Wednesday, May 5, 2010

For the die-hards

Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against.—W.C. Fields

I was talking about elections with Pierre.

“A run-off election works best for countries with a multiparty system. It solves the problem of a minority president,” he said.

“How so?” I asked.

“Candidates run in a general election and then the top two vote-getters go mano a mano in a run-off election,” he explained.

“Did you vote for Sarkozy?” I asked.

“No and yes. I did not vote for Sarkozy in the general election but I voted for him in the run-off,” he replied.

“What made you change your mind?”

“I did not change my mind. I still will not vote for Sarkozy in any general election, but I voted for him in the run-off to keep the Socialist Party candidate out of the Elysee.”

“So you voted for the lesser evil.”

“That’s one way of looking at it,” he said.

“That’s sad, isn’t it?”

“Yes, you can say that, but look at what happened in the 2000 US presidential election. Bush won Florida by a hair or, to be more accurate, by hanging chads. Those chads would never have been an issue if only Ralph Nader’s followers had voted for Gore. They knew Nader had no chance of winning the presidency, he was not even on the ballot in many states, but they voted for him to make a statement and.… ”

“But it’s different over here,” I interrupted.

“Let me finish…Gore was the second choice of many of Nader’s followers, but by insisting on their lost cause, they ended up with Bush. Now that, mon ami, is sad.”

“We don’t know yet who’s going to win over here,” I pointed out.

“True, but you know who is going to lose.”

“Well….”

“You do not believe in surveys?” he asked.

“They’ve been wrong before,” I said.

“Do you think the surveys are wrong about JC, Jamby and Perlas?” he asked.

“No.”

“But they’re wrong about Brother Eddie, Gordon and Gibo?”

“All right, so what’s your point?”

“Your country, like the US, does not enjoy the luxury of a run-off election. You only have one chance to vote. Now, if, by this late date, your candidate is still way behind Aquino, Villar and Estrada, then you must accept the reality that he is going to lose. Be proud that you fought the good fight, but now you have to vote for one of the probable winners if you want to keep the other two out of Malacañang.”

“I’m voting for Aquino,” I said.

“Okay, but what if he was not in the picture, suppose your only choices are Gibo, Villar and Erap, what would you do?”

“I won’t vote,” I replied.

“You don’t care which one of them will hold the key to the nation’s vault for the next six years?”

“Of course I do, I don’t want another crook in Malacañang!” I exclaimed.

“Then you must vote against him.”

“I suppose so.”

“Hmmm… well, what if the only choices you have are Gordon, Villar and Erap, what will you do?”

Sacre bleu! I’ll emigrate to France!”

Vote Aquino for president, against Legarda for vice president, and for senators vote Joey de Venecia and 11 Liberal Party candidates. That way you won’t have to become Pierre’s neighbor.

Manuel Buencamino

5 comments:

Steve Krulick said...

"Bush won Florida by a hair or, to be more accurate, by hanging chads."

Wrong. Bush LOST Florida, and thus the entire election, as the media consortium proved. The SCotUS handed the White House to Bush, violating precedents and states rights.

"Those chads would never have been an issue if only Ralph Nader’s followers had voted for Gore."

Wrong. Tens of thousands of legal voters were purged from the rolls by Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush and the Dems didn't contest that, though they knew. Gore didn't fight for those who voted for him when he caved in so soon.

Nader was polling 5% or better in FL the week before the election, but wound up with less than 2% BECAUSE many Nader supporters DID vote for Gore at the last minute, perhaps tens of thousands, which assured Gore the win. You're welcome.

Meanwhile, 300,000 registered Dems in FL voted for BUSH, but where is the finger-pointing there? Each Dem voting for Bush needed TWO Gore votes to beat them, but NO Nader vote deducted any vote from Gore's actual column or added one vote to Bush's; it was like staying home, and where's the finger-pointing at the stay-at-homes, who equaled all other votes combined?

"They knew Nader had no chance of winning the presidency, he was not even on the ballot in many states,"

Wrong. Nader was on the ballot in nearly all states. There were 50 state elections, due to the Electoral College. Why did anyone waste their vote for Gore in Wyoming or Bush in New York, as neither had "any chance of winning" in those states?

"but they voted for him to make a statement and"

And isn't that what elections are supposed to be about, voting for YOUR choice, rather than trying to pick the winner or game the system? As Eugene V. Debs said, "I'd rather vote for what I want and not get it than to vote for what I don't want and get it."

Hard to believe these anti-Nader myths are still around after 10 years.

manuelbuencamino said...

Steve,

1. SCOTUS gave the election to Bush. Hanging chads had something to do with it. That's what happened.

2. I am familiar with the literature on the disenfranchisement of voters. That played a part in Gore losing Florida.

3. Disenfranchisement also happened in other states and again in the 2004 election. We know that. Disenfranchisement was a Republican Party strategy.

4. Nader was not on the ballot in ALL the states, right? Nearly all the states is close but it's still no cigar!

You don't understand the logic of a run-off election. That's why you didn't follow my argument which was really quite simple:

In a system with a run-off election, the US 2000 election would have had Gore Nader Bush in the general election (state by state in your country's case) and then Nader would have been eliminated. Gore and Bush would have been in a run-off where one who may have voted for Nader in the first round now will have to choose between Gore and Bush. You can call that a vote against situation because you didn't vote for either in the general election.

So, in a system where there are no run-offs, the general election is also the run-off. And so the way to approach it is as a Philippine senator advised
"A final appeal to the Moist-Eyes Club: voting for a good bet with no chance is debatable. He withdraws, a bad bet wins. He runs, and takes away enough votes from the baddie to enable a worse one to win. We are taught to avoid a greater evil. No frying pan into the fire again."

There are times when a common sense vote carries as much moral weight as a conscience vote. That is something that Naderites refuse to learn.

Bruce in Iloilo said...

The US system has something that the French does not -- primaries and caucuses. It is that system that whittles all the viable candidates down to two. Which whittling system is superior -- run-offs or primaries -- I haven't decided. I think the Philippines would benefit from either system. By the way, there are some run-off elections in the US, mostly for mayors, and in Lousianna elections, it being a former French colony.

By the way, the recount by the media consortium shows that if the Supreme Court had not ruled the way it did and Gore's request for a limited recount happened, Bush would still have won. I quote from Wikipeidia, because it is the easiest available source, "The media reported the results of the study during the week after November 12, 2001. The results of the study showed that had the limited county by county recounts requested by the Gore team been completed, Bush would still have been the winner of the election." Gore could have only won the recount if he had requested a full state-wide recount, but he didn't. Why would he ask for a recount that include majority Republican areas? He wouldn't. A candidate never asks for "enemy territory" to be recounted.

However, my take on this after being involved in elections and recounts is simply this: when you are talking about 6,000,000 votes, a 100 to 200-vote margin is so small it is unmeasurable in any reliable way. You might as well flip a coin. There is no way to reliably decide EXACTLY how 6 million people intended to vote. For a certain small percentage of ballots, the decision can go either way. It's a toss up. So, toss a coin.

Further regardless of what happened with the ballots, it always come down to whether the House of Representatives, an elected body. Just like in the Philippines, it is the House that ultimately has the final say on who is president. There is always that democratic back-stop. If the House, US or Philippine, thinks that the election is not democratic and they want to do something about it, they could. The Founders set up the US system that way so that no matter what shenanigans happen, it will always be a democratic elected body that has the final say.

Anna said...

Bruce,

The US system has something that the French does not -- primaries and caucuses.

Absolutely wrong!

We have a more simplified version perhaps of primaries but we do have primaries -- candidates are put forward by their loyalists within the party. They hold debates among candidates, much like in the US. And the party card bearing members (although not province by province) vote for their favourite candidate during the general assembly.

This system was first started during in the early 80s. The system has become a modus vivendi in French politics since then.

Steve Krulick said...

Please don't move the goalposts. The SCotUS "gave" the White House to Bush because they thought a full and accurate recount would be "prejudicial" against Bush, so they threw precedent and states' rights out the window. Bush did not win, thus he didn't "win" by hanging chads, or any election-related item. The election was stolen, by an interest-conflicted SCotUS, interest-conflicted Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush, interest-conflicted Diebold and other electronic voting machine companies, selective counting of overseas and military ballots, voter caging, intimidation, dirty tricks, etc.

"Nader was not on the ballot in ALL the states, right? Nearly all the states is close but it's still no cigar!" Major goalpost move! You didn't say ALL the states originally, right? You said "he was not even on the ballot in many states"! Well, what is MANY? "Many" suggests more than a few, or more than what's left if "nearly all" states WERE balloted. He was ON the ballot in 44 states (up from 22 in 1996), and a write-in candidate in a few others, including, I believe, a couple where he was denied ballot access, hence, NEARLY ALL. So, one could vote for Nader in at least 45states. Do you consider three or four states to be MANY out of 50? I don't. The point was he was ON the ballot in enough states to statistically win the Electoral College, hence he had a CHANCE of winning, unlike someone who could NEVER have gotten that possibility at all.

In a post-election analysis, Al From, the founder and CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council, stated that the contention that Nader's vote totals hurt Gore wasn't borne out by polling data. From wrote that the polls indicated that in a two-way race minus Nader, Bush would have won by a percentage point (Al From. Building A New Progressive Majority: How Democrats Can Learn From The Failed 2000 Campaign. Democratic Leadership Council. Blueprint Magazine, January 24, 2001)

Don't patronize me and presume to know what *I* know or don't know about run-offs or my ability to follow your argument. As a local, state, and national Green Party representative, and as the first Green to be RE-elected to municipal office in New York State, I'm more than familiar with election law and methods, including run-offs. If anything, the Greens have supported alternatives to "first past the post" elections since their founding, including INSTANT run-off, which is superior to holding subsequent elections. RANKED voting is even superior to IRV. Based on many voter comments that they WOULD have voted for Nader IF they thought he had a chance, in an IRV race Nader might have gotten 10% or more of the first-cast votes.

Bruce, you are burying the headline of the media consortium, much as some reporters did! That Gore tried to be too clever by half and ask for a limited recount is irrelevant. In a PROPER recount of ALL the votes, in which EVERY way of dealing with undervotes or overvotes was considered, Gore would have won. THAT is what the media consortium's main point was, not only looking at the improper selective recount. IT was up to the STATE to determine the scope of the recount, NOT the candidate! EVERY vote has to be recounted in such a close race!