Having a Catholic Voice in Party Politics

Having a Catholic Voice in Party Politics July 4, 2023

Americans are fed up with the state of politics in our country. People feel that they are not being represented because neither of the two major political parties reflects their values. Catholics, in particular, are desperate to find someone worthy of their votes. So how do we solve this crisis?

Our two-party system is failing; indeed, it is the cause of most of the trouble. Surveys show that voters are mostly in the middle, but many politicians have become extremists of either the left or the right.

How then do we achieve compromise and bi-partisan cooperation? Perhaps by changing the “bi-“ to a multi-party system, which would force compromise because no one party can get a majority vote to pass a bill.

A Multi-party System

We need to crawl out of our rut and look at the systems of other democracies:

96% of the 30 highest-ranked democracies have more than 4 political parties. —Economist Democracy Index

Multiple choices, not just two, on the ballot. Image by Bartosz Kapka from Pixabay

When you mention third parties, people immediately say things like: “Voting for third-party candidates is throwing your vote away because they never win.” “We’ve never had a successful or long-lived third party; they are irrelevant.” This latter statement is not entirely accurate. American history has been impacted several times by the effects of third parties.

In our current system, though, a third party has seldom achieved more than to take votes away from one of the major party candidates resulting in the other, and perhaps actually less-desired candidate, winning the election.

However, if we got serious about a multi-party system, we would have more selection among the candidates and break the deadlock we are currently experiencing. We would also, and very importantly, have more selection as to party platforms.

A Palatable Platform

This is where Catholics and other Christians have the biggest interest. Can you imagine a platform that actually coincides with your political and religious beliefs?

I would like to call attention here to a party that reflects many Catholic principles because it has a platform based on the Consistent Life Ethic. That party is the American Solidarity Party.  https://www.solidarity-party.org/ (Disclosure: I am an advisor to this party.)

The recent growth of the ASP reflects the increasing desire of the American people to find an alternative to the duopoly and to find a party with a palatable platform. One impediment to this progress is the process of getting on the ballot. Some states have a long list of requirements that need to be streamlined or reduced to allow for more choices.

Proportional Representation

A further much-needed reform, in my opinion, is proportional representation:

83% of the 30 highest-ranked democracies use some form of proportional representation. — Economist Democracy Index

Proportional representation is an electoral system in which parties gain seats in a legislative body in proportion to the number of popular votes cast for them. There are a few different ways this can be achieved, but here is an example:

Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay

If you have a 100-member state senate in a state where 42% of the voters register as /vote for Republicans, 40% as Democrats, 8% as Party 3, 6% as Party 4, and 4% as Party 5, then the senate would have 42 Republican members, 40 Democrats, 8 from Party 3, 6 from Party 4, and 4 from Party 5.

You can see how they would have to work together to get a majority vote. More importantly, perhaps, there would be 18 voices presenting different viewpoints, 18 votes not controlled by a two-party chokehold on the leadership. Think about if there were more than 18 votes from minor parties but an even bigger mix of democracy at work.

“As a rule, PR voting systems provide more accurate representation of parties, better representation for political and racial minorities, fewer wasted votes, higher levels of voter turnout, better representation of women, greater likelihood of majority rule, and little opportunity for gerrymandering.” https://fairvote.org/archives/proportional-representation-voting-systems/

Of, By, and For the People

For Catholics, this change to a multi-party system and proportional representation would mean that parties would fine-tune their platforms to better fit certain groups like us. Catholics, and all other voters, would have some real choice among the candidates and not be left with the lesser of two evils.

Another big benefit of changing our current system of representation would be to stir up some excitement among voters. Crushing apathy is destroying the democratic process by leaving up the selection of our elected officials to a handful of people who have mastered the art of holding one’s nose while marking a ballot.

Real choice, especially when some of the choices look familiar to our Catholic values, can bring people to the polls and make our governance “of, by, and for the people” once again.



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