[EM] Re: Median Voter Theorem and the 50-50 Nation

Dr.Ernie Prabhakar drernie at radicalcentrism.org
Wed Aug 4 12:57:23 PDT 2004

Hi Rob,

On Aug 3, 2004, at 11:51 AM, Rob Brown wrote:
> Dr. Ernie Prabhakar <drernie <at> radicalcentrism.org> writes:
>>    However, the root of the split is, at the end of the day, the
>> polarized ideologies of conservatism and liberalism that anchor the
>> "hard-core" base of each party, and drives politics at the local 
>> level.
>>   As long as both parties carry those boat anchors, I don't think 
>> either
>> will be able to overtake the other/reach out to the disenfranchised
>> middle.
> Hi, I saw this and it inspired me to jump out of lurk mode.

Welcome!  Thanks for your input.

> I very much disagree with this.  I'm convinced that 99% of the reason 
> for the
> polarizing into the two parties is because of plurality voting, which 
> clusters
> people (typically into two parties, but sometimes more) because of the
> strategic advantage of eliminating vote splitting.  With that effect 
> gone,
> centrists would have more chance of being elected than people who were 
> more
> one side or the other, and you wouldn't have the current battling of 
> two sides
> to get their candidate elected as opposed to the other -- you would 
> just have
> a subtle shifting of the middle.  There would still be people on both
> extremes, but they would have far less power.

I appreciate your perspective, but I'm not quite sure what exactly we 
disagree about.  If I remember correctly, we were talking about parties 
per so, not the electorate.  Thus, there's at least three issues 
involved, and I'm not sure which one(s) you're commenting on.  More 
precisely, my position is that:

a) Plurality encourages the dominance of two parties; Condorcet would 
make it easier for third parties to emerge

b) Closed primaries encourage the nomination of extremist candidates; 
open (or no) primaries would encourage parties to nominate more 
centrist candidates

c) No matter what, parties will continue to exist, and current parties 
will tend to be defined by their existing ideologies.  To create a new 
centrist party (or fully takeover an existing one) requires a new 
centrist ideology.

In those terms, my best guess is I'm talking mostly about (c), while 
you're recommending (a) as a solution for (b). Which is why I at least 
am confused -- perhaps now you are too. ;-)

Now, I agree it is an open question whether (a) and (b) will 
automatically solve (c).  I guess it depends on what you mean by 
"automatically".  At the very least, you can bet that the current 
ideological patrons of the existing parties will not give up without a 
fight, and I at least believe we need to fight them with both 
ideological and methodological weapons.

> If you were to fix this problem (by having a condorcet type election 
> for all
> elections including for votes within congress), people's views and 
> opinions
> and preferences are far more likely to fall along a bell curve, rather 
> than
> the current curve which has two humps.

Certainly, but how would those views be expressed?  Without parties? 
Within the existing parties?  Or a new third party? And how would that 
party define itself?

As a good Kuhnian, I believe all human views are ultimately articulated 
in the context of some paradigm or other.


Currently, most political dialogue (at least in the U.S.) is defined 
relative to conservatism and liberalism.  This especially true of 
traditional centrists, who define themselves by their rejection of 
those two extremes.   We "radical centrists" (think John McCain) are 
trying to articulate new positive principles for political 
decision-making, rather than merely reacting negatively to the existing 

> I don't think you would need "philosophical reform" as you suggest, and
> frankly I don't see how that would ever happen anyway.  That is almost 
> like
> suggesting that human nature be changed.

Not quite; I may be arrogant, but even I lack that much hubris!

My point is simply that ideologies like conservatism and liberalism 
were invented centuries ago, and that we need to do better.  It is no 
more that what Ayn Rand did for the Libertarians, though perhaps that 
should serve as a cautionary tale....

Ernie P.

p.s. I'll be offline for a while after today, so please don't take it 
personally if I fail to respond.
Ernest N. Prabhakar, Ph.D. <DrErnie at RadicalCentrism.org>
RadicalCentrism.org is a tiny little think tank near Sacramento, 
California, dedicated to developing and promoting the ideals of 
Reality, Character, Community and Humility as expressed in our Radical 
Centrist Manifesto: Ground Rules of Civil Society 

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list