False Dichotomy

A false dichotomy is a fallacious argument that suggests there are only two possibilities when in fact there are more. I’m stretching this quite a bit here, but the spirit of the thing feels right.

In the wake of the election, you’re probably sick of politics. I know I am. But this is the time when we can actually change things, now that we have some breathing room before the mid-terms start another two fucking years of campaigning. Now is when we can make real changes.

In the United States, there were six candidates for President this election, but only two ever had a chance. Two of them I can’t even name off the top of my head.

There was a third-party debate that I still haven’t seen, and probably won’t at this point since I’m so busy I find myself staring at the wall doing nothing, overwhelmed by how much I should be doing. But here’s a link to it, the actual debate starts an hour in, and here’s another that looks like it’s just the debate itself. Couldn’t find a link to a transcript quickly, so you’re own your own there. I’m told it’s a more interesting discussion than the debates starring Mittens & Barry, at points the candidates discussed actual issues.

Consider for a moment how many people did not vote for the candidate they liked best, but instead voted against the one they liked least. I know I did. We have a two-party system for no particularly good reason, and at this point we’re sticking with it because that’s the way we’ve always done it. It’s a system that generally forces us out of any real choice, since we not only must consider who we are voting for, but also who we are voting against, which leads to the popular phrase that voting for a third-party is “throwing your vote away”.

But that’s not the only way to do it.

Australia has what they call a preferential voting system, which is explained in detail here. Instead of voting for one candidate (or against another), Australians rank them in order of preference. The first preference of each ballot is counted, the candidate with the lowest number is eliminated, and all the ballots that put that one first are then recounted based on their second preference. This goes on until a candidate has more than 50% of the total votes.

It’s not a perfect system, (what is?), but I can’t help thinking it’s a better one than we in the United States have now. If, for example, everyone who had grudgingly voted for Barry or Mittens because the candidate they’d really like had no chance had been able to put that one second, with their first choice at the top, we might have had a real chance at seeing someone outside of the big two win.

Now that would be change.

About Leo Tarvi

Mostly fictional.

Posted on November 8, 2012, in Daily Post and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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