[EM] (Kevin Venzke) and Richard Fobes.

Richard Fobes ElectionMethods at VoteFair.org
Sun Feb 19 19:03:11 PST 2012

On 2/19/2012 1:04 AM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
> On 02/19/2012 06:04 AM, Richard Fobes wrote:
>> ...
>> Here is a link to a "map" of the U.S. political system as I see it:
>> http://www.votefair.org/pencil_metaphor.html
>> "If the Republican party and the Democratic party are at opposite ends
>> of a pencil, most of the voters are way above the pencil. Both parties
>> are pulled down away from the voters by the money coming from the
>> biggest campaign contributors."
>> ...
> I like third parties, so let me use a business metaphor. Say you have a
> monopoly. This monopoly has market-making power, so it can set prices as
> it wants and produce worse goods than it actually would.
 > ... <more below>

I agree with your point that monopolies are weakened by competition.

And I agree that a third party could weaken the two main parties.

In fact, if a third party in the U.S. offered a truly fair election 
process and offered a viable candidate for Congress (but not for a 
Presidential race because that has other complications), and if that 
candidate were elected, then the two major parties would, soon after, be 
forced to make at least some improvements in their election process (to 
avoid losing too many voters).

Unfortunately none of the third parties in the U.S. are understanding 
this opportunity.  The "leaders" at the top of those third parties are 
more concerned about maintaining their control than representing 
frustrated voters.

I'm not discounting the power of third parties.

Rather, I'm picturing how things will be later, after the transitions 
have occurred.  How will things be done after the dust settles, when 
things have (relatively in terms of the issues we are now dealing with) 

Richard Fobes

> If a monopoly has absolute power, i.e. no competition, it sets its
> prices so that MR = MC, to maximize its profit. Let's call that the
> equivalent of a party that's completely under non-democratic influence,
> such as the one party in a one-party state. That would correspond to, in
> your picture, the party being all the way at the bottom by "special
> interests".
> If you now add another company to make a duopoly, then the old monopoly
> loses some of its market power. Its products will be priced a bit closer
> to the ideal (perfect competition) case of P = MC because each duopolist
> has to concede some power to the other. (For the sake of the argument,
> we assume collusion, if any, is less than required to turn the duopoly
> into a de-facto monopoly; also, we assume we're far from the area where
> monopolistic competition stops the push towards P=MC.)
> Adding yet new businesses will push the price further towards the P = MC
> point (the "good" one) where the companies have to provide what the
> people want. In the political realm, adding new parties will push all
> parties closer to the top of your pencil graph.
> To be more simple about it: in the economic realm, permitting
> competition means that the companies can't afford to not care about
> their customers any more. Why should this not also be the case of the
> political realm? If there were two parties, the special interests could
> buy them both off, but if there were ten, the special interests would
> have to buy all of *those* off, or one of the parties would say "if I
> move my platform away from what the people want, towards what you want,
> then the voters will leave me for one of the other nine".
> The analogy isn't perfect because voting happens more rarely than
> purchases and because political party positions are, by their nature,
> differentiated. However, it does make sense. If you have only two
> parties, then to make politics fair, you have to do a lot of work
> keeping the two parties honest -- but if you have more than two parties,
> you know that there's a limit to how dishonest the two parties can get,
> no matter who captures control of those two parties.
> And that seems - to me at least - to be a more solid guarantee than
> "two-party rule could work". Reforming the political parties improves
> the best case scenario, while changing the system improves the worst
> case scenario (short of the system itself being dismantled).

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