On 08 Apr 2004, ***@aol.com (Rob Kleinschmidt) smacked the
keyboard and out came
> StephG <***@hotmail.com> wrote in message
>> If it was actually democracy, Gore would have won. He got more votes.
>> What we actually have is something else, with an electoral college
>> designed to give the citizens of less populous states more of a vote
>> than those of more populous states. Each state gets at least three
>> electoral votes regardless of their population.
> I think you've gone back and forth a little bit about the U.S. political
> system. On the one hand, you argue for staying inside a two party
> system. On the other, you are definitely less than happy about the
> results it produces.
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little
statesmen and philosophers and divines." from "Self Reliance" by Ralph
The two party system would be workable if the electoral system were not
"winner take all", but votes were proportionally assigned. And there's a
right way and wrong way to do that also. The wrong way would be to assign
the electors by their gerrymandered congressional districts. The right way
would be blind proportional distribution in each state.
That way, someone like Nader would have gotten his electors in Florida, and
seeing the choice between a Gore and Bush presidency, would have had to
make the very public denial of electors to Gore, or could have thrown his
electors toward him. Ross Perot could have done the same for Bush Sr. or
maybe Bob Dole as well.
> I do see some attraction in other models, especially parliamentary
> systems, but I'll argue that third parties are important in the U.S. as
> well, if for no other reason than keeping the two major parties
> responsive to their constituents. Best example of this is probably the
This would be true if the third parties represented truly significant
groups of people. Unfortunately, in a close race it would give them power
out of proportion to their actual representation of the population.
If the third party represents a constructive platform, this can benefit
society. But generally, they represent highly destructive platforms. You
might think Nader is constructive, but what if the KKK formed a political
I'm also on the fence about how responsive political parties *should* be to
their constituents. If you had a consistently educated populace that kept
itself fully aware of current events, I'd agree.
And even in parliamentary government, you still get coalitions. In the end,
you have the two party system anyway. But you have small minorities free to
shift their allegiances at a moment's notice to get their own pork,
resulting in wild and sudden shifts of power, making them powerful out of
proportion to their representation.
We already have enough of that in our two party system, with the socialists
in the Democratic party and the religious zealots in the Republican party.
The group that is most under-represented lately seems to be the vast
middle, because those small, but large in comparison to the combined size
of all the "third parties", constituencies get out the vote and just make
that little extra difference between success and defeat.
Still, what we have is a two party system. Period. Periodically, a populist
can make their way through the muddle as an independent, but they won't
represent a party. They'll represent their own platform, and if they want
to be successful, it'll borrow from the two existing parties.
If you started to make third parties feasible, it wouldn't stop with third
parties. And you'd have some groups being represented and getting law
passed in the US that you'd prefer to see continue to go unrepresented.
Lastly, it would take a Constitutional Amendment to make a greater-than-
two-party system feasible. Because congressional districts as well as
selection of electors in presidential elections are determined by the
states, according to the Constitution as it now stands, it is the
individual states which stand in the way of reforming the system. States
which go it alone wind up with weakened representation, as the two party
system will tend to attack third parties (as they have historically done).
*Only* a national Constitutional Amendment can fix that, and it ain't gonna
happen. Because the two parties are in charge of the federal representation
in Congress, and at the moment all of the governorships. An independent or
third party could conceivably win the presidency, but it would be an
ineffective presidency even with a populist president.
The current system usually works as long as there is some form of split in
party control over the lever of government. If you have a Democrat in the
White House and a Republican Congress, or a Republican in the White House
and a Democratic Congress, or the House or Senate are of different parties,
then the system works. Thanks to Nader, regardless of the ways in which
Gore lost other states, the full control of the government was handed over
to a single party, with only the filibuster holding the Republicans back.
The Republicans even control the Supreme Court.
And this is why you must have *only* a two party system under the current
Constitution. A third party interferes with the swinging of the political
pendulum, and just when it appears it might swing one way when the mood of
the populace shifts overall slightly from the midpoint of the political
bell curve, the third party which caters to a specialized element of that
side of the curve siphons off just enough support to send the pendulum back
in the other direction.
Voices handed over to a third party are wasted. They can make the losing
half that lost as a result angry not only at the participants, the voters
who voted for them, and the system that allowed this to happen, but they
may become hostile to the message even if it's a good one. Nader mortally
wounded the cause of anti-corporatism just when that movement had the
greatest amount of evidence to rally public support to its side. He also
mortally wounded, as a representative of the "Green Party", the cause of a
more active environmentalism. Don't underestimate the hostility that people
have toward Nader and the causes he represented in the 2000 election.
Had the same effort been put into lobbying and supporting the Democrats,
some effect would have been felt and seen, there would have been access to
a voice in the elected body politic, and possibly some of those policy
positions might have made their way, reasonably compromised for the sake of
reality, into law. Instead, not only did the Greens get zero, but they lost
a huge amount of ground on *every* position, ground that may take several
election cycles and maybe *decades* to fix. And if the conservative
majority in the Supreme Court is widened as a result, most certainly
> I kinda figure that either you support the right to vote for a candidate
> of your choice or you don't. Lots of people have in fact taken beatings
This is, in fact, a naive simplification of the world. It's a denial of
responsibility by hiding behind rights. The Naderites have refused to take
responsibility for their vote that plunged the country further into one
party, conservative rule, by hiding behind that right.
With rights, comes the obligation to use that right responsibly.
The attitude of the Naderites is similar to the attitude of an
environmentalist terrorist that wants to save wildlife by killing every
human alive. They were and are willing to burn the whole world down if they
don't get their way.
Fuck them and their voting rights. And more to the point, if they're still
commited to Nader after a few of them get a beating to speak up in public
support of him, then that shows real commitment, not just childish
I wonder if anyone would be willing to die for Ralph Nader. That would be
ironic, given his lifelong dedication to trying to make the world safer for
> By and large, they're going to pay for bad decisions just the same way
> you will, maybe more heavily. Some have got kids in Iraq and it's their
> kids (and mine) who will have to pay off the debts incurred. When you
> hear somebody talk about being unemployed, uninsured and looking forward
> to another four years of Bush it does make you stop and wonder, but
> you kinda figure sooner or later a clue may come their way.
I think many, when they voted for Nader, were young and single and
influenced by the stupidity of youth (and a lot of people never outgrow
that). It's hard to imagine someone who was married, supporting a family,
supporting Nader. In the great way that things distribute themselves in
bell curves, of course those people existed. But it's even more difficult
to imagine anyone with kids old enough to fight *now* voting for Nader.
People with teenage children seem to be more acutely aware of youthful
ignorance, and strive to separate themselves from it.
My personal opinion of why Bush won, was on a single, simple issue. Guns.
Gore's support of gun control lost him his home state, and every state that
has a large rural population. 90,000 people lost him the electors from
Florida, but there are 40 million gun owners who are law abiding citizens
in this country, and that's a large chunk of the population to piss off.
Far more than enough to shift the balance of power. Far more than the
number of unemployed. The uninsured don't know they have a problem until
they get very sick, and that's a very small subset of the uninsured. Most
of them will get treatment anyway, so they aren't too worried about it.
And of course, for the Republican and unemployed, it's going to be someone
else's fault anyway, most likely minorities and affirmative action.