Home > News and politics > What if we voted for what we wanted instead of who we wanted?

What if we voted for what we wanted instead of who we wanted?

My mind often wanders to political systems, social contracts, and ideas that can hopefully improve society. I like thinking through different thought experiments. One of the current complaints of the current United States party system is that during the primaries, party members don’t vote for who they like the most, they vote for the candidate who they suspect is most likely to beat the opposing party in the general election. There are many types of voting systems, and I suspect that should a party be able to list two or three candidates on a ballot that preferential voting could eliminate this problem of not being able to vote how you truly feel. But I don’t know if that’s what we really want.

Why in the US do we have political parties in the first place? If we became a democracy, got rid of our representatives, and voted on every issue ourselves, there wouldn’t be political parties. The reason we have representatives is because it’s not that cost effective to go over ever single issue with every single member of a jurisdiction. And we have political parties because we don’t want to have to go over every single little issue with everyone who wants to run for office.  Knowing that someone represents what you would do in a similar situation – most of the time – is reassuring. But since that’s what we want, why don’t we vote on that?

I’ve been mulling a thought for a little while. A jurisdiction should put together a list of issues which had come up in the previous few terms and will foreseeably come up in the next term. Political parties then pick how their candidates should vote on those issues, should they get elected. The different parties decisions on the issues must be mutually exclusive. If two parties say they would vote in the same way on all of the issues they must either be forced to work together, or new issues must be added until those parties no longer agree on everything; it would be up to the jurisdiction how to handle that. On election day the voters would then vote on the same list of issues. The candidate who matches the peoples desires on the most amount of issues wins the election.

So, what do you think? Would it work?

I think it would create a lot more parties and result in elected representatives whom match the peoples desires in more occasions than what we have today. The reason it would create more parties is because if each issue-to-decide-a-representative on the ballot had only two possible outcomes (yea or nay) it would result in 2X possible ways a voter could vote on a ballot. So if there are 10 issues on a ballot that would result in 1024 possible different ballot outcome combinations. And since there is room for a political party for each possible ballot outcome there could be 1024 possible parties with candidates! I’m imagining that ideally there would be more than 10 issues on a ballot, and I don’t foresee a political party for every possible ballot outcome, so I would hope that the winners would only be able to win based on the fact that they represent the majority of the peoples wishes the majority of the time.

Think about what campaigning would look like in a system like that. Instead of a candidate saying “I’m better than the other guy.” (ie. mudslinging) they would have to say “Vote ‘yes’ on issue three.” And then they would have to explain why ‘yes’ is better for society instead of ‘no’. Campaigning would turn into a debate about the issues!

Categories: News and politics
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