SocraticGadfly: Does the current state of most Democrats demand less idealism, or MORE?

September 22, 2007

Does the current state of most Democrats demand less idealism, or MORE?

Here’s my take on my willingness to vote third-party in 2004, and again in 2008, or in future midterm elections, even should I live in a swing state like Ohio:

Is it a “test of ideological purity” to say that I won’t vote for candidates that support remaining in Iraq, or a political party, too?

Sorry, but that fact (especially my mentioning Greens “too often”) was one of the two reasons I got banned from Daily Kos — proudly banned, I’ll ad.

BG makes my point exactly, but with a different conclusion: the older I get, the more I see there’s too much at stake for half measures on a number of issues. I voted against Kerry, and for David Cobb, not only over the Iraq War itself, but, the imperialism-lite of too many Democrats. (It's too bad Kevin Drum didn't tackle this issue at Political Animal in his otherwise excellent post about the “foreign policy establishment.”

To me, the “we gotta support the Democrats in the end” exemplifies not just what’s wrong with current Democrats/Democratic Party, but what’s wrong with the deep structure of U.S. politics.

First, to look at the Democrats.

Where’s a bill for federal public financing of Congressional campaigns, including reasonable provisions for financing third-party campaigns? Before the midterm elections, a federal Congressional campaign finance bill, but one that would squeeze out third parties, was rumored to be in the mix. I found it appalling that such a thing would even be considered under the guise of campaign reform.

Where, at state or federal levels, are Democratic supports for things like Instant Runoff Voting? Nonexistent, that’s where.

At an even deeper level, and even more idealistic one, though, I’m convinced our Constitution itself needs reform. Not at the edges, though, right at the center.

The only real way for third parties to have a chance in the American process, AND the only way to adapt the speed of the American government to the nuclear/computer age, is to move in the direction of parliamentary democracy.

I heartily recommend David Lazare’s “Frozen Republic” as the best writing I’ve seen on this subject. (Reviewed by me on Amazon.)

Short of that, though, I won’t hold my breath on either Democrats or Republicans doing anything at all at the federal level, and precious little at the state level, to make it easier for third parties to get more of a purchase on the political process.

Beyond that, I hope that as I get older, I become less apologetic for being idealistic.

Update: Per Broken Ladder’s comment in the Google comment box (I need to strip that out so that people use only Haloscan, now that Haloscan is updated for Blogger “beta”), I used IRV as a sample of a voting alternative to straight voting.

I’ve read about alternatives to IRV. Fact is, ALL alternatives to straight voting have some disadvantages. Mathematical word-problem type illustrations have shown that. As for which alternative to straight voting is the best, I’m non-committal at this time.

I would consider a partial use of proportional representation, such as the German Bundestag having a majority of single-member seats (whether we would use plurality voting, as it does, range voting, IRV, or something else) combined with a “national list” elected by proportional voting. Such a national list, in fact, would be one of the things to help move us more toward a quasi-parliamentary government emphasizing more national, versus, federal features to boot.


Anonymous said...

Great post.

On Democrats and instant runoff voting, some have been good. For instance:

* Howard Dean consistently has advocated for it.
* Dennis Kucinich is an eloquent advocate.
* In North Carolina, the governor signed a bill establish a pilot program for a pilot program in cities -- some are using it this fall.
* In Vermont, the Democratic-controlled state legislature is moving an IRV bill.

Not enough, to be sure, but at least something.... See for more

Anonymous said...

Instant Runoff Voting is one of the worst voting methods ever to see substantial public use. Range Voting, and it's simplified form Approval Voting, are simpler and far superior.

Range Voting is also a better stepping stone to Proportional Representation, if you want that.

Clay Shentrup
San Francisco, CA