A reform that brings the two parties together | Three Things Thursday

Unite America

It’s the start of general election season; ballots are being mailed out in some states, and early voting will soon be starting in others. 

Let’s go through the checklist: 

You’re registered to vote? 

You know how you’re planning on voting? 

You know when you have to vote by? 

Unsure on any of the above questions? Check out VoteAmerica for an incredibly comprehensive list. 

Now, here are three things to think about this week: 

  1. The Problem Solvers Caucus is kind of a big freaking deal

Starting off our email with some good news: the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus this week released their bipartisan stimulus bill, achieving a compromise that has for months evaded Congress. 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans came together to champion a bill that includes wins for both the left and the right, but more importantly, for all Americans; it allocates more money for testing and healthcare services, money for small businesses and childcare, money to boost the post office, and critically, provides much-needed election assistance funds. 

Already, Democratic caucus leaders have rejected the proposal. As Problem Solver caucus member Representative Max Rose (D-NY) told CNN, “You saw all the reasons why people hate politics: because they are rejecting a bold bipartisan measure outright and insinuating things are not in there when they actually are and just continuing to kick the can down the road over and over and over again.”

It’s easier to be against something than it is to sit down at the table and do the hard work to find solutions. It’s rare for such a significant piece of legislation to be brought forth by the sort of rank-and-file members, but after months of delays, and an increasingly desperate American people, the Problem Solvers Caucus did exactly what their caucus was created to do: they sat down, together, and solved a problem.  As President Trump’s chief of staff remarked, the compromise presented by the caucus may be the weight needed to finally move the needle and get Congress to come together. 

  1. What does polarization actually look like?

In a fascinating new examination of political polarization in our country, The New York Times used satellite imagery as a new sort of political map. Ordinarily, an election night map is littered with various red and blue patches. The red represented a district that went Republican; a blue district, one that went for the Democrats. But as The New York Times finds, the difference might be a little more subtle: the true colors of America’s political spectrum are gray and green. 

Given what we know about polarization and the urban/rural divide, it largely makes sense: Democrat-leaning districts are gray with urban cityscapes and streets, and Republican districts are green fields and rural landscapes. Nevertheless, it’s a stark reminder of how culturally cemented the two parties have become in the US, that such a clear geographic divide can exist. 

While the parties are so entrenched, the piece is an important reminder that our geography likely is shaping our view of the world and of American politics. It’s too easy to dismiss someone for living in a “blue” or a “red” state; instead, think about the realities of a person who lives in a green area, or a grey one. Their realities are different, but no less valid. 

  1. Two parties chairs, one solution

What could bring together the state party chairs from opposite parties? One thing, or rather one solution: ranked choice voting. This week in Real Clear Politics, Stan Lockhart, former chair of the Utah Republican party, and Vicki Hiatt, chair of the Kansas Dems, write about why ranked choice voting is the solution for our presidential primary predicament. 

Both Kansans Democrats and Utah Republicans used ranked choice voting in their nominating processes this year, and both parties reported high levels of voter satisfaction with the process. Not only does ranked choice voting allow voters to express an array of opinions about the candidates, but it allows for a speedier and more efficient process when used, as Utah did, for conventions. 

Over 4 million ballots were wasted this year in the Democratic primary on candidates who dropped out ahead of Super Tuesday. 4 million Americans who didn’t have their vote count. In 2016, Republicans faced a similar issue, when over half a million voters chose a candidate who had already dropped out. Ranked choice voting simply ensures that your voice matters. 

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