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Getting some of the bandwagon out of politics

I like living in a democratically elected republic, it does give one a sense of living in a place where the most possible amount of people feel like they’re getting a fair deal. The elementary idea behind elections are simple, a voter looks at the possible choices of candidates and selects the one that they like the most. I heard a story on NPR the other day which disheartened my faith in our system. In the story a random Iowan named Sharon Layman mentioned how she wasn’t going to vote for Michelle Bachman because she wasn’t doing better in the polls. To me, that’s a horrible reason to not vote for someone, it defeats the idea of picking who you want. But so many people rely on the polls “informing” them as to who the good pick is.

It made me think back to my proposal on how to change elections and I think that if we did change our elections to this model, it would reduce this bandwagon effect. Many people don’t want to vote for the loser; or at least they want to vote for someone who is going to get a large percentage of the vote, because they don’t want to feel like they threw their vote away. Part of the reason for this feeling is that many of the elections in the US are winner takes all. So if there are three candidates all a candidate needs is 34% of the vote to win. They pretty much just need a rounding error. This is why the American political system evolved into a two-party system. Most people would rather go with the person they kind of like, rather than risking voting the person they really like, if it means that the person they really don’t like will then win.

My proposal for voting for what we want doesn’t work for picking candidates within the party. For that, I think that there needs to be two major changes to the current system. First, the vote for each state should be changed to Preferential voting. The results will still be interesting because you can figure out an actual winner, and pundints can figure out how the different candidates looked from the initial cast. Second, the order in which the different states vote should be random for each election cycle. Many people want all of the states to vote at once, but the idea behind why it’s not that way is that a not-well-funded candidate has a chance of competing if they only have to focus on one state at a time, and can build a grass-roots effort. Plus you would get more people feeling like they might have thrown their vote away. I like the possiblity of a politian building up a grass-roots effort, so a handful of states get to vote first, but it should stop being Iowa and New Hampshire every time. I can’t think of a reason to not make the order of the states chosen random.

So there we go, my initial proposal had an additional benefit of watering down the bandwagon affect, and will still result in our representatives representing closer to what we the people want. Sadly many people wouldn’t know what to do without having poll numbers to tell them what to think. It’s like how you look at a tabloid cover and wonder who that “celebrity” is; and it turns out to be someone who’s a celebrity because they’re famous and they became famous for being a celebrity. It makes no sense, but it does sell tabloids. Please, let’s stop this current madness.

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