Three things to think about this May 11th
Today marks the end of a three-year chapter in our nation's history: the Covid-19 national and public health emergency. It's been a long and difficult road to this moment — one which upended our nation to a magnitude we have not seen in our lifetimes and claimed more than a million lives. In light of this milestone, we encourage everyone to take a brief moment to reflect on the challenges we have faced as a country and world; acknowledging the hardships we have overcome and appreciating the resilience we fostered while pushing through tremendous difficulties.
As we close this chapter, we are urged to reflect on the lessons we've learned and assess how we can be better prepared for an unexpected crisis in the future. The pandemic showed us just how much political polarization and government dysfunction can hinder our response efforts. We can only hope that the pandemic has inspired Americans to think critically about the future they would like for our country — a future where our elected officials are incentivized to put people over party and politics, especially in times of crisis. Our work continues, to help bring about such a functional and representative government.
Did you know that Unite America’s executive director, Nick Troiano, once ran for U.S. Congress in 2014 as an independent candidate in Pennsylvania? The experience only fueled his passion for reforming our election systems to give voters, including independents, more voice, choice, and representation. Currently, more than 15 million independents are shut out of primary elections — the elections that effectively decided 83 percent of the U.S. House in 2022 — in 9 states due to their closed primary systems. And it's not just independents who are affected — Troiano argues that the parties themselves are suffering under the current system, in an interview on Independent Americans with Paul Reickhoff,
“I would like to challenge the premise of [reform threatening the political parties] to make the case to these political parties that the system itself is not benefiting them, either. You know, if their goal is to be able to organize around a political agenda and enact that political agenda, the system itself is screeching to a halt with gridlock. No one's being served by this system.”
Check out the full podcast to learn more.
Last week, we announced that Unite America democracy fellow Richard Barton, an assistant professor at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, published an op-ed in Governing magazine, which focused on his findings in the report “Louisiana’s Long-Term Election Experiment.” For the research community this was an exciting moment, as this is the first time an extensive study has been done on Louisiana's unique primary-less election system and can be used as a foundation to build further momentum for nonpartisan primaries across the country. However, for those who don’t live and breathe in the weeds of the research world — trust us, we know that this all can be a little bit wonky — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to break down the highlights from the paper in the most digestible way possible…a Tweet thread.
Check out our latest thread to read about the topline findings from this report!
Gerrymandering has long plagued American democracy, with politicians drawing district lines to secure their personal power at the expense of fair representation. Take the latest North Carolina Supreme Court, which cleared the way for the Republican-controlled state legislature to further gerrymander its state and congressional districts. Indeed, this is yet another recent example of how rulings preventing gerrymandering are actively being reversed across the nation.
Despite public outcry against this latest legal decision allowing parties to once again draw district lines, gerrymandering doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. However, our partners at Protect Democracy (in conjunction with Unite America) have proposed a solution that would effectively eliminate gerrymandering from the equation, in a recent report “Towards Proportional Representation for the U.S. House: Amending the Uniform Congressional District Act (UCDA).”As the report's co-authors, Protect Democracy’s Grant Tudor and Beau Tremitiere, reiterate in a recent op-ed published in The Hill, the most effective way to combat gerrymandering is to replace single-member House districts with proportional multi-member ones.
Check out the report to learn more!