I think this thoughtful op-ed from @NickTroiano has a lot of smart stuff. But it’s very unsatisfying. I think this passage gets to the crux of the problem with so much of the way we think about party reform. 1/

Electoral politics is not “an industry” like any other. And it makes little sense to talk about parties in terms of “market share.” A simple analogy helps to show why:

In your grocery store cereal aisle, you find almost limitless choices. The breakfast cereal industry won’t leave you with only two choices. You get corn flakes. I get shredded wheat. Someone else gets the artisanal brand. We each get to take them home and eat what we bought.

Not in an election. In an election, we all make our individual choices, but then we all get the same result. Everyone gets president Biden. Everyone gets a Democratic House and an evenly divided Senate. It’s as if we’re all made to eat the one cereal that sold the most.

The main issue here isn’t a market duopoly, or even simply Duverger’s Law. It’s that what happens after the votes are cast also matters. Thinking in terms of market share puts the focus on the election and ignores everything that happens after the vote.

The cereal analogy has another lesson. A cereal buyer gets what the manufacturer made. In politics, citizens are the manufacturers. In the U.S., parties are incredibly open to citizen involvement. Even with less internal democracy, parties are open to those who get involved.

So the question is not simply how many parties can we vote for. It's what kind of party system do we want, and what kind can we get. Is a multiparty system with even weaker parties a good way to avoid demagogues? How does it affect the presidency, and the Electoral College?

In the multi-party systems that most people are familiar with, the various parties carry their market share into the parliament, and then those parties form the governing coalition. In our presidential system, would something like this happen?

Political science has a lot to say here. But I think most of us would agree that it matters how strong the parties are in this world. And most reform that focuses on market share doesn't even pay much attention to what it takes to have strong and responsive parties. 9/9

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More from @ProfHansNoel

3 Mar 20
Everyone asking “is the Party Deciding?” OT1H, it sure looks like party leaders are coordinating to help Biden. OTOH, weren’t they supposed to do that in the invisible primary? And anyway, shouldn’t we wait till people vote?

We’re not Mayor Pete! This isn’t Iowa! 1/10
Meanwhile, however, I think it’s safe to say that the book is relevant. Here’s my view… 2/10
The Party Decides is ultimately about how to think about parties in nominations. Instead of looking at nominations from the POV of candidates competing for votes, we looked from the POV of the party, and the incentives of activists, leaders and long-standing members. 3/10
Read 10 tweets
28 Feb 19
Kudos to @KevinMKruse for including political scientists in his rundown of experts disputing @DineshDSouza’s silly claim that there has not been a realignment on racial issues in American political parties. 1/x
Important b/c D’Souza not only mangles the history. He has a fals view of what a political party is. Parties, especially in the U.S., are coalitions -- meaning they bring together people who disagree, but who choose to set aside those disagreements. 2/x
Managing those disagreements can be hard, but it’s what parties do. 3/x
Read 10 tweets

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