6 Structural Ideas to turn Partisans into Americans from The Atlantic

On the heels of a rather ugly partisan debate that almost sank our economy comes this timely article in The Atlantic containing 6 structural reforms that would encourage more civil politics.  As social psychologists, we would argue that situational fixes are often more effective than hoping that individuals will change through force of argument.  

The six ideas to turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans first are as follows:

  • Create an open primary system, so that the parties are less important in the electoral process
  • Reform redistricting, so politicians have to worry about the general election rather than trying to out-extreme each other in primaries
  • Allow more amendments to bills, so that party bosses have less power to shape final legislation
  • Change congressional committees so they are less partisan
  • Do not allow congressional leaders to pick congressional committees, further weakening party loyalties
  • Have committee staff hired based on qualifications, not ideology

It is definitely worth reading the whole article.  People who complain about incivility in politics often complain about structural causes of partisanship like the 24 hour news cycle and the need to raise money from your base.  Perhaps we can create some structural barriers to incivility as well.

– Ravi Iyer