Re:[EM] How to vote in Approval

Alex Small asmall at
Wed Mar 27 10:40:36 PST 2002

I agree with David that the question "How bad is too bad?" can be
difficult.  In 2000 my lesser evil was Harry Browne (I'm a very soft-core
Libertarian, hence I call Browne the lesser evil rather than the greater
good, but I digress), but I thought Gore was better than Bush.  The
question of whether Gore is still OK would be tough.

If I phrase the question in terms of regret, I can ask which I would regret
more:  Bush winning instead of Gore, or Gore winning instead of Browne.
Because I consider Bush and Gore to be largely the same on many issues, the
regret in the first case would be greater than the regret in the second
case, so I'd only vote for Browne.

On the other hand, in a race between John McCain, Jesse Ventura, and Al
Gore, I see a large gap between Gore (3rd choice) and McCain (2nd choice),
but a somewhat smaller gap between McCain and Ventura (1st choice).  Hence
I'd vote for both McCain and Ventura, assuming it was a tight 3-way race.

On the topic of Approval and "Centrist Weasels":

One nice thing about Approval is that a centrist who decided to take firm
stands on issues, but side with the Dems on some issues and the GOP on
others (e.g. fiscally conservative/socially liberal, or fiscally
liberal/socially conservative) would do quite well.  His supporters might
cast "cross-over votes" for the Dem or Republican, but they would likely
divide more or less evenly.  On the other hand, any Dem or Republican who
cast a cross-over vote would likely vote for the independent.

The reason I call that a nice thing is NOT my own bias toward fiscally
conservative/socially liberal candidates.  The nice thing I see is the
chance to (a) mix-and-match issues, resulting in more freedom of choice,
and (b) break away from the left-right spectrum.

If most candidates conform to one of two molds, it's easy to get
polarization and acrimony.  You get Senators reflexively rejecting people
nominated by the president based largely on party affiliation.  You get
those cable news channels where they bring in a liberal and conservative to
shout at one another on any given issue.  You get lowest-common-denominator
policy rather than best-of-both-worlds policy.

It's likely that the guy appearing on Fox News tonight to yell in favor of
gun control will appear on MSNBC tomorrow to yell against oil drilling in
Alaska.  Nothing wrong with either position, but the predictability and
polarization is bothersome.  If I can predict most people's stance on a tax
proposal based on what they think of abortion, it signals that there's
really very little discussion or thought in America, because the lines have
been drawn.

A system that helped candidates who mix-and-match issues from the two
traditional camps might bring in truly new and innovative ideas.  I truly
believe that America would be a better place if we could just break the
duopoly and bring in fresh new ideas, or at least innovative combinations
of old ideas.


More information about the Election-Methods mailing list