A lot of what we do is describing and explaining problems: political conflicts, protests, wars. The Atlantic Sentinel tries to help readers understand the news better, often by looking back and placing events in an historical or international context. But sometimes we have ideas to improve things. You’ll find those stories under better democracy.
This weekend’s federal government shutdown — despite Republicans controlling both houses of Congress as well as the presidency — is further proof that the system is broken.
Extreme partisanship, polarization, the politicization of the judiciary, government-by-crisis, legislators’ inability to tackle major issues like entitlement reform and Congress’ unwillingness to execute its proper spending and war-declaration powers all argue for an overhaul of the American political system.
Lee fears it will take an even bigger crisis before Americans accept the need for change.
I believe that to shrink the culture gap in Western democracies — between generally well-educated “globalists” and those who feel left behind — we need a new social compact.
The twentieth century’s was built on strong trade unions, lifetime employment and health and pension benefits tied to salaried jobs. The economy, and people’s expectations, have changed in such a way that this is no longer sustainable. But we haven’t come up with a replacement yet.
Polls show that Americans under the age of 35 are more sympathetic to big government than their elders. Democrats have a 48-point advantage among millennial voters, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey.
That is not so surprising when you realize that their generation may be the first in a long time that is worse off than their parents’.
On average, he writes, Americans under the age of 35:
Have 300 percent more student debt than their parents;
Are half as likely to own homes as young people were in the 1970s; and
Will probably have to work until they’re 75.
The stereotype of the overqualified liberal arts graduate working as a barista is only half-correct. Many young Americans are struggling to find high-paying jobs despite having spent tens — sometimes hundreds — of thousands of dollars on their education. Less known is that one in five young adults live in poverty. Read more “Why Millennials Are More Sympathetic to Big Government”
Democrats could win 54 percent of the votes in next year’s congressional elections and still fall short of a majority.
G. Elliott Morris reports for Decision Desk HQ that because Democrats are clustered in America’s cities and face harsh gerrymanders, they aren’t likely to win a proportionate share of the seats.
We can debate at length whether this is unfair or by design, but that discussion isn’t changing Republican minds.
Advocates of a more proportional system should try two different arguments:
Politics should not be reduced to two options. There is no major party for Americans who are economically as well as socially liberal (“libertarian”). Nor was there, until recently, a party for nativists. Republicans are turning into one, but that will leave conservative internationalists on the outside.
Proportional representation would discourage regional factionalism. Jason Willick argues in The American Interest that if one region of the country drifts too far from another politically, and the minority region is out of power at the federal level, that could set the stage for secession or civil war. At a time when political violence in the United States is rising, it’s not hard to understand the perils of balkanized political coalitions. Read more “Two Arguments for a More Proportional Voting System”
Joseph Heath, a professor at the University of Toronto, sees five reasons why Canada has been more successful at integrating migrants than Europe and the United States:
Very little illegal immigration. This helps explain the difference in attitudes with the United States but not with Western Europe, where illegal immigration is also low.
A political system that encourages moderation. I think this has more to do with political culture than the system. Heath argues that first-past-the-post makes it difficult for nativists to prevail. Parties need to appeal to the center. But it doesn’t stop nativists from influencing the mainstream right, as they did in the United Kingdom. To stem defections to UKIP that could split the right-wing vote and allow Labour to sneak into first place, the Conservatives felt they had to become more insular. And clearly in a two-party system, like America’s, nativists can come out on top.
Immigrants are part of larger nation-building project. Immigrants ended up strengthening Canadians’ sense of nationhood because, unlike the First Nations, Westerners and Quebecers, they embraced national symbols. Persuasive, but it’s hard to see how other countries could mimic this.
Protection of majority culture clear from the start. This is rooted in Canada’s unique history but could be a lesson to others. Heath argues that the need to appease Quebecers led to equal cultural and language protections for the English and French, as a result of which the majority felt unthreatened by newcomers.
Bringing people in from all over. I think this is the key. There is no “majority minority” in Canada. Heath reports that, in a typical year, no group makes up more than 15 percent of the total number of immigrants. Hence no parallel societies could emerge in Canada, like the predominantly Muslim banlieues of Paris, immigrant-heavy neighborhoods in Amsterdam and Latino districts in major cities across the United States. Their existence hinders assimilation and makes visible the threat immigrants pose to the dominant culture. Read more “Immigration Lessons from Canada”
The 2016 election was a turning point in American history. Cultural, political and regional differences have become so vast that the American political system is becoming unsustainable. There are two fundamentally different visions of what this country should be and the current federal system does not allow these differences to be reconciled.
For these reasons, I am proposing a new political system that would transform the United States of America into the United Republics of America.