Restoring the Guardrails of Democracy
This week I continue my series on the National Constitution Center’s Restoring the Guardrails of Democracy project. While most commentators are glued to the political horse race – obsessing over the 2024 midterms or the latest twist in the Trump saga – my show remains a place to discuss ideas and principles rather then ideology and personalities.
Part 1 featured Ilya Somin representing Team Libertarian, who proposed foot voting (among other things) as a simple way to make American government more accountable to the people.
Part 2 will feature Professor Edward B. Foley – Ebersold Chair in Constitutional Law at Ohio State University – presenting the progressive team’s ideas for safeguarding our democracy. Their report is worth reading in its entirety, regardless of your political persuasion. Foley and his co-author, USC law professor Franita Tolson, make a compelling case for reforming the way we elect our representatives to ensure that they actually represent the will of the majority. What a concept!
While Foley is on the record saying he’d like to replace the Electoral College with a national popular vote, the report takes a more modest aim of electoral reform – looking only to what Congress could accomplish through mere legislation, short of a constitutional amendment.
Foley is particularly concerned with electoral procedures that allow more extreme minority factions to hold power. We’ve recently seen primaries in which the Democratic Party funds a far-right candidate who they believe will be easier to defeat in the general election. Foley criticizes this cynical ploy in part because it undermines the selection of “Condorcet Winners.” If you’re unfamiliar with the Condorcet method, pioneered by the Marquis de Condorcet, be sure to tune in live this Sunday.
The basic idea, summarized in Team Progressive’s report, is that the winner of an election should be the candidate “preferred by a majority of voters when compared individually against each of the other alternatives.”
One way to achieve this is through ranked-choice voting, which we recently saw in an Alaskan primary in which Sarah Palin advanced to the general. Dr. Robert Malone offers a valuable explainer on how ranked choice voting works on his Substack.
Join Ned and me this Sunday at 8am PACIFIC, or subscribe to the podcast, to expand your civic numeracy.