In our current system, a bill only needs to win more than half of the votes (called a "simple majority") in order to become law. Here, I argue that it would be better to require significantly more than half of the votes (say, for example, 60%) -- this is called a "supermajority".

Consensus decision-making and simple majority rule are two different group decision-making methods, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Consensus decision-making is said to produce better decisions and to create less enmity between factions. Simple majority is said to be much faster. A supermajority-based system can be thought of as a middle ground between these two extremes.

Under the current simple majority system, a faction with 51% of the votes gets 100% of the power. This seems unfair -- for example, the majority faction can pass laws that spend 100% of the people's money on something that 49% of the people don't agree with. A supermajority would at least lower the maximum propostion of people who disagree and yet who are forced to contribute anyway. With supermajorities, the government simply would not take action on issues for which there is not a broad agreement on which action to take.

Under the current system, the Republicans can one day have 50.1% of the votes, and use this to direct policy in a certain direction. Then after the next election, the Republicans may lose 0.2% of the votes to the Democrats, and now the Democrats have 50.1%, and they can take policy in the opposite direction. So, only 0.2% of the voters have switched sides, but policy completely reverses. This flip-flopping of policy seems undesirable. If, say, 60% were needed to pass a bill, then 20% of the voters would have to switch sides before a policy could be replaced by its opposite.

Under the current system, a large faction with a simple majority doesn't have to compromise with other factions (except perhaps as demanded by the cloture rules in the Senate -- which involves supermajorities). This is bad because it means that large factions have little incentive to work together -- and in addition, that a majority faction has no incentive not to do things that voters in other factions absolutely despise. In our current system of two-party domination, it is always the case that either the Democrats or the Republicans have a simple majority, so this stuff happens all the time. With a 60% supermajority, this would only happen when one faction controls 60% of the votes. The rest of the time, even a majority faction would have to work with at least a few of the other faction's members in order to get anything passed. This would lead to more inter-party cooperation, and in addition would force majority parties to pay a little bit of attention to the will of voters in other parties.

If a supermajority system is used, it can be tweaked in order to accomplish specific objectives. In my opinion, the current political process contains a bias that leads to governments growing larger, more powerful, and more secretive over time, and that leads to armed conflict between nations. With a supermajority system, the usual supermajorities would be required in order to pass bills that make the government larger, more powerful or more secretive, or to arm or mobilize for war. However, one could create a special exception in which only a simple majority would be required to make the government smaller, less powerful or more transparent, or to disarm or demobilize. This would introduce a countervailing bias.

Above, I said that with supermajorities, the government simply would not take action on issues for which there is not a broad agreement on which action to take. I think this is the correct decision in most circumstances; often the costs of a decision which alienates a substantial proportion of citizens is greater than the costs of doing nothing. However, there are undoubtably some issues on which some action is better than none. For example, some sort of budget must be passed every year. This could be dealt with by designating budget bills as a special case; in order to simply re-pass the same budget as was passed last year, only a simple majority would be needed. The supermajority would only be needed to modify a budget.