[EM] Utilitarianism and Perfectionism.

David L Wetzell wetzelld at gmail.com
Mon Feb 13 06:28:51 PST 2012

 ---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Juho Laatu <juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk>

 dlw: But I'd argue that to make our two-party system work better, we need
> to provide a constructive role for 3rd parties in it.  This wd be
> accomplished by the use of 3-seat LR Hare in state reps elections.  If the
> Hare quota is used in the "more local" election and the Droop quota is used
> in the "less local" election, like the US congressional elections then
> we'll keep a two-party system.   An analogous case could be made for the
> use of Hare quotas in aldermen elections and Droop quotas in city council
> member elections.  But without giving third parties a constructive role to
> play, we're never going to be able to enforce regulations of $peech.
> The kicker needs to be to separate the advocacy for such from a
> perfectionist approach that presumes we need an EU-style multi-party system
> ASAP.  When those are connected, too many people say it's not possible and
> down-grade it's short-run importance as an issue.
> JL:I agree. From tactical point of view one can drive the reform forward
> in many more or less hidden ways. But if we talk directly about the
> targets, I believe an attempt to establish an improved two-party system
> where also third parties can survive, challenge the current parties, and
> maybe even bypass them one day and become a new dominant party if the
> current dominat parties are not good enough, will have a different
> supporter basis than a proposal to switch completely to a multi-party
> system with coalition governments etc.

dlw: The kicker also is to figure out who'd benefit from a contested
duopoly and get them to fund it's initial push.  The difficulty of doing
such may be why FairVote seems to have dialed back its push for
proportionality in representation, as indicated by Richie's NYTIMES

JL:Unfortunately normally those parties that are currently in power benefit
most of not making any changes to the system. That means that in additon to
getting (automatically) the support of the third parties and independents
you have to convince the general opinion, media, one of the major parties
or some other major interest groups (money?).

dlw: Well, I argued at my blog that the lesser of the 2 major parties in
any given state would benefit from such a change.

We got to convince them that they're wasting their money on CFR, since it's
not enforceable w.o. first winning thru multi-winner election rules a
constructive role for 3rd parties in our system.

Political jujitsu entails making it advantageous for a stronger opponent to
accommodate you than to defeat you.  This is the only game in town in the

JL:IRV favours large parties, and also it can therefore be seen as a
two-party method that allows third parties to run. Since it favours large
parties, it is one of the easiest methods to market to the two old major
parties. Proportional representation should be harder to sell to them since
it changes the party space more.

dlw: "less-is-more" PR is easier to market if enuf people recognize how
crucial it is to subvert the cut-throat competition between our two major

>> JL: The message I'm trying to carry with this, is simply that after one
>> names the targets, it is much easier to discuss what the best methods to
>> implement those targets would be. Is it a two-party system, a flexible
>> two-party system, or a proportional system, and are the targets different
>> at different levels and in different bodies.
> dlw:I agree, would you agree that if we were to target a flexible 2-party
> system that a modified form of IRV would be more acceptable for
> single-winner elections than in an EU-style multi-party system?
> Pure single-winner elections have a strong (fixed) two-party tendency. An
> "approximately three-party" method would make the system more flexible.
> Full proportional multi-party elections would be an overkill. If you want
> to have a more flexible two-party system the ideal methods are methods that
> are targeted to meet just these requirements. Proportional methods with
> limitations to e.g. three candidates could do in some cases, no problem
> with taht, but only if they happen to implement teh agreed "flexibel
> two-party" targets well.

dlw: You didn't really answer my question.  If PR with limitations
inevitably gets coupled with single-winner elections in the pursuit of a
flexible 2-party system then wd an Approval-Voting enhanced form of IRV
help us reach the target?  Burlington VT shows that the top 2 parties can
get changed by the use of IRV, and (at least part of) the former major
party wd remain a sizeable minor party that could contest the duopoly
relatively easily.

JL: IRV can be said to be a flexible 2-party method (at least in that
direction), and it can elect outside the two main parties. It has its
problems, but it is a possible stepping stone towards better flexible
2-party methods.

I'm not really a friend of Approval. The voters may face bad dilemmas when
the support of a third party candidate grows to the level of one of
the two old major parties. Because of its problems it may discourage people
to continue the reform even more than IRV failures do.

dlw: You know what I mean by IRV+, right?

JL: Modified PR methods are ok too (as stepping stones). Maybe people that
don't want to follow the PR path feel discomfortable with them (since they
could be easily be modified to become full PR methods).

dlw: Well, I argue that PR serves a purpose in 'More local" elections that
it doesn't serve in "Less local" elections: making chronically
non-competitive elections more likely to be competitive and meaningful.  In
the US, with our difficulties in changing our constitution, I'm not worried
about PR catching on at large.

> The softer approach is to use some advanced method but allow only
> representatives of major parties to win. One example of such a method is to
> first use a rankings based proportional method to pick two of the
> candidates, and then arrange a runoff between these two. This method would
> allow people to vote also for third party and independent candidates, just
> like in Condorcet. But the gentleman of the earlier example would probably
> not be elected. If there is a third party that has almost as many first
> preference supporters (or "above dem/rep" supporters), then the candidate
> of that party could win.

dlw: How is this preferable to the use of IRV+, presuming that the US
system as a whole continues to foster the existence of two major parties?

The first thing in my mind is that in IRV the serial elimination process
may eliminate some candidates too early.
15: X>D
15: Y>D
15: Z>D
10: D
45: R
R wins.

dlw: With IRV+ in this example, everybody'd get at least 3 votes and we'd
first tally up the total number of ranked votes people got to get 3
finalists.  In that case, X and Y would get eliminated and their votes
transferred to D.  Then Z would get eliminated and D would win.


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