Michael Meyer-Resende of Democracy Reporting International argues for Carnegie Europe that applying the term “illiberal democracy” or “majoritarianism” to the politics of Hungary and Poland is a misnomer. The ruling parties there are not undermining democracy — by taking control of the (state) media, stacking the courts and rewriting election laws — for the sake of the majority, but rather to maintain their own power. Read more
This post is going to be a little less structured than usual. Please bear with me as I try to connect the dots between three recent stories. Read more
Lyman Stone writes in The American Interest that in both Germany and the United States (and I imagine in other Western democracies too, but I only know for sure about the Netherlands), men are more likely to vote for the far right than women. Middle-aged men in particular.
Stone volunteers various explanations:
- Changes in the global economy have systematically disfavored historically male-dominated industries.
- Men are more likely to take a protective or defensive view of nationhood.
- Men are pulled toward more radical politics of many varieties and just happen to be ticked off at their former political home.
Stone also finds that support for Germany’s Alternative was lower in those parts of the former East Germany that were Prussian before communism and highest in Saxony, a state with a long history of radical politics.
“Radicalism, the appeal of revolutionary protest politics, is less about coherent policy platforms,” he argues, “and more about the appeal of mob, tribe and movement.” Read more
Dylan Matthews cautions in Vox that ending the Trump presidency will not fix, or even substantially ameliorate, most of the problems plaguing the American political system.
They were mounting for years before he took office — indeed, they made him possible — and they will continue to plague us for years after he leaves.
Matthews shares some of my ideas for fixing American democracy, including abolishing the Electoral College and moving toward proportional representation. He also suggests eliminating midterm elections and introducing public financing for elections.
Don’t tell conservatives, but what we’re talking about is making the United States more like a European democracy.
Are any of these reforms likely to happen? No. But even one or two would make a big difference. Read more
Scott Lemieux sees two problems with ending the two-party system in the United States:
- It would split the Democratic coalition and do nothing to remedy conservative overrepresentation in the House and especially the Senate.
- What do you do about presidential elections?
A Voice Of the People poll has found (PDF) majority support in the United States for introducing ranked-choice voting.
Also known as instant runoff, it would allow Americans to vote for third-party candidates without wasting their votes. Maine is the first state to consider it.
Another way to break up the Democratic-Republican duopoly would be to consolidate congressional districts.
I would support either. The two-party system has polarized Americans. We see in Europe that multiparty democracies are better at managing tensions. Read more
Will Wilkinson of the libertarian Niskanen Center tells The Washington Post that expanding affordable housing in America’s major cities is the key to reducing inequality.
Wages have barely budged in decades, yet housing costs have soared due to restrictive zoning and land-use policies. Young and working Americans are now unable to save. Homeowners are getting richer.
Kevin D. Williamson, a conservative columnist who was recently hired and then fired by The Atlantic for his right-wing views (more on that here), has similarly argued in National Review that working-class Americans left behind in the Rust Belt need to move to the coasts. He partly blames them for staying put, but recognizes that policy plays a role.
Consider California, where so many of the jobs in the new economy are. Its housing crisis (you can buy a private island or a castle in Europe for the price of a San Francisco apartment) is entirely man-made, “a result of extraordinarily restrictive zoning and environmental codes and epic NIMBYism of a uniquely Californian variety.”
A Republican Party wishing to renew its prospects in California (which it once dominated) or in American cities could — and should — make affordable housing the centerpiece of its agenda for the cities.