Tilting at the Ballot Box

Steve Schear s.schear at comcast.net
Sun Aug 29 20:55:19 PDT 2004

At 02:49 PM 8/27/2004, Justin wrote:
>On 2004-08-27T13:14:47-0700, Steve Schear wrote:
> > At 04:12 AM 8/27/2004, you wrote:
>As I understand it (I wasn't there, but perhaps you were), their
>complaint was that their "representatives" weren't from the region they
>claimed to represent, and that they weren't chosen democratically.  You
>and I have no such claim.  I can't claim lack of representation just
>because my fellow citizens are idiots who subscribe to the Libertarian
>or Socialist or Zoroastrian platform yet vote for a Republican or

Although some voters registered with minority parties do indeed cross lines 
and vote for the majority candidate they feel is the lesser of two evils, 
they are not the focus of my interest but rather what representation is 
afforded those that do vote with their registered parties.  In almost all 
other democracies independent voter turnouts in the magnitude of U.S. 
elections would guarantee at least one seat in a state (equivalent) or 
national assembly.  But in the U.S these voters are being denied 
effective  representation (and here 'effective' cannot be defined to mean 
the choice of the majority when voting is by district which eliminates any 
practical chance that a minority party candidate can be seated).

> > The fact that 'my' representatives are not the ones I wanted nor any
> > of the independent independent party voters wanted is paramount.
>What you or I want has nothing to do with it.  I don't get to redefine
>election procedure whenever my preferred candidate doesn't win an

No, but voters should be able to withhold their tax money, where possible, 
until they do.  I think these disenfranchised voters would feel much less 
damaged if they weren't financially supporting a such an undemocratic system.

>I'm not voting for either Bush or Kerry.  Neither represents my views.
>No matter who wins, the winner is my president and my representative.  I
>can't claim otherwise.  The best I can do is blame all the idiot voters
>who cling to party-ID as if it were their only hope of survival.

You are attempting to substitute an inherently winner-take-all contest for 
the legislative contests I have been discussing.  One has nothing to do 
with the other.

> > Representation is about interests and ideology.  If a
> > significant segment of voters don't get anyone to represent these 
> interests
> > and ideologies bad things can happen (e.g., they can become
> > radicalized).  Representation can be an important outlet for these
> > disenfranchised voters.
>Well, one district in TX managed to elect someone who's decent - Ron
>Paul.  It's possible.  The fact that libertarians or fascists everywhere
>don't get their candidates elected has more to do with the fact that
>they vote Republican or Democrat "because a vote for a third party is a
>wasted vote."  Blame the morons in the electorate for not electing
>representatives that mirror their views.  That's where the blame lies.

Its only 'wasted' because there is no chance that a majority in their 
voting district will also vote for the same candidate.

>What do you want?  Do you want everyone to vote Democrat, Libertarian or
>Republican, then apportion the House of Representatives and the Senate
>appropriately?  Who picks the representatives?

The manners for the selection of candidates under a proportional system are 
varied but well understood outside the U.S.  Perhaps these links might 
educate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proportional_representation  and 

>The reason we don't have any socialists or libertarians or fascists in
>Congress is that not a single district votes for one.  The U.S. has this
>fixation on voting for one of the two major parties.  Other countries do
>not; that's why some of them have multi-(3+)-party representation in
>their parliaments.

No, the reason the U.S. has a fixation on voting for one of two major 
parties is because of a lack of proportional representation like 
elsewhere.  I am certain you have the cause and effect interchanged.

>Incidentally, some northeastern state allows each congressional district
>to pick one elector, and the State as a whole picks two.  (Electors =
>Senators + House Reps).  If you're complaining about presidential
>elector selection, that blame lies with the States; the States dictate
>how their electors are chosen.

I am not discussing presidential elections, this is another matter.

> > The problem is that use of voting districts seems to have always resulted
> > in gerrymandering in our political system.  A proportional system can
> > eliminate these geopolitical distortions.
>State and Federal House of Reps.  are proportional.  (Yeah, I know
>Nebraska is unicameral, excuse the generalization).  What part of the
>System isn't proportional other than most States' selection of
>presidential electors?

The part that isn't proportional has to do with the very establishment of 
'voting districts' within the states that are the key to the two major 
parties maintaining their electoral monopolies.


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