IRV wins big in SF and Vermont

Joe Weinstein jweins123 at
Thu Mar 7 22:15:30 PST 2002

I want to add my vote of 'approval' (as well as for Approval) to all the 
recent comments by Forest and Alex.

About 500 days ago I first subscribed to this list.  Thanks mainly (though 
not only) to Forest, there has been considerable creative thinking in the 

Isn't it amazing how credible proxy voting becomes when we associate it with 
a not-yet-fully-discredited concept - legislatures - rather than with a 
totally discredited one - the electoral college.

A few days ago on our local Long Beach civic reform e-list I found myself 
responding to an otherwise savvy Green who was so proud of her party's pure 
principled stance in California's just-held 'modified closed' primary.   The 
Dems and Reps and some other parties permitted a non-partisan ('decline to 
state') voter to cross into their primaries, but the Greens insisted on 
Green-voter-only purity.

I could not help noting an interesting fact about the totally open 1998 
primary, which permitted any voter to cross over to any party for any 
office.  In that primary there was a statewide office for which only one 
party presented any contest at all for nominee:  namely, Sec of State, and 
the Green party.  Other voters had nothing to lose by voting in the Green 
primary for that office, rather than skipping the non-contest within their 
own party.  Nevertheless, no more Green votes were cast for that office than 
for other offices.  In other words, despite nothing to lose, non-Green 
voters did not bother to cross over and sully the Green primary.

At that point, I was on a roll and got carried away.  I noted that rather 
than uphold partisan purity, maybe it was time to join Madison and others 
who took issue with 'factionalism', i.e. parties at all.  I think Madison's 
case is far stronger today than in his own time.

Parties serve two main functions, neither of which are either necessary or 
sufficient to the needs of today.  First, parties provide a summary labeling 
scheme, for voters too lazy or too incapacitated to heed even a ten-word 
descriptive summary, printable on a ballot, of a candidate's individual 
program and orientation.  Second, if you dislike a given incumbent, you can 
punish his party's future nominees.  To call this sufficient or genuine (let 
alone timely) 'accountability' is a delusion.  As we continue to find to our 
sorrow here in Long Beach, real accountability requires a genuine 
investigative press, plus power to bring real-time suits against truly 
misbehaving officeholders.

Instead of focusing on political purity, I suggested that political 
activists get interested in 'election methods', as we on this list 
understand the phrase.  Or, and here is my other alternative, perhaps it's 
time for real campaign finance reform, achieved by taking money out of 
electioneering, achieved in turn by reducing the role of elections.  First, 
let's increase direct town-hall democracy.  Of course, if we go too far just 
with that, the result would be too erratic and too time-consuming for most 
of us, but to complement it we could also do something else:  choose 
legislators not by election but by lot, just as we do potential jurors.

Joe Weinstein
Long Beach CA USA

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