There are Layers of Rules that Limit “Who Matters” to Politicians
There are four layers of rules that severely limits “who matters” to politicians and the major political parties.
Limit 1: Non-Voters Don’t Matter
Forty percent of the eligible electorate don’t vote in presidential elections. In the critical primary elections (local, state, national), only 5 – 20 percent of the electorate participate. The system cares only about the people that vote (and donate).
According to academic research at Princeton University over the last 20 years, desires of the average citizen have no impact on the likelihood of congress enacting any given law.
Limit 2: Gerrymandering Excludes Voters
“Gerrymandering” establishes a political advantage for a particular party by manipulating state electoral district boundaries. Only 24 of 435 congressional districts (5 percent) were considered competitive in 2016. If you voted in one of the 411 non-completive districts, the outcome was predetermined. Your vote didn’t matter. The bias is so extreme that one or another of the major parties didn’t bother fielding a candidate in 43 percent of the state legislative elections in 2014.
Limit 3: Unaffiliated Voters Excluded from Primaries
Primary elections determine the ticket offered voters by the Republican and the Democratic parties. Extreme partisans (the “far left” and the “far right”) play a disproportionate role in these outcomes. And, because up to 95 percent of the districts are considered “safe seats” for the major parties, the Republican or Democratic primary winner generally proceeds to win the general election.
Independent voters are entirely excluded from voting in primary elections in roughly one-third of the country and restricted in some form in another third.
Limit 4: The Electoral College Privileges the Voters in Swing States
The rules of the Electoral College system marginalize 75 percent of eligible voters in presidential elections. How? Only 11 swing states matter to the overall outcome. Given all these obstacles to participating in American-style democracy, it should come as no surprise that America ranks 14th out of 18 developed countries in voter turnout.