Steve G.

Posts Tagged ‘presidential’

The Laboratory of Democracy — Alternative Voting Methods

In Candidate Endorsement, Civil Liberties, Congress, Constitutional Rights, Democracy, History, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Local Politics, Politics, Presidential Candidates, US Government on May 1, 2009 at 9:22 am

“It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Dissenting Opinion: New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann (1932)

The above quote from Justice Brandeis’ famous dissent is the origin of the idea of ‘the laboratory of democracy’. This is an idea with much merit but which we have, unfortunately, not seen utilized within The United States to any kind of a significant degree. Whether through fear of losing power, fear of interference from the federal government, lack of imagination, lack of interest or fear of the unknown, ‘experiments’ with democracy in this country take the shape of trying to impose different sets of laws and rules upon the citizens rather than on the process by which those laws and rules are determined. The idea in this nation is that differences in democracy are measured solely by the end result of the legislative process rather than the process itself.

A large problem with mankind, in general, and Americans, in particular, is our hubris. We think that, because we are as far along as mankind has ever been, we are the end of the road and have to have everything right. What we should keep in mind is that we are just another middle age. As we express shock, disgust, and amusement at the attitudes, beliefs and lack of knowledge of the world of a thousand years ago, so will mankind view us a thousand years hence. We will not fail the future if we don’t have everything right; we will fail them if we don’t try new things to give those who come after us additional data which they can use to get closer to being right than we ever can.

I try to occasionally write articles under the Laboratory of Democracy umbrella to look at different ideas which might be worth experimenting with (if not at a federal level then perhaps at a state or local level) to see how our idea of constitutional government can be improved based on lessons learned from our own 225 years of history conducting the American Experiment. Today’s topic is about how we can change how we conduct voting to better represent the views, needs and desires of ‘we the people.’

The reasons to change the way we vote are numerous. A fundamental reason to change it is that Americans tend to vote AGAINST candidates rather than FOR them. We have shaped the idea of democracy into an expression of our personal fears. We seem to feel stronger about candidate’s who we DON’T want in an office than we do about those we support. Usually this is perfectly understandable, as the candidates we have to choose from are often not that good, so it is often easier to identify candidates who are LEAST in line with what we want than it is to identity ones whom we can wholeheartedly support.

One obvious problem with this method is that when people are primarily voting AGAINST a candidate, they are afraid to ‘waste’ their vote by casting it for someone who they might approve of but who has no actual chance of winning. This fear of ‘wasting my vote’ was intensified after the 1992 Presidential election saw a significant number of votes cast for Ross Perot (who supporters of losing candidate George H. W. Bush blamed for costing him his bid for re-election) and after Al Gore’s narrow loss (or win, whichever you consider it to have been) to George W. Bush in 2000, which was partially blamed on those in Florida who had voted for Ralph Nader. Aside from the fact that no candidate is ever OWED any citizen’s vote (a candidate bears the burden of needing to EARN someone’s vote), those who support a candidate (or, more accurately, who OPPOSE a particular candidate) are afraid to ‘waste’ their vote by casting it for third party candidates who have no chance of winning.

Bill Clinton’s first nominee for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Lani Guinier, supported a change in how we cast votes for political candidates in this country. Termed ‘Cumulative Voting’, the method which she supported was that each voter would get one vote for each candidate for a particular office and that they could spread those votes among the candidates and give any candidates as many of their available votes as they wanted. For example, if there were four candidates running for President, then each voter would get four votes to cast for President, any one of those candidates getting any or all of those votes, and multiple candidates being able to be given votes by each voter. While she was on the right road, I believe, she was headed in the wrong direction.

Academic studies and theories on Alternative Voting Methods go back at least several hundred years. In 1770, Jean-Charles de Borda proposed the Borda Count as a method for selecting members of the French Academy of Science. The last 30 years has seen an increase in such studies and research, in large part through the various researches which have been done in Game Theory. There are also MANY historical examples of the effectiveness of quite a few different methods of conducting and totaling votes. The Republic of Venice, for example, thrived for over 1,000 and developed a VERY complex but very effective form of Approval Voting for selecting the Doge which survived almost unchanged for over 500 years, until the Republic was conquered by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1797. Many articles with additional information about Alternative Voting Methods, including Approval Voting, are available on-line. Some of these include:

http://bcn.boulder.co.us/government/approvalvote/altvote.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_system

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-winner_voting_system

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_systems#Multiple-winner_methods

As with most of the alternative voting systems I have heard of (equal & even; weighted ballots; fractional ballots; instant run-off; etc.) none of them truly address the idea that most people, at least in America, seem to cast their votes, at least for higher offices, against candidates rather than for them. This means that they see ANY method of spreading their voting strength around as weakening their opposition to a candidate they oppose. For example, under cumulative voting, say you have four votes you can use to vote for a particular office and you do NOT want Candidate A to win. You know that everyone else who is voting for that office will also have four votes to allocate and you fear that those who support Candidate A (or who oppose Candidate B) will each cast ALL of their four votes for Candidate A. Will you then be willing to risk the election of Candidate B by only giving him three of your votes while you ‘waste’ your fourth vote on Candidate D?

So, when we explore the idea of alternative voting methods, we MUST consider realistic human nature (and human fears) when we think about the problem. To do otherwise, to pretend that man will make his choices based on the greater good rather than base self-interest, or that he will willingly and comfortably accept the idea of his candidate losing because it is ‘the will of the majority’ and put aside his personal animosities after an election is unrealistic, at best. Therefore, the question is, how can we change voting into a positive process where people vote FOR candidates because there is NO NEED to vote AGAINST any candidates.

One possible solution is simply to allow a voter to vote equally for EVERY candidate that they think would be worthwhile to support. This method of voting is termed ‘Approval Voting’. To use the Approval Voting method, as an example, say that there are five candidates (A, B, C, D, and E). You personally support candidate C; candidate A is a major party candidate who you do NOT want to see in office; candidate B is a major party candidate who you have no real objections to and see as a better alternative to candidate A; candidate D is an independent candidate who you think could be interesting but who has no realistic chance to win; and candidate E is the local homeless wino transvestite who somehow manages to get on the ballot for EVERY election.

Under this scenario, you can not only cast your vote for candidate B (to help oppose the candidate you don’t want to win) you can ALSO cast an equal vote for candidates C (your preferred candidate) and for candidate D (the one you think is interesting and have no objections to). In such a case, you have accomplished all of your positive voting goals, you have shown your opposition to the candidates you do NOT want to see in office (A and E) by not voting for them, you supported your preferred candidate (C) and you gave support to the other candidates that you had no objections to. In this scenario, none of the votes you cast weakened your personal voting power in any way while, at the same time, made it more likely that candidates other than those from the major parties could win because EVERYONE else who liked candidates C and D could also vote for them but, maybe instead of voting also for candidate B, they voted for candidate A. In a very real way, the candidate who had the most REAL support, who was APPROVED by the most voters, would win the election because all votes cast for any and all candidates would count equally to their totals. In this system you can vote for any one of the candidates, any possible combinations of the candidates, or all of the candidates for that office… you can vote FOR candidates rather than AGAINST them.

Now, are there potential problems with a system such as this? Of course there are. A primary one, obviously, is how to prevent ballots being stuffed because the total votes cast for an office can (and would) be greater than the voting population as a whole and not by a predictable percentage (as if every voter HAD to vote for three candidates, no more or less, which would result in a vote total that was three times the number of voters). Another obvious one is to ask if the winning candidate would have to get a majority of ALL votes cast, or just a higher total number of votes than any other candidate. The first of these two possibilities could lead to either a need for a run-off election or a ‘None of the Above’ result. THAT, however, is where the Laboratory of Democracy comes into play. Let’s encourage some cities and/or counties to experiment with it (or, in fact, with ANY of the other alternative voting methods) before any states try it, and then let some states experiment with it. The is the beauty of the Laboratory of Democracy idea, not every location has to use the same processes and, by allowing and encouraging them to experiment with different process, we can gather data about which process variations work well, work partially but need more tinkering with, and don’t work at all.

Too many people in this nation think that trying different ideas of government means having different laws (like using the Ten Commandments as the basis of their laws, for example). They miss the point that democracy is not the RESULTS of the democratic process but the PROCESS itself.

Thank you for reading this article. Please read my other articles and let me know what you think. I am writing them not to preach or to hear myself think but to try to create dialogs, debates and discussions on the nature of our constitutional government and how we can improve it by building upon what we have seen and learned over the course of the 225 years of The American Experiment.

Rhys M. Blavier
Romayor, Texas

“Truth, Justice and Honor… but, above all Honor”

© copyright 2008 by Rhys M. Blavier

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Liveblog: LP Convention on C-Span: Presidential Debate

In George Phillies, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Media, Mike Jingozian, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Steve Kubby, Wayne Allen Root on May 25, 2008 at 1:02 am

For those of you who don’t get C-Span, or for some reason want to feel like you’re not watching alone, we present the LFV liveblog. I’m ElfNinosMom (ENM) and I will be joined by TitaniumGirl (Tigirl); others may join in as well.

ENM: The guy doing the introduction is boring. They are going to cover the presidential debates, and then the Chairman debates. They are showing Mike Gravel, and I can see Wayne Root. There’s Phillies and Barr as well.

Jim Pinkerton is moderating. When the person introducing him pointed out that he worked for Bush, he got boo’d. Seems like a lively crowd, to say the least.

The candidates debating are Bob Barr, Mike Gravel, George Phillies, Mike Jingozian, Mary Ruwart, Steve Kubby, and Wayne Allyn Root. The moerator called him “The King of Las Vegas!” as if that’s something that makes him qualified for the presidency. Can you see my eyes rolling?

Each gets a two-minute introduction, then will answer in the order in which they were introduced. Pinkerton wants the delegates to hold applause, booing, etc in order to allow more time to ask questions.

Pinkerton made some really strange jokes, which didn’t really go over very well.

Question: What philosopher most closely represents your views?

Barr: Ayn Rand. (Yeah, right.)

Pinkerton actually screwed up and forgot to let them make their opening statements first. I wondered about that.

Barr says his journey has taken many years to get to libertarianism. He brings up Ayn Rand again. he says he has lived in societies with no freedom, no liberty, and said he was referring to Congress. That joke fell flat, he was the only one who thought it amusing. He said people think he is not charismatic. He did okay, but not great.

Gravel said we’re in a mess, and it’s silly to think the ones who got us here can fix it. Only libertarians can fix it. The Dems and Reps have a monopoly, follow the money to find out what will happen when they are elected. I thought he did well.

Phillies is proud to be a Libertarian, and have the opportunity to spread the message of peace, liberty, and prosperity. Proud to have had many opportunities to serve the party, mentioned his congressional run and his PAC, made a jab at Barr without naming him. Phillies will cover issues the American people care about. He is the centrist who can hold the party together. He actually did very, very well.

Jingozian talks about what we have seen in this country. Does he have pink eye in his left eye? It looks odd for some reason. Hopefully it’s just a shadow, because pinkeye sucks. He sacrificed his own time and money to get us where we need to be.

Ruwart got applause right off the bat. Interesting. Democrats made this “the year of the woman”, then dropped the ball. Her hair looks like it’s plastered, she looks much prettier when it’s more natural. She’s still very attractive for a woman her age. Libertarianism is the passionate choice, decrease crime, slash healthcare costs. Only liberty can deliver those things. She has the experience and the depth of understanding of principles to accomplish it. Big applause at end.

Kubby has good news and bad bews. He has 6 months to live, adrenal cancer. Good news is that this is the 34th year they’ve told him that. Big applause. Medical marijuana is the only treatment which has worked. His campaign is not about marijuana, it’s about liberty. Applause again. Has nearly died and gone to jail for liberty. Most cant define liberty. It’s not freedom, it’s freedom from government. He looks like he has some splotches on his forehead. is he okay? I sure hope so!

Root claims we’re the anti party. Anti this, anti that. He talks like a used car salesman. Claims he’s the first Jewish American to get presidential nomination (not true). SOB, blah, blah. Obama, blah blah. Does he not realize that people are tired of hearing the same crap over and over again from him? I know i am. He’s a SOB, for sure, but the B doesn’t stand for butcher.

Okay, now back to questions about philosopher. Gravel says laws permit us to have the sovereignty. Small applause at first, then big applause. Didn’t catch the name of the philosopher, sorry.

Phillies: Goldwater. He got applause during his answer. Then mentioned Marcus Cicero, wrote “Essay on Duty”, sacrifice for country. Small applause.

Jingozian said (dammit, dog was barking, missed it). He says this is the year we will put LP on map.

Is it just me, or are these guys not really answering the question about philosopher?

Ruwart named Ayn Rand. Judge and be prepared to be judged. Unity of our party being challenged. We need to practice non-judgment and love. Big applause.

Kubby said many, but most influenced by David Nolan, LP founder. Taught him liberty works. Without liberty, everything in jeopardy. Moderate applause.

Root said “Yogi Berra”. What a retard. Who wears a fuschia tie on television? Root, that’s who. Ugly, ugly tie.

Question: any part of the world where you’d send troops?

Gravel: No. Wants to withdraw troops from around the world, close bases around world. Treat everybody as equals. Golden rule is answer to meaningful foreign policy. Huge applause.

Phillies: Cold war is over, bring troops home, close bases. End foreign aid, compete economically. Applause.

Jingozian: Most people in world just want to live in peace, have a good standard of living, hope kids have it a little bit better. It’s the governments at war, not the people. War will not end unless we vote libertarian. big applause.

Ruwart: bring troops home. They’re in a Middle Eastern Vietnam. Were at war with Japan just a few decades ago. Be friends to all, trade with all, offer hand in friendship. Applause.

Kubby: strange feedback sounds. We have competitors, we need to figure out that bombing civilians won’t help. People look to US as leader. Some applause.

Root: Thomas Jefferson is hero. Impoundment. Damn, this guy sounds like a broken record. He has said the same things in other debates. He claims he has come the farthest of everyone in the panel. Cut military budget, give money back to taxpayers.

Barr: Missing emphasis on word defense. It is not defending America to occupy foreign nations. Bring troops home, remove security blanket propping up foreign regime. Conveniently doesn’t say anything about his recent statement about invading Colombia. Applause.

Sorry, missed a question because I had to let my dogs out.

Gravel bashed Barr on energy, LOL, and got some applause. Got big applause at end.

Question: Are you familiar with the tragedy of the commons(?)

Jingozian: I don’t know. Big applause. He’s successful not because he knows all the answers, but knows what questions to ask. We need to work together, need a president who admits he doesn’t know. Learn from other countries. Big applause.

Ruwart: Restitution. Make people clean it up. Mentioned taxes, then corrected herself and called it a “fine”. Her response makes no sense, she’s stumbling over her own words. I get the impression that she’s just making it up as she goes along.

Kubby: US government is biggest polluter on planet. He looks really tired.

Root: Al Gore is 2nd biggest polluter, pollutes more when he gets on his private jet to get a Nobel Peace Prize. What a stupid statement. Ends with “government is a failure”. What a retard.

Barr: He says he has no idea what the question was about, but he keeps talking anyway. Retard.

Gravel: Concept of private property should be honored, let people sue polluters, that’s the answer. Applause. Lobbyists set up barriers to stop citizens from doing this. LP offers freedom. Big applause.

Phillies: Not going to bash people because they are conservatives or liberals, is running for President of all. Scientific truth is that there is global warming. Suing people not the answer. If somebody pollutes, put them in prison.

How would you deal with Patriot Act and Real ID Act?

Ruwart: Abolish them both. Ron Paul. Mentioned herself? That fell completely flat. Liberty gives us the way to choose.

Kubby bashed Barr, got laughter. Set clear limits for government. Big applause.

Root: Patriot Act turned him into libertarian. Get rid of it all.

Barr: Full-body x-ray, fear is driving public policy. Claims he has been working with broad coalition to drive a stake through its heart, burn it, blah blah blah. Methinks he doth protest too much.

Gravel: Ask the American people if they want this stuff gone, brings up his National Initiative for Democracy, let people make their own decisions. Cheering from audience.

Phillies: Accidentally said “Congress” instead of president, put Bush et al into prison. Applause.

Jingozian made crack about how can’t you like the Patriot Act, it has the word “patriot” in it. First joke that actually went over well.

Question about American Indian immigration policy. What an incredibly stupid question.

Root will open borders only if he can be guaranteed that there will be no welfare recipients. Secure borders.

Barr says we have no immigration policy. We should require people to go through checkpoint, provide verifiable identification, and check them for communicable diseases.

Gravel says 6 countries in Europe lowered all barriers. Do they know something we don’t? We’re great because we are an amalgam of people of the world.

Phillies said he will actually answer the question, unlike the other candidates. Indian immigration was a failure. We’ll go broke if we have open borders and a welfare state.

Jingozian says we have a “feel good legislation policy”. Native Americans didn’t have welfare state. We must end welfare state. If he used the same practices in his businesses the government uses, he’d be in prison for life for accounting fraud.

Ruwart says government has limited the number of jobs we have. If we got rid of government, we’d be begging for immigrants. Government too busy at border.

War on Drugs question.

End international drug war on drugs. Legalize all drugs. I can’t get over that ugly ass tie he’s wearing.

Barr says drug war hasn’t worked. Turn it over to states. What a cop-out answer.

Gravel says treat addiction as a public health problem. Got big applause.

Phillies: Prohibition was a failure, never underestimate the power of stupidity. We can’t afford it. Applause.

Jingozian agrees with everybody else. Legalize it and deal with it honestly. Can’t win war on drugs. Property crime comes from drug abuse. Will pardon all nonviolent drug offenders first day in office.

Ruwart: War on drugs kills more people than drugs themselves through AIDS. Says legal drugs are also problem, talked about people who tried to buy unapproved cancer drugs. Big applause.

Kubby is “getting a major buzz right now”. Never imagined he’d see such diverse group all agree that medical marijuana should be legalized. Wrote two books on it. Passed Prop 215. 12 states and 2 countries now copy that law. End the drug war by executive order. Big applause.

Barr is really boring compared to the other candidates. At least he’s wearing a nice tie, unlike Root.

Phillies’ tie is crooked, but at least it’s not fuscia.

Sorry, I had to take a break.

Why is Root always yelling? I feel like I’m on a used car lot. Sheesh.

What involvement should the government have in medical care, including FDA?

Gravel: If you’re not healthy, you’re not free. You don’t have freedom if you have a dumb or unhealthy population. Wants to empower people, they will shrink the government better than anyone else.

Phillies: Will propose answers Americans will support, not a philosophy. Vetern healthcare is government obligation, they paid for it with their arms, legs, etc and their friends’ lives.

Jingozian: Deregulate.

I dislike Root more and more, as he talks and gives his fake smile. I’m getting to the point that I actively dislike both him, and Barr. Root in particular, though, grates my nerves. He makes this debate seem like an infomercial, which cheapens it.

How will your campaign help the LP?

Jingozian: Harry Browne enrolled all Americans, not just libertarians. Focusing on issues all Americans have in common.

Ruwart: Invokes Ron Paul. Says women want to vote for a woman. Huh? I’m a woman, and I’m going to vote for the best candidate regardless of whether they have a penis or a vagina. That’s insulting as hell. I suddenly don’t like her. At all. I hate it when people pander and condescend simply because I am female. I hate it even more when the person doing it is a female, because a female should know better.

Kubby: Too many conservative candidates for LP. Invokes Ron Paul.

Root: Fundraising. Will get small business vote (yeah, right). He needs to stop yelling. Education reform. Online poker enthusiasts who consider him a celebrity. Gee, I thought they considered him a scammer.

Barr: Travels, need change. Can reach voters in way they can understand. I don’t think he realizes how much he is hated by Democrats for Clinton impeachment. Seize Libertarian era.

Gravel: Judge people by actions, not talk. Ended the draft, stopped nuclear testing, Alaska pipeline, risked jail with releasing Pentagon Papers, did all that in four years.

Phillies: Has already reached out, so won’t say what he might do, he’s already done it. He’s got the campaign, the volunteers, etc. Will build stronger party.

Root turns his closing statement into an infomercial, by trying to excite the crowd. Gawd, I despise that man.

My least favorite candidate is Ruwart, she lost any possibility of my support or respect when she made the comment about how women want to vote for a woman. That is almost as annoying as Root’s yelling and ugly fuscia tie. I don’t have a favorite, it wasn’t a very good debate in my opinion. It was almost a waste of time to even watch it, I’m very disappointed.

Dr. Mary Ruwart announces presidential candidacy

In Barack Obama, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics 2008, Politics, Presidential Candidates on March 22, 2008 at 1:53 am

Dr. Mary RuwartFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

03/21/08

Contact: R. Lee Wrights

lee@votemary2008.com

1-888-412-9903

THE DOCTOR IS IN

Ruwart Enters Presidential Race

Burnet, TX — Two months ahead of its national convention in Denver, the Libertarian Party’s already crowded field of candidates grew by one on Friday as Dr. Mary J. Ruwart announced her candidacy for the LP’s 2008 presidential nomination.

Responding to an informal draft effort conducted by party activists, the author of Amazon.Com #1 bestseller _Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression_ launched her campaign web site and announced plans to begin addressing state party conventions and other political events with the intent of challenging Republican candidate John McCain and the Democratic Party’s as yet unnamed nominee for the support of America’s voters.

“Libertarians have been waiting for a candidate who can change the tone of American politics,” says campaign manager R. Lee Wrights. “Dr. Ruwart is that kind of candidate. She’s a unifier and a motivator who can communicate our message of freedom and be heard.”

Running on a theme of “Healing America,” Ruwart — a Ph.D and former Assistant Professor of Surgery with a background in pharmaceutical research — proposes to withdraw US forces from Iraq, drastically reduce federal taxes and spending, and deregulate health care to increase access and quality.

“Only liberty can heal the rifts that divide and impoverish America,” says Ruwart, 57. “Freedom breeds compassion, tolerance and prosperity. Coercion breeds conflict, fear and poverty.” In _Healing Our World_ and _Short Answers to the Tough Questions_, she propounds a caring, rather than combative, approach to promoting the Libertarian Party’s political agenda.

Ruwart earned a BS in biochemistry and a Ph.D in biophysics from Michigan State University. She has served on the Libertarian National Committee, as well as the boards of the International Society for Individual Liberty, the Fully Informed Jury Association and the Michigan chapter of the Heartland Institute. She lives with her husband, Ray, in Burnet, Texas.

Visit www.votemary2008.com for more information.

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