America’s democracy deficit

It is reasonable to expect the democratic mechanism — the vote — to produce results which reflect the aggregated will of the electorate. In the United States this goal is rarely achieved because of the majoritarian, winner-take-all system (plurality) commonly used therein. A system of proportion representation better captures the diversity of active political positions in a society. The United States, of course, has a plurality system, and one notable feature of this kind of voting system is its propensity to produce a two-party system. Such a system limits feasible voting strategies to choosing candidates from one of the two major parties. The United States today has a party system that can be characterized as a party duopoly. Moreover, this duopoly has degenerated to such a degree that America can be reasonably characterized as an inverted totalitarianism, an apolitical system in which policy outcomes reflect an elite consensus about what is to be accomplished. The demos typically lacks the capacity to use the democratic mechanism to alter policy. It merely provides a paper thin legitimacy to whatever government holds power.

Bearing the above in mind, consider the following data from the recent election:

  • The House Republicans now have 234 seats while House Democrats have 193. As of this moment, the Republican Party has a 41 seat edge over the Democratic Party.
  • The Republican Party tallied 53,822,442 votes in the recent House elections; the Democratic Party tallied 54,301,095 votes. The Democratic Party thus generated a 478,653 vote edge over the Republican Party.

The House was meant to be the people’s chamber…. Although candidates could seek only some House seats in the recent election and the results could change, I find it difficult to conclude that the next House will actually represent the will of the people in the government.