I get that "conservatives hate democracy" is supposed to be a thing now but guys, *nobody sane on either side* believes in anything CLOSE to pure majoritarianism!
Is there some movement to repeal the President's veto power?

Is there a party proposing that we adjudicate court cases by popular vote?

Has someone suggested constitutional amendments be passed by simple majorities?
Is there a proposal to remove the bill of rights and entrust our rights to referenda?

Has someone suggested universal resident voting, enfranchising infants and non-citizens equally?

*EVERYONE* supports franchise restrictions and curtailments of majority power!
Look, it's quite possible, indeed I think almost certainly the case, conservatives support greater restrictions and curtailments than progressives.

But we're all debating about edge cases here.
Nobody in any part of the actual plausibly-empowered political spectrum is plausibly advancing any policy that could reduce or increase votes cast/population by more than a couple of percentage points. Which is big for determining elections! But not some epochal change!
If votes cast/population decline by 2%, guys, it actually isn't the end of democracy. And if votes cast/population rise by 2%, folks, it isn't the rise of an avenging mob destroying political intermediation.
And if we add/preserve one or two more checks on majoritarianism, it doesn't mean we're an apartheid state with no functional deliberative bodies.

And if we remove one or two checks on majorities, it doesn't mean that a tide of revolutionary torch-bearers is coming for us all.
The truth is, there are essentially NO pure majoritarians in American politics, and essentially NO pure "anti-majoritarians." There are very few pure "democrats" and very few pure "republicans." Acting like there are is a ridiculous empowerment of extremist rhetoric.
"But Lyman muh parliamentary systems..."


They still have courts!
And indeed, the whole logic of courts is distinctively anti-majoritarian! We have courts to protect rights BECAUSE MAJORITIES ARE INTRINSICALLY UNTRUSTWORTHY. That's literally why courts exist!
We allow majorities to decide many matters as a political *necessity*: you can't buck majorities in the LR without serious blowback.

We don't allow majorities to decide things because they are *just or wise*.

Popular opinion probably tends towards no particular truth value.
Now, I do worry US institutions right now are inadvisably structured in such a way that our current system is politically unsustainable. I have proposed various and sundry remedies, and support many on offer from others.
But "Our current system is setting us up for a collision by repeatedly deciding edge cases in the same direction" =/= "Conservatives literally want to make Trump dictator for life"
Or, relatedly, "U.S. politics are currently an apartheid state where a racist minority has total control over a dissenting majority."
Re: the apartheid thing. @davidshor has made this argument to many several times; that the US is approaching apartheid-like political conditions. I don't buy it. Below are election results from South Africa from apartheid (and 1994) vs. US recently (for House).
@davidshor As you can see, "winner's share of seats minus winner's share of votes" revealed a HUGE gap in apartheid SA: gerrymandering gave the National Party something like 15% of the legislature beyond their vote share!
@davidshor In the US, winners have tended to get like 3-5% more than their vote share. And, note, when Democrats won, they got more seats than their vote share as well! The US system gives lopsided results to district winners, which is *often* but not *always* the GOP.
@davidshor When we look vs. population, we see an even starker difference. In South Africa, the electorate was so small that voters cast for the winners vs. population tended to be under 5% of total population. In the US, it's 15-25%.
That means that in South Africa, there was a MASSIVE gap between how much of the population actually voted for the government, and how many seats they had: something like 70%!

In the US, it's less than half that, and much of it is explained by non-citizens and children.
In other words.... the US system may be gerrymandered, we may be non-majoritarian.... but not by some vast yawning margin akin to apartheid South Africa. We look more like European parlamentary states than we do like South Africa.
Here's a comparison, winner share of legislative seats vs. winner share of votes. Fascinatingly, virtually NO country has a situation where the winner (in terms of total seats) got FEWER seats than their vote share would indicate.
The the thing to see here is that U.S. House elections award their winners a very similar amount of seats, relative to their vote share, as the systems used in other countries.
Some countries, like apartheid South Africa, or current systems in France, or Canada and Australia, are VASTLY more lopsided, giving HUGE seat advantages to parties with comparatively tiny vote shares.
Macron's coalition scored 32% of the popular vote in the 1st round, and 49% in the second round. Overall, they got 40% of votes cast.

They got 61% of the seats in the legislature!
Trudeau's Liberals in Canada are another case of extraordinary minority rule! They scores just 39% of the popular vote, yet were awarded *54%* of the seats!
Am I saying the US system is perfect? No!!! Is gerrymandering a problem? Yes!!! Would any meaningful election reform try to find some fix to the current problem of districting? Yes!!!
But folks we need to stop acting like the US is the only place where idiosyncratic election rules and optimal spatial distribution of candidates leads to huge gaps between vote share won and power actually held!

We're quite average!
Now you could argue these countries' lopsided outcomes are not as big of a problem because they have a broader franchise! And it's true, the US has lower turnout as a percentage of voting age population!
But (1) some of that may be partly due to a larger non-citizen population and (2) we actually have average-or-better turnout *among registered voters*. pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018…
Also note that international studies of turnout are funny because some countries have more registered voters than they have voting-age people! e.g. Portugal, Finland, Mexico, Greece, Israel, Chile. Diasporans may be part of that.
But to the extent that the US has a problem with a small franchise, it is ENTIRELY about low voter registration rates.

Please note that changing polling place availability will mostly not impact voter registration rates. Voter ID laws won't change whether somebody registered.
That doesn't mean those are good policies! I am skeptical of voter ID laws and don't support GOP state party efforts to reduce polling sites!

But like, empirically, the difference between us and other countries isn't those policies. It's low voter registration.
So look, you can argue that the fact that the U.S. doesn't have a mass automatic registration system linked to vital records databases is a huge problem. I actually agree we should have such a thing.

But that's.... not super high on either side's political agenda, actually.

The U.S. system could stand to be improved!

But it is not a uniquely non-majoritarian system. Many parliamentary systems create VASTLY greater mismatches of votes/power.
So I wanted to look at the question of the inherent advantage of Republicans/Democrats in e.g. House/Senate/Presidency. To my mind, the simplest question is, "What share of seats/electors did a party win vs. what share of voters did its candidates get?"
Yes I know that there isn't *technically* a national popular vote for House/Senate/Presidency, but a simple comparison *as if their were* is an easy way we can compare actual outcomes vs. some "as if there were" counterfactual.
And yes I know that there is a problem where if it were an actual national popular vote parties would behave differently so get different votes, but we have to live in the actual world, not a hypothetical world where endogeneity is sorted out.
And in the actual world, people look at national vote tallies as a proxy for national popularity. That's the social reality of what party has a popular mandate. It may be wrong, but it's how most people think. So I take it as given.
One wrinkle with the Senate is you really do need to use the last 3 election cycles, as the number of people voting in a given cycle has huge variety.
So here's house bias, where "bias" is simply "Party's share of seats won minus party's share of the sum of national votes cast".
So that gives you something like your "built in R advantage."

But hold up. It flipped HARD in favor of Democrats in 2008. And it's not like Dem vote share in 2008 was crazy high. The only added to 206 by about 1% of votes cast. Only 53% of total votes.
Sry only added to 2006
The trick to remember here is that *usually*, in America, *no party gets a majority of votes*. Both parties usually over-perform in the House because there are lots (like millions) of votes every election for doomed candidates, as well as a lot of spoiled ballots.
In other words, the US system produces a lot of weird biases, power changes, and deadlock... but if any party cracks around ~50% of the total vote they suddenly get drenched in a wave election.
FPTP in districts creates a lot of weird threshold effects at the local level and they end up making non-linearities of bias at the national level. So it's possible that at "nobody has majority support" areas, GOP has a bias in its favor.
Let's look at the Senate. Here again we see like a 2-6% GOP bias in many years.... but actually the Democrats held a bigger Senate share than their popular vote tally would suggest from 2008-2014!
So again, this "built in bias" seems... uh.... not very built in? it seems like, you know, we have a winners-bias built in and winning gives you outsized rewards? I am unsure how it is a built in reward for GOP that like 40% of the time or so actually favors Democrats?
And then you get to the Electoral College... where Democrats in the last few decades have actually tended to OUTPERFORM their popular vote share much more than Republicans.
Again, the issue here is the GOP has outperformed by narrow margins in key cases. That is, the GOP outperformed in 2000, a close election, but the EC gave MASSIVE EC bonuses to Clinton and Obama.
Which doesn't really matter since EC margin doesn't matter.... but it's hard to know exactly how to quantify EC effect in extremely tight races?
So if you average these effects all together (I triple-weight House and double-weight lagged Senate as the Presidency is an odd duck) you get an average partisan bias of House/Senate/Electoral College of:
That doesn't look like a consistent GOP bias. It does look like maybe a secular increase in GOP bias, but only kind of. In 2016, the GOP bias was maybe a bit heavier than what Dems got in 2008, and a bit lighter than what Dems got in 1992. Granted, 1992 had a 3rd party.
My point here is NOT that the GOP has no structural advantage. We absolutely do. No ifs-ands-or-buts.

My point is that the election bias measures aren't really measuring structural bias. They're just measuring the historic idiosyncracies of electoral coalitions.
None of these metrics really tell you anything about any baked-in advantages: for that you need to have metrics of district size and shape vs. population distribution, etc.
All these metrics show you is that, sometimes, due to various election idiosyncracies, some parties over/underperform their raw popular vote share.

It is not consistent which party over/under performs, the scores varying across time and election type.
The extent of over/under performance is in fact very normal compared to other developed countries, including those with parliamentary or mixed systems. The US is not unusual in this.
This does not mean our system is perfect!

I am on record supporting MASSIVE structural reforms! It's literally in my handle! Here's a link to my argument: mereorthodoxy.com/congressional-…
But we need to stop this ridiculous line of reasoning where we act like America is the bottom of the barrel on democratic/republican/inclusive electoral institutions among developed countries. We truly are not.
Our current problems are well within historic norms, far from irresolveable, and pose no serious threat to our basic constitutional structure ***UNLESS*** activists on both sides gin of hysteria convincing voters that structural problems can only be solved via revolution.
This fearmongering becomes more likely when moderate reforms are blocked, of course, and I hold the GOP responsible in large part for blocking moderate reforms on key issues. They squandered the Obama years and chances to do some real good.
And then they came into government with no plans whatsoever and spent two years screwing themselves at every turn. This is a huge failure of GOP politics and governance and it is likely to provoke an unnecessary wave of political crises.
I don't hold Democrats guiltless at all: they made no effort to make it easier for the GOP to compromise and have shown increasing radicalism over the last 2 decades which, chronologically, predates rising GOP radicalism.

But I do think GOP mistakes are a bigger factor.
BUT NONETHELESS, whoever got us to where we are... we should stop trying to gin up a constitutional crisis by convincing people that revolutionary change is necessary to improve their circumstances!

That is a very bad strategy!

More people will die!
I say "more" because the apocalypticism of both sides AND IN PARTICULAR AND ESPECIALLY the Trumpist wing of the GOP is becoming a physical security risk to many Americans, as recent anti-Semitic attacks have made abundantly clear.
The point is... moderate structure reform will solve such structural problems as exist, American governance is will within the range of institutional outcomes we see in other mature democracies, and there are non-extreme legislative fixes to many policy problems.
And on the question of policy solutions, I offer you my "Vaccine Against Socialism" thread from a while back:
And on structural reform, I humbly suggest that a combination of #PackTheHouse alongside a serious move to nationally universal voter registration and uniform voter roll maintenance procedures would probably fix a lot of our franchise, access, and inclusion problems.
Gotten several comments along the lines of "BUT LYMAN, even if France has a wonky system, it doesn't result in a party that *wasn't even the plurality* receiving a majority of seats as the US does!"
This is interesting because it forgets a few things.

1. The US has lots of non-majoritarian institutions, and before filibuster was ended, you need much more than a majority to govern alone. i.e. "spurious majorities" didn't yield real power. That's begun to change (thanks Reid)
i.e. it's true it's easier to get a legislative "win" from a popular vote "loss" in the US system than many others: but because we have more barriers to legislative majorities *doing anything*, the damage done by that is much lower
Witness the relative ineffectualness of the Democrats 2008-2010 or GOP 2016-2018 for good examples of how even having decent majorities really only gets you maybe *one or two* pieces of legislation, and even then only with painful compromises.
2. It's striking to me how many people think, "It is fair to get 60% of the legislature for 35% of the vote if you have the largest share, but it's unfair to get 52% of the legislature with 47% of the vote if your opponent got 49%."
Like, I am not sure that the moral status of "narrowly edged out the opposition" is sufficiently high to explain how the first outcome is just and the second is unjust.

They may both be unjust! Or both just!
But you have to REEEEAAAALLLLY believe that there's a huge moral symbolism to getting *one more vote* than the other guy to think that the parliamentary margins are somehow NBD because the seat winners were still popular vote winners.
Now, if you have a system where a parliamentary majority has very few restraints on its power, then okay, I get it. It's vital that the popular vote winner win the most seats. There's a real legitimacy question there.
But, uh, that isn't the US system? You have to win across elections in several different time windows playing under different rules at different times, and even then a slim majority can't get very much done.
The reality is that the difference between holding 51 and 49 Senators in the US is a lot smaller than the difference between holding 326 and 324 MPs in the UK house of commons.
FYI, I keep getting people saying, "Proportional representation solves this!"

No it doesn't. Across 15 developed-world proportional representation systems, seat share of the winner exceeded vote share by an average of 4.2% in recent elections. US averages 4.7%.
In other words, the US has modestly less representative outcomes than the typical proportional representation system.

We just aren't that weird, folks.
Most PR systems have idiosyncracies like threshold requirements, or small legislatures yielding lumpy results, or winner-bonuses to help form governments, etc. "Absolute and totally pure PR" is extremely rare.
Perhaps because IT IS A REALLY BAD IDEA. It results in extraordinarily divided government and low incentives to compromise.
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