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.
American Enterprise Institute
Andrew Reynolds's op-ed column evades the question "If proportional representation is good for the Iraqis, why isn't it good for the United States?"
We, too, suffer from single-member districts with "entrenched cleavages" (most are safe, few are competitive) where "mobilizing your group" is sufficient to win election and there is "no incentive to appeal outside the core voter base." Women are woefully underrepresented in this country, as are ethnic and political minorities.
And if you're an orphan Democrat or Republican living in a district that's safe for the other party, you have no effective representation either.
We should follow the lead of the rest of the world and convert to proportional representation.
Californians for Electoral Reform
Mountain View, Calif.