Provocative, friendly thread on EVIL

I don’t understand how anyone thinks First Past The Post is a good system. As soon as you have more than two candidates it’s worthless.

Combine that with constituencies that are dead certs for one party and you have a recipe for making the votes of almost everyone worthless.

In the US Presidential Elections, it’s even more stupid. That is is a single constituency, it’s just your daft electoral college system that breaks it (less so in Maine and and Nebraska, I guess). A pure popular vote would be less screwed up (for a pure 2 party system) but an instant runoff STV system is really the only one that makes sense to me.

I guess it feels to me like it’s almost codified that there are really only two parties and that’s all there’ll ever be. The idea of being a ‘registered’ Democrat or Republican feels really weird to me too.

I think that some states have signed up to get their electoral college to vote for the winner of the popular vote, as soon as enough other states also sign up to cover 50% of the electors (mostly Dem states?)


You have to at least vote. The other side, no matter where you stand, is working hard to discourage you from voting. They spend a lot of time and money to discourage you from voting. That should make you mad and suspicious enough that you show up and vote. Vote your heart without indulging in voting with your ego. No one is impressed by what you do in the privacy of the voting booth. So take a big slow breath and do the right thing.

Tug on the rope god damn it! You can’t say you will help only when we’ve got them pulled most of the way over. That isn’t principle. It’s a refusal to get your hands dirty.

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Um, nope, not what I was thinking of, though it might come close. More like this…

Say there are three candidates: R, D and G. R and D have huge organizations and money backing them and of the two, I lean towards D but I really HATE R. On the other hand, I think G is a great candidate; what I like in D but even more so, however with little financial backing has absolutely no chance of winning. Oh, and overall, R & D are pretty close in their support, with D having a small lead.

So in the traditional method, I can vote FOR one candidate. Do I vote for D, who I see as the lesser of two evils, or G, who I really like, but that could be construed as taking away a vote from D, allowing R to win.

In my scheme, I have much stronger views (in a negative way) for R, so I cast -1 vote for R. I explicitly take one vote away from that candidate.

In approval voting, I suppose I could vote for both D and G, but that also means that all candidates will have positive tallies, and SOMEONE will win.

In my scheme, if candidates are so bad they ALL have below zero results, it would be an easy thing to say NO ONE wins.

And yeah, I do see a down side on having a negative based system like that, but I’ve also seen (local) elections with such poor candidates that really, maybe we’d have been better off leaving the position vacant for a couple years.

To various other posts…

Yeah, having a national voting holiday would be a Good Thing in my opinion, but of course that flies against one particular party whose best hope of winning recently has been to make it as difficult as possible to vote. (And that one aspect to me says more about the state of politics in general and that party in particular than almost anything else.)

I’m also for popular vote. Since the Electoral College is pretty much baked into the constitution, it will probably never go away, but as Daneel mentions, there are ways around that. I believe we’re about half way there last I looked.

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You’re totally right that all of these Americanisms about voting feel weird. It is weird. The only way I know that is by visiting other countries, reading people’s responses on the Internet and growing up. Otherwise, I bet most Americans have no clue how bizarre it is, because they’ve never questioned the system under which their brainwashing is telepathically administered.

I want to get in on this argument but I can’t figure out what the topic is about. Anyone care to bring me up to speed?

I think it’s an insidious lie that Democrats and Republican are equivalent and the only purpose that false equivalence serves is the perpetuation and further entrenchment of a corporatist right agenda overall.

I think the Hobby Lobby case is an excellent example of the type of damage that’s done when American leftists, and even center-left moderates sit on their hands, embrace false equivalence and allow Republicans to gain executive and congressional control of this country.


In an ideal world… within our current power structure we could usher in a third party, but we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where the United States is mostly under the control of the corporatist right.

Choosing the lesser evil means choosing a lesser evil. In our current reality we don’t have a third choice (nationally).

The current corporatist power structure is vast, entrenched, smart, devious and self-sustaining. It feeds sick megalomaniacs who are addicted to the the “God of More”. They are never satisfied and they don’t care who they hurt and kill to gain… more. Trying to thwart vastly powerful, lustful, greedy, manipulative, unethical addicts is never going to be easy.

The Internet as a medium can’t stand up to corporate-controlled mass media (yet). And, civil disobedience and actions, while necessary, can only go so far when there’s zero support from a lesser evil in place. the raw, entrenched power we’re up against? That’s reality. That’s the obstacles.

I think some of those that disagree with me are trying to kill the messenger because they don’t like the message. What the rest of us are doing instead is continuing to make change where we can instead of spinning our wheels trying to fight entrenched power head on… on their terms, where we can’t win.

Surfers who try to paddle straight into large, powerful waves to reach the lineup will be smashed against the reef. The red “X” is the lineup, the goal…

While it may seem brave and quicker to take a direct route head-on, the surfer will only get smashed. Those that use long-term strategy achieve success when faced with power much greater than themselves.

They paddle into the deeper water of the channel where the powerful waves aren’t crashing directly onto their bodies and they utilize the deeper water backflow current (lesser evil) that actually helps to slowly (but consistently) push them towards their goals instead of being outright smashed backwards entirely.

With that strategy and timing, these people are able to pass otherwise insurmountable, massive walls of hydrodynamic power that obliterates the uneducated novice who rejects proper strategy, facing the reality of the situation and overcoming it in the long-term.

Protest votes and candidates in national elections do not take away votes from the greater evil, they inevitably take votes away from the lesser evil. And when third parties inevitably lose in our current reality when faced with greater, entrenched power, they very often usher in greater evil that gets even further entrenched.

Trying to tackle the current, entrenched power structure head-on isn’t going to work.


• Far more retired elderly at home exposed to corporate TV media and radio that influences them to vote conservatively. (This affects other points below as well)

• People who commute further distances than those who live in (or near) cities are heavily exposed to and influenced by right-wing radio in their automobiles. Furthermore, the electoral system leans in the favor of these more rural dwellers who are heavily inundated with corporatist propaganda.

• Corporations are vastly more likely to fund anti-regulation, conservative agendas. The most you can hope for is something like MSNBC that leans socially left, but is (overall) conservatively pro-corporatist. The rich support conservative media (even when they run at a loss) because they understand the long-term profits of influence.

• More people still get their “news” from the corporate TV media than online alternative media sources (source). Also, many get their online “news” from corporate media that’s simply moved online. This influences these people towards a pro-corporatist agenda.

• Many moderates and left-leaning people work more than many people do on the right (for various reasons). This gives them less time than those on the right to dedicate themselves towards getting involved in national and local politics, voting, etc. in general. On the flip-side, this also exposes more on the right who work less to more corporate TV media and radio.

• The rich are far more likely to support Republicans, even though they’re not more likely to be socially conservative. That confuses people who don’t understand the difference. Most of the rich hold their noses and vote Republican (and give them money) because it supports their corporatist conservatism. In other words, they prioritize the profit they gain by not paying for externalities (pollution they create, public health care, public education, etc.) over socially liberal agendas they may agree with (gay rights, women’s rights, anti-censorship of sex/violence, etc.).

• It’s much easier to organize and get media attention when you have money and influence over people who have too much time on their hands, too little education and too little critical thinking skills. On the other hand, trying to organize moderates and people on the left is like herding cats.

• They can and do use their control of mainstream media to use fear to suck money and massive power away from average Americans to support their monstrously corrupt and extremely profitable military-industrial complex. There has never been anything with this much vast power in human history. They can spy on many average Americans communications to thwart everything from business to activism. This kind of power is vast and undeniable.

• They have the money, power to lobby (bribe) and influence candidates to basically only fear being voted out of office and little more than that. A little third party candidate doesn’t have the bribe money to stand up to this and many politicians and top advisors, etc. simply go into profitable business with the same corporatists they “legislated” after leaving office (and vice versa).

• They have vast money, power, connections and media resources to spread their chosen campaign over the airwaves. How many third party TV commercials did you or any other Americans see in the last 20 elections compared to Democrats and Republicans? Exactly.

… And this list just scratches the surface of the power they have over third parties.

So… in this currently reality, what does an underfunded, true left (or true moderate), third party dream candidate have against that? Little or nothing because most Americans aren’t going to get exposed to their ideas or will only get a distorted, filtered view of them via mainstream, corporate media.

That’s our current reality. This is what we cope with and overcome. This is why there are only long-term strategies that will actually work against this vast, entrenched power.

If we don’t face the reality of our current, entrenched power structure… we’ll be doomed to keep spinning our angry wheels with lots of squealing and smoke, but no traction. This isn’t a video game. It’s not going to be quick, it’s going to take decades.

Let’s face it, it actually takes guts to push the establishment to the left and it very often requires civil disobedience for the mainstream media just to even bother covering it. You can gather five teabaggers in a park and it’ll garner far more mainstream media coverage than 5,000 left-wing protestors of wars, income disparity, etc. Why? Because the teabaggers aren’t a threat to the status quo. They aren’t a threat to the corporations that run the mainstream media.

That’s reality. And, it’s time to cope with it, deal with it and overcome it. While it’s certainly more difficult and takes guts to push the establishment to the left, there’s plenty of us still willing to do it and we’re never going to stop.

There’s no quick-fix. It’s trying to build a representative democracy in a vast nation. Nothing “suddenly” is going to happen no matter what we do, but what we’ve been doing by embracing false equivalency is spinning our wheels.

Suggested reading: Sun Tzu - The Art of War

With lots of commentary:

Pretty much just the translated book:


I’d like to see one person, one vote when it comes to national elections for the Presidency. I don’t understand what makes a person in a rural area more important than a person in the city. I don’t think it’s fair that 5 people in Montana are worth more than 5,000 people in San Diego. That’s bullshit.

The electoral system feeds a Republican scam to rig the system to gather more votes from less informed people in rural areas. Modern society is gravitating towards cities and we’re ignoring the will of modern society and staying dangerously locked into the past and embracing ignorance by giving those in rural areas the power to control the majority everywhere else.

That’s not to say that I think literally everyone in rural areas are ignorant, but I’m not going to ignore the reality of the situation either where city dwellers are exposed to more diverse culture, education, etc.


It’s not working out for them at the moment, as they discover that trying to be all things to all men doesn’t work when you’re in government, but the Liberal Democrats managed to get the votes that they did largely because they built a network of people at local government levels (for all the good it did them in Westminster, where FPTP meant they had to work much harder than Labour or the Conservatives to get a seat - coming second everywhere is worthless even if it looks good on the popular vote) - and the collapse of these since 2010 is going to kill them in the next election.

In the UK the (still obscene) amount of money in elections is far reduced compared to the US, and winning elections is more about having volunteers on the ground to do the legwork. Any third party movement needs to develop from local levels, and in WA I am encouraged by the success of Kshama Sawant getting elected as a Socialist to the Seattle City council, and hopeful for Jess Spear in her run against the WA House Speaker. Maybe a groundswell of left wing wins can move the debate to the left a bit - but that’s a long game, working from the bottom up.

At a national level, Obama has been a major disappointment (although to be honest he was always a centrist and people projected what they wanted to see onto him) - but he’s moved some things foward (gay rights, tentative steps towards single payer healthcare…), and the things he’s been awful on (NSA spying, extralegal drone murders, not closing Guantanamo) there is no way that McCain or Romney would have been better in any way.

I don’t like Clinton much at all (and I actually kinda doubt she’ll end up as the nominee), but even at her worse she’d be much better than anyone coming from the other side (Cruz (is he even eligible?), Rand Paul Ryan, Bush, Jindal, Rubio, Christie?) - the Republican party base means it’s impossible for anyone with even half a whiff of sanity to get through the Primaries - I don’t think he was great by any means but Huntsman was intelligent, worldly and not scared of science, consequently he got nowhere; that people like Gingrich, Santorum, Bachman, Perry and Cain were ever even slightly in the running shows that party to be utterly beyond the pale.

So, you need:

a) a groundswell of progressive candidates unseating incumbent Dems, much like the Tea Party manages - in races where the Republicans can’t win anywhere vote for the real progressives.
b) major electoral reform - statewide proportional representation to elect Congresscritters? ditch the electoral college
c) for the President, keep holding your nose and voting for the Dems in swing states, vote for the Greens/Justice type parties if you’re in nailed on blue states.

Does anyone even run on a policy of electoral reform? In the UK the LibDems did, and then got royally shafted by the Conservatives and the idiot electorate, which then led them to sabotage constituency boundary work that is also needed.

Obama has been a major disappointment (although to be honest he was always a centrist and people projected what they wanted to see onto him)

I agree with that to some extent, but Obama certainly practiced quite a bit of bamboozling as well. Obama espoused things like a single payer system for health care, but that went out of the window after he was elected.

a) a groundswell of progressive candidates unseating incumbent Dems, much like the Tea Party manages - in races where the Republicans can’t win anywhere vote for the real progressives.

b) major electoral reform - statewide proportional representation to elect Congresscritters? ditch the electoral college

Agreed, but I honestly don’t think we’re there yet. The Tea Party can easily put people into place that aren’t a true threat to the top status quo. The corporatists love nothing more than having ineffective dunces and lackeys placed into government and won’t inhibit their placement. On the other hand, putting left-wing people into office that can truly upset the corporatist apple cart aren’t able to punch through the corporatist right firewall (yet) and meet massive resistance.

Sadly, I think much more groundwork needs to be laid first by focusing on educating the American public on what’s wrong in the first place. Many Americans know something is wrong, but they have no idea why nor what to do about it because of heavy, mass media indoctrination. They’ve been heavily conditioned by mass media to embrace destructive false equivalencies, apathy and to fear things they shouldn’t (like aspects of socialism) and that’s not something we’re going to overcome quickly and easily.

I mean, we have leftists in a state of shock after the Hobby Lobby verdict who previously were saying there’s no difference between Democrats and Republicans so they don’t bother to vote or throw away their votes on third parties that can’t win. That kind of conditioning isn’t going to be deprogrammed overnight. It’s going to take decades, regrettably.

c) for the President, keep holding your nose and voting for the Dems in swing states, vote for the Greens/Justice type parties if you’re in nailed on blue states.

I regrettably agree. The alternative is allowing yet more Republican rule with rampant gerrymandering and voter suppression that further entrenches the corporatist right and makes a future third party run all the more impossible down the road. At least with Democrats, there’s a small crack in the door for a future for third parties and possibly even pushing the Democratic party to the left. With Republicans in power, that door to all the above is nailed shut.

Does anyone even run on a policy of electoral reform?

In the USA it’s more about a cult of personality than anything else. Real issues are secondary just as real news that can inform and empower the public are secondary to entertainment and infotainment on televised mass media.

They corporatists have worked us over and they’ve worked us over good. The overworked, overfed, under-rested, overstressed American public is brain-dead by the time they get off work. Idle-time is equated with evil and sloth. Idle-time that could be dedicated to participating in a representative democracy is mocked, vilified and treated as the past time of filthy hippies.

You want to see a candidate in the USA win the presidency on a policy of anything meaningful? See if you can peel away more Americans from watching NFL football and binge-watching Netflix shows, etc. first. Just try it.

Remember kids, Ross Perot put Bill Clinton into office…twice. This is what 3rd party candidates can do.

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Would that work again and with who?

But did he, though?

What I’ve read suggests he took votes from both parties pretty equally.

What Clinton and Obama show is that you can get more enthusiasm for your candidate if you don’t insist on nominating someone 20 years too late because they’ve somehow ‘earned it’. Dole was just a terrible candidate.

It could work in favor of the democrats again, assuming the fissure in the republican party continues to deepen. Heck, some blame was given to Ron Paul this last cycle for Obama getting his second term.

@daneel: I was of voting age for those election cycles. Perot did manage to snag some of those so-called Reagan Democrat voters, but that made him a straight-up spoiler for Republicans. Second time around, I have to agree that Dole was, indeed, a horrendous choice of candidate so fresh after two terms with an Alzheimer’s patient in the Oval Office. His policies weren’t nearly as onerous as current Republicans’, but that tumble off the stage really cost him.

On this we agree.

Perhaps we agree in a larger context, too. I don’t know yet.

Democrats and Republicans aren’t the same. They are, however, a Venn diagram.

I didn’t label the circles because they can represent various things besides political party. I like to think of them more as social constructs. Blue being liberalism and red being conservatism as they exist in the USA. Or blue being socialist and red being corporatist. BBS readers in other countries please take note - these circles are not meant to be a representation of your societies! This is a USA diagram, as I see it.

There is far more extant evil in our corporatists than in our socialists. In other eras and other parts of the world, the socialists were the resident evil. In the USA, those whom I am calling “the socialists” are the force of progressive social values: same sex marriage, reduction of police power, sustainability, environmentalism, health care reform, etc.

Corporatists do not want the power to be in the largest mass of the social order. Corporatists want the power concentrated in the hands of a few. That’s putting it nicely. They will perpetuate all manner of evil to make that happen.

Sure, people will move the gray line of evil all over the place. I put it where I felt it should be and mostly where it was easiest to draw in Powerpoint, to make my point.

Now, to address this pertinent and valuable issue of:

to make change where we can

Indulge me a few more circles:

It’s almost the Olympics! Call this the Twisted Olympics.

In states that are clearly within either the blue or red circle, your Presidential vote literally doesn’t matter. So vote for Nader there.

In the middle is where it REALLY counts. I only listed a few states, but those are the battleground states. There, your vote DOES matter. Don’t you dare throw it away on a Nader. Go ahead throw it away on a Perot! You get my point. The value of your vote is relative.

Furthermore, do more than vote in these places: put your effort into electing more liberal candidates there, generally.

So, let me place myself into a hypothetical. I’ve moved to Florida in 30 years to play golf at the Old Folks Home with all my old fart friends. I’m standing in the voting booth. I’ve got two choices: Sauron or the Puppy Killer. Sauron is the Red candidate so he’s clearly out. The Puppy Killer is the centrist-in-socialist clothing, the Blue candidate. I hate both of these scoundrels. I hate the idea of backing either of these turds. What do I do?

First, I contribute MONEY to THE CANDIDATE I can believe in. It’s neither of these two pinheads. I contribute as much as I want to Mrs. GreenJeans and her veep, Mr. Sanders.

Second, I vote for the local and state candidates who align most closely with my values, as Progressive as possible.

Third, I vote for Mr. Puppy Killer. If I can stomach it. But I probably would check his little box with my pen, cursing it the entire time, knowing that if I don’t, then Sauron gets into office.

In VT, Texas or any other state not in contention, it doesn’t matter what I do. Vote for Mickey Mouse, who cares. Don’t vote. Check ALL the boxes and have my ballot invalidated. Doesn’t matter.

So, Cow, in the larger context I do agree with you somewhat, depending on the locale. And you probably agree with me, based on your statement that I put up front. Put your effort into where we can make a difference. The rest is just distraction.


The National Popular Vote bill has passed 33 state legislative chambers in
22 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 250 electoral
votes. The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes –
61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

The National Popular Vote plan does not change the status quo on runoffs. There are no runoff provisions in presidential elections in any states now.

The National Popular Vote is intentionally “minimalist” in the sense that does not attempt to solve “problems” that the current system does not address or where there is no public consensus that there is a “problem.” No state requires a run-off election if the leading presidential candidate does not get a majority, despite the fact that no presidential candidate received an absolute majority of the popular votes in 1992, 1996, and 2000, that third parties frequently affect the outcome of presidential elections (e.g., Nader in 2000, Perot in 1992, Anderson in 1980), and that the states clearly already have the power to create a run-off election for president is they so desire.

Also, there is no consensus as to the solution, if indeed there is a “problem.” There have been constitutional amendments proposed in Congress in recent years for nationwide election of the President, with different thresholds (50%, 45%, or 40%) as well as proposals with no threshold at all. There is also some sentiment for instant run-off voting (used by some cities) and fusion voting (long used in New York).

Americans do not view the absence of run-offs in the current system as a major problem. If, at some time in the future, the public demands run-offs, that change can be implemented at that time.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the majority of Electoral College
votes, and thus the presidency, to the candidate who receives the most popular
votes in the country, by replacing state winner-take-all laws for awarding
electoral votes.

Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of Electoral College votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538). The candidate receiving the most popular votes from all 50 states (and DC) would get all the 270+ electoral votes of the enacting states.

The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or
district winner method of awarding electoral votes, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founders.  It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the

The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founders in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. States can, and have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years. Historically, major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.                                                                                                                         
In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).

Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls

in recent or past closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA --75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%;

in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE -74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%;

in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and

in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%.

Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.
The bill has passed 33 state legislative chambers in 22 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 250 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.


To “ditch” the Electoral College would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population.

Instead, by state laws, without changing anything in the Constitution, The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes, and thus the presidency, to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by replacing state winner-take-all laws for awarding electoral votes.


Yeah, I’m aware of the National Popular Vote Bill - I mentioned it earlier :slight_smile: I guess if you can’t beat the system, subvert it.

To be honest (I recognize that as a Brit I could cause offence here and I’m not trying to) this is part of the problem I have with written constitutions - they’re inherently limiting and a drag on progress; obviously there are some benefits to having rights codified (although that means you don’t have a right to anything not listed), but I don’t really see why the best thoughts on how to run a newly independent 18th century country with less than 4 million people should necessarily represent the starting point for trying to run a major 21st century democracy.

The electoral college might have been a good idea at one time, but it’s an anacronism. I’m more than a little dubious about every state having two Senators regardless of population, too.

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To clarify, you’re saying that we should show up at the polls on election day, no matter where we live, even if our national vote won’t matter because our state and local level votes can still make a difference. It’s a better message than encouraging non-participation. By staying home, you give more power to those who either sincerely believe they’re not actually voting for a greater evil and those who vote for the greater evil out of spite.

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With a caveat. If you are in an area and state where your vote is as worthless as a snowball in Hell to all your causes, you can stay home. You and your affiliates already failed a long time before Election Day. But if on any of the issues, at any level, that your vote matters, then vote. Or if you’re Russell Brand, mouth off some more and stay home!!!