A radical — or obvious? — plan to save American democracy
We talk a lot on this show about the problems with American political institutions. But what if all those problems are actually just one problem: the two-party system.
Lee Drutman is a political scientist, senior fellow in the Political Reform program at New America, co-host of the podcast Politics in Question, and most recently the author of Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America, which makes the best case against America’s two-party system that I’ve ever read.
In Drutman’s telling, the reason our politics have gotten so toxic is simple: Toxicity is the core incentive of any two-party system. American democracy was only stable at mid-century because we functionally had a four-party system that kept the temperature of political combat from overheating, and the only way to achieve a similar homeostasis is by recreating that kind of system (which Drutman has a four-part plan to do).
I'm convinced by a lot of Drutman’s analysis, but I tend toward skepticism that the two-party system is the source of our political ills, which makes this a really fun, dynamic conversation.
The Semi-Sovereign People by E.E. Schattschneider
Uncivil Agreement by Liliana Mason
A Different Democracy by Steven L. Taylor, Matthew Soberg Shugart, Arend Lijphart, Bernard Grofman
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