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Winger Book Review: Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop by Lee Drutman

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

Lee Drutman and his daughter photo
Author, political scientist and historian, Lee Drutman and his daughter at a book signing.

Here’s what Rich Winger of Ballot Access News wrote about Lee Drutman’s new humdinger of a book “Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop”.

Although the title may sound lurid, “Doom Loop” is an established term. A synonym is “Reinforcing feedback loop”. A microphone connects to an amplifier; the microphone picks up a whisper; the amplifier makes the whisper louder; the microphone picks up the noise and makes it louder, etc.

Drutman shows that since the 1980’s, the U.S. party system has become a doom loop. We have moved from the system of the 1950’s, when there were conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans, to today’s system in which the two major parties stand in fierce opposition on cultural, economic, and human rights values. Drutman writes, “America is divided over two competing visions of national identity. Politics is now all about winning and losing. Government is breaking down.” Also, “when partisanship turns toxic, thinking your party is right turns to thinking the other party is not only wrong, but dangerously wrong – so dangerously wrong that should they ever get into power, their policies would pose an existential threat to the nation. When loyalty is absolute, parties can mislead voters they supposedly represent into supporting policies that in fact make their lives worse off. “

Drutman writes plainly and the book is easy to read, but it is backed up with hundreds of notes to scholarly publications. He shows that the solution is not to minimize political parties, but to change the election system so there are more parties with real power and seats in Congress. He describes the most commonly used forms of proportional representation. He concludes the type of proportional representation which could plausibly be enacted in the United States is Multi-Winner Ranked-Choice Voting for congress, and Single-Winner Ranked-Choice Voting for president.

Take aways:

Obviously, pick up a copy of the book, "Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop."

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