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tv   Washington Journal Lee Drutman  CSPAN  September 19, 2019 11:52pm-12:43am EDT

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author of a new book coming out breaking the two-party loop. loop. he's also a senior fellow at the new america foundation. let's just talk about why you call the two-party system doomed. why do you believe that? >> i think that american politics are in a bad situation in the sense that we have this bvery bitter partisan warfare that's breaking our democracy and i don't think that we can keep going this way for much
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longer until there is a legitimacy crisis, so we need to think about some big ideas to get us out of this moment. >> when did the two-party system starts to break down, who is to blame? >> i have a different interpretation of when we actually had the two-party system. people would say we've always had a two-party system and that's true, but i would say that we only had a genuine two-party system s since about 2010 and that's when it's kind of gone haywire. we had two parties that they were overlapping and there was a bit of incoherence and where the party stood.
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really since 2010, we have two parties with no overlap and that is when we had a two-party systehave a two-partysystem andl institutions are not designed to work thissdesi way. the framers were very concerned about having the two parties and our system requires an incredible amount of compromise and negotiation, fluid coalitions and the two-party system as it now operates doesn't allow for that. >> in 2010, the two parties were overlapping in what way? >> they were liberal republicans and democrats, and coalitions were last vestiges of what i would consider the party system that for systembut for longtime, republican, liberal democrats and conservative republicans and conservative democrats. and on an issue by issue basis, the coalition were different. some people were allies on some issues and enemies on others.
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it's kind of a four party system is. from the 60s to the mid-1990s, 1994 minus pushed back by and then from the mid mid-90s through and the blue dog conservative democrats, thao is when we had this breakdown in the democracy. >> what was happening at this time but argue pointing to the tea party? >> i don't want to put a blame on anyt single moment or act. i mean, really this is something
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that has been building for over half a century it created basically a long reorientation of the american party, and we had basically a half-century of shifting coalitions to the point where we have one party but became traditional america and another party that advocates the became the party for the multicultural secular america and now we basically have two parties.
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it turns out it's a disaster and it's driving us all in the same. >> let's hear the thoughts on the two-partyy system, 2,028,00. 748-8002. remember you can fix 702-8003 you just have to putut your firt name and city and state and we will take those on-air. with this two-party system as it exists now, where do you think most americans are? do they fall into one of the two parties >> guest: by the parties, about 30% or so identify as republican and about 40%
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identify as independents. that is probably because of other people that identify as independent vote for democrats or republicans. they don't necessarily want theilovetheir party they just de the other party more. for the most part there were more options. it's healthy for democracy to have the range of choices a lot of folks felt that neither party represents them all thats well and that's the frustrating thing about the democracy when they don't like there is already one that represents them that well. >> host: you write that y in
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2018 authoritarian warnings are based on the 747 democracy experts collectively gave the united states a one in six chance off democratic breakdown in the next four years and nearly unanimous 97% in their assessment of the american democracy has declined ove havee last decade. do you agree with their assessment. i agree that they have declined. ' don't think that anybody in american democracy over the past decade would say that we have not declined. do we have a one in six chance of a democratic breakdown, here's what i'm worried about. i'm worried about the contested close election in which neither can either donald trump contests the election and refuses to
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leave office in a crisis and democrats say he cheated because there was voter's question and we have endless litigation and refuse to be recognized as president. there's some situation where there is massive violence and protests, suppression of civil rights, expression of free pre press.s. ...
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>> i feel that justifies extra democratic activity. >> you are up for. >> >>caller: good morning i read the study on democracy a single time there was any comment on the 2016 election.
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so we have been told that majority of americans are libertarians. and then buy your book by the way. and help with that libertarian party. them because i was so esdepressed. and with libertarian so all of these think tanks from that standpoint or from a lesser extent and then they do manage
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to get on the ballot but then anyway that's my question. >> thank you for your kind words i appreciate it. and then with the study. and winner takes all because you prefer like feeling then if i go through a third-party then to get much traffic and i don't want to waste my vote.
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and that's the way we hold elections. with that presentation where you w don't have to get a plurality of the vote in order to win a c. and then to have multiple members five or six or more and then you can get the top five or seven or ten finishers to go to congress and the fact that you could get ten or 15 percent of the vote and then have a seat in the legislative session and you can have more parties. but as with other third partie parties, nobody really pays attention because they
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don't feel they can win or have a shot at representation. so a party like the libertarians you need to change the electoral rules that have proportional representation which i ask in my forthcoming book. but as for the study that you referenced, i found a little under 4 percent of the electorate has views that are economically conservative and lysocially liberal which is how libertarian is often defined. so in part the fact therect are very few politicians in public life and most people who pay attention to politics follow what is going on at that national level and they look to the politicians at a national level of how should i
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understand the world quick's and without a sense of national political leaders advocating for these views, it is hard for many to understand what the worldview looksdend lie so as a result they don't share it. so go back 20 or 30 years we have folks who have those views because they used to be that was much more with those republicans that were are now a social liberal and i use it in the spirit of those type of republicans and those views of the electorate as well. >> democratic caller go ahead. >>caller: i really appreciate you. i am a 62 -year-old
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african-american. you really send it out when everything was segregated and it still trickles down. and sometimes the midwest but we appreciate you because you are fair-minded. i guess you could say you are fair and balanced. [laughter] a little fox joke which i call evangelical white right and really that is responsible for that but in the end when you
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hear the terms the alt right means the white right for greta know if you agree with not but thank you for your views i appreciate you you are fair and balanced. >> thank you for the comments. the key challenge of contemporary political alignment is that we defined the two parties along cultural, ethnic identity lines. and then we created a conflict that has over questions of identity and that is a really dangerous conflict especially when you have only given
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people one or two choices and you said thereiv is no alternative. there are a lot of folks on the right who were not enthusiastic about trump, but because thereno was no other option other than voting for a democrat they felt hillary clinton was somebody they could not consider so they voted for trump. there's a lot of people in congress that were not enthusiastic initially but they were pushed into his camp because there was noo alternative rather than to stay in the republican party. so the two-party system has pushed a lot of people to take views and align themselves abat they are not w comfortable with but they don't want to feel like we're doing something wrong so we adjust our views and that creates a very dangerous zero-sum conflict and that's what i'm :worried about.
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>> republican in brooklyn. >>caller: i appreciate you coming on. i have a couple of questions. i'm 73 years old and as i see it going back to the johnson administration, what i keep seeing over and over our politicians that follow the guidelines of the corporations that fund the money through the lobbyist to promote another invasion to promote the military hardware with this quagmire meanwhile the politicians that come on the airwaves create one paper trail after another and its citizens to what is actually going on with the two-party
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system. looking at the people that are moving forward most people really don't understand because it isn't talked about in china with that economic development to bring that to innocenth people. the united states certainly has its issues but how do you feel that if some point in time the two-party system has to actually be taken down by the citizens of this country to say we will reconstruct how we do business and it's not through the corporations or the political leaders to step up and do the rightll thing because that is not what is happening today. >> first of all, on the power of corporate lobbyist my
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previous book was called the business of america. i agree corporations have become very powerful in washington and distorted of how the government works but the frustration that you are sharing is the frustration a lot of americans feel that the system doesn't represent them well and at a moment in aamerican history, we are aware that frustration a is unsustainable. if you look at long-term polling trends, uc institutions is at a low. that frustration with the two-party system is at a high otheroking at one moment in american history withth dissatisfaction at the
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end of the gilded age and then to go through a period of reforms but ultimately i am optimistic we are entering another period of reform because folks out there who do feel what we have going on now is unsustainable and ultimately what we will see is a broad grassroots uprising supporting new reforms with the few politicians who are forward thinking who get that and channel that energy to be like a renewal of american democracy. >> how does that work with the constitution in place quick. >> the constitution has and elections clause which says that states can decide how they want to send members to
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congress and congress can decide in the states can also enact reforms as to put in choice of ranked choice voting which is an innovation and the way that it works instead of just picking one candidate you get to rank them so that means youns have an instant runoff whoever is last of the first choice and then the votes are allocated to second choice and you keep doing that until somebody has the majority of votes that takes away the spoiler effect of the third party getting in the system states are already beginning to experiment with it isn't a new idea ireland has been using it over a hundred years in fact ireland and australia both use a multi- winner form
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of proportional representation is what most democracies use that are multi- parties really the us is the outlier of the two-party system really only a handful that is very antiquated winner take all system with those elections which was a 1430 innovation more countries have moved forward to allow multiple parties and multiple views to build a compromising coalition building into the government process. so i think we will see more and more states starting to experiment ergo there is a bill in congress for the fair representation act sponsored by the congressman from virginia that would change national laws totally constitutional and create multimemberr districts which
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would create an opportunity for more parties. also the congressman has a national single winner which is completely constitutional and another perfectly constitutional way to expand representation that 435 members it is quite small for a country our site must have bigger houses with fewer people and in fact we use to increase the size of the house every decade through 1911 because then we stopped as the country had tripled in size
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that would create with more opportunities for parties especially with electoral reform. >> you also write to get rid of congressional primaries and ranked choice voting for president. >> let's talk about that. ranked choice for president seems like a very common sense thing to me that most countries that elect presidents have a two round system in which like the french election that was a two round system. now ranked choice voting is isimilar to the two round system because the second round happens instantly and you can express your full range of preferences. but what ranked choice voting tends to do is it builds more comparable one - - compromise
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oriented campaign because now is not you want just want to be there first choice but also second and third you want to appeal broadly where the current winner take all system just encourages candidates to go to the base and then go against the most extreme supporters and that's how presidential campaigns have prbeen running for some time creating a divisive situation but ranked choice voting creates a different set of incentives and also ensure the president who is a genuine majority preferred kennedy actually wins as opposed to the candidate who is preferred intensely by a plurality but not by the majority. that would be a totally different dynamic for a campaign that is for congressional primaries. now one of the things that everybody in washington knows is that members of congress
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are scared of the primaries and this means that they are only looking to the most dedicated partisan fighters and they are worried they will be punished if they compromise with the otherot party if they are not a warrior so by getting rid of congressional primaries, you free up members not to worry about partisan fighters. so now the argument of why we have congressional primaries was that the system was controlled by a corrupt cabal of corporate donors so the idea is you openn up but now the reality is you get more of the same candidates but in a
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two-party system it is good because it's very hard to have a way otherwisebu but if you change the electoral system and it's easier for parties to compete then you don't need a primary. you can just run as a fifth party in the general election and there is no need if the only country in the world had congressional primaries that are public and open anybody to vot vote, i don't think people appreciate how strange us democracy as compared to the rest of the world of advanced democracy we are the only one that has the two-party system and the only country that has public direct
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primaries. >> from new jersey democratic caller. >>caller: thank you very much. i agree with everything you say but i think right from the beginning here is an example i use to be optimistic but my biggest mistake is looking too much into history if you look from 1776 through 1940 or 50 it's the same thing. the founding fathers says were all created equal but they realized and they hoped it would be honestly i'm 72 -year-old white guy and i think it is great the union won the civil war because why do americans feel they are superior cracks and then during the vietnam war i
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believe in everything. but then the whites came and then there was the problem because they started to getrtbe better and i totally believe in everything that happened with the civil rights to make everybody equal inin america. but i see this in my own family. white guys don't want anybody to get in their way talk about the best jobs are the best everything. i think the representatives and the president and everybody, all politicians are not stupid. they represent the people. so you have an underground of white people and i say this because i am shocked of my own family that they won't tell in public how they really feel. i just think they are in the second stage and it will go on and on as aet cycle.
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as long as we have this dna it inwill always happen. >> thank you. history isis a dangerous thing to look at but even more dangerous is not looking at the history with the legacy of slavery and it has always been a challenge. and as for the ideas of democracy of america the framers were idealistic and realist. really struggled with that tension between the ideals of america and the realities. but over the course of american history, we have become more and more of a true
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democracy. we expend one - - extended the franchise, we made our institution more accountable and it is to step forward and one step back process. but i do believe in every generation we encounter that we had all of these moments in american democracycy where it's a few steps forward and really if you think about it, every 60 years we have these moments where we have a real attempt with the members of the real expansion of the franchise of the 18 nineties and 18 hundreds. then in the 19 sixties the civil rights and i really do
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believe it will be an exciting decade for reform where we do make democracy more democratic and the conversation that we are having now around issues of inclusion and reckoning with our history are the precursor to a more inclusive and representative and democraticic it's easy to be pessimistic with the title of the book but give us a sense because i do believe what we have now is unsustainable but i also do believe that we recognize it is unsustainable. and that is a key precursor to the era in which we make those two steps forward again. >> the republican from tacoma washington. >> yes. my question is do you believe
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in the news media contributing to the downfall of the two-party system? >> i'm not sure. some people do blame the media for polarization and escalation as they become echo chambers for partisan views. that is really challenging that global system that we have that more and more people are getting their views from sources that reinforce what they already think but i do
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think the media is an amplifier more than a cause. so with the fact that it is unsustainable maybe it will contribute to a moment of refor reform. >> democratic caller you are next. >> thank you for taking my call. the last color actually pointed out the systemic problem even though we are a young democracy what is basically holding us back, i just want to note something that you should add into your study because it is an actual factor in of the leadership and those voting practices we have in this country. but i want to ask you if you are taking into account the
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political party. and when i say that, at one point republicans were considered more the liberal oror forward thinking party as far as whites to all people and at some point in the forties or fifties the change started were moreblicans conservative with more conservative views and rights and also the caller said they had a point of view of their supremacy in the political system. is that something your study would have taken into consideration i do a lot with that history. but especially with richard
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nixon made a call to martin luther king's right and senator kennedy leading up to the election not only was one of victim but the republicans would have become the party of civil rights with a very different alignment. it so hard to believe currently but if you do take history seriously you can envision a different future in 1960 had the election played out differently. but to embrace civil rights and democrats it was impossible not to give in what was happening. a check that issue away from orpublicans and then embraced the states rights position and we will go hunting where the decks are and he met go south
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one out of four or five states in 1964 there were people who were predicting the end of the republican party because johnson one with such a landslide and democrats one was such a landslide in congress. . . . . has been aboun
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of american national identity and our history of slavery and racial strife andri to me, thats always been with us but it's been elevated to the core political conflict between the two parties, and that's making it very hard for the political system to function. we've created new problems and they will always be with us as a diverse society. the political system in the past has found ways to deal with these problems and make progress and it's made progress at times in which this wasn't the conflict dividing the parties but rather in the 1960s if you look at the votes for the civil rights bill, they were broadly
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bipartisan. >> david in clearwater, independent. good morning to you. >> caller: i am the founder of the united american super pack and with the recent and previous legal fighting extreme left and right trying to call out and get voters and try to change people's minds, do you feel that there are more independents or
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free minded voters than there hahave been in the previous cycs and also, personally i don't recognize the democratic party at all. it doesn't seem like they are in line with what the american anpeople want. how do we necessarily give these voters back to the table.
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it seems the democratic party for example in district 12 in san francisco. they leave out 35 plus% of the voters in the district. >> with me pick up on two questions here are there more independents and what can we do for the voter turnout? identifying as independent is between 40 to 45% either
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democrats or republicans because that's what people choose from bay are expressing a level of frustration with the two-party system so certainly that is on the rise. as for how can we get more people to vote, that's a great question. if you look at voter turnout in the u.s., it's basically been flat for almost ever, but certainly we've made it easier to vote on the whole. whole. between 50 to 60%, we hit a high this year because people are particularly engaged. they hadio a high turnout in the past it's been like 35 to 40%.
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now again if you look at the u.s. and international content, we areco very low. most advanced and european democracies around 70, 80%. there is a clear relationship partiesthe number of and the turnout of the countries unwith fewer parties. there is more parties and more people likely to find a party that represents them that are more likely to be excited about voting. even more important than that is the way that we do elections with plurality voting. they are basically solid for one party. how many swing states do we have up for grabs? even in the competitive midterm
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about 80% were safe for one party or the other. why invest in getting people to turn out and they are now closing up shop in south dakota because what is the point is you only like 35 or 40% that isn't something that happens in most democracies because in most democracies with proportional presentation, 35 to 40% gives you the seeds and so the parties invest in organizations and turn out the vote if you want people
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to get more engaged, give people moreck choices. it's not rocket science, that is what happens in the rest of the world. >> host: independent. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. maybe you touched upon this a little bit already. i'm interested because the two parties. i found it fascinating that the people for prohibitions 80 years or so ago when they pushed back through they were a small minority and used the political strategy to go around the different states and even they were battleground states like we have today and they made these deals that we will guarantee they will vote for you if your
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candidate supports prohibition and what i'm interested in is googood at work today and have people attempted that, why don't more of us do that especially in these battleground states to go to the main parties and say we will sway the one in your election but you have to make the deal and say we are going to move forward and 12 this legislation or the law, whatever it is, why hasn't thated worked more for the tea party or even if the independent party did that and said we have a full coalition to get our agenda passed. >> host: we are running out of time. >> guest: if you had them with
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single issue, one issue and had enough electoral mice, they mightth be able to do that, but i'm telling you there is no issue that unites that between the two parties. mostes voters today think one party is better or is a threat to the nation and they need to keep the party out of office. i don't know what the issue that unites that many ambivalent voters would be at this point. good luck to you if you can find that issue. >> host: breaking the two parties loop. thank you for the conversation this morning. >> guest: it's great to be with you.
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spoke to lawmakers about his priorities for the smithsonian museums and talked about the work. he spoke before the house administration committee for an hour. i understand the ranking member is on his way and since we have kind of a tight schedule i will start and he can give his opening statement. here he is now. the committee will come to order. we want to welcome everyone on

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