[EM] Condorcet 2 - The Sequel ( the same people say the same things)

Alex Small asmall at physics.ucsb.edu
Thu Aug 7 16:08:08 PDT 2003

Adam Tarr said:
> So essentially, you are saying that defeating the weak centrist is such
> a  high priority for you that you are willing to take down the strong
> centrist  as well.  This begs the question, why the bias against
> compromise  parties?  I don't see how the defeat of this strong centrist
> is any worse  than the victory of your weak centrist.  And the latter
> scenario has the  advantage of the Condorcet argument - that is, that
> the winner would win  any two-candidate race.

At various points it has been brought up that Condorcet's virtual
guarantee of centrist victory (when issues are arranged on a 1D axis) is a
guarantee of monopoly.  I later observed that IRV would allow left and
right to compete in a 1D world, but would almost guarantee the defeat of
the center.  I do share some people's skepticism of centrist monopoly. 
It's one thing to elect the person who finds common ground between
different points of view.  It's another thing to guarantee a single party
a chokehold on power.  So I'm actually more sympathetic to IRV now, as
long as the world remains 1D.

However, as Adam points out, the goal should not be to defeat the centrist
because he's the centrist.  The only concern should be that the centrist
not turn into the PRI of Mexico (a 70-year grip on power) or the
Democratic Party in the South (100 years of monopoly).  Both of those
scenarios occurred without the help of Condorcet, relying more on
political culture than on technical aspects of election methods.

As long as an election method allows for meaningful competition, the
election method is doing everything it can to avoid the awful spectre of
monopoly.  Condorcet DOES allow a way out of the monopoly, provided that
people are willing to mix-and-match issues, to go 2D.  In other words, the
monopoly can be broken by innovation.

If the political culture does not allow for that innovation, then a
tug-of-war along a 1D spectrum may really only be the illusion of
competition.  As Forest has pointed out, the issues that get debated so
heatedly in our elections may only be diversions from bigger issues,
issues where the so-called left and so-called right are actually in silent

So, although I do sympathize with the concern expressed by IRV supporters,
I think the best solution is to allow competition and innovation.  In IRV,
only the excluded middle has an incentive to go 2D.  And since doing new
things is hard, it's tempting to just find refuge in the left or right and
never break out of the mold.  In Condorcet, two very different excluded
factions (left and right) have an incentive to innovate and go 2D.  In
fact, the presence of a monopoly may signal the emergence of a second
axis:  Fresh vs. stale in addition to left vs. right.


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