Polarization in a Time of Crisis with Lee Drutman and Congressman Dean Phillips

Published on May 21, 2020

Wow! Over 400 people tuned in on May 6 to hear from national leaders about dangers facing our democracy and what we can do about it.

Polarization in a Time of Crisis, with author and award-winning political scientist Lee Drutman and U.S. Congressman Dean Phillips, was well attended and hugely successful!

These two national leaders joined FairVote MN Executive Director Jeanne Massey, Board Member Dr. Michael Osterholm, and business leader Marilyn Carlson Nelson for a vibrant conversation about how political polarization is standing in the way of an effective public response to the pandemic crisis and nearly every other issue facing our nation. They agreed that Ranked Choice Voting is one of the most powerful, proven reforms to fix what is broken in our democracy.

 “Ranked Choice Voting will continue to be a priority in my life for many reasons,” said Dr. Osterholm. “Never have we needed good government more than we need it right now and will need it in the month ahead. I can say with all sincerity and having served under two Republican governors, two Democratic governors and one Independent governor, and having served roles in the last five Presidential administrations, that for those of us that believe in good government – it’s not about partisan politics; it’s not about party; it’s about electing the very best people to serve. So what you do at FairVote Minnesota is the legacy of my lifetime to work on and I appreciate it so much!”

A self-described “evangelist for Ranked Choice Voting,” Congressman Dean Phillips, laid out a vision for a future in which politicians would be incentivized to collaborate to address critical issues facing our country. “Ranked Choice Voting,” he emphasized, is a “foundational change that would create the domino effect that would help us get to where we want to go just a little more quickly.” 

Lee Drutman, author of Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop, emphasized the importance of giving voters the chance to vote their true preference. “In the current, winner-take-all system, you win by being the lesser of two evils,” he explained. Under Ranked Choice Voting, a candidate can’t win simply saying their opponents are unfit for office; they must also prove why they are deserving. “Voters find [RCV] campaigns to be less negative.”

Drutman made clear that how we respond to the current crisis will reflect on us for years to come. “We’re in a time of contingency where things could go in many different directions. This creates a tremendous responsibility on all of us to lead.

The rules of voting have led us to this hyper level of polarization. He emphasized that Ranked Choice Voting is an imperative. It’s a simple change to the way we vote that can make us dramatically less polarized. 

International business leader and philanthropist, Marilyn Carlson Nelson inspired the crowd with closing remarks.

“We must restore American democracy for our children and their children and honestly, for the world,” she said. “We cannot accept the status quo as our legacy and we are not going to get Ranked Choice Voting fully implemented unless we all redouble our efforts. Think about it! What we could do if we could double our commitment. Please think about what you heard… and the dream that we believe is still possible. We need to make that happen. We need to save our democracy.

Marilyn followed through on this commitment by announcing that she and some of our strongest supporters have pledged to match donations dollar for dollar. That means if you donate at  www.FairVoteMN.org/SaveDemocracy before May 31st you can double your impact.

Thank you to Marilyn Carlson Nelson and all of our hosts! Your dedication and generosity are powering a bright future for democracy in Minnesota and beyond.

You can catch the full event here. See here for the short version!

550 Vandalia St. #210

St. Paul, MN 55114

(763) 807-2550


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