placement being determined by their platform, not by a candidate’s statement or voter will. So Cheney would be firmly in the “right” column, and only available there. The WORST thing that would happen is that you could theoretically get a candidate who doesn’t run for office get enough popular votes to mess up an election. You can’t get elected if you don’t run. That get;s into run off voting I suppose. Next most popular who actually RAN assumes the position.

Right, this is exactly what I mean. Instead of voting for a democrat and a republican everyone votes for democrat and the officially endorsed ‘democrat lite’ party (or the other way around). At best, it makes everything more complicated without actually fixing anything.

Also, minority parties don’t have a realistic chance now precisely because everyone only has one vote. People are more likely to vote democrat then communist or green or whatever because first the democrats have a much better chance to win and second they might agree with them more overall. If you had a spare vote (that you were ‘supposed’ to use for a republican :rolleyes:) you might just be more inclined to vote for the extremist party with it.

Can you, or can’t you, write in a candidate? If you can, then Cheney simply doesn’t officially run, in either column. (Well, not officially - he might get voted in anyway, if the campaign to get him into the opposed side’s slot is strong enough.)

Now I’m trying to picture what would happen if you had a Nader - one serious candidate from the one side, and two from the other*. The side with one guy gets him in, of course…and on the other side, the non-nader gets in. Well, at least you wouldn’t get minority candidates putting in the least liked candidate by messing up the majority candidate, but then there are better ways to fix that particular problem than this.

  • You do realize that if there’s only one guy in each column, which is quite possible and nearly normal at some levels, then the vote itself would be a complete sham?

It seems to me that at best it would result in paralysis, and often let the more rabid side dictate what actually gets passed simply by holding the government hostage. “Vote for the plan we like, with no compromise whatsoever or we’ll simply keep refusing to let anything at all pass until you do or everything falls apart.” The Republicans are fond of that sort of thing, so I expect your plan would amount to handing over the government to the Republicans.