The most vivid evidence cited to support the conclusion that American voters are polarized in their views is the undeniable polarization of their elected representatives. But the American voters may in fact be less polarized than their representatives. More voters are registered as independents than as either Democrats or Republicans. Many pe0ple who voted for Trump had voted for Obama.
Two changes in the way we elect our representatives could make our representatives less polarized:
The first would be an end to gerrymandering, which produces districts where only one party has a reasonable chance of winning. In these districts, the primary of the dominant party is the real contest, and in these contests, the prize goes to the candidate who adheres most faithfully to the party line — not to the candidate who demonstrates broad appeal, there being no need to demonstrate broad appeal.
The other would be ranked voting, which would force candidates to broaden their appeal. That is, candidates would be hoping not only to be the voters’ first choice, but also their second and third choices, and this would be possible by being less rigid and pure on the issues.
Mechanical reforms in voting cannot solve all the problems that our democracy faces, but they can help. Worth a try, anyway.