I'm a Democrat (or Republican) office holder, and...

plurality voting got me elected. Why should I want to change to range voting? Why should I want to let "third parties" have more of a chance at my seat?

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Answer. That isn't the way it is going to work. Yes, Range Voting will level the playing field and give third-party candidates a fairer chance. But no, that is hardly going to mean you are immediately going to lose your seat and third parties are going to take over everything like swarming ant armies from hell.

Just making the football field level (or more level), does not mean your team loses the game. Far from it! Your team (major parties) has all the advantages and will still have them for a long time into the future. You've got the experience, the resources, the money, the donors, the record, the name-recognition, the mass appeal. It is like starting the football game at the 1-yard line not the 50-yard line. You have the better position and you are on the better and stronger team. You are still going to win elections unless you are really bad. It is going to take a very long time for third parties to grow big enough and to gain enough experience, resources, credibility, loyalists, candidates, & etc. to mount any serious challenges. For example, the entire nationwide resources of the Libertarian party (as of 2005 the largest US third party) add up to about enough to mount a serious challenge, at today's costs for winning campaigns, for just one congressional House seat – and probably not even that.

So don't worry about that. Worry about what bad things are going to happen if you don't have range voting.

How Range Voting will help you starting right now

Our point is that meanwhile, range voting is going to help you in many ways. First of all, suppose you are in one of those (rather rare) competitive races featuring a serious opponent from the other major party. Well, in too many such close situations, your team loses when it really should have won because some third-party candidate comes along and splits off some of your votes. The problem isn't third-party candidates winning the election. The problem is they split off some of your votes and cause you to lose the election. That is a no-win situation for the good side.

But with range voting, this just is no longer a problem. The third-party candidate can get all the votes he can, and attract as many of your supporters as he wants, and it isn't going to hurt you in the slightest, because with Range Voting voters can still fully vote for you. (Voters decide what range-vote score to give you, completely independently of whatever range-vote score they separately decide to give to somebody else. It is like measuring your temperature. If some third-party candidate gets warmer, that in no way makes you any colder – and in fact if they are politically close to you it is likely to make you warmer too.)

So, in the short term, you want range voting: it is a lot more likely to help than to hurt you. And it also helps society and democracy.

How Range Voting will help you (thinking long term)

Now, let's think long term. Right now, over the long term, parties change. For example, in the 1870-1930 period, the Democrats were the party of Jim Crow, of white supremacy and of suppression of blacks in the South. But that changed. The Democrats actually led the charge for desegregation and restoration of voting rights to blacks in the 1960s and 70s, with the main segregationists and obstructionists being Republican! Total role reversal! And even today (2005) polls show that Democrats get far more black votes than Republicans and they certainly elect far more black candidates. (For example, as of 2005 the nation's uniquely highest-ranking African American Republican elected official – says so right on his web page – is the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland Michael Steele, which is probably why he was a featured speaker at the 2004 GOP national convention.)

For another example, in 2005 President George Bush became very unpopular thanks to a multiple-whammy of the populace becoming disenchanted with the Iraq War, major problems handling Hurricane Katrina, and criminal indictments of top Republicans. At that point, a lot of Republican politicians wished that they could be in some other party. Not the Democrats, not the Republicans, but rather some Republican-like party but without the bad vibes coming from the Bush administration. In fact several Republicans lost their seats or races and blamed that loss precisely on the fact that they were associated in the public mind with George W. Bush. Anyhow, our point is, there is no such third party, and hence whatever Republicans felt that way, had nowhere to go.

What happened?

Well, it is not our purpose to figure out how that happened. We are just saying that it did happen, and parties change, sometimes in agreeable and sometimes in disagreeable ways. Someday, your party is going to change too, and quite possibly in a disagreeable way. Then what? Well, you can leave your party and join the opposite party (which you've opposed all your life). Or you can hold your nose and pretend to support your own party's bad stances, thus devoting your life to something you do not believe in. Or you can go it alone as an independent candidate. None of these courses is very appealing.

More prosaically, suppose somebody from your own party (call him "Ork") comes along and beats you in the primary. Then you are dead in the water with nowhere to go. What are your options?

  1. Concede Ork is better than you (even though you do not really believe it) and try eventually to get some lesser seat. (Or run for some higher seat, which effort would look pretty silly since you couldn't even win your own party's nomination for your old seat.)
  2. Try to join the other major party and run against Ork. Sorry, usually can't do that because the other party already has a candidate and they don't like you.
  3. Run as independent or third-party. But then you'll probably just split the vote with Ork so you'll both lose. Totally self-defeating and then you'll be branded forever after as a "traitor."
Again, none of these courses is very appealing.

But suppose over that long gradual period of change, we've had range voting. And so, during that long period, third parties had a chance to grow. So there will probably be (in that future) a third party which agrees with your viewpoints. So you can then move to it. Comparatively painlessly. Because they'll agree with you and because they'll be big and strong enough by then that you will realistically be able to get elected with them. Third parties will likely be happy to have you, since you (in that future) will be by then a politician with a proven record of success. It'll be kind of like an insurance policy for you.

And note, when you run with that third party against Ork, you are not going to split the vote and both lose. Because with range voting the phenomenon of "vote splitting" simply does not exist. No: either you or Ork is going to win the election. So there just will be no issue of you being a "traitor." You will just be "a better politician."

And those third parties will lead to a healthier diversity of ideas, allowing you and everybody to express your real views with less fear. It'll be a lot less "just do what your party boss tells you to and be a good robot." Because if they mistreat you too much, you'll have somewhere else to go. So, all in all, long term, this sounds like a pretty healthy development, one you probably approve of. You really want a mindless dominant party machine as the Great Future Goal? Or do you want a more interesting set of people in charge, with a diversity of opinions, and the chance to make alliances to get any particular piece of legislation passed, as opposed to party-leader arm-twisting being the main factor? Exactly.


So short-term, you win, and long-term, you win. So we think you ought to support range voting.

And even if you don't buy all of that, then still you ought to support having your own party use range voting to run the Iowa presidential caucuses. Because that just simply helps your party get ahead by choosing a better presidential candidate – with no possible downside whatever! That could be an enormous win for you personally, because you'll then get to ride the coattails of a successful presidential race which otherwise would have been an unsuccessful presidential race.

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