This op-ed originally ran on The Fulcrum.
This has been a summer of gut punches to the body politic.
A Supreme Court bloc cobbled together by minority-backed presidents and a norm-abusing Senate has trampled precedent and lurched to extremes on the most divisive issues of our time. A presidential election that should have been laid to rest by a 7 million vote lead and the rulings of dozens of courts stalks the country like the undead. Partisan zealot candidates for top state election jobs ignore the rule of law and threaten to subvert the will of voters.
A once-fringe legal theory could give even more power over elections to state legislatures, which often put party interests above democratic principles. And with redistricting now complete, the nation faces another decade of gerrymandered elections likely to further empower extremes. Underlying all these dysfunctions is a common theme: antiquated systems that make the United States an extreme outlier, far out of step with democratic norms.
The U.S. is the only major democracy with:
- Life tenure for judges of the highest court — a key driver of the politicization of the Supreme Court.
- Presidential voting distorted by an electoral college.
- Openly partisan officials running elections.
- Power over federal elections in the hands of state legislatures.
- Redistricting controlled by the parties running for office.
The list goes on – and all these problems get worse as our political polarization intensifies.