The Same Conversation Every Two Years

by Mark Moore

Ken Cuccinelli was the Republican candidate for Governor of Virginia.   He narrowly lost to Democratic Clintonian insider Terry McAuliffe.   Many feel this was because a third candidate, “Libertarian” Robert Sarvis, “split the vote”.   McAuliffe won with less than a 2% margin, while Sarvis pulled in over 6% of the vote.
It also turns out that Sarvis is not really much of a Libertarian, and his campaign was bank-rolled by prominent Obama supporters.  Sarvis may have been put in the race to split the anti-Democrat vote so that McAuliffe could sneak in, as he did, with less than a majority of the voter’s approval.
Regardless of the dynamics of this particular race, every two years activists have the same conversation.   One side wants to vote for someone besides one of the two establishment parties.  The other side tries to badger them into getting back on the plantation even though the major party candidates are “less than perfect” (i.e. awful) because “this election is too important”.   Every two years we get mad at each other.  It is perfectly predictable, and unnecessary.  Whichever side of that debate you are on, one we should agree on one thing- that we will push for election reform which ends the need for that conversation ever occurring again.
We should have run-off elections for all offices.  What forces people into this terrible choice where you can’t vote your conscience without fear of splitting the vote and electing your least preferred alternative? It is a consequence of our over-lords in both parties cramming this “first past the post” method of determining the winner down our throats.  That is where whoever gets the most votes wins, even if they don’t have a majority of votes.  If you think about it, that is kind of a weird system.  Why do they impose it on us?   Well, such a method of determining winners artificially props up the two-party system.  I believe they do it in order to pressure people to keep voting for Republicans and Democrats no matter how disgusted we are with both of them.
Notice that the parties do not use the “first past the post” method in their own party primaries.  They have run offs.   Nor do they use it to elect their own officers.   They have run-offs.   And they even have run-offs for local offices.   Why don’t they have them for the higher offices?  Because they want them for themselves, they want to scare the voters into only voting Red Team or Blue Team.
Listen, people are not happy with the two parties right now, and they should not be, and no amount of badgering people to keep voting for the sorry candidates they offer is going to change that.   Republicans and Democrats designed this system.  They could change it whenever they want.   If a race threatens to become a train wreck because a third candidate is splitting the vote then Republicans and Democrats have no one to blame but themselves for it.
Why should someone who wants to vote for another option have to violate their conscience to vote for a Republican or a Democrat?  Why should an independent or alternative candidate be pressured to drop out of the race because the system designed by Republicans and Democrats could cause a train wreck if they stay in?  Let the Republican or Democrat drop out if they are so afraid of splitting the vote, it was their party that imposed this scheme on us!
This is not going away.  There will continue to be train wrecks like this until we get run-offs and its nobodies fault but the Republicans and Democrats who built the current system.  Unless you want the McAuliffs of this world to continue gaming our first past the post election system with phony libertarian candidates, you should demand run-offs for all elections. Unless you want to have this same conversation every two years for the rest of your life, we should demand adding run-offs, preferably instant-run off voting (worth googling), for all offices.
From the “ARKANSAS WATCH” blog http://arkansaswatch.blogspot.com/
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