[EM] To Bill Lewis Clark re: stepping-stone

Bill Lewis Clark wclark at xoom.org
Sat Jan 24 16:25:02 PST 2004

Eric Gorr wrote:

> Sorry, but to support so obviously an inferior method which simply does
> not provide a net benefit over Plurality is just silly.

I don't believe IRV "simply does not provide a net benefit over Plurality."

> You seem to recognize that Condorcet is the superior system, but
> support IRV merely because it is popular and want change no matter
> how bad that change will turn out to be.

I don't think IRV is as bad as Plurality, under realistic circumstances
(and possibly not ever -- I'm still thinking about Bart's post re:
California, and still requesting additional specific examples of when
Plurality performs better than IRV.)

> This is completely illogical. No such conclusion can be drawn from my
> statement.

Here is your statement:

>>> IRV may offer some benefits over Plurality, but those benefits are
>>> easily negated by the well known extreme flaws of the system,
>>> leaving us with no net improvement.

Benefits cannot be negated, except by equivalent drawbacks.  If IRV has
drawbacks relative to Plurality, then Plurality has benefits over IRV.

You can't argue that IRV's drawbacks negate its advantages over Plurality,
unless Plurality lacks those drawbacks.

I don't see what you think is illogical about all this.

> For example, if you have person A standing at point 0 and person B at
> point 5, but B then walks back 5, they are at the same point. You
> cannot claim that A is standing in front of B.

If B walks back 5 -- AND A STANDS STILL -- then this represents an
advantage that A has over B.  What advantages does Plurality have over

> None.

Then IRV is superior to Plurality.  It's nowhere near as good as Condorcet
(IMHO) but it's not "change for the sake of change."

> So, explain why each of the cases where IRV would perform worse then
> Plurality are only capable of describing extremely unrealistic
> situations.

I don't know of any such cases.  I was taking it on faith that others had
them.  The fact that I've tried to come up with such scenarios and failed
is what led me to believe they were special cases.  I may be wrong about

> So, what have you done to make the candidates aware of Condorcet?

I regularly send emails to political candidates suggesting that they adopt
election system reform as one of their issues.  I specifically mention
Condorcet (because I like it) and IRV (because it's popular.)  I also
bring the topic up on various political mailing lists to which I belong.

As an amusing aside, every time I send an email to Wes Clark's campaign
regarding election system reform, I get an automated response thanking me
for addressing the topic of Environmental Regulation.  I'm still not sure
why Wes thinks election reform is an environmental issue. :)

-Bill Clark

Dennis Kucinich for President in 2004

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