“We live in a two party system! We have to work within it!”
It matters not if Democrats or Republicans control the White House, the House of Representatives or the Senate. Wall Street, Big Agribusiness, Big Pharma, Big Government Contractors, Big Insurance and the other corporatist rent-seekers get paid regardless.
I am embarrassed when I hear any liberty minded person embrace the “two-party system” as a physical inevitability, as if it were Newton’s Fourth Law. Liberty minded people proudly embrace and admire revolutionaries who fought the biggest military in the world… and won. Liberty minded people proudly embrace and admire revolutionaries that fought, killed and died to defeat a political system that oppressed them.
Then these same liberty minded people dismiss out-of-hand the mere notion that defeating a two-party duopoly that perpetuates an ever-growing leviathan as “impossible.” What American revolutionaries did was nigh on impossible. Changing a political system is merely hard. Let’s adopt that revolutionary attitude. Let’s drop the timid meekness of impossibility. You think it is impossible? Then it is.
The first step in changing the status quo? Quit accepting it as inevitable. Reject the notion that it is an impenetrable bulwark that can not be breached. Admit it is broken and must be thrown out and replaced.
Quit enabling the behavior we want to stop. Quit telling yourself, “this time, it will be different.” We pity abused spouses that keep taking back their abuser. How many more times will you accept being lied to? How much more abuse will you take?
It is shameful when liberty minded people – in the name of liberty – accept the system that oppresses them. If the GOP nominates a big government candidate, what do they tell you? “Vote for the Big Government Republican,” whose beliefs you do not share, “or you are just helping the Big Government Democrat!” Where else in your life would you accept such a Hobson’s choice?
I submit nowhere. Yet we have been indoctrinated into thinking that two bad choices are inevitable. That nothing can be done. To just accept it. Lie back and enjoy it. There is nothing you can do.
As long as people believe that there is nothing that can be done… there isn’t.
Do not accept tripe just because it’s not offal. Do not accept losing a pinkie just because it’s not a thumb. If you are told, “well, those are the only choices, so choose!” Say “No! No more! I will not choose just because that’s the way we’ve always done it! I will suffer, I will fight, I will sacrifice, but I will not voluntarily partake in a system that does not serve me!”
B. Envision success.
Once we refuse to participate in a system that rewards cronyism at the expense of liberty, then what?
I do not know. Not exactly. But John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and our other revolutionary heroes did not know exactly what they were going to do once they defeated the British. The first attempt, The Articles of Confederation, failed.
But they knew they had to throw off their shackles. They knew they wanted liberty. That’s a good start for us, as well.
The first step in fixing a problem is to admit there is a problem. Then we can start coming up with alternatives.
I do, however, have some suggestions. One suggestion is to question plurality voting. Plurality voting is where each voter can pick one candidate to support, regardless of the number of people running. The candidate with the most votes, a plurality, wins. A majority is not needed. The winner frequently is opposed by a majority. What sense does that make?
63% of the electorate could vote against you, and you are the victor. Stupid, right? Yes, it is stupid. Yet we blithely accept it as “the way it is.”
I am not making this up. Steve Hogan, the newly elected Mayor of Aurora, was rejected by 63% of the electorate, yet won. It is nonsense. Is it not reasonable to question such a system?
Let’s look at the 2011 Aurora mayoral election results:
Steve Hogan 37.5% (13,498)
Ryan L. Frazier 30.2% (10,856)
Jude Sandvall 14.5% (5,244)
Debbie Stafford 11.4% (4,107)
Sheilah Thomas Davis 3.5% (1,291)
Barbara J Yamrick 2.5% (924)
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the 63% of voters whom voted for someone else hated Hogan. (Hogan is probably a wonderful person and a great mayor. I use his election for illustration only). Each of them would have voted for any of the five other candidates before they voted for Hogan. We really have a perverse result, don’t we?
There are many ways to avoid this perversion. Some of them are:
Score voting – Voters gives each candidate a score from 1-5. (Or 1-10 or 12-68, the range is irrelevant.) In our example above, 63% of voters would have given Hogan a “1,” the lowest possible score. He would have lost – and the voice of the voters would be more accurately reflected.
Approval voting – Voters look at each candidate independently and decide if they approve of that candidate or not. If they approve, they vote “yes.” If they disapprove, they vote “no.” The candidate with the most approval votes wins. Once again, 63% of the voters would have disapproved of Hogan and he would not have won. The voice of the voters would be more accurately reflected.
Other forms of voting exist, as well. Our slavish devotion to an absurd voting method, plurality voting, is based on nothing but tradition. Nothing. It is not in the U.S. Constitution. It is not in the Colorado Constitution. It is statutory. It can be changed by the state legislature.
But like Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, people are frightened and confused by anything new.
I highly recommend “Gaming the Vote” by William Poundstone as a great nonpartisan resource on alternative voting methods.
So why do we use plurality voting? Perhaps because it is easier for the corporatist rent-seekers to control. In partisan races, third party candidates have nigh on zero chance with plurality voting. That just leaves two traditionally viable choices. It is far easier to tell the public that they must vote for one candidate over another candidate or horrible things will happen. The rent-seekers, however, don’t really care who wins, as long as it is one of the two.
As a result, government gets bigger, corporatists get their money, and voters think they have a real choice between two very different candidates. (And on abortion, immigration, homosexuality and other hot-button issues voters care about, they do differ. But neither will stop the corporatism. And that’s all the corporatists care about).
But what if voters could score, or approve of, 10 different candidates? It is much more likely one of those ten would buck the corporatist system. That is against the interest of those in power.
It is, however, in your interest.
C. Don’t quit.
Just give it some consideration. Our current system has failed to protect individual liberty. It has allowed the Constitution to become a mere suggestion. I know many liberty minded people hope to change the system from within. I wish you all the best.
It just appears to me, however, that such hope is misguided. For instance, if Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee, our choice for President will be between two people whom believe in government run healthcare. Do you accept those two choices? Or do you believe defeating Obama is more important than limited government? I grant we will be marginally better off with Romney than with Obama. Marginally.
But just looking at 2012 is shortsighted. It is exactly what the corporatists want us to do. If they can keep us looking ahead no more than the next election, the two-party duopoly will never end. We’ll have great arguments between choosing Corporatist A or Corporatist B. And Corporatism wins.
We have to look at the next hundred years, not just the next ten months.
Dropping plurality voting is relatively painless. It is a start. It’s not the only one. But it is something.
But like Andy Dufresne slowly scraping away at his jail cell, year after year, one tiny bit at a time, freedom won’t come quickly. And we’ll have to crawl through hundreds of yards of vile smelling foulness we can’t even imagine.
But freedom is worth it. Isn’t it?