In Defense of Multiparty Democracy

The point of switching to a multiparty system is not to benefit any one party.

Scale model of the United States Capitol
Scale model of the United States Capitol (Andy Castro)

Scott Lemieux sees two problems with ending the two-party system in the United States:

  1. It would split the Democratic coalition and do nothing to remedy conservative overrepresentation in the House and especially the Senate.
  2. What do you do about presidential elections?

As somebody who believes strongly in multiparty democracy (read my case for constitutional reform), let me respond.

  1. The point of switching to a multiparty system is not to benefit any one party, but to decrease polarization and make it easier for parties to do deals. To accomplish it, America could consolidate congressional districts or introduce ranked-choice voting. Either would help offset built-in advantages for rural areas, which tend to vote conservative.
  2. You can’t switch to a multiparty system without thoroughly reforming the way America votes, so Lemieux’ fear that every presidential election would need to be decided by the House of Representatives betrays a lack of imagination. French-style runoffs are a good solution.

I know — none of this seems very likely. But who is happy with the way American politics work today?