[EM] Much Ado About Not Quite Nothing

Alex Small asmall at physics.ucsb.edu
Fri Aug 9 21:59:24 PDT 2002

There's been a considerable amount of bickering lately, some of it
slightly rancorous.  I just want to offer this comment for people to think
about:  Our disagreements are technical, not political.

Politically, we all agree that citizens should have greater freedom of
choice and greater opportunities to be represented in public
decision-making.  This is true whether you're interested in the purest and
fairest possible democracy (e.g. Demorep), a system that emphasizes
citizen participation rather than selection of leaders (e.g. Joe) or
simply improvements on our current systems (e.g. many of us).  We all
agree that citizens should be able to indicate more information than just
the approval of a single option (i.e. plurality voting).  Finally, we all
agree that decision-making bodies should represent a variety of citizen
interests, and not simply the single favorite in each arbitrarily drawn

Technically, of course, there are sometimes significant disagreements over
which procedures are the fairest and which criteria ensure the greatest
public good.  These technical disagreements can be quite profound and
complicated, and since this is a forum for debating these matters it's not
surprising that the debate becomes quite complicated.

Nonetheless, whenever posts tend toward condescension, or whenever people
get too up in arms over the favorable reception IRV is getting, we should
all remember that ultimately we all want the same thing:  A society in
which citizens enjoy greater freedom of choice when public policy
decisions are made.

The catalysts for this message were (a) some posts I've read (no point in
naming the posters, that would defeat the purpose) and more importantly
(b) an essay by a CVD staffer http://www.fixingelections.com/Prologue.htm
Although many of us here disagree with the CVD's proposed solution to
political problems (IRV and STV) I think most will agree with the
sentiments at the above URL:  That we have a system that allows for only
two options, resulting in polarization, and it's time to fix that.  Seen
in that light, the quarrels that some of us have with IRV supporters are
like quarrels between scientists with different ideas for curing cancer,
not a quarrel between a cancer researcher and a tobacco executive.

Anyway, just a thought.


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