Kudos to Lori Sturdevant for urging the Minnesota Legislature to “go big” (Opinion Exchange, Jan. 8). But what distinguishes bold ideas that ignite overdue social change from those that are just boldly foolish? Political ideas that later become recognized as historic are those that substantially improve our lives and heighten our ability to engage in society. Women’s right to vote. Social Security. Public education. Medicare. Digging deeper, political actions that later become leadership case studies are those that eliminate root causes of our distress.
We are now in a time of distress. We face all the usual challenges (economic, health, education, etc.) but are additionally burdened with political extremism. Such extremism makes it ever more difficult to resolve our common problems.
While Sturdevant doesn’t say it explicitly, political extremism stems in part from the way we elect public officials and the distorted pressure that inflicts on officials who must play to their ever-narrowing political bases. Until this root cause is addressed, extremism will only get worse.
There is a way out of this, and Sturdevant’s final point lands squarely on a solution. Ranked-choice voting not only guarantees majority rule and encourages coalition-building, it provides an antidote to political dysfunction itself. By giving voters more voice and more choice, RCV dampens extremism, toxicity, and personality-driven campaigns. Alaska’s experience in electing U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski demonstrates the point.
Yes, this is the legislative session to Go Big, tackle root cause, implement RCV and wrestle dangerous political extremism to the mat.