Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Approving the Vote

Last week I encouraged the adoption of approval voting in some part of the US system because I think it's a step in the right direction and because the system is culturally connected to everyday life, thus improving its chances to become the norm.

This apparently had a strange effect on Jason Briggeman, who was apparently apathetic enough not to comment on the article but upset enough to make his first words to me since mid-December--and I'm paraphrasing here--"What the hell is wrong with you David? Voting systems don't matter." I had a wonderful break, Jason; thank you for asking.

Voting systems do matter for the simple fact that they affect the political landscape. There are no hard fast rules on this matter but safe to say that plurality systems such as the US encourage a two party system while IRV or approval voting encourage a multi-party system.

So why should libertarians (small "l") care how many parties have a shot at office(s)? Because the more parties there are, the less percentage points any one party has, thus they have to engage in more time and energy playing politics and less time passing crazy laws. Libertarians like deadlock; deadlock is our ally. Approval voting is an easy to understand and rhetorically sympathetic way to slow government down.


Jason Br. said...

Re the idea of many parties being preferred, I disagree. I think the existence of a Libertarian Party does a huge disservice to "small-l" libertarians by (1) stealing our word and (2) making it look like there are many fewer libertarian-minded folks than there really are.

I think libertarians should be outside of electoral politics entirely (except in making efforts to intellectually discredit that enterprise). Work to make better relationships with your friends and family, be an entrepreneur, be a teacher, become an expert on some area of knowledge... generally, lead by example, i.e., put your life where your mouth is.

jeremy h. said...

Boys! Can't we all just get along? In a happy libertarian commune or something?

David said...

Living by example is a great strategy. I'm not denying that. But there's something to be said for being a player in the game, too. If libertarians simply stand back and point out all the things that are wrong, we loose credibility. Opponents will rightly point out we don't have any experience in the real world (in this case, the political world).

There's a lot wrong with the Libertarian Party. Few of us would say otherwise. But that doesn't mean the idea of a Libertarian Party is bad. It just needs a lot of cleaning.

m said...

Having a lot of parties doesn't necessarily require that one of those parties be the LP. The point here is that all parties are inherently flawed, and the more we divide poewr among marginal parties, the more we find it's difficult for those parties to ram their ideas into legislation.

There are other worthwhile factors to consider here. Approval voting is more likely to produce winners that appeal to a large cross-section of the population, as opposed to merely shooting for a key demographic and trying to pick up some centrists on the easier tax plan vote. This might create an incentive toward less of the public choice problems we find, as politicians might not be able to get away with quite as many political favors.

And David, when was the last time any libertarian did anything besides sit on the sidelines and bitch?