By Mark Bauer

If you’ve ever been entrenched in an argument with a significant other, you might be surprised to discover that the thing you’re fighting about is actually much deeper than what sparked the spat in the first place. But unless one or both of you come to that realization and initiate a conversation to tackle what’s really at the heart of the matter, you’re both unwittingly digging into your trenches just waiting for the other one to lob the grenade that will start the fighting all over again. 

If those issues go unaddressed, resentment will continue building up. Without an intervention, the relationship will deteriorate and result in an inevitable separation.

If you asked either partner how they felt throughout the duration of the relationship, they might answer they didn’t feel seen or heard. That’s unsustainable. In effort to make themselves heard, partners usually end up expressing themselves through anger. If you reflect on some of your most heated arguments in your lifetime, you might see how feeling unheard caused you to lash out. That dynamic plays out in our societies as well. If you look at some of the most violent protests throughout history, they usually reached that boiling point when a group of people didn’t feel heard.

Civil rights activist Dr. John Perkins says in his book, “Dream with Me,” that America has lost its capacity for listening to one another.

“We have begun to believe that if others don’t agree with us, then we don’t have to listen to them,” he writes. “We dehumanize people who don’t think like we do and, consequently, justify our violence against them.”

This isn’t a world I want to live in. As a classical liberal, I want to be able to respectfully disagree with someone without having my character impugned. When I suggest that ranked choice voting can help reduce polarization, it’s not because I think it will solve all of our policy disagreements, but it at the very least might take some of the hot air out of the room. Ranked choice voting does that first and foremost by expanding democracy in a way that allows all sides to be heard, whereas the existing two-party duopoly  dismisses and invalidates much of the electorate.

Ranked choice voting may not be a silver bullet to all that ails us, but if it gets us talking and listening to one another again that’s a start. And as long as we feel heard, there is hope.


Mark Bauer is a producer, entrepreneur, day trader and former Independent candidate for Congress in Texas. Previously he spent 10 years as a legal journalist covering the legal market in Texas and regulatory issues in Washington DC.

Mark’s primary interests involve using content and storytelling to help different groups of people better understand one another.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Rank the Vote, its members, supporters, funders, or affiliates.