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Before getting into today’s news, we wanted to remind you to sign up for America Talks 2022. We are excited to be a media partner and want you to participate!
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Additional reading listening:
- The Fulcrum’s co-publisher Debilyn Molineaux was in New York during the subway shooting and developed some suggestions for improving social interaction to better care for one another.
- Journalist Mónica Guzmán joined the “How Do We Fix It?” podcast to discuss how our curiosity to break down partisan walls.
In the past, Americans have shown lukewarm support for the “instant runoff” version of elections known as ranked-choice voting (even though it is now being used statewide in Maine and Alaska, for New York City municipal elections, and in dozens of other cities and counties).
But survey data released yesterday shows 60 percent of Americans are in favor of RCV once they learn more about it.
The poll, conducted by Voice of the People and the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation, described arguments both for and against RCV before asking respondents whether they favor the system. And those explanations seemed to make a real difference, according to PPC Director Steven Kull.
“As people tend to know ranked-choice voting more, they seem to like it more,” Kull told The Fulcrum’s David Meyers. “Resistance is rooted in unfamiliarity. This is particularly shown among Republicans.”
Indeed, Republicans were more hesitant to express support for RCV than Democrats or independents, but half of them were in favor of using the system for federal elections and more of them found the “pro” arguments convincing than the “con” arguments.
“I think Republicans are more conservative and more wary of new innovations. And Democrats are more inclined to try different things. It’s not that Republicans are opposed,” said Kull.
- Katie Usalis of RepresentWomen argues that implementing RCV in Texas would improve on the state’s costly runoff system while helping more women get elected.
- Wayne Giffin, chair of the Independence Party of South Carolina, wants to protect and expand fusion voting, in which a candidate can build a coalition across multiple parties.
Emory University senior Thomas O’Rourke is interning at The Fulcrum’s parent organization, the Bridge Alliance. He wrote an insightful look at the damage social media is doing to our democracy.
The harms of social media are not merely reserved for teenagers, but extend to the health of our liberal democracy and the strength of our social fabric as well. Because individuals select whom they follow, social media platforms become fertile ground for echo chambers. This siloing of like-minded individuals also poses an epistemic problem: If each group has its own, isolated claim to truth — unable to be checked or verified by those who disagree — then it becomes nearly impossible to distinguish truth from falsehood.
Unsurprisingly, this also creates an environment of toxic partisanship and polarization, in which each chamber produces increasingly inflammatory content — later used as fodder for even more inflammatory content for the opposition. And when this is coupled with plummeting trust in American institutions, it is clear how social media tears at the seams of our social fabric.
After documenting the challenges inherent in trying to make platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Facebook less dangerous, Thomas concludes the only way to do it is by changing the social media incentives to reward “that which is truly good, not merely that which makes us feel good.”
- Weston Wamp explores the impact of social media on politics and democracy in the latest episode of his “Swamp Stories” podcast.
Also in the news
New bill would require Americans to vote in elections or face penalty (NexStar Media Wire)
Florida Senate passes DeSantis’ plan, setting stage for final redistricting vote in House (News Service of Florida)
'Useless': In hearing, appellate judges rip New York's redistricting commission (Albany Times-Union)
America Talks - April 21 and 23
Explore your Political Nuance - Activote - April 24-30
Lead with Peace and Purpose - Cities4Peace - April 24
Political Labels: Are You What They Think? - Crossing Party Lines - April 24