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A Question for LIBERTARIANS...

Mensch

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I'm a libertarian, and I was reading a post on DP that served me with a personal challenge to defend my views in contrast to fundamental structured election systems. In other words, I'm having a tough time defending two arguments running parallel in my mind. On the one hand, I'm an American and I tend to like the system that we've created for ourself. I can't say that I dislike the winner-take-all electoral college. It's gotten us this far!

On the other hand, I'm a libertarian and a member of a third party. I will never see a libertarian take office unless we restructure the entire electoral system of the United States. I don't see myself going that far, which may mean I will forever be a member of a political minority, desperately clinging to the fringes as if my own personal idealism was paramount to my own party's success.

An electoral college like ours will inevitably produce a two-party system . Duverger's law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
That is just the nature of the beast. So what are libertarians to do? You're faced with the crossroads in your own convictions if you decide to stay true to our original system. Would you overhaul the electoral college?

Perhaps we could just modify it a little bit. Instead of winner-take-all, determine the winnings based on exact percentages, rounded to the nearest whatever. My only fear is that that modification will have devastating results to the republican nature of our democratic society.
 

Korimyr the Rat

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There's a difference between political structure and political ideology. Sometimes, you have to decide which is more important.
 

Harshaw

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As a libertarian, I'd think you'd appreciate the idea of not restacking the deck simply to give your party a better chance of winning. If you want to win, convince enough people.
 

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I've always disliked the electoral college. I know what it's purpose is but I think it's doing the people a disservice for the reasons that you posted.

I'd like to see the popular vote to determine the POTUS.
 

TripleAgent

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I would love to have the President elected by popular vote. (President Gore, ah, it would have sounded so good.)

Unfortunately, with the stranglehold the current two parties have, plus restrictions put on third parties in elections, I don't think we'll ever get away from the two party system without a collapse of the current government and laws.
 

Harshaw

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I would love to have the President elected by popular vote. (President Gore, ah, it would have sounded so good.)
Do you have any idea of the chaos that would have ensued had the recount been nationwide instead of contained just to Florida? The national vote tally was close enough to trigger one.
 

samsmart

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I'm a libertarian, and I was reading a post on DP that served me with a personal challenge to defend my views in contrast to fundamental structured election systems. In other words, I'm having a tough time defending two arguments running parallel in my mind. On the one hand, I'm an American and I tend to like the system that we've created for ourself. I can't say that I dislike the winner-take-all electoral college. It's gotten us this far!

On the other hand, I'm a libertarian and a member of a third party. I will never see a libertarian take office unless we restructure the entire electoral system of the United States. I don't see myself going that far, which may mean I will forever be a member of a political minority, desperately clinging to the fringes as if my own personal idealism was paramount to my own party's success.

An electoral college like ours will inevitably produce a two-party system . Duverger's law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
That is just the nature of the beast. So what are libertarians to do? You're faced with the crossroads in your own convictions if you decide to stay true to our original system. Would you overhaul the electoral college?

Perhaps we could just modify it a little bit. Instead of winner-take-all, determine the winnings based on exact percentages, rounded to the nearest whatever. My only fear is that that modification will have devastating results to the republican nature of our democratic society.
I've always disliked the electoral college. I know what it's purpose is but I think it's doing the people a disservice for the reasons that you posted.

I'd like to see the popular vote to determine the POTUS.
I would love to have the President elected by popular vote. (President Gore, ah, it would have sounded so good.)

Unfortunately, with the stranglehold the current two parties have, plus restrictions put on third parties in elections, I don't think we'll ever get away from the two party system without a collapse of the current government and laws.
I would like to point out that it doesn't matter so much if we change the electoral system for the President to a national popular vote that requires a plurality of votes (but not a majority of votes) to get elected as POTUS since the President only enforces and executives laws but does not write laws.

Rather, it is Congress who writes bills who passes them over to the President to pass as a law. So if you want third-party candidates to serve in the Senate and the House of Representatives and help in the writing of laws the electoral system for voting for Congressmen and Senators will have to be changed to make it easier for third-party candidates to get elected to Congress so third parties will have a say in how federal laws are written and not just in how federal laws are executed.

EDIT: Also, it is not the fact that we use an Electoral College that causes us to naturally evolve into a two-party system but rather that we use a system that allows someone with a plurality of votes, but not a majority of votes, to be elected into office. Even without the Electoral College, as long as we allowed whoever got the plurality of votes but doesn't require a majority of votes to get into office we will have a two-party system. I wanted to make that correction for the original poster.
 
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WingsOfDesire

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It's always amusing when you start seeing people advocating for popular vote and not the EC, read up on some history!

The OP on the two-party system though is an incredibly interesting debate. I had a genius professor for a gov't course a few years ago in which he delved into all the theories and philosophies that bring about a two-party system and the environment it creates etc etc. America ain't about to change from that. When a third party starts noticeably becoming popular, it's either absorbed by one of the major two or it completes the opposite (which is rarer).

Today's libertarian party is not close to being either one of those cases. Ron Paul gave them a blip of life, but they're being overshadowed these days by conservative movements.
 

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America ain't about to change from that. When a third party starts noticeably becoming popular, it's either absorbed by one of the major two or it completes the opposite (which is rarer).
You're absolutely right, but that's only because we use plurality voting. Take, for instance, the Republican Party and the Libertarian Party and the Tea Party Movement. Tea Partiers are arguably rather libertarian because of their views for small government, which means they'd be an obvious choice for recruitment for the Libertarian Party.

However, because we have a plurality voting system, a Republican candidate and a Libertarian candidate would split the vote for conservatives. So let's say an election has 25% vote for the Republican candidate, 30% vote for the Libertarian candidate, and 45% vote for the Democratic candidate. Under current electoral law, the Democrat would win despite 55% of voters, a majority, voting for a conservative candidate.

To limit this ticket-splitting that actually allows unpopular candidate get voted into office, parties tend to absorb each other in order to get the most amount of votes possible to get elected into office. What this does is create the two-party system we have in America today, which is why big businesses and evangelicals are lumped in one party while environmentalists and labor unions are lumped in the other one.

However, there are voting systems that can deal with this. One is Instant Run-off Voting.
Instant-runoff voting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

What IRV does is allow people to vote from a selection of candidates and rank them. If there is no candidate that receives a majority of votes, whichever candidates gets the least amount of #1 votes is disqualifed, and those ballots go to whoever the voters have listed as their #2 choice. If no candidate gets a majority of votes, then that candidate has his ballots go to the #3 choice. And so on until one of the candidates get a majority of votes.

Instituting IRV allows the inclusion of third-party candidates to be voted into office, and I personally think it will allow the most moderate candidate of a region to get elected because the process allows the candidate that the most amount of voters can compromise on get elected.

And to be clear, the Constitution allows the states to determine their electoral process - not the federal government. So if you want a different electoral system, lobby your state legislature to institute in your state.
 

tacomancer

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I would love to have either a parliamentary system or some other system that would break up both the dems and cons in favor of creating many smaller parties that are more ideologically pure.
 

spud_meister

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I would love to have either a parliamentary system or some other system that would break up both the dems and cons in favor of creating many smaller parties that are more ideologically pure.
i don't think any system will do that, almost all democracy's get broken into a few main, ideologically different parties, which the smaller parties would have to back to get their voices heard, it's a shame, but that's how it seems to go.
 

tacomancer

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i don't think any system will do that, almost all democracy's get broken into a few main, ideologically different parties, which the smaller parties would have to back to get their voices heard, it's a shame, but that's how it seems to go.
Its a shame. While I don't agree with everybody, nor do I expect to. I believe that everyone should have their voices heard loud and clear. Obviously there is some practical problems to this ideal, but the closer we can get, the freer we are, I think.
 

WingsOfDesire

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What IRV does is allow people to vote from a selection of candidates and rank them. If there is no candidate that receives a majority of votes, whichever candidates gets the least amount of #1 votes is disqualifed, and those ballots go to whoever the voters have listed as their #2 choice. If no candidate gets a majority of votes, then that candidate has his ballots go to the #3 choice. And so on until one of the candidates get a majority of votes.

Instituting IRV allows the inclusion of third-party candidates to be voted into office, and I personally think it will allow the most moderate candidate of a region to get elected because the process allows the candidate that the most amount of voters can compromise on get elected.

And to be clear, the Constitution allows the states to determine their electoral process - not the federal government. So if you want a different electoral system, lobby your state legislature to institute in your state.
I'm familiar with the system, and while intriguing, and obviously useful in certain scenarios, I don't think it would be taken well at the federal level in the US. In your scenario, you suggest a Libertarian candidate would receive a whopping 30% of the vote, more than the Republican candidate's 25%. Now, if this is at the presidential level, then it signals to me the end of one of those parties. One of them is going to die off pretty much through natural selection.

This is clearly shown in elections such as 1856-1860, 1908-1912, 1996-2000, 2000-2004 (to a lesser degree the Green Party) and a few others. Those are just the ones that come to mind.

I guess your point might be to avoid elections such as these all together. Maybe the Florida Senate position up for this year would be a perfect example. Either way, I think this sort of weeding out is what sort of puts a check on the parties.

When they see one do rather successful considering its third party status, they jump in and adopt those platforms. I'm a bigger fan of letting this process go through than having a ranked ballot. The idea seems to be a stark contrast to what most Americans now see clearly as a one-person, one-vote system. It's ingrained in 'em, so I guess even if IRV is better, it'd take a heck of a long time to convince even a single state to go that route.
 

Guy Incognito

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Perhaps we could just modify it a little bit. Instead of winner-take-all, determine the winnings based on exact percentages, rounded to the nearest whatever. My only fear is that that modification will have devastating results to the republican nature of our democratic society.
Somebody said earlier that this is sort of like "stacking the deck" but I tend to agree with you, Elijah. Right now the two party system is strangling this country. I am so damn tired of voting for the lesser of two evils. There is such a gap between people's political ideals and the reality of the party line that it is impossible for people to vote their conscience of every issue in our system. Maybe we should overhaul the system entirely, so people can vote by the issue, rather than an individual candidate.
 

Harshaw

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I believe that everyone should have their voices heard loud and clear.
And what do you mean by being "heard"? By whom, and to what effect?
 

Harshaw

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samsmart

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I would love to have either a parliamentary system or some other system that would break up both the dems and cons in favor of creating many smaller parties that are more ideologically pure.
A Parliamentary system doesn't guarantee third-parties either, however. After all, the U.K. uses the plurality voting system and their major third party, the Liberal Democrats, do get elected into office, but only in districts where Lib-Dems greatly outnumber Tory and Labour voters.
 

samsmart

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I'm familiar with the system, and while intriguing, and obviously useful in certain scenarios, I don't think it would be taken well at the federal level in the US. In your scenario, you suggest a Libertarian candidate would receive a whopping 30% of the vote, more than the Republican candidate's 25%.
But here is what would likely to happen in my scenario, and I apologize for not explaining in that post.

If IRV was used, the Libertarian candidate would have 30% of the vote, the Republican candidate would have 25% of the vote, and the Democrat would have 45% of the vote. Because nobody has a majority of votes (which is 50% +1) then the candidate with the least votes would have his ballots go to the other candidates.

So the Republican candidate would get dropped out and, because Republican voters generally have more in common with Libertarians than they do Democrats, the Republicans would likely rank the Libertarian candidate as their second pick. Which means all those ballots for the Republican candidate go to the Libertarian candidate in the second round.

Which means in the second round the Libertarian candidate would get 55% of votes and the Democratic candidate would get 45% of votes. Because the Libertarian candidate now has a majority of votes, he wins the election in that conservative area, allowing a good compromise candidate to represent the district.

When it comes to the Presidential election I don't know if I would institute IRV for it. What I would rather do is use the Congressional District method they use in Maine and Nebraska.

Electoral College (United States) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If IRV does allow the proliferation of third-parties, then I would allow Presidential tickets that allows the Presidential candidate to be of one party and the Vice Presidential candidate be of a different party. So, if it would be in their best interests, a Republican POTUS candidate could run with a Libertarian VPOTUS candidate to unite those blocs of voters.

Now, if this is at the presidential level, then it signals to me the end of one of those parties. One of them is going to die off pretty much through natural selection.

This is clearly shown in elections such as 1856-1860, 1908-1912, 1996-2000, 2000-2004 (to a lesser degree the Green Party) and a few others. Those are just the ones that come to mind.
But again, this is because we used plurality voting back then. Naturally a party out-of-favor will be absorbed by a larger party - but only to prevent spoilers which occur in a plurality voting system.

By instituting IRV, however, we can have third-parties who put more focus on certain issues than larger parties would. For example, does the Democratic Party absorb potential recruits to the Green Party by taking up environmental causes? Absolutely. However, the Democratic Party does not take environmentalism as an issue as important as the Green Party does.

So under our current two-party system, the Republicans and Democrats can campaign on issues relevant to third-party voters just to get their votes without having to do anything about it.

By having IRV to allow third-parties to make gains, they can have focus on their platforms.

I guess your point might be to avoid elections such as these all together. Maybe the Florida Senate position up for this year would be a perfect example. Either way, I think this sort of weeding out is what sort of puts a check on the parties.
In years past, I would agree with you. Political parties could get away with regional differences, such as the Rockefeller Republicans in New York, the Libertarian Republicans in the West, and the Evangelical Republicans in the South. However, with media the way it is and the influence pundits have on politics, I would say that it would be better if we allowed for third parties with focused platforms just so voters could vote for the parties that actually engage in their causes. This way, Tea Partiers could actually vote for a Tea Party candidate rather than have to suffer conflicts with factions within the GOP, such as neoconservatives and evangelicals, for who is chosen as the GOP candidate.

When they see one do rather successful considering its third party status, they jump in and adopt those platforms. I'm a bigger fan of letting this process go through than having a ranked ballot. The idea seems to be a stark contrast to what most Americans now see clearly as a one-person, one-vote system. It's ingrained in 'em, so I guess even if IRV is better, it'd take a heck of a long time to convince even a single state to go that route.
It may take a heck of a long time, but that doesn't mean it's not worth doing. Also, IRV isn't that difficult to learn. All a voter has to do is rank their votes. It's as simple a system that allows third-party participation as there is.
 

Harshaw

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What did you mean, then?
I was referring to this:

I'm a libertarian, and I was reading a post on DP that served me with a personal challenge to defend my views in contrast to fundamental structured election systems. In other words, I'm having a tough time defending two arguments running parallel in my mind. On the one hand, I'm an American and I tend to like the system that we've created for ourself. I can't say that I dislike the winner-take-all electoral college. It's gotten us this far!

On the other hand, I'm a libertarian and a member of a third party. I will never see a libertarian take office unless we restructure the entire electoral system of the United States.
 

Guy Incognito

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I was referring to this:
That's precisely the same quote I was referring to as well, just look at post 14. So it is what you were referring to as stacking the deck. I disagree. Restructuring the political system is not akin to "stacking the deck" at all. There is a much better argument that the current two-party political system represents a stacked deck in favor of two very narrow political ideologies.
 

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I believe there are some states which distribute electors based on the results, rather than a strictly winner-take-all proposition.
 

Harshaw

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That's precisely the same quote I was referring to as well, just look at post 14. So it is what you were referring to as stacking the deck.
Uh, no, post #14 does not contain the same quote at all.

I disagree. Restructuring the political system is not akin to "stacking the deck" at all.
Sure it is.

He specifically said 1) he doesn't really mind it the way it is, but 2) he'd like to change things so that the Libertarians have a chance at winning.
 
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