The United States should revise its power structure and electoral system(美国宜修改权力结构与选举制度 英文版) (2023)

The Chinese version of this article has been published on "New Threads" and "Independent Chinese PEN"



(This article is translated by Google, not human translation, so there may be some inaccuracies and fallacies in the sentences, but the overall meaning should be able to express clearly)

Recently, the results of the US midterm elections were announced. Unlike the "big victory" expected by the Republican Party before the election, the Democratic Party successfully retained control of the Senate, while the Republican Party won control of the House of Representatives, but the number of seats and relative advantage was far lower than expected. In the election, many Republican candidates close to Trump lost the election, which was also regarded by many as the decline of the right-wing populist forces represented by Trump.

Such a result made progressives and establishment people cheer, thinking that this is the ebb of populism and the return of democracy. The Democrats in the United States are even more encouraged by this, believing that the 2024 general election will easily defeat Trump or other Republican candidates, and seize the majority of Congress and control executive and legislative power.

Although the author has always been a supporter of progressivism and the standpoint of the establishment, I do not fully agree with the above views. On the contrary, I am very worried about such cognition and optimism.

First of all, the "victory" of the Democratic Party in this election is not obvious. Although the performance of the Democratic Party was significantly better than expected, after all, it lost the House of Representatives, and the Senate only had a slight advantage. According to the House of Representatives election vote rate that has been basically counted, the Republican Party won 222 seats with 50.8% of the vote, significantly higher than the Democrats' 47.6% vote rate and 213 seats. In the election for the most critical seat in the Senate (that is, the Nevada federal senator election), the Democratic candidate narrowly won by only 0.5%, and only then did he narrowly secure control of the Senate.

Therefore, it is very reluctant to say that the Democratic Party has "victory" in this midterm election, and it is obviously an exaggeration of the facts. If you look at the vote ratio, in the 2016 general election, Hillary won 48.2%: 46.1% of the popular vote than Trump (but lost due to the Electoral College system). Compared with the 49.1% (241 seats) : 48.0% (194 seats) vote ratio between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party in the 2016 U.S. House of Representatives election, the Republican Party’s vote rate in the House of Representatives election this year has increased, and the average support rate for each seat is more solid. . Even taking into account the easy victory of the opposition party in the mid-term elections, the performance of the Republican Party is not too bad.

Second, although Trump and the right-wing populist forces he represented have suffered setbacks in this election, they still play an important role in the Republican Party and even American society. It is true that some Senate and House candidates and gubernatorial candidates supported by Trump lost the election, but there are still many pro-Trump people elected, including many congressmen and gubernatorial candidates who believe that "there is fraud in the 2020 election." Moreover, Trump's relative loss of power is mainly due to the rise of another political star of the Republican Party, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, rather than the weakness of the entire Republican Party and populist forces. DeSantis's populism is not as clear as Trump's, but he is also a populist politician. His anti-abortion rights, anti-uniform civic education, anti-environmental protection, anti-gun control, anti-LGBT rights and other political propositions, It is not much different from the position of the right-wing populist forces who support Trump.

Many observers believe that "Trump has become the "negative equity" of the Republican Party" and "the Republican Party will abandon Trump", which is an underestimation of Trump's influence and a misjudgment of the conservative populist forces in the United States. Although Trump seems to be less popular recently, he is still the most competitive candidate for the Republican Party in the 2024 presidential election, and he is also the best at mobilizing lower-middle-class white people to support the Republican Party. What's more, the Republican House of Representatives vote rate in this mid-term election is higher than the 2016 House of Representatives election and presidential election. Before the 2016 general election, the mainstream media and professional scholars generally underestimated Trump, and now it seems that he has not learned his lesson and will repeat the same mistakes. Moreover, even if Trump is no longer favored by the Republican Party, conservative populist forces can choose another "Trump not Trump" populist figure to pursue the presidency, and DeSantis is a typical example.

Looking at the total votes won in the presidential elections and congressional elections in the United States over the past two decades, the difference between the total votes won by the Democratic Party and the Republican Party is basically within 10%, sometimes not more than 2.5% (such as in 2000, 2004, 2016 U.S. presidential election; 2000 U.S. Senate election; 2000, 2012, 2016 U.S. House of Representatives election). Moreover, since the U.S. presidential and congressional elections are held in districts and "winner takes all", the outcome of the entire election is often determined by the outcome of several states and dozens of electoral districts in which the election is stalemate.

Moreover, because the United States implements a presidential system of government and a two-party political party system, even if a candidate elected by one party wins the presidency with a small majority, he can order and prohibit, or even do whatever he wants; Can dominate that chamber or both chambers, forming a landslide advantage over the other party with slightly fewer seats.

To some extent, this means that the "swing voters" in key states and constituencies that account for no more than 5% of the total number of voters in the United States, as well as some extreme left or right voters who have extreme views and are "up for sale", often determine the The fate of all America. This makes the election full of thrills and surprises, and the uncertainty is extremely strong (this is also one of the reasons why the polls have repeatedly predicted wrongly, because the gap is too small, and the predicted errors are actually within the reasonable error range). The winner of the presidential election can monopolize executive power, the winner of the Senate election can monopolize personnel power, the winner of the House of Representatives can monopolize legislative power, and the comprehensive confrontation between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party in terms of values ​​and interests makes the election a zero-sum game.

The ugly phenomena that have occurred in the American political arena and even the entire country in recent years, such as ideological polarization, unscrupulous political struggles, serious social divisions, the rise of extreme populist forces, the proliferation of fake news and political violence, are all related to the above-mentioned political system and The electoral system is extremely relevant.

Due to the "winner takes all" election model and power distribution structure, both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party regard victory in various important elections, especially the presidential election, as the most important goal, regardless of the minimum moral bottom line and political rules. Among them, the Republican Party is relatively more unscrupulous, electing Trump who has lied at least tens of thousands of times to run for president, manufacturing or allowing the spread of various self-interested fake news, violating the human rights of other groups in order to please Christian evangelical fundamentalists and other conservative believers, violating Political conventions force the election of justices on the eve of the end of the presidential term, and incite supporters to violently attack Congress, etc., are all bad acts that lose integrity, ignore political conventions, and undermine social tolerance.

In the United States, the "separation of powers" system of power checks and balances has also changed from mutual restraint to blending and destruction. For example, when the Republican Party dominated the presidency and the Senate from 2016 to 2020, they forcibly appointed two controversial conservative judges, Kavanaugh and Barrett, as Supreme Court justices, trying to completely monopolize the executive, legislative, and judicial powers. . After the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives in 2018, they also comprehensively blocked the policies of Trump and the Republican administration. After Biden was elected president in 2020 and the Democrats took control of both houses of the Senate, they tried their best to overthrow Trump's various policies. According to the predictions of all parties, after the Republican Party takes control of the Senate this year, it will also completely block Biden's governance.

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Today, among the 9 justices of the Supreme Court, 6 are conservative justices. In addition to belonging to the moderate conservatives (sometimes they also stand on the liberal side, such as playing a key role in the legalization of same-sex marriage. Roberts, and the other five tend to be extremely conservative. Their various judgments and interpretations are not intended to check and balance the president and Congress, but to hinder the normal administration of the Democratic government, and to forcefully implement anti-abortion, anti-environmental protection, and anti-affirmative rights in spite of the majority of public opinion. This policy has caused serious damage to the national and national interests of the United States. This runs counter to the spirit of the Supreme Court and the U.S. judicial system to uphold the rule of law and defend human rights, and it also undermines the practice of power exercise under the "separation of powers" that checks and balances each other, but often compromises and cooperates.

In the United States, the political party system of the two-party system rather than the multi-party system has exacerbated political antagonism. Although there are many political parties in the United States, the Democratic and Republican parties have almost completely monopolized political power, and others, such as the Green Party and the Libertarian Party, have extremely limited influence. This is not only related to the political culture and historical traditions of the United States, but also to political systems such as electoral mechanisms. Under the two-party system, the vast majority of people can only choose one party to take sides, and the United States has gradually formed a clear political opposition between the two parties. The two parties, which are evenly matched, used to rely on pleasing middle voters to gain support, but in recent years, both parties, especially the Republican Party, have become more inclined to satisfy voters with extreme positions, in order to encourage far-right voters who "hold their own votes" to actively vote.

For example, there are more and more socialist and even communist voters in the Democratic Party, and Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016 was related to the boycott of the election by people with these positions who believed that Hillary was “not progressive enough”. And Trump won because his ideas are very consistent with the extreme and relatively marginal groups such as ultra-conservative Christian evangelical fundamentalists, extreme liberals, international isolationists or hegemonists, and conspiracy theorists. The appeal has inspired these groups to vote actively, and successfully won electoral votes in several states where the elections were deadlocked. And the Democratic Party has also elected congressmen like Alexandria Cortez who hold a democratic socialist stance. This is also quite a breakthrough in the United States, which is strongly hostile to communism and wary of socialism. The change. Although extremist forces belong to the relatively marginal forces in the United States, they play the role of the "key minority" and "kingmaker" in the fierce two-party competition, especially in the election.

Therefore, the two parties, especially the Republican party, do not hesitate to abandon relatively moderate policies and advocate extreme ideas in order to stimulate the voting enthusiasm of extreme forces. This has led to a more radical political stance of the two parties as a whole, vying to please extreme voters. The Republican Party is relatively worse. The mainstream moderates did not fully agree with the views of the extreme right conservative populist forces, and they do not like heterogeneous political figures like Trump. However, in the face of the high support rate of the Democratic Party among young people, the rise of the radical left and its influence on the Democratic Party's policies, and the steady retreat of the conservatives since the Obama era, the female politicians represented by Hillary and the huge momentum of feminism , and in this form, the strong impact on the Christian beliefs and family structures that are highly respected in American society have made the conservative Republican Party feel more anxious and in crisis. If it loses in 2016, the Republican Party will become weaker and weaker. After losing the election, not only will it lose its executive power completely, but its control of Congress will also be in jeopardy. At that time, the conservative Justice Scalia of the Supreme Court passed away. If the new president is a Democrat, he will inevitably appoint a liberal justice to take over. The Supreme Court will also be controlled by the liberals, and the conservatives will lose all three powers.

It is difficult to accept such a complete failure of mainstream moderates in the Republican Party. In order to defend their values ​​and interests and block progressive forces, they have to choose to please the extreme conservatives and support Trump, who is full of lies but can break the "shackles" of the "political correctness" of the Democratic Party. , Unscrupulous in the election campaign, trying to give it a go. As a result, the moderate mainstream faction of the Republican Party was kidnapped by the extremist faction as a tributary (of course, it can also be regarded as the former's use of the latter), and the former had to follow the latter's various unreasonable, extreme, and harmful claims to the interests of vulnerable groups. With the support of a critical minority, the Democratic Party wins the presidential and congressional elections by defeating evenly supported (or slightly better) Democrats.

Even so, Hillary won more popular votes in the 2016 election, but the Electoral College helped the Republican Party. Some voters who originally thought that Hillary would win voted for the Republicans in the Senate and the House of Representatives in order to check and balance. As a result, not only did Trump ascend to power, but the Republican Party also controlled the Senate and the House of Representatives. , and decided the appointment of two conservative justices thereafter. In this way, it was originally thought that the progressives would win a complete victory, but due to the surprise change in the presidential election, the conservatives once held all three powers in their hands.

Even if the Democratic Party regains the House of Representatives in 2018 and the President and Senate in 2020, conservatives can at least maintain stable control of the Supreme Court for at least ten years, which will have a profound impact on American justice, politics, society, environmental security and even foreign relations . This can be said to have plunged into the abyss of disaster for the progressive forces. Such a result has been driven by multiple factors, among which the ultra-conservative and populist forces are the key forces. These relatively marginalized groups in the previous decades actively voted in the 2016 general election, and before and after the election Both have kidnapped the mainstream group of the Republican Party, making the entire Republican Party inclined to be extremely conservative and populist. In other words, a few people hijacked the entire party, and even determined the fate of the United States and the direction of the world for a certain period of time.

In this way, the United States has become a country where "10% decides 90%" and "51% oppresses 49% (even because of the electoral system, '49% oppresses 51%')". Values, to harm the interests of the other half of the people, trample on the value orientation of others. The political arena, which is the center of the power game, is particularly confrontational and dirty, and the entire society has been severely torn apart. The "beacon of democracy" has been dimmed by these ugliness.

Many changes are needed to solve the current political dilemma in the United States, especially to stop the vicious fighting between the two parties and the zero-sum game, and to prevent populist and extremist forces from taking power again. The key parts that need to change are the power structure and the electoral system.

Under the presidential system practiced in the United States, the executive power obviously takes precedence over the legislative and judicial powers, and the executive power is monopolized by the president alone. The president of the United States has "emperor-like power" to some extent. If the president is only willing to represent a party (or even a part of the party) rather than the whole people, or even act according to his own likes and dislikes, it will be a huge harm to the unity and development of the country and the peace and stability of the world. Moreover, there is no prime minister in the United States. The president is both the head of state and the head of government. He directly appoints and governs cabinet members, which further increases his authority. The Congress and the Supreme Court, which were originally intended to check and balance the president, will collude with each other if they are in the same camp as the president, and hinder and destroy if they are in different camps. The "separation of powers" has instead become a platform for vicious political struggles. Countries in the world that practice a presidential system have poor political operations. South Korea, the Philippines, and Latin American countries are all examples. The United States is still in the "better" category, which shows the severity of the shortcomings of the presidential system.

Therefore, the U.S. should modify its political system to a "semi-presidential system (also known as a 'dual-head system')" political organization similar to France, and establish a new post of prime minister. "Semi-presidential system" means splitting the executive power to the cabinet led by the president and the prime minister. The prime minister and the cabinet are elected by the majority of the parliament and can take office with the approval of the president (instead of being appointed by the president and approved by the parliament under the presidential system); the cabinet Responsible primarily to Parliament (rather than primarily to the President), but also subject to Presidential moderation. Daily domestic affairs are decided by the prime minister and ministers, while foreign affairs, national defense and other major affairs are decided by the president. The congress, the president, and the cabinet are more of a cooperative relationship than a check and balance relationship.

In this way, the executive power in the U.S. national institutions has been weakened, and the power of the president has also been split. It is difficult for a "presidential dictatorship" to occur. Even if someone like Trump is elected president, he cannot interfere in all affairs at will. Can't do anything. And the parties do not need to put all their "bets" on the presidential election, a life-and-death struggle. If one party loses in the presidential election, it can win back in the congressional election, and the cabinet headed by the prime minister is elected and controlled through the congress, achieving a situation similar to the "co-governance of left and right" in France. In addition, when selecting cabinet members (ministers of various ministries), they can also be elected by different parties/intra-party factions in the majority of the Congress, unlike the presidential system where the president appoints all cabinet members who follow the president's orders, so as to promote the cabinet and even the entire cabinet. Diversity and inclusion in the administration.

Under the "semi-presidential system", although the power of the US president is not as great as it is now, he still holds real power (rather than the president of a parliamentary system, which is just a virtual head of state), and still has the right to make decisions on major issues, especially national defense and foreign affairs. This is enough to allow the United States, as a world power, to maintain efficient decision-making, quickly deal with emergency affairs, and ensure national security, unlike parliamentary countries where various party conflicts make important bills protracted.

The justice system also needs to be changed. The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, divided into liberals and conservatives, can decide almost all judicial disputes through a relatively majority vote. Unlike the advertised "judicial independence", all nine justices have clear political stances, are appointed by the president with the same stance, and in most cases are also approved by the Senate controlled by the same party, and they can serve for life. Such huge power will also allow the dominant faction to do whatever it wants in the judicial field. Moreover, the decisions of conservative judges are often out of touch with the times, and even go against the will of the majority of the people. For example, the recent overturn of the "Roe v. Wade" judgment and deprivation of women's freedom of abortion is the most typical example. And in cases involving highly specialized issues such as vaccines, climate change, and environmental protection, conservative judges always make judgments that contradict science and expert opinion.

This situation must change. The Supreme Court should abolish life tenure and replace it with 10-year terms, renewable once. However, seeking re-election requires renomination by the then president and reapproval by the Senate. In addition, legal decision-making should be made by Congress that is more representative of public opinion, and the powers of the Supreme Court and justices should be appropriately reduced. The justices should also actively listen to the opinions of the scientific community (including the establishment of clauses requiring the justices to respect and implement the decisions of professional institutions and people), instead of acting in accordance with their own values ​​and legal dogma regardless of truth and right and wrong. In this way, it is possible to prevent the justices from acting recklessly and reversing the history by relying on the huge power and the conditions of lifetime ruling.

Another area that needs modification is the electoral system. First of all, the "Electoral College" system for electing the president is seriously outdated. Not only is it unnecessary, but it is also full of harm. In the 2000 and 2016 U.S. presidential elections, the side with the most popular votes lost because of the few electoral votes, which is very unfair. The "winner takes all" model of the electoral college system, in disguise, deprives states of the obvious minority voting value (such as Republican voters in California and Democratic voters in Texas, whose votes cannot change the state's electoral votes at all. ). This has also indirectly led to more and more extreme political tendencies in the states of the United States ("blue states" become more "blue" and "red states" become more "red") and confront each other.

The Electoral College system has also led the Democrats and Republicans to concentrate resources on several states with tight elections, and the outcome depends on the choices of swing voters who account for less than 10% of the total electorate in these states, as well as some "waiting for a price" Whether the extremist voters who sell "will vote. This is tantamount to allowing the will of a very small number of people to kidnap the majority of public opinion, and to make the election full of uncertainty and chance, and the harm is very serious.

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As for the "prevention of majority tyranny" claimed by the electoral college system, it has never been practiced in reality. Except for a few "credible electors", the "electors" of each state default to vote for the candidate with the most votes in their state, rather than going against public opinion. What's more, if the populist politician Trump came to power in 2016, the electors in each state did not vote for Hillary in order to prevent him from taking office. Instead, Trump took advantage of the characteristics of the electoral college system to be elected president with fewer popular votes.

Therefore, the United States should abolish the Electoral College system and implement direct elections for the president by all the people, and the person with the most votes will be elected.

The parliamentary electoral system should also be reformed. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are elected by small constituencies across the country. Although this is conducive to the direct expression of public opinion at the grassroots level, it will distort the overall public opinion of the country. Similar to the Electoral College system, the small constituency system is also a "winner takes all" model in the constituency, which will kill the public opinion of minorities in the constituency and distort the overall public opinion choice in the country.

There are a total of 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, all of which are elected by small constituencies. If the Democrats get 51% of the votes in all 435 constituencies across the country, and the Republicans get 49% of the votes, then the Democrats can get 100% (all 435 seats) of the congressional seats. The Republicans won 49% of the vote but none. This is of course an extreme assumption, but it does exist in reality. Generally speaking, congressional elections, especially House of Representatives elections, are very favorable to the dominant party. Even if the dominant party’s national support rate is only less than 3% higher than that of the relatively disadvantaged party, it can win more seats in the House of Representatives election. Advantage.

Similar to the Electoral College system, the congressional election is also "the majority deprives the minority" and "the minority determines the majority". In most constituencies, the Democrats or the Republicans have a clear advantage. Even if the advantage is 60%: 40%, it is enough to make the relatively weaker side basically miss the seats. The votes of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of voters in each constituency are actually equal scrapped. And it is often a few constituencies (several in the Senate and dozens in the House of Representatives) that determine the ownership of the Congress, where public opinion is swaying and the election situation is stalemate. Especially to please the swing voters here to support their side, or to inspire extreme voters to vote for themselves, or both.

In other parts of the country where one side has a clear advantage, it becomes a "silent majority", and even many voters are no longer interested in voting because one side's victory has been determined (this is why the turnout in the US presidential and congressional elections is low (often between 50 and 50). %-60%)), and even the enthusiasm for participating in politics has subsided. Or, they care more about some short-term and local affairs and interests, and are easily bought by small favors, giving up attention to major policies and fundamental policies, leading to "picking sesame seeds and losing watermelon". Although this also has the advantage of downplaying ideological battles and encouraging citizens to participate in politics pragmatically, sometimes they make wrong choices on issues involving overall right and wrong and long-term interests, and ultimately harm themselves.

Moreover, under the small constituency system, each constituency is a "winner takes all", so the battle for each congressional seat becomes a zero-sum game to some extent. On the whole, since the Democrats and Republicans monopolize politics, the struggle for a majority in Congress at the national level is also a zero-sum game. Even if one of the two parties has one seat more than the other in the Senate/House of Representatives (in the 100 seats in the Senate, the ratio between the two parties is often 51:49, sometimes 50:50, requiring the vice president to cast the deciding vote), can control the chamber , Pass all the motions that can pass through with more than half of the support, and the other side will find it difficult to check and balance.

The electoral system itself is one of the reasons why the United States has formed a two-party system (rather than a multi-party system), and politics has fallen into an unscrupulous zero-sum game. Under proportional representation, even 5 percent of voters across the country support a small party, enough for that small party to win dozens of congressional seats. However, under the "winner takes all" model of the small constituency system, it is difficult for small national parties to win seats due to scattered supporters, such as the Green Party and the Libertarian Party in the United States are typical. This has led both candidates and voters to actively move closer to the big party in order to win the cruel game, further strengthening the advantages of the big party. Although the small constituency system is beneficial to local political parties, there are no local political parties in the United States (the same is the siphon effect of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party), so the Democratic Party and the Republican Party monopolize the political arena and share seats in Congress, which also caused a sharp confrontation between the two. Intense game.

Conversely, in order to win the struggle against each other, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party will also please extremist forces and please some groups with evil positions and unreasonable demands. Because the two sides are evenly matched, and the winner in the election wins all, the loser has nothing to do except object in attitude, so they will do anything to win, so the extremists have become the targets of wooing. Especially for these people who are relatively weak, the Republican Party, which has been losing ground under the whirlwind of progressive forces, does not hesitate to collude with various conspiracy theorists, racists, and Christian fundamentalists in order to win. And even if these extreme factions form their own parties to participate in politics, it is difficult to break the monopoly of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, so they move closer to the Republican Party, which is close in position, and the two hit it off.

After the cooperation, although the mainstream of the Republican Party may not agree with the views of the extreme conservatives, it is even more afraid of the Democratic Party, which represents the progressive forces, in power. Therefore, it would rather endure and even support the various behaviors of the extreme conservatives that violate human rights, destroy civilization, and trample on integrity and the rule of law. For example, the mainstream Republican Party does not refute or even echo the various lies and conspiracy theories of Trump and his core supporters, such as "Hillary sexually assaulting children" and other absurd allegations, which is an example of unscrupulous means. On the issue of Supreme Court justices, in order to ensure that conservatives are in power, the Republican Party not only violated conventions and forced conservative judges to take office on the eve of the end of Trump's term, but also deliberately appointed ultra-conservatives such as Barrett to serve to please evangelicals. Extremely anti-abortion.

Although the Democratic Party is not extreme, it also elects some congressmen with socialist positions. Moreover, Hillary Clinton lost the election in 2016 precisely because of her compromise, refusing to accept the ideas of more left-leaning Sanders supporters, so she was boycotted by the radical left to vote (even voted for Trump and Republican congressional candidates to express their resentment ), which became an important reason for Trump's victory. This also shows that if either of the two parties does not please the extremists, it may lose in a well-matched conflict, and in the end even the demands of the mainstream moderates will not be realized. In this year's mid-term elections, although moderate forces seem to have gained the upper hand, the rise of extremist forces has also stimulated voters in the middle. In the future, the relatively moderate centrists may not always be able to overwhelm the extremists. According to the political situation in the United States and the world, political polarization and confrontation are still rampant, the centrists have resurged slightly but their influence is quite limited, and "victory" is also very reluctant and thrilling.

Obviously, the U.S. electoral system has contributed to and exacerbated the confrontation between the progressive (Democratic) and conservative (Republican) camps, and has allowed mainstream moderates of the two parties to be kidnapped by extremists, especially the Republican Party, which has become extremely conservative and populist. To change this situation, not only the power structure must be revised, but also the electoral system must be revised.

For the House of Representatives, which should best represent public opinion, all seats should be elected by the small constituency system, and half of them should be elected by small constituencies, and the other half should be elected by proportional representation, and distributed through simultaneous voting and split votes Seats obtained, in order to maximize the consistency between the seats obtained by each party and the actual support rate of each party. In this way, it not only guarantees the expression of public opinion at the grassroots level in various regions, but also allows the mainstream of the Democratic Party, the third force outside the mainstream of the Republican Party, and relatively unique and even extreme groups to have a place in the political arena and participate in politics independently.

Although I am very disgusted with the positions and propositions of groups such as Christian evangelical fundamentalists, ultra liberals, ultra nationalists/racists, conspiracy theorists, etc., I think at least some of the positions of some of them can be It is understood that it should also be allowed to express its appeal. For example, the extreme liberals' insistence on "give me freedom or give me death" is actually quite touching (but it should not infringe on the interests of others), while the Christian conservatives' insistence on family values, the women's rights and LGBT rights movements' emphasis on traditional family values The fear and fear of the impact on social structures can also be partially understood (but they should not infringe on the rights and freedoms of vulnerable people such as women and LGBT groups in order to maintain tradition and order).

If these people are denied independent political participation and expression, they will kidnap the mainstream right wing instead, making the Republican Party have to meet their demands in order to win the election campaign, making the entire conservative camp more right-leaning, and even more detrimental to social progress. On the contrary, if they are allowed to form a separate party to participate in politics, they can relatively avoid binding the mainstream moderate conservatives. Even when they promote extreme ideas, the Democrats and Republicans can jointly oppose them without affecting the political competitiveness of the Republican Party, which represents mainstream moderate conservatives.

In addition, if we blindly suppress extremist forces and keep them out of the sight of mainstream media and public opinion, it is easy for mainstream society to lose their vigilance. They will grow in secret, collude with internal and external parties, and then take the opportunity to gain power or create all kinds of terrible things. destroy. The 2016 U.S. election is another typical example. When the Democrats are immersed in the "liberal bubble" and think that Hillary will easily win the election, the ultra-conservatives and populists in the United States have made every effort, both overtly and covertly, and with the intervention of external forces such as Russia's Putin regime, they have made Trump Putin's ascension to the presidency has surprised the whole world, especially elites and professional observers from all walks of life.

If Hillary wins a few key states and gets a majority of electoral votes, even if Trump still gets such support, I am afraid that people from all walks of life, especially the elites and middle-class liberals, will still disdain all kinds of ultra-conservative forces At first glance, I didn't know that the seemingly beautiful and hopeful United States actually had such a huge undercurrent and undercurrent representing extreme and stubborn forces. If so, the elites and liberals will continue to miscalculate in the future, and then suffer another disastrous failure. The consequences may be more dire than Trump being elected president and conservatives taking control of the Supreme Court.

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For example, after mankind entered the Internet age, the proliferation of various fake news, hate speech, conspiracy theories, and social media greatly exacerbated social tearing. Think of these issues as limited side effects of the Internet's evolution. Obviously, all parties, especially those in the establishment, have seriously underestimated these "side effects". These ills of the Internet and social media have led to Trump's victory/Hillary's defeat, Brexit/European integration's serious setback, France and Germany's extreme A very critical factor for the revival of the right wing, and even the proliferation of populist extremes around the world. Trump's victory has finally made elites and progressives pay more attention to issues such as Internet fake news and social media exacerbating social tearing. If Trump loses the election, maybe people still don’t care about it, even though it has already caused a lot of bad results, especially the slander and slander of vulnerable groups, causing various victims in the world to suffer "secondary harm", and the right to speak is also suppressed or even deprived .

Ignorance, contempt, and insensitivity to these ugly forces lurking beneath the surface of society have serious consequences at all times. Even if such a force is not in power, it will quietly do evil everywhere in reality. And they are always dormant and waiting, trying to board the hall of elegance, order the country, and let the whole country and even the world be ruled by them. If we do not face up to and understand these people and their identities, thoughts, and positions, we cannot know the fragility of democracy and progress, and we will be intoxicated by the dream of the greenhouse and forget the dangers of the world, causing various disasters to happen in the dark, and at a certain time let All the people suffered.

If the U.S. revises its electoral system so that half of the House of Representatives is elected by proportional representation, then these extremist forces will change from infiltrating and lurking within the mainstream of the Republican Party to become independent political forces acting on their own. Even if he still colludes with the Republican Party, the Republican Party will not be completely bound by him. On the contrary, it will join the Democratic Party in opposing extremism on many issues. The explicitness of the extremists can also keep the mainstream society vigilant at all times, and can better understand them, explore the root of their value choices, and find ways to resolve their erroneous and even evil plots, fundamentally disintegrate and change these stubborn power.

The same is true for the relationship between the radical left and the Democratic Party. Although many propositions of the radical left are justifiable and in line with right and wrong and reason, they are too radical, disregarding traditional inertia and social status quo, and not fully taking into account the overall public opinion, especially the attitude and emotion of the centrists. As a result, it not only failed to achieve its goal, but also dragged down the moderate progressives in the mainstream. After Obama came to power, the Democratic Party in the United States has become more and more left-leaning. Some middle-of-the-road voters who want to be conservative would rather give up voting and not support the Republican Party, but they also do not support the Democratic Party. However, Hillary tried to find a compromise and refused to be kidnapped by radical forces. As a result, the radical left gave up voting and failed to win enough middle voters. Coupled with the Electoral College system, she eventually missed the presidency. Therefore, for the Democratic Party, it is relatively the best choice to let the radical left form its own party, and then cooperate or not cooperate with it according to the situation.

In addition to these utilitarian factors, the proportional representation system and the multi-party system themselves are relatively the most reasonable systems. The disadvantages of the small constituency system have been elaborated earlier, but those problems do not arise with the proportional representation system. Under the proportional representation system, the distribution of parliamentary seats will be relatively consistent with the party's national vote rate, which is in line with public opinion as much as possible. And this is also conducive to the formation of a multi-party system. A multi-party system makes politics more diverse, and the Congress is relatively more inclusive. Political competition and cooperation are relatively more complicated and there are more choices, rather than political monopoly and zero-sum games under the two-party system. After more than 100 years of political and ideological evolution, it is clear that the two-party system does not satisfy the increasingly diversified interests and ideological identity of the United States today. Only in a multi-party system can "let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend."

However, a complete proportional representation system will ignore public opinion at the grassroots level and damage the representativeness and demands of specific regions. Therefore, a mixed electoral system should be adopted, taking into account public opinion at the grassroots level in various regions and the overall public opinion of the country, and emphasizing both local governance and national policies. In terms of the specific model of the mixed electoral system, it is advisable to adopt a joint system of voting and vote splitting that is more fair, weakens the power monopoly of the largest party that wins the election, and benefits the second largest party and other small and medium-sized parties (instead of adopting affect the opposite parallelism).

Under such a voting and vote-sharing system, there will be as few as three and as many as five to eight political parties in the U.S. House of Representatives. Among them, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are still the two largest political parties, but they no longer completely monopolize the seats, but may Occupy about 70% of the seats. The radical left with social democracy-democratic socialist stance and ecologicalism will have no less than 5% of the seats; the religious conservative forces represented by Christian evangelical fundamentalists will have 5%-10% of the seats; Libertarians can also sit in parliament. Perhaps there will be centrist forces gaining ground. Of course, these are just hypotheses, but according to the political stance of the American people today, such hypotheses should not deviate significantly from the facts.

Now the party composition and seat allocation of the German Bundestag can be used as a reference to a certain extent. The center-right Christian Democratic Union-Christian Social Union coalition party, and the center-left Social Democratic Party are the two largest political parties in Germany, each with around 30% support and parliamentary seats; the centrist social liberal party The Liberal Democrats have around 10 percent support; the far-right Alternative for Germany has 10 percent; the eco-priorist Green Party has 10 percent; and the far-left Left Party has 5 percent. Moreover, under the joint voting system and split votes, the proportion of seats obtained by these political parties is highly consistent with the support rate/vote rate. Obviously, such an electoral system and political party system are conducive to diversity and tolerance, and ensure that people with different positions have an independent right to speak.

The allocation of seats in the Senate should also change. Although the Senate, as a representative of each region, is inconvenient to implement the proportional representation system and still retains the small constituency system, the distribution of seats in each region should be changed. Under the current electoral system, every state in the United States has two federal senators, which means that California with a population of more than 39 million, Texas with a population of 29 million, Alaska with a population of only 730,000, and Wyoming with a population of 570,000 States, have the same number of members of the Bundesrat. Although this is conducive to protecting the rights and interests of small states, it is unfair to large states.

The allocation of seats in the Senate should adopt a compromise method, that is, follow the example of the number of seats and the distribution ratio of each member state in the European Parliament, so that large states have more senators in total, but fewer seats per capita; small states have Fewer senators in total, but more per capita, give each side an advantage without favoring big or small states entirely.

In short, the United States should modify its political system and electoral system, change the presidential system to a semi-presidential system, abolish the life tenure of justices to a limited term system, and change the election method of the House of Representatives from a complete small constituency system to a mixed electoral system (partial small constituency system). , partial proportional representation), and redistricting the distribution of Senate seats among the states to make it more fair and reasonable. Only in this way can the United States get rid of the current political polarization, confrontation between the two camps, and unscrupulous means to gain power, and make American politics more diverse, inclusive, and moderate.

Of course, the above designs and suggestions are just a vision, a beautiful vision, which is difficult to realize in the real United States. At least in the current and recent United States, there is no possibility of realization. Because the United States is a country that places great emphasis on following traditions and conventions, its various systems have rarely changed since the founding of the country. Especially after the end of the 19th century, the political system and political party combination of the United States have continued to this day without major changes. The political culture of the United States also emphasizes conservativeness and resists innovation.

In addition, the current power structure and electoral system are very favorable to the Republican and conservative camps. Whether it is the Electoral College system, the small congressional constituency system, the seat allocation and constituency divisions that are beneficial to small states and inland rural areas, the lifelong tenure of justices, and the huge judicial power, from values ​​to interests, they are all obviously in line with the Republican Party, but very much for the Democratic Party. unfavorable.

Although the systems I have designed are to make the system more fair and inclusive, they are obviously not conducive to the Republican Party's relative disadvantage in maintaining political influence comparable to that of the Democratic Party. This means that the Republican Party will firmly defend the current system and oppose reform. The implementation of these reforms requires not only control of executive power, but also a majority of the Supreme Court, more than two-thirds of the seats in the Senate and House of Representatives that are sufficient to propose constitutional amendments, and state legislatures that win three-quarters of the states. approval. However, the Democratic Party and other forces trying to innovate obviously failed to fully possess such strength. Even if the Republican Party is weak, as long as it retains one of the three powers, or even none of the three powers dominates but has more than one-third of the seats in Congress, and has no less than 13 states (more than a quarter) of the state legislatures, That is enough to prevent reform.

The Republican Party in recent years has become a party that will do whatever it takes to gain and maintain power, even among mainstream moderates. In the face of progressive forces becoming more and more powerful and innovation pressing, the elite leaders of the Republican Party have torn off their gentleman masks, not only using Christian fundamentalists, racists, ultra-nationalists, and conspiracy theorists to boost their momentum and elect Trump. Populist figures such as Pu came to power and appointed Cold War remnants such as Bolton and Abrams to important positions. Traditional politicians such as Pence, McConnell, Rubio, and Cruz also went shirtless, desperately maintaining power and achieving their various interests or interests. non-profit purposes. It is even said that compared to Trump, who is a businessman, has an acting personality, and has a strong sense of humor, those other Republican figures are more terrifying and hateful.

For example, on the issue of appointing Supreme Court justices, McConnell first rejected Obama's appointment of liberal justices in 2016 on the grounds that "justices cannot be appointed in the last year of the president's term and should be appointed by the new president after the general election." But in 2020, after the death of Justice Ginsburg, McConnell forced the appointment of the ultra-conservative Justice Barrett, and all Republican senators voted in favor, and the entire Republican Party supported the appointment convoy. The last words of Justice Ginsburg before his death were that he hoped that the next president would choose her successor. But before the 2020 general election was held and a new president was not elected, the elite elite of the Republican Party shamelessly forcibly passed the nomination, appointment, and approval of the conservative judge Barrett. This kind of shameless behavior shows that the Republican Party has no political morality at all in order to achieve its goals, and even has no conscience as a human being.

Under such circumstances, can we still count on the conscience of the Republican Party, willing to support political reform based on right and wrong and reason?

(Video) Democracy for Human Rights Through CEDAW

But is political reform in the United States really just a distant dream? Not necessarily so.

As mentioned earlier, the American system is very inclined to "winner takes all" and "loser loses all". Especially under the presidential system, the president has great power, and the candidate of whichever party is elected president can do whatever he wants in the administrative field. And congressional constraints are limited. And if the dominant political party in Congress and the president belong to the same party, they can act at will in all matters except the judicial field. And if this side even controls the Supreme Court at the same time, it is really completely "invincible". Even if there is no more than two-thirds of the majority in Congress, the constitution cannot be amended, but various decisions that are not constitutional amendments can be passed.

Then, if the Democrats can be elected president for a long time, they can dominate the executive power; if they control both houses of Congress, they can control legislation, decision-making, and personnel power; if they control the Supreme Court, the judicial power is also in the hands of the Democrats. While political reforms cannot be made, everything that does not require a two-thirds majority of Congress can be passed. Under such circumstances, the "loser loses all" Republicans may instead hope for reform. Although it may not be possible to grasp the advantages after the reform, it is relatively more beneficial to have diversified participation and avoid the political monopoly of the Democratic Party.

Although the Supreme Court will continue to be in the hands of conservatives for more than a decade or more, the Democratic Party can at least work hard to seize and maintain control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, and use these two powers to bypass and compress The judiciary, to promote various progressive policies, no longer scruples the obstruction of the Republican Party. Some radical progressive policies have even been deliberately promoted under the permission of public opinion, and political reforms have been exchanged for the cessation of the policies. The Democrats can use this method to force the Republicans, or at least some of them, to agree to reforms.

And if such a vision is to be realized, there must be strong public support. The Democratic Party must obtain the long-term support of at least 55% of voters when the electoral system is not favorable to itself, and have full control over executive power, legislative power, personnel power, and at least half (25) of the states for at least ten years , and still get the understanding of the corresponding proportion of the people when implementing radical and progressive policies. With such popular support, the Democratic Party will also need to divide and disintegrate the Republican Party, and win over the reformists among them, so as to gain some Republicans' support for political reform. In addition, we must find ways to attack the Supreme Court. Although the situation dominated by conservatives cannot be changed, frequent presidential executive orders and congressional resolutions can reduce the power of the Supreme Court and marginalize it as much as possible until it promises to agree to political reform.

In addition to persecution, compromise is also required. For example, while the high pressure forces the Republican Party to stay in the opposition for a long time, it can also extend an olive branch, promising that the Republican Party will serve as the first president of the new political system after political reform, and the Supreme Court will also be controlled by conservatives (but not for life). Giving up a few years in power in exchange for political reform is a necessary sacrifice.

While still difficult to implement, it is clearly possible. The Republican Party is not monolithic. Although it does not hesitate to hide its dirt and use unscrupulous means to preserve power, it is actually a last resort to avoid losing power completely. Even when Trump, Pence, McConnell and others set off a countercurrent, there are still some righteous people in the Republican Party who insist on morality and conscience. For example, the late Senator John McCain and the current Senator Romney, these two Republican politicians who once confronted Obama, have persisted despite the populist tide in recent years, embodying the character of a true traditional gentleman.

And there are still many moderate Republicans, the reason why they are "rebellious" is also because under the current system, the Republican Party and even the entire conservative faction "all prosper and all lose", so they have to unite with the extremists and endure their wrong ideas. In the past 30 years since the Clinton era, American public opinion has been slightly biased towards the Democratic Party (according to various elections, the average vote ratio between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party is about 53%: 47%). Therefore, the Republican Party is also deeply pressured and troubled by the zero-sum game, and it may not want to change. If the system is reformed and politics becomes pluralistic, the president and the prime minister can belong to different parties, and the cabinet members can also coexist with multiple parties. In Congress, they are no longer the same party as the far-right conservative populists, and the Democratic Party is also divided. The election is no longer a zero-sum game. Then why bother with all kinds of ugly people full of lies like now?

Of course, the most fundamental thing is the choice of the people. If more than 55% or even 60% of voters are willing to vote for the Democratic Party for a long time, especially if middle voters and voters in swing states are on the side of the Democratic Party, then the reform may be realized. If this is not possible, but for some short-term, one-sided, and narrow values ​​and interests, if you insist on voting for the Republican Party or do not come out to vote, then the above idea cannot be realized.

Also, progressive forces need unity and compromise. Some radical left voters boycotted voting (or switched to small parties such as the Green Party) in 2000 and 2016, ruining the original picture of progressive forces dominating the United States, making it possible to solve the climate crisis, improve the situation of vulnerable groups, and promote world peace and democracy. His great ambition died twice. If such a painful lesson is not learned, the fruits of power may be stolen by conservatives again. Coupled with the robbing of the Republican Party by extreme conservatives, the United States will increase more suffering, and mankind will fall into more natural and social double disasters . The claims of the radical left are understandable, but haste is not fast, and we must proceed step by step, and we must also consider the emotions and concerns of different groups.

Progressive forces must not only unite and compromise, but also look far ahead. The Democratic Party should have tried its best to promote political system reform when it had an advantage, instead of waiting until it suffered a tragic defeat before waking up. For example, in 2000, the Electoral College showed its dangers, but the Democrats did not take it seriously and took it as an accident, and the same mistakes were repeated 16 years later. When Obama was elected president, progressive forces were in full swing, and he could have used his advantage to force the opposition Republican Party to advance reforms in order to give up some of the short-term "winner takes all" gains in exchange for a more inclusive and diverse U.S. power structure and a fair electoral system. But it seems that all Americans at that time did not pay attention to the relevant problems, but were immersed in the dream of progressives using the presidential system to "unify the world" for a long time. All these have laid the foundation for the political crisis and human rights regression in the United States in recent years and in the future.

It was a big mistake to fail to plan ahead. But today, it is still possible to make up for it, and it seems that it is not too late. After experiencing these lessons, the Democratic Party should proceed from the overall and long-term perspective, and should not indulge in short-term power pleasure when it has political advantages, but should use its advantages to achieve long-term system optimization and loophole repair, and promote the formation and consolidation of an inclusive system. In the future, if the Democratic Party can once control the three powers, it should use its advantages to promote reforms and make the system better even if it transfers some power. As a progressive and inclusive force, the Democratic Party must not only restrain the impulse to monopolize power in the short term, but also plan for the long-term; it must not only have deep sympathy for the disadvantaged, but also understand the helplessness of political opponents. Only by being flexible can we firmly and steadily advance policies and achieve goals. Of course, the most important thing for the Democratic Party is to rely on the people, listen to their voices, respect their opinions, and follow the trend, so that the United States of America can be rebuilt and reborn.

The fate of America, and the future of mankind, rests in the hands of the people. Although the people are sometimes radical, sometimes conservative, sometimes ignorant, and sometimes barbaric, they are the main force in creating civilization after all. At the new crossroads of civilization, the people have the right to choose their own direction in an independent and peaceful way, unlike in the past when they were dominated and manipulated by dictators and often required violence and bloodshed to achieve their goals. Looking back on history, looking around the world, and looking to the future, the American people should not stick to the present and their surroundings, but to ensure long-term stability of the country and sustainable development of mankind.

The populist whirlwind of recent years is still raging in the world. If the United States cannot become the "spirit of the sea", the world will be hard to rest. The consequences of the climate crisis have already begun to emerge around the world, with tens of thousands or even more people dying directly, and it is too late to deal with it. Even if we want to discuss the direction of development and value orientation, we must first ensure the survival of human beings. If conservatives who downplay climate change hold power and are hijacked by extremists who deny climate change, the climate crisis will be intractable and will only get worse. Only by changing the political system can the United States better deal with various major issues including the climate crisis, so that mankind can see one tomorrow after another. I hope that the American people can make a choice that is very clear in reason, but a hundred times more difficult in reality, and defend democracy, peace, rationality, progress, and human rights.

Wang Qingmin

November 21, 2022

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