Scholar explains how proportional representation could help American politics

Lee Drutman discusses depolarizing politics, the potential of passing more legislation and having more competitive elections.

cardboard sign that reads "fight today for a better tomorrow" held up in a crowd of people

Most everyone agrees that our political parties are very different. And it’s not just that they have different preferences — they operate in different ecosystems. The people in them consume different media, have different friends, occupy different professional bubbles.

At the national and state levels, that often means gridlock. It’s a lot harder to pass legislation when you don’t agree or even like the people across the aisle. But it’s not just the people. Our political structures can make passing legislation easier or harder depending on how they are constructed. Because there are so many opportunities for vetoing legislation in America, it makes that much harder.

Are there ways to make our political structure more representative of the public’s will, and to depolarize our politics? One political scientist explains.

“What we really need is a more proportional system that allows for much broader diversity of representation across a much fuller political spectrum.” — Lee Drutman, scholar

Listen: Political scientist discusses why American politics are polarized and what can be done about it.



Lee Drutman is a senior fellow in the Political Reform program at New America, and a contributor to FiveThirtyEight. He is also the author of “Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America.” He says proportional representation would ensure that a party’s vote share in an election is equivalent to its seats in the legislature.

“What we really need is a more proportional system that allows for much broader diversity of representation across a much fuller political spectrum,” says Drutman.

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