AmerAsia Report

Editorial Reply

Re: “Did Trump prove that governments with presidents just don't work?”

In today’s world, we see an alarming trend to shout one’s opinions, while silencing others. This dynamic pushes the sides apart and creates a growing toxicity. Civil society must defend and embrace the right and responsibility of citizens to honestly and safely share their perspectives and listen to others’ perspectives. The ability to find common ground is essential to productive dialog and sustainable progress.

The article suggests that the style of government is a strong factor in determining the level of civility. Carey says that the presidential form of government is more likely to create a divisive climate than the parliamentary form of government. This is because he observes that certain nations with elected presidents have developed troubling extremist behaviors.

The author confuses "correlation" and "cause and effect". Just because instances can be correlated, does not mean that one caused the other. Even with that, his correlation is weak, as he points out multiple exceptions. He is correct about increasing polarization in the United States. But he needs to look elsewhere for the cause. Perhaps the issue is a flawed election process. The election process in the United States allows for the possibility that extreme views with minority support can prevail. With adjustments made to the process, the result would be more moderate and representative.

The issue with the United States is not the presidency; it is a structure that has drifted away from the middle to the extremes on both sides. To address this dynamic, any creative idea that could move the dialog to the middle and lower the temperature should be considered. At the end of his article, Carey proposes the idea of larger districts with multiple representatives. That is an interesting idea that deserves discussion. Another idea is a concept called ranked-choice voting, which is a growing reality in the United States and elsewhere.

In a ranked-choice voting system, the voters rank candidates in the order of their preference. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the least first-preference votes is eliminated, raising the second-preference choices from those ballots. The cycle continues until a candidate wins a majority of the votes.

With ranked-choice voting, it is a safe bet that Trump never would have survived the 2016 Republican primaries, where he won primaries with modest pluralities in a crowded field. We never would have had the recent Georgia runoff circus, saving a tremendous amount of money and partisan vitriol. It is harder for extreme candidates to win, and that would help lower the temperature in the room.

So let’s fix the system. Create an environment that embraces reasoned debate. And identify the mechanical fixes to the election process that will provide results more representative of popular views.

Written by Michael S. Meyer, Editor for The AmerAsia Report (


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