We are going into another season of reform. A friend asks: “do you have a favored electoral reform or does FPTP make the most sense given America’s racial diversity?”
The short answer is: no favorite, and my (personal) yea/nay mostly depends on comparing the specific status quo with the specific replacement proposal.
Beyond that, here are some things I tend to think about when evaluating reform proposals. These are just quick thoughts, written on my way to bed.
1. The composition of a reform coalition is a pretty good signal of possible policy effects.
2. Generally, the public does not shape its own preferences. We form opinions about candidates (and reforms!) by consuming media and talking to friends (who also consume media). The same probably goes for marking ballots.
3. Every community tends to cleave into two opposing camps. This is related to the process by which our views get shaped. It may not happen immediately, but if you have to place a bet, you should bet that it will happen.
4. No coalition lasts forever, which probably is good, but you still have to live with the winning one, which might (or might not) be bad.
5. Details are crucial, even if they tend to fly under the radar. Even with PR writ large. For example, is there some guarantee that the minority (which might be you) will be at the table?
6. The fact that we’re even talking about reform is interesting in itself.
7. We live in a context of diminishing voting rights. Things may or may not get worse.
8. Fundamentally, people matter more than rules. People make the rules!