Graphic wrote:There's a growing movement to have independent bodies draw congressional districts, at least one state has already tried it but it's caught up in courts at the moment IIRC.
The fundamental problem I have with proportional representation in the US is that with such a large country, you need representatives tied to their local constituency in order to have their concerns raised on the federal level.
If congress were a bunch of random ministers supplied by the parties, what cause would any of them have to care about what a piece of legislation would do to Nebraska, Montana, Nevada, etc.? Even if they wanted to be concerned, who raises the issue? Lobbyists? The small states' lobbyists will just be marginalized by the wealthiest states.
Essentially you'd end up with the same problem that the electoral college has where the parties would only focus on the top megalopolises and everyone else gets marginalized. I see that as even worse than gerrymandering.
I think proportional representation is definitely the best system with quite small countries where the issues people have are more purely political in nature rather than about local issues.
Proportional systems come in many forms, and they all have their own issues naturally.
You can have a proportional system where the representatives are connected to their local areas.
For instance you can have a system where you have personal votes, where you run in a set place where there can't be votes for you personally outside that area, and after a set amount you are guaranteed a spot. All votes after that then goes to the party, or if you are independent they are added to the pool of 'lost votes' (usually only an issue in case of many very very small parties). That itself can be constructed in many ways (candidates assigns surplus to someone, proportional assignment, per group etc).
This surplus in case of a party pool, then then be assigned to candidates of their choosing (who naturally must have run somewhere), or proportionally (oh Candidate X only needs 5 votes, let's top him off first rather than Y who only got 7 votes total). The size of the pool geographically or demographically can naturally be set to small (pretty much first past the post) or very big (national pool). In this case it would make sense to make it into a state pool in most cases (in case of the very smallest states it wouldn't change much other than a state might go from 3:0 to 2:1). I doubt any state would be willing to share with any other state(s) in any case. So Wyoming doesn't have to worry about changing all that much.
This system really forces the candidates to work for their local areas in order to get significant number of votes for them personally and thus a greater chance of getting in. And thus a candidate who would in FPTP lose 10 times out of 10, could still make it because he still got pretty close to the breakpoint and then was topped off with lost votes from somewhere else, where the candidate did less well. Of course each electoral area would be multiple seat regions, otherwise it is back to FPTP. You can argue in the case of very big and sparsely populated areas, this would work less well for that local connection, but even in FPTP each area is already very big, I doubt many people would notice a difference.
I'm not some electoral expert, but proportional is very flexible as you can effectively tailor it to fit your needs. Nobody says it has to be one big pool and random dudes and ladies get pulled out of the hat based on those results. In fact I don't think anyone has that sort of system, unless they are Monaco sized.
The only thing you can be sure of is that in FPTP you lose a hell of a lot of votes, and if there are multiple candidates doing well, you can end up with a minority representative. In the USA right now that isn't likely, but just look at UK right now. Two parties with millions of votes (of a voterbase of less than 50 million) barely got represented in a very large parliament.