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Frank Wilhoit

We live in a time and place in which all candidacies and all votes are symbolic.

Jonathan Lundell

Mark wites, "But the fact is that fusion alone achieves much of what Nader and Ackerman say they want to do, and much more as well. By voting for Kerry on the WFP line, I simultaneously vote against Bush and also send a signal to the Democratic establishment that I prefer a more progressive voice. And, in addition, I help to build a participatory civic institution that I hope will have a long life in this state. That's why fusion, rather than IRV or Ackerman's proposal, is a valuable political reform"

One of us msut be missing something here. How does IRV not accomplish essentially the same thing, but more flexibly? Why would a vote for Nader first, Kerry second, not send essentially the same message, and more clearly (how progressive is a party that runs Kerry for president, after all?)?


What are the states that allow fusion besides NY?


What are the states that allow fusion besides NY?

Buford P. Stinkleberry

jonathan, because if Kerry gets 45% in a state, and Nader gets 3% (totalling 48%) and if in that state Bush gets 46%, Bush wins the state, despite losing to the aggregate Kerry-Nader vote. Mark made this clear in his post.

Mark is right about the symbolic nature of IRV.


george wallace in 1968, strom thurmond in 1948

Peter Horace

I do not plan to vote for Ralph Nader, but I do not understand the argument that he should not run because it will help Bush. Is that not an insult to voters' intelligence? After all, anyone voting for Nader knows precisely what he or she is doing (considering the 2000 debacle), and I do not know a single person who plans to vote for Nader who would have voted for Kerry otherwise. Do we really want to achieve our desired results by limiting voters' choices?


Forgive me for quoting a movie-
"A person is smart-People are dumb." Men In Black.

Mob mentality tends to counter even the most intelligent of people. Scary, but true. However, voting is really not a group activity. In the end it's one person in that booth making a decision.

Now, polling, that's a group activity where the above quote really has meaning. But I stray from my point.

I think one of the unintended consequences of Instant Runoff Voting would be that more people would actually vote for Nadar because of a perceived comfort that they actually have two votes. Let's face it, a lot of people will not vote for Nadar simply because they think he can't win. Perception is pretty much what controls our elections. With Instant Runoff Voting, that perception is tampered, if not totally changed.

Also, what's not to say people would vote symbolically on their second vote? I'd be one that would vote Kerry first and Nadar second.

I think your argument against IRV is based on the current political environment/conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom is always limited by the prevailing logic.

One other thing-since when is creating more options a bad thing? That's what IRV does, it creates more options.

Finally, and I'm going out on a limb, I think you're projecting your way of thinking into the American electorate. Actually, if I didn't know any better, I'd say you were being judgmental about some of the American electorate. Naughty, naughty.

Jonathan Lundell

Buford, your example (Bush 46, Kerry 45, Nader 3) is exactly the situation where IRV (or fusion) elects Kerry. I'm not arguing for Ackerman's idea. Aside from the legal problems, Ackerman is simply asking Nader to campaign for Kerry.

My argument is over the contention that fusion somehow solves a problem that IRV does not.

I'm familiar with the argument against IRV (that, for example, if the Greens eventually overtook the Dems, it would result in a victory for the Republicans). That's a simplistic analysis, though, and asumes that the a three-way contest occurs over time in a vacuum.

But if the Greens (say) are successful in peeling votes from Dems via IRV, so will Libertarians from Republicans, and so on.

In the long run, IRV it a threat to the monopoly power of the two major parties, which is reason enough for them to oppose it.

And in the long run, IRV will lead to centrist winners. That's not everybody's idea of an ideal result, but is probably not inappropriate for a single-winner election.


A crackpot, of course, who has contributed far more to the social well-being of the country than Kerry, or Bush.


I'm with Rook. And I am dismayed to have Ralph Nader labeled a self-engrandizing crackpot here. Such remarks contribute to making words meaningless.

Mark Schmitt

I understand the arguments for and against IRV, and Rook is correct, my view of it does have to do with its application in the modern American context. I do not think it would threaten the two-party duopoly in the least, but instead would de-fang third parties, especially those like Nader (tho he's not a party) whose votes would all but automatically go to one of the other parties. Why would anyone pay any attention to his views, or those of another candidate who expresses views not represented in the Kerry-Bush choice?

My point that Nader should not run is exclusively in response to Ackerman's claim that Nader has the choice, if he wants to see Kerry elected, to run and yet have his votes "count" for Kerry. Since he does not actually have Ackerman's choice, then the only way that he can exercise choice in a way that ensures Kerry wins is to not run. If ensuring Bush's defeat is not an important goal for him -- and it does not seem to be -- then, sure, he can do what he wants and voters can and will make intelligent choices.

I hope that is sufficient to respond to Rook's comment -- "naughty, naughty" -- that I was being judgmental of the American people, or projecting my own views on to people. If not, I'd appreciate a little more explanation of what that meant.

Needless to say, Nader has not been a self-aggrandizing crackpot for most of his career, and I don't usually use such language, but I think that's the only appropriate term for him today.


The Working Families Party holds some positions to the left of the Democratic Party, but it ought to be noted that, in an effort to appeal to blue-collar workers, its candidates often take positions well to the right of the Democrats. In Westchester County, home to many socially liberal Democrats & independents, WFP Candidates have cut into the Democratic vote by running against gay rights, affirmative action, gun control, immigrants' rights and public libraries (!).


One of the beauties of IRV, to me, is people can clearly record their political mind with the 1st round vote.

Neither of the major parties, separately or compromised, represents my political positions(remotely). Many times I vote with 50% that don't waste the gas to participate in elections. I would be first in line every election if IRV was our voting method.

Leaving aside the inevitable joke votes, 1st round votes are likely to be the 1st accurate representation of american political beliefs. And I would be very interested to see what people really think in this country.


While taking note that "aggrandizing" is clearly not in my insta-spell vocabulary, I still question its usefulness as a Nader label (a self-aggrandizing political candidate? now there's a shock!) Happily, I see you dropped "crackpot" in your responding comment. Thank you for that. While my personal preference is for proportional representation, I'm inclined to agree with the commenter above that IRV could bring more voters to the polls. As far as your question about the meaning of Rook's "naughty,naughty" remark, I can only speak for what his comment meant to me. I understood it as a response to yours that IRV fosters voting as a "gesture" and that "such symbolism discourages voters from developing political maturity and recognizing that, in a democracy, they don't always have their own perfect choice."

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