Polarisatie in de VS zit in de grondwet gebakken (2021)
Als Nederlander die lang in de Verenigde Staten heeft gewoond, komt het weleens voor dat ik het Nederlandse politieke stelsel aan Amerikaanse vrienden moet uitleggen. Een koning, geen president, coalitieregeringen en meer dan dertig politieke partijen op je stembiljet, leg dat maar eens uit aan iemand die zijn/haar leven lang maar twee partijen heeft gekend. Veel Amerikanen geloven dat hun democratie de beste in de wereld is en kijken dan ook verbaasd op wanneer ik zeg dat het Nederlands/Europese systeem veel democratischer en stabieler lijkt.
In dat Amerikaanse twee-partijen systeem lijkt het wel of ze elkaar geen succes gunnen. Zodra de één aan de macht is, proberen ze onmiddellijk ongedaan te maken wat de andere partij heeft gedaan toen die aan de macht was. Kijk maar naar de gezondheidszorg (“Obamacare”), het klimaatakkoord van Parijs of het lidmaatschap van de Wereld Gezondheidsorganisatie. Zo’n jojo beleid staat vooruitgang in de weg, denk ik.
De extreme polarisatie heeft er toe geleid dat de Democraten and Republikeinen elkaar meer als “vijand” beschouwen, dan als politieke tegenstanders waarmee we als even goede vrienden nog een pilsje kunnen pakken. Ook in het campagne voeren lijkt het alsof “dirt” over je tegenstander belangrijker is om verkozen te worden dan een aantrekkelijk politiek platform. Dit trekt door naar het gewone leven: mensen verliezen vrienden of zelfs banen vanwege hun politieke voorkeur.
Na de gebeurtenissen van 6 Januari en de mislukte afzettingsprocedure tegen Trump is het duidelijk geworden dat de Republikeinse partij ook intern verdeeld is tussen meer traditionele politici en aanhangers van Trump. Het is dan ook niet verbazend dat er een discussie is ontstaan over een mogelijk derde politieke partij: een partij van Trump, of een partij van meer gematigde republikeinen. Zou dat niet een goede zaak zijn? Wellicht zou er ook een splitsing in de Democratische partij tussen links en gematigd kunnen plaatsgrijpen. Een systeem met meerdere partijen, zou dat niet leiden tot een meer beschaafde politieke dialoog, omdat je alleen kan regeren in coalitie met een andere partij en dat doe je niet met iemand die tijdens de campagne met modder heeft gegooid?
Geen kans. De polarisatie in de VS zit in de Grondwet gebakken. Volgens de Grondwet (en die van individuele staten ) worden verkiezingen voor het Huis van Afgevaardigden en de Senaat gehouden in respectievelijk een beperkt kiesdistrict of het grondgebied van een staat, waar er maar één winnaar is per district en twee winnaars voor de Senaat per staat zijn. De kandidaat met de meeste stemmen wint, zelfs als dat niet een meerderheid van uitgebrachte stemmen is. Het Verenigd Koninkrijk en Canada hebben een vergelijkbaar kiesstelsel en ook daar heb je maar twee grote partijen. Als je als kiezer wil dat je stem meetelt, zal je redelijkerwijs gaan stemmen op een kandidaat met wie je het globaal eens bent en die een redelijke kans van winnen heeft. Dit werkt tegen kleinere partijen en bevordert bijna automatisch een twee-partijen systeem. (Dit is een simplistische weergave van de zogenaamde wet van Duverger in de politicologie).
Kan je dan die Grondwet niet wijzigen en een kiesstelsel ontwerpen dat meer op die van Nederland lijkt, met proportionele vertegenwoordiging? Niet erg waarschijnlijk: de Amerikaanse grondwet kan alleen worden gewijzigd als er een twee derde meerderheid in het Congres voor bestaat en drie kwart van de individuele staten het er mee eens is. Ik zie niet in hoe een partij die zo’n meerderheid in het Congres bereikt, zou instemmen met een kiesstelsel waarin die partij minder kans zou hebben om aan de macht te komen en blijven. Het systeem houdt zichzelf in stand.
Met andere woorden: de Amerikaanse polarisatie gaat niet weg. Op lange termijn is dit schadelijk is voor de VS en de wereld. Een verdeeld land kan moeilijk antwoord vinden op uitdagingen, zoals het klimaat of Covid-19, die zich niets aantrekken van politieke identiteit. Voor de rest van de wereld is het moeilijk peil trekken op een Amerikaans beleid dat volledig kan worden omgegooid bij de volgende verkiezingen.
Ik gun Joe Biden alle succes in zijn streven naar eenheid, maar het is een gevecht tegen de bierkaai.
The leaves that once so gently fell
A Thanksgiving Sonnet
The leaves that once so gently fell to ground,
Their blanket heavy with the rains of fall,
Wet under feet that are family bound
To celebrate harvest in my home’s hall.
A table rich with fruit, fowl, wine, and bread
From earth extracted without much respect.
I stand to speak and raise my glass of red:
‘It’s Thanksgiving, so what do you expect,’
‘The custom is to show our gratitude,’
‘Give our thanks for the gifts of earth and sea.’
‘But has this not become a platitude?’
‘So few birds in the sky, nary a bee.’
‘Habitats gone, without eulogy,’
‘Mother Earth, please hear my apology.’
Walking the Dog Without Umbrella
A Short Story
Agatha posed in the mirror and took a selfie, with her orange beret and her dog, who was cradled uncomfortably in her arms. The dog was wearing the artistic leash she had stitched the day before, made from some torn colorful blouses she used to wear, when she was still with him. He was gone now, the bastard, taken off with some young chick who probably laughed at all his old jokes and found him oh so interesting, the older man who could play the violin and make you cry, and would tell stories of how he used to hang out with Mick Jagger, who was not at all what you would think. In the beginning she believed those stories as well, but now, after all the lies, she was not so sure anymore. Anyway, good riddance. Hello new life, hello dog, she said to herself while she snapped one more photo, because she was looking good, still. Maybe for Facebook, later.
She stepped outside, closed the door, and walked down the long narrow path to the sidewalk. Agatha stopped halfway, turned on her left toes with her free hand raised above her head in classical ballet fashion and looked back at the house. Fifteen years. Fifteen years in that house with him, the handsome musician, the slow lover, the artist, the sensitive soul, the fucking asshole. “It’s not your fault,” she said to the house. She had lived there well before him and she always had loved it, the artwork inside, the trees, the lawn, the flowers and the sounds of the forest bordering her garden. “And you are going to love it here too, Sax!” she called out to the small white rescue dog of undefined pedigree, who duly ignored her and was straining at the leash to get to that spot in the grass where some fox had peed the night before.
She stepped onto the pavement and looked up to the sky. Perhaps she should go back to get an umbrella. “No, let’s take a risk and live a little,” she said to the dog and started walking, sometimes skipping, to the intersection with the main road, about three quarters of a mile due south. There she would stop by the ‘dead end’ sign, tell Sax to sit and stay and explain to her that cars are dangerous. But for now, she was happy just to look at the sky and the trees, at her cute puppy and think about her friends and her life and all the things that mattered, telling herself that she did not miss him, not at all.
The street was quiet. There were few cars and just one other person walking an ugly black dog, far off in the distance, coming toward her.
At the same time Agatha stepped out of her house without umbrella, Roger had opened the front door, as he was about to leave to walk his dog. Roger lived two homes in from the main road and loved to walk the dog up the street toward the cul-de-sac and let him enjoy a bit of the forest smells there. “You should take an umbrella, Rodgie,” his wife screamed at him from the bedroom upstairs. “Yesss”, he acknowledged and slammed the door behind him, without umbrella, just to piss off his wife.
He had retired from the insurance company just a few years ago and now dreaded every day he woke up next to her. Going to the office before had been necessary, somebody had to make money, but he realized now that it had also been a haven, safe from her drunk nagging, self-centered bitching and utter laziness. It wasn’t so bad when the kids were still at home, he thought. Roger guessed she had done an OK job, getting them out of bed, feeding them and putting them on the school bus on time. But for the rest she did nothing. She never learned how to cook properly and did not lift a finger to keep the house clean. Instead, she supervised the once-a-week cleaning ladies from behind a trashy magazine and a skim-milk latte, that he had to get from the Starbucks around the corner, because she could not be bothered changing her pajamas and slippers for jeans and a pair of shoes.
“Let’s get out of here, Tucker. Ready for some peace and quiet?” he said to his dog, a 12 year old mix of German shepherd and black poodle. Tucker hung his head and came along with just enough spring in his step to keep up. Roger took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, half-whistling. He listened to the noise of the main road behind him, getting more distant with every step towards the trees. He heard a few birds. There, the song of a male cardinal, trying to impress his mate probably.
Roger had not felt the need to impress his mate, his wife, in a dozen years or so. Any desire to mate had left him long ago, anyway. Rare were the days he would feel an erection as he woke up, which would wane as soon he was conscious of his surroundings. His wife had turned ugly, but he would never say that to her, ever. Tucker stopped to sniff out some other dog’s olfactory markings. Roger sighed and had to admit to himself that Tucker was probably happier than he was. “Tucker, tell me buddy: can one live and die in hate? Or without love?” he asked. Tucker looked at him with droopy eyes. “I guess that means no then.”
He had tried to talk to his wife every now and then, asking her to do a bit more, exercise, drink less, try a therapist, discover a hobby, learn to cook, go on a trip or something, anything. The outcome had always been the same. Soaked in booze, she would shout at him first, then scream and cry, accusing him (falsely) of having affairs, of not loving her anymore for who she was.
He knew full well that, in fact, it was her who did not love herself for what she had become. Yet, it always made him feel like a loser. Any attempt to get close or hug her was rebuffed. She would run upstairs, lock herself in her bedroom and drink herself to sleep. Those nights Roger would sleep on the sofa, with one hand on Tucker sleeping beside him on the floor. And, as always, the following morning would arrive as if nothing had happened.
His thoughts were interrupted by a tug on the leash. Tucker had stopped to empty his bowels, right by a ‘real estate for sale’ sign. Roger pulled out a plastic bag, a used one from the supermarket down town, and looked around while waiting for the dog to finish his business. The sky had turned a bit darker, but no sign of rain yet. The street was empty, except for a lady in an orange hat with a small dog coming towards him on the same side of the street. Roger did not feel like a lengthy mutual sniffing session by the dogs and the inevitable dog small talk between humans. He crossed the road after cleaning up after Tucker. He wondered how it always seemed that there was more coming out of his dog then went in.
“Sax!” she screamed after the dog, who ran across the street towards Tucker, because Sax managed to pull hard enough for the flimsy leash to tear and break. Sax had put herself squarely in front of Tucker. She wagged frenetically, barked twice and put her front paws up on Tucker’s shoulders. Agatha ran across the street, holding on to her beret, while pleading with her dog who, naturally, would not listen. Tucker was not going to have any of this lack of respect. He snarled and showed his teeth and, when this did not deter the young dog, put his jaws around the little dog’s head and smacked her down on the pavement.
Until that moment, Roger was not really paying much attention to the whole thing. Hundreds of dogs had come up to Tucker and it never got out of hand. Now it did and he had to do something. He jerked Tucker’s leash with one hand to pull him back. With the other hand he managed to get a finger under Sax’s collar, just as Agatha arrived at the scene. She picked up her dog and held her close to her chest.
“I am sorry,” said Roger, “this has never happened before. Is he OK?”
“She. It’s a she, and she is bleeding! Oh my God! Can’t you keep your dog under control?”
“Again, I am sorry. Let me have a look,” Roger said, avoiding the question, and bent over to look at Sax, while holding Tucker on a short leash behind him. “It doesn’t look so bad, just a little mark. He … she should be fine.”
“Poor baby,” Agatha sighed while kissing the dog on the forehead. She looked at Roger with a vexed look. “Your dog is vicious!”
“No mam, he is not. He is old and doesn’t like to be jumped at, like anyone else. Besides, he was on a leash, but your dog was running free. You call that a leash?”
“Yes,” she said feebly, defending her artistic work. “Well, I suppose it wasn’t strong enough. Colorful, yes, but not strong enough.”
“Forgive me for asking, but why don’t you get a normal leather or canvas leash?”
“My dog needs some color in her life and I had these old blouses I was never going to wear anyway, so that’s why.”
“Looks like expensive cloth. Why would you not wear these anymore? Out of fashion? Money to spare?” That last bit came out a bit too sarcastically, he thought. All he wanted was to calm this lady down, so in spite of himself, he now was trying some small talk.”
“These blouses were from another time in my life. None of your business. How old is your dog?”
“Umh … since your leash is broken, I guess you need to walk back now, carrying your dog. There is not much traffic, but enough to worry about.”
“Yeah, I’ll walk back now.” Agatha started looking left and right and she crossed the road without paying any further attention to this man and his mean dog.
They were now all going in the same direction, towards the cul-de-sac. Roger had no intention of going back early. In any event, Tucker needed his daily dose of forest smells. He looked at the lady with the small dog across the street. She was slim and attractive, but way too flamboyant for his taste. Who on earth would make a leash from old blouses? Weird.
“Excuse me!” he said in a loud voice across the divide. “I did not catch your name.”
“Well, I didn’t throw it at you, did I now? But it’s Agatha. You?”
“Roger. This is Tucker,” he said pointing at his dog.
“Roger, it was not nice to meet you. This one, the hurt one, thanks to Tucker, is Sax, With an a.”
Roger was taken aback by Agatha’s honesty. You rarely ever say it’s not nice to meet someone. In any event, he was not going to apologize again. He did too much of that already at home.
“Okay then. How old is Sax?”
“Don’t know. Two years maybe? She was a rescue.”
They walked on in silence. A sudden gust of wind announced a rain that fell in thin and infrequent drops. Roger hated it when his wife was right. It was not too bad, if the rain didn’t get any stronger his coat would manage to keep him dry. He looked at Agatha, who had started to walk faster.
“Sorry Agatha, I am curious. Why didn’t you bring an umbrella? You’d be dry and comfy.”
“Because I believe that life is boring if you do not take a little risk now and then. Funny question, why do you ask?”
“I just wondered. I think I wanted to annoy my wife, who was nagging me to take one. Now I am getting wet and she will give the ‘I told you so’ after I get home.”
“There, you see, you took a little risk. But in your case, I think, it’s not going to make your life any less boring. Maybe you should take a bigger risk.”
That one hit Roger by surprise and shut him up. He had never thought about doing anything drastic. His life could be better, but it had its comforts too. Wasn’t it a bit impolite of this Agatha lady to lecture him, an insurance man, whose life had always been about risk? Look at her. She had left her home without an umbrella, wearing a light jacket in some blueish green hue, fashionable no doubt, but it wouldn’t handle this rain at all.
“Maybe you should have taken no risks, going out in the rain with a jacket like that.”
“Look up, Roger,” she answered, ignoring the comment.
“Look up to the sky.”
Roger stopped and looked up to the sky. The clouds overhead were low in the sky, not a spot of blue, and the rain stung his face.
“What am I looking at?”
“Keep looking, but now close your eyes.” Agatha had stopped walking as well.
Roger was about to protest. How can you look with your eyes closed? But he looked up and waited. Then, he understood. Through the wind in his ears and the rain on his skin, he felt something in his heart, a confirmation of some kind. Through the darkness, he could sense the sting of the rain, lighting up parts of his skin in unexpected ways, his heart beating behind his eyes. However brief it was, it was there and clear: he was alive, he stood on this earth alone and he was slowly getting wet and a bit dizzy. He opened his eyes.
“Well, did you see it?”
“No, I didn’t. But I felt it, don’t know how to call it, perhaps like a chord on a piano that echoed in my brain and in my heart. Plus, my face was getting wet, which was kind of refreshing.”
“You see, my dear, sometimes you just need to look up, no matter what the weather is. And an umbrella is always getting in the way. I gotta run now. Bye!”
The rain had become more intense, drenching them both. Agatha was clutching her dog and quickly made for her driveway, her house and a hot shower and dry clothes inside. And then she would pamper poor Sax, since there was no one else.
Roger looked at Tucker, who was clearly not happy. He turned around and headed for home. Is that why his wife wanted him to take an umbrella, so he would not be looking up and feel the rain on his face, or see the sun breaking through the clouds when it was over? Maybe this Agatha woman was right. He looked over his shoulder to see an orange beret disappear behind the trees. He wondered about that other life she mentioned, probably with another man or woman, but that was really none of his business, as she had said.
Maybe he should take a bigger risk. Or let’s start with taking any risk to begin with, without any insurance. His life was boring, annoying really, if you thought about it. He should look up more often, like she said. He kept thinking about this on his way home and by the time he opened the front door, he was actually in a good mood.
Agatha stepped out of the shower and dried herself off. What a bizarre moment that was, with that guy on the street, she thought. Poor man, didn’t seem to have much of a life. Agatha put on some sweatpants and a T shirt and switched on her IPad. Luckily, Sax seemed to be okay, she thought as she followed the dog with her eyes. Sax was happily running around the house with the retired leash in her mouth as a trophy, oblivious of the memories of him at every corner. Enough already. She posted the picture she took earlier on Facebook and then opened her web browser to look up that real estate company, whose signs she had seen on the street.
Rodger duly accepted his wife’s ‘I told you so’s’, put on the kettle for a cup of tea later and climbed up the stairs to take a shower. He now wished that the showerhead was a little higher up, so he could let the hot water run over his face like the rain did earlier today. Now he had to bend his old knees (which still hurt from the cold) to feel the same thing, one of many things he seemed to have missed in his life. He stepped out of the shower and got dressed. He needed to get some new socks, this pair (like most others) had holes in them, but he had no time to think about that now. He stepped by his desk and took out his wallet and car keys. Back in the kitchen he switched off the tea kettle and opened the door to the garage.
“Where you going, Rodgie?” His wife must have heard him from her usual spot on the sofa.
“We are low on tea, darling, just going out to get some from the supermarket.”
He closed the door and got into his car. He followed the automatic garage doors with his eyes as they opened and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Take a little risk, she had said – so he decided to laugh. Maybe the folks at the airport would have a laugh too, when he would take off his shoes at the security checkpoint and his naked toes would be there for all to see, looking up, without umbrella or insurance.
If Orwell had lived today (2020)
I was wondering, if George Orwell had lived today and had applied the writing in his novel “1984” to the political environment in the United States of today for a novel called, let’s say “2055”, how would that look like? I am definitely not in Orwell’s league, but let me offer some ideas for a synopsis of such a parody. And no, this is not about Trump: it is about the absurdity of two party politics in the US.
It is 2055 in the United States of America. Two political parties, Red and Blue, alternate the reins of power in equal branches of government, but rarely do they rule all branches at the same time. Red- and Blue-speak are the official and mutually exclusive narratives. When one party takes power, it publishes a list of words previously used by the other party, now to be banned from official documents. Censorship by the White House Office Of Proper Parlance (WHOOP-P, to discourage any comparison to Big Brother) enforces the use of the approved narrative by government and members of the ruling party through digital monitoring. Bad news is classified, of course.
Admiration and support of the President by members of his/her party are compulsory, as are continuous attempts at impeachment by the opposition. Both sides investigate each other’s action when they can and then later on investigate the investigation. By 2037, all legislation has come to a near-halt and the government is in a permanent shutdown. Red counties and towns in blue states declare themselves sanctuaries or even secede or join another state. The political map is beginning to look like a leopard skin.
Vacancies in the courts are filled by judges fluent in Red- or Blue-speak and selected through DNA analysis with a preference for longevity. Knowledge of the law is of secondary importance. In 2055, the Supreme Court includes 39 Justices, because every time the ruling party has a minority represented in the Court, they add and appoint justices to gain a majority.
Whatever legislative or policy achievements have been made by the previous party in power, especially if objectively good for everybody, will immediately be undone by the other when they gain power, since neither party can afford a political victory by the other. As a result, there is barely progress in any field. Bipartisan agreement is believed extinct. Healthcare in particular has suffered. Most people are now going to Greenland (now actually green and still part of Denmark) to see a doctor.
Looking at the rest of the world, single-party states and multi-party democracies had greater political agility and adapted better to the dangers of the climate crisis (Miami went under water and was moved to higher ground in West-Virginia in 2049). Foreign powers are loathe to enter into agreements with the US, knowing that these may be cancelled after the next election.
Neither party will accept responsibility for the ever growing deficit and will never raise taxes either, for fear of losing future elections. As a result, the US will default on its debt in 2034, driving the world economy into a deep recession, for which both parties continue to blame each other, rather than the system that brought them to that point. To solve the crisis, Alaska is sold to China.
The media is equally divided, having to sell stories that people will want to read and thus attract paid advertisements. Both Blue and Red outlets therefore offer wishful-thinking stories about the looming collapse of the other side or revel in mostly made-up scandals involving prominent personalities of the other side. In any event, Blue folks only talk and listen to Blue media and so it is with Red.
Conspiracy theories are rife, hoaxes are real, vulgar insults are normal, doctored images are fair, and accusations once uttered immediately become fact. Truth had become irrelevant already in 2027 and fact-checking was declared illegal in 2030. The CIA was disbanded a year later in a rare bi-partisan vote, since narrative always trumped intelligence anyway. Scientists went underground.
Political change is brought about by a small group of independents, whose role is shrinking as a result of gerrymandering, prohibitions on inter-party ‘purple’ marriages, and overwhelming social pressure to belong to either Red or Blue, both of whom accuse independents of being un-patriotic and of being in cahoots with the mysterious Deep State.
Hypocrisy is no longer a negative attribute. In fact, people are expected to switch views if suddenly the shoe is on the other blue or red foot. Politicians supporting impeachment on grounds of e.g. gross incompetence when the other side occupies the white House, gain great respect when they oppose impeachment for the very same reason when the White House has changed color (literally, since an executive order to that effect was signed in 2041. This caused a real mess when a contractor used water-soluble paint that turned the grounds purple during the six-week rainstorm of 2043. An investigation revealed that the contractor (one of the heroes in this story) was an independent. Rumors that he was Deep State could not be proven.)
You cannot go for dinner to a restaurant if it does not belong to your party. There is a Red football league, a Blue baseball league. Independents are rarely welcomed in clubs, restaurants or stadiums, nor do they want to go there for fear of attack and endless tirades in Blue- or Redspeak to make them see the error of their ways, so they go undercover. Death threats are par for the course. Both sides see the other as a menace to their way of life. In schools across the country, children are taught either Red or Blue versions of history. There is an objective (but illegal) history book in circulation, allegedly published by the Deep State.
How will this story end? Well, it could go on forever until the country collapses into total chaos, unless one party manages to gain a 2/3 majority in both houses and ¾ in the States by itself or in coalition with malcontents in the other party. This could happen, for example, when the other party makes a huge mistake with the economy and drives everyone into poverty. At this point, three alternate endings are possible. (A): the minority sees its identity threatened and starts a war of secession, (B): the ruling party effectively establishes a dictatorship, or hopefully (C): the ruling party or coalition (in a fit of wisdom) decides to do away with the district-based electoral system through a constitutional amendment and sets up a system of proportional representation. Now the independents, the far-left and the far-right, plus a range of single issue and fringe parties (e.g. the “Save The Moon” party) see their chance to get some representation in Congress. The US slowly turns into a multi-party system with a coalition government, since no party will be able to gain a majority needed to make laws and adopt budgets. Impeachment is scrapped and replaced by rare votes of no-confidence. The Deep State was never talked about again, if it even existed in the first place. And with that, civility has landed.
This story is exaggerated as it means to provoke and perhaps entertain, but it is not completely absurd. Make no mistake, much of the above is drawn from or inspired by today’s headlines. I do not blame Trump or Pelosi or Democrats and Republicans; you can substitute blue and red for any combination of two colors. Nor has the two party-system always been bad: good times may well return. Still, there are dynamics baked into the Constitution that may cause harm to this republic in the long run.
As a European living in the United States for decades, I have always been struck by the deference by politicians and the public alike to the Constitution and its Framers. This is understandable, yet at the same time it is a bit surprising since they have given us (unwillingly) a rather dysfunctional form of democracy: a two-party system. This system is a direct result of the electoral system enshrined in the Constitution, whereby a single candidate just needs to get more votes than his/her opponents to represent an entire district or state, even if that majority represent a minority of total votes cast. Winner takes all.
Unbeknownst to the framers of the Constitution at the time, according to political science insights of today such an electoral system is nearly certain to lead to a two-party system as an unintended consequence. An important reason for that is that voters would prefer to vote for a party that would promote at least part of their interests and stands a chance of winning, rather than a party in the middle that is a an exact political match, but would never rise to power. Ask yourself why a third (or fourth) party has never taken off in the US. The UK and Canada feature similar systems and thus also have two principal political parties.
By contrast, an electoral system based on proportional representation is known to lead to a multi-party system as in Western Europe, including my own country, the Netherlands. To make things worse, changing the Constitution to fix the electoral system requires a two thirds majority of both houses and three fourths of States to agree. But why would any party, whether Republican or Democrat, voluntarily do away with the very electoral system that gave them such a majority in the first place, if they ever get there? Bottom line: the US is going to be stuck for a long time with a two-party system and the political dysfunction that has become so apparent in recent years. Dysfunction will become the function.