Sorry, Mr. Cleese. The PR Parrot Is Still Dead

Pivoting off a post by Hertzberg, Bernstein considers reform of the British electoral system:

[T]he ultimate goal of a political system cannot be to accurately reflect the strength of each party in parliament, much less accurately reflect the strength of all the views of the citizens in parliament, which is essentially impossible anyway.  No, what matters more is whether the government is responsive to citizens.  The composition of parliament is a means to that end.  So in a basically majoritarian system, a method of translating votes into seats that magnifies majorities isn't inherently problematic.

His verdict:

[O]n electoral reform, my instincts are to be cautious unless there's a clear violation of democracy that needs to be remedied, such as the massive rural bias that the US remedied with one person, one vote in the 1960s.  I don't see anything close to that in using first-past-the-post instead of p.r.  That's not to say that I'd be against reform, but I'd recommend proceeding cautiously.  You don't want to be (if I can slip in a baseball comparison here) a Bud Selig, constantly changing the rules to react to the latest complaints. 

Meanwhile, Simon Schama all but has an orgasm in the New Yorker over p.r.

I have to say the way some get worked up about this - I'm talking to you, Rick - baffles me. If I were the Lib-Dem leader, I'd be angling to be the second of two parties, not a permanent coalition party of either. And I have a feeling that the potential parliamentary wrangling that will start on Friday will remind Brits of why their system is not so bad after all.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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