I’ve often argued on this board that a multiparty political system would be better for America than the two-party system we have almost always (in different formations) had, and that our winner-take-all single-member-district electoral system naturally produces. We could have a multiparty system if we adopted proportional representation, instant-runoff voting (or similar alternatives, some polynerds argue over the details there), and electoral fusion.
Now, at this point many moderate/centrist Americans might object, “But wouldn’t that empower the extremists?!” :eek:
Well, yes, it would; but, the center would rule, and more firmly than it does not.
Run this thought experiment: We institute pro-multipartisan reforms, and the main two big-tent political parties respond to that pressure and break up along their natural fault lines. The left wing of the Democrats splits off and merges with the Green Party, and the Working Families Party, etc., to form one big new left-progressive party. The right wing of the GOP, the Tea Party wing, splits off and merges with the Constitution Party and the America First Party to form one big new RW-conservative party. And the remainders of the Democratic and Republican parties merge.
So, now we have a three-party system: The Lefty-Hippie Commie Treehugging Moonbat Party; the Bigoted Pig-Ignorant Troglodyte Right-Wingnut Party; and the Squishy-Spineless Wishy-Washy Centrist Moderate Mugwump Party. (And, these will be the official names.) And we will assume that in a given legislature (Congress, state, city council) each of these has roughly 30% of the seats (the others going to smaller parties that did not merge with others, such as the Libertarians and the Socialists). And we will assume reasonable party discipline and ideological homogeneity in all three, in the sense that most representatives in a given party’s caucus will vote the same way and defend the same positions most of the time.
In this lineup . . . the Mugwumps rule. They are not a majority, but they hold the balance of power by their position. Because there is no majority party, no bill ever gets passed, no thing ever gets done, unless at least two parties support it. And the Moonbats and the Wingnuts will hardly ever agree on anything. Therefore no bill ever will pass unless the Mugwumps support it. They will be in a position to vote with the Moonbats on this issue or the Wingnuts on that issue as it pleases them, and in a position to control all compromise-negotiations from the center. (Remember, we don’t have a parliamentary system, so transparty coalitions do not have to be enduring or general, but can be issue-specific.) Unlike in our present system, where the Dems and the Pubs are always fighting over the center while at the same time being pulled away from it by their far-wings, sending the balance of power wobbling back and forth like crazy, sometimes.
OTOH, and again unlike in our present system, the extremists will always have a real voice, and can’t complain they’re being frozen out. They can stand up and defend their ideas in their own terms on the floor and in committees and on C-SPAN – and sometimes, not often but sometimes, they will succeed in talking the Mugwumps and/or a majority of the public around to their way of thinking, or at least into experimenting with it.
It all makes for a steady course of fully informed moderation, a much more intelligent body politic that always considers all options. A permanently broad, wide Overton Window with a definite center.
Of course, there are many other possible formations into which a post-PR party system might shake out, but they are all center-seeking for the same mechanical reasons.
Most of the world’s democracies post-WWII have PR and multiparty systems, and none has yet gone communist or fascist as a result.