Hertzberg in MN: RCV Could Help Save Democracy
Amid chaos in our political system, author, political analyst and New Yorker editor Hendrik Hertzberg spoke to a crowd of over 100 fellow democracy mavens including numerous state and local elected officials in Minneapolis March 10 about the urgent need for structural political reform.
Our democracy was cutting edge, state-of-the-art, the Silicon Valley of politics in 1789, Hertzberg said at the standing-room-only FairVote Minnesota event but much has changed in the past two centuries. And given an electorate that doesnt neatly fit into two political parties plus a presidential race that is plumbing new lows in coarseness, polarization, and incivility its time for far-reaching reforms like Ranked Choice Voting, he said.
In a way, we kind of have a four-party system developing right now, with the social-democratic party of the Democratic Party; the Liberal Democratic part of the Democratic party; the mainstream or traditional Republican party; and the populist-nationalist Republican party, Hertzberg said. And its producing perverse results. But under Ranked Choice Voting, you could have four parties, and you could still get a kind of consensus winner out of it.
RCV promotes civility, he said, since candidates often need second-choice votes from their rivals supporters to win. And it opens the door to more perspectives more thoughtful perspectives in politics. RCV allows more voices in the conversation in a meaningful way, without taking the risk that the winner is despised by a majority.
An Evening with Hendrik Hertzberg was moderated by author and Star Tribune columnist Lori Sturdevant, another longtime RCV advocate.
Were honored that Hertzbergs first visit to Minnesota was on FairVote Minnesotas behalf and we hope it wont be his last!
Thanks to our many wonderful cohosts click here for a complete list, and for a link to a full photo gallery.
Democracy Expert Larry Diamond Touts RCV in Talk at U
Hertzberg wasnt the only nationally renowned political commentator to visit the Twin Cities last week. On March 7, Stanford political scientist Larry Diamond joined former Minnesota Congressman Vin Weber in a fascinating conversation at the Humphrey School about Americas ailing democracy and how to turn it around.
The biggest thing you can change is the single-member-district plurality system. Voters fear the spoiler problem, Diamond said. If we had RCV, where voters could rank their different choices and then if their favorite independent candidate didnt win, their vote could be redistributed, it would be much easier for independent candidates to win. I think youd see a big correction of the polarizing trend in American politics.
Weber said that current political dysfunction was convincing him that Diamond is right about structural reforms like Ranked Choice Voting. Im being influenced to support RCV, Weber said. Ive been skeptical, but Im being persuaded.
To listen to their discussion, archived on MPR News Presents, click here.
Delegate or Not, You Can Be an RCV Advocate at Conventions
Its ironic that during perhaps the most divisive presidential election cycle in decades, when the need for meaningful reforms like RCV is clearer than ever, some party insiders want to roll back progress on voting reform. While support for Ranked Choice Voting builds nationally, with statewide adoption a real possibility in Maine, RCV is threatened here in Minnesota.
Thats why were grateful to every democracy champion who caucused on March 1 and volunteered to become a county or senate district convention delegate this spring. If youre a delegate (or alternate) and we havent connected about conventions, please reach out your advocacy is crucial!
And even if youre not a delegate or alternate, you can still be helpful in protecting RCV and expanding its use in Minnesota. You can volunteer with FairVote Minnesota at a convention it doesnt need to be your own convention! if youve got a few hours to spare on an upcoming Saturday. And, please talk to your candidates for local and state office and urge their support for RCV.
Talking with fellow democracy lovers is easy, rewarding, and fun. Your help in education convention delegates could make a big difference. Check out our convention page for more information, and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can spare two or three hours for democracy some weekend soon.
As always, thank you for your commitment to a better democracy.
The FairVote Minnesota Team