Plurality of the Despot VS Tyranny of the Majority
So we had a nice, healthy drunken debate last night about the electoral system.
I by no means expect to trump the untold millenia of debate that has occurred on the very topic.
Instead, let's focus on a particular segment. The segment in question: The implicit two-party system sucks. This was the accepted baseline.
Upon further discussion, it became clear that the reason this sucks is the whole phenomenon of "if I vote for party #3 or more, I cast my vote away, useless and impotent". This is further bolstered by the tendency for the bipartisan commission on debates to (oddly enough) arbitrarilly adjust the qualification criteria to a percentage that will exlcude non-apparent dark horses. (to be practical, this threshold must exist, but it can nevertheless be abused. Can you imagine the bipartisan committee of the Broncos and the Vikings deciding who will participate in the superbowl?)
So how do you defeat the "snap" of our single round of elections? How do you make a vote count?
Personally, I have been an advocate of plank voting; nothing irritates me more than when an elected candidate claims a "mandate" for their platform when they exceed a certain threshold in the popular election. Plank voting entails detailing the "planks" of a particular candidates "platform". So vote on each plank of the platform -- this more or less results in the same candidate being elected, but robs them of the right to railroad an unpopular plank in the guise of a mandate.
Another solution, although not new (yet something I had yet to dwell on), is the notion of runoffs. As espoused by my friend Mike, in a runoff environment you are free to vote your conscience in the first round; in other words, vote for someone rather than against them.
Then, if there is no plurality, have a runoff. And so on. In the upper rounds, you can resume voting against candidates, rather than for them.
In many ways, this strikes to the heart of why I feel plank voting is a good thing.
Perhaps cross pollinating the two is in order?
There is no law that says we must have a two-party system. Runoffs would ensure a layer of conscience voting. Plank voting would ensure a record of what the public really endorsed, so that unpopular planks would not be forced on momentum.