Friday, July 09, 2004

Dean v. Nader debate and how much I despise plurality elections

This is a neat thing and congratulations to whatever far-sighted producer for National Public Radio pulled this together: Ralph Nader and Howard Dean will debate Nader's campaign today at 12:30 Central time. It should be on C-Span and on NPR.

What a weird way to pick a president. We have to debate whether someone should even run for the office or not.

That's because we don't hold a runoff election, so the majority of voters can split their votes among somewhat similar candidates, allowing the minority of voters to pick the one winner.

And that's so stupid.

I should disclose here that I'm representing the Nader campaign in Illinois in the challenge to his nomination papers in the state. I'm not a supporter of the Nader 2004 campaign, but I do believe that everyone deserves representation, and more to the point, I do believe that people should have the right to vote for anyone they want.

After all, Senator Kerry basically agrees with the Washington Consensus (empire-sized military, corporate trade agreements). While he'll be a better president than George Bush (and I'm convinced he will be the next president), his Administration will largely follow the basic parameters of the establishment. And that's even more money for the Pentagon, even more troops overseas (we're in 40 nations now) and a push for more corporate trade agreements (and not a push for European Union-style agreements).

Voters and citizens who are against that basic agreement -- not to mention the ridiculous amount of clout that moneyed corporate interests wield in D.C. -- should have a candidate that they agree with.

That shouldn't be a controversial statement, but I can already anticipate the party-line reaction of incredulous dismay to permit this *indulgence* of additional candidates that can split the vote.

Nader's point is a civil rights type of point -- people should always have the right to speak up, run for office and support candidates that advance the progressive agenda. It's hard not to feel like a bully when saying that no one should run for office and attempt to influence policy.

But these stupid, outdated, RIDICULOUS plurality elections! Apparently some state Republican parties are working hard to support the Nader campaign. It's so INFURIATING to me. Only because of a defect in the way we elect presidents (no runoff election, and certainly no instant runoff voting) are we saddled with the Orwellian reality of a Vote for Nader is a Vote for Bush.

It drives me crazy.

Which is why my part-time gig is lobbying to implement electoral reforms, among them instant runoff voting. So, while we're on the topic, consider joining the Midwest Democracy Center. You can paypal right now, and if we're successful we can avoid these horrible debates of democratic people that want more voters to turnout saying to candidates "Shut the hell up and don't try to inspire people to vote."

At least Howard Dean is 100% behind instant runoff voting. He worked fairly hard to try to implement instant runoff voting in Vermont when he was the governor there. It almost happened, too.

I'm politically supporting the Kerry campaign this year, because I'm part of the Oust Bush movement. (But we should admit that Get Rid of Bush is not quite advancing the progressive agenda. It's defensive. Necessary, but not quite what you'd call inspiring.) So we should have several candidates running, and one of them should articulate the progressive agenda (and call for Bush's impeachment, by the way). We just have to get rid of these plurality elections by holding a runoff election, instant or otherwise, so these third party and independent campaigns are unabashedly constructive.

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