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One Solution to Polarization: Multiple-Member Constituencies

Ed Kilgore’s interesting post on polarization in congress seems like a good opportunity to point out that there are some practical, structural steps we could take that would probably reduce polarization. One such move would be to shift from single-member constituencies, where a Congressional District has about 600,000 people and one member of congress, to multiple-member constituencies where larger units are represented by multiple reps elected via single transferable vote.

For example, New York City and its 8.3 million residents might be a single district with 13 Representatives. Odds are that there are enough Republicans in the city to make sure that one or two of those guys would be Republicans. That guy might be pretty right-wing. But he’d still want to stand up for the particularlist interests of the city — for more money for mass transit rather than highways, for example. So an informal group of House members organized to advocate for the interests of urban areas wouldn’t be exclusively Democratic. Applied across the country, it would mean in general that regionality wouldn’t correlate quite as much with ideology, and you’d have more bipartisan cross-cutting coalitions on issues where other kinds of interests trump the main left-right partisan axis.

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