Recipes for Anarchy

Washington Post, July 16, 2004.

In his column [“The Right Plan for Iraqi Voters,” op-ed, July 6] Andrew Reynolds makes much of what advocates see as the chief merit of proportional representation–namely, a representative assembly that reflects the distribution of opinion in the voting population. In Iraq this means an assembly consisting only of members elected as Shiites (Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmen, etc.) and expected to vote as Shiites, i.e., an assembly that accurately reflects–and is calculated to perpetuate–the divisions that have so long bedeviled this country. But what can Mr. Reynolds expect from an assembly in which no one who is elected as an Iraqi is expected to vote with a view to what is good for Iraq?

James Madison would have seen this as a recipe for anarchy or tyranny and certainly no “cure for the mischiefs of faction.”

For that cure he would have prescribed for Iraq what he prescribed for us in 1787: a carefully contrived single-member-district electoral system. It worked for us, and it might work for the Iraqis.

Walter Berns is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

American Enterprise Institute