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A CREATIVE BREAKTHROUGH FOR STRATEGIC VOTING?
Saturday, October 28, 2000
Tom Atlee Writes:
Ed Pliml <ed420@...>... alerted me to a creative, collaborative,
even co-intelligent voting strategy being promoted in several websites,
based on the following logic:
i) The Electoral College creates a winner-take-all situation in each state.
Therefore, Gore supporters who live in a state where Bush is sure to win,
have an essentially meaningless vote. Whether they vote for Gore or not, it
will have no impact whatsoever on Gore's overall victory or defeat.
ii) Nader supporters and Greens, on the other hand, face a different
problem. Since they are unlikely to get a majority in any state, they are
just trying to drum up enough popular votes for Nader (at least 5%) to (a)
qualify for federal funds in the 2004 presidential election and (b)
creatively shake up the political status quo and bring more public attention
to alternative viewpoints. But the Gore/Bush election is so close that many
Nader supporters fear that if they "vote their conscience", they'll end up
with Bush for president -- something they don't want. And, of course, Gore
supporters are using this argument to get Nader supporters to vote for Gore.
This argument is getting quite raucous as election day approaches.
The creative solution Ed pointed out to me creates a collaboration between
these two populations, as follows:
iii) A Gore supporter in a state where Bush is sure to win (where a vote
for Gore is almost worthless), pledges to vote for Nader (thus supporting
Nader's 5% popular vote target) -- IF a Nader supporter in a swing state
(which could go to either Bush or Gore) pledges to vote for Gore (thus
supporting Gore's effort to earn that state's full votes in the Electoral
College). In this way these erstwhile opponents can team up to generate a
result that satisfies both their needs -- a prime goal of co-intelligence.
While I am not advocating for or against any candidate(s), I do want to
encourage the most thoughtful and full-spectrum voting options AND the use
of co-intelligence wherever possible. This is certainly a creative example
of both! (I should note that the same principles COULD be used by Buchanan
and Bush supporters, but I am not aware of anything they're doing on that.)
The original logic for this was articulated in an article by Jamin Raskin, a
professor of constitutional law at American University. It can be found at:
Two sites facilitate such collaboration:
In <http://www.nadertrader.org/> Gore or Nader voters are encouraged to find
someone they know in another state with whom they can switch votes. It
might even be someone with whom they've been arguing about this for weeks!
In <http://www.voteswap2000.com/default.asp> matches up Gore and Nader
voters who don't know each other, to swap their votes.
A FOOTNOTE ABOUT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN GENERAL
In the American political system, voting for a presidential candidate has
seldom proven an effective strategy to generate significant positive
transformation in American society. (There are exceptions to this,
depending on what one considers "significant positive change", but from my
view it is clearly the rule.) This is one reason so many people have
(To ameliorate this, Ralph Nader once advocated placing a binding "None of
the Above" option on every ballot of candidates to force the system to
provide voters with better candidates. If the majority voted for "None of
the Above", a new slate of candidates would have to be assembled. You might
want to take a look at his 1992 "Concord Principles"
<http://www.envirolink.org/greens/rn/concord.html> which included this idea.
It is intriguing that this "none of the above" proposal is not mentioned in
the Concord Principles summary on his current official campaign website --
see <http://www.votenader.com/issues/Concord.html> ...)
But there's more involved than the fact that Presidential campaigns are a
weak force for positive change. The more top-down a governance structure
(or economic system) is, the more potential there is for real damage to be
done by those at the top. And our governance (and economic) system is more
top-down than most people realize. So voting can serve to "slow down the
bad guys" (whoever they may be from your viewpoint) long enough to do the
creative work of establishing positive alternatives -- and it can be used to
prevent back-sliding. (Some people even advocate voting FOR "the bad guys"
in order to "get people off their duffs" to create needed changes, believing
that people won't really take sustained action until they feel threatened or
angry. Although I don't fully share this view of human nature, I know it is
a real factor.)
For all these reasons, I would suggest that voting is effective to the
extent it is part of a larger effort to create a positive culture on all
fronts. We need to rise above the assumption that voting wraps up our
citizenship job for the next 1-4 years. We need to grow into a growing
awareness of our co-creative role in generating the life we all share. Power
belongs to those who use it, as Gandhi proved. If power-with (rather than
power-over) is our central principle, then we should build and use as much
of that power as we can, to co-create that shared future.
Perhaps the vote swapping effort above is a small contribution to that.
Perhaps not. You will know what is right for you. And time will tell the
significance of what we ALL are doing together, every day....
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