Colorado Libertarians Make the Case for Approval Voting

Colorado Libertarians are among the most vocal proponents of approval and score voting in the United States.  At the Blue Carp blog, David K. Williams, Jr., the State Chairman for the Libertarian Party of Colorado, often advocates the implementation of approval voting as superior to both instant run-off and plurality.  The Libertarian Party candidate for governor of Colorado in 2010, Jaimes Brown, is an outspoken proponent of the method, which he discussed in an interview with TPID last August.  Now, via Ari Armstrong comes a short Youtube interview with Frank Atwood, in which the former Libertarian candidate for State Representative in Colorado makes a pitch for approval voting.  Armstrong writes: “While I was skeptical of approval voting at first, Atwood convinced me that it’s a good idea — even better than the “instant runoff voting” I’ve previously praised.”

Video:

69 thoughts on “Colorado Libertarians Make the Case for Approval Voting

  1. Be Rational

    IMO, Libertarians should not waste time trying to make major institutional changes to the voting system. We have radical ideas to reform the government, such as repealing all taxes on income and property and eliminating most government spending, that gives us enough to sell to a doubting public.

    So then, to come along and advocate other strange ideas for changing voting systems – ideas that appear to stem from a self serving interest in finding a way to win since we can’t win under the current rules – seems to make us into beggers and pleaders, looking for a handout for ourselves: “Please change the rules so I can win, too. I can’t play this game under your rules. It’s too hard. Whaaaa Whaaaa Whaaaa ….”

    Single winner plurality elections are the best system, IMO, for liberty and long-run stability. The LP can win under such a system, if we get out there and do the hard work of party building, advertising and promotion.

  2. John Jay Myers

    Approval voting would benefit everyone in this country, not just Libertarians.

    It would limit the amount of corruption that money can buy, and it would even the playing field for everyone.

    This is not whining it is fact. The number one reason people don’t vote 3rd party, or even for people like Deborah Medina in the primaries is because they don’t believe they can win, and they don’t want someone else to win.

    This has become the exception not the rule.

    Approval voting is a great tool for bringing freedom to America.

    Supporting approval voting may also help to educate people about the party along the way.

    I am actually working on a video on approval voting right now.

  3. d.eris

    “Libertarians should not waste time trying to make major institutional changes to the voting system.”

    I don’t think a minor voting system reform is a “major institutional change,” though implementing a minor reform such as approval voting may well produce major institutional change. And that is another argument in its favor.

  4. John Jay Myers

    It could also be argued that Republicans and Democrats have made many institutional changes in the voting system in order to rig it in their favor.

    Placing many road blocks in the way of third party or independent candidates.

    So if we can find a way to even the playing field more power to us.

  5. Be Rational

    “The number one reason people don’t vote 3rd party, or even for people like Deborah Medina in the primaries is because they don’t believe they can win, and they don’t want someone else to win.”

    This is whining and self serving. “We can’t win. Boo hoo. Change the rules so we can win.”

  6. Be Rational

    “It could also be argued that Republicans and Democrats have made many institutional changes in the voting system in order to rig it in their favor.

    Placing many road blocks in the way of third party or independent candidates.

    So if we can find a way to even the playing field more power to us.”

    The general public understands when we talk about unfair ballot access and other road blocks. That is a good small change we should work on.

    However, major system changes are not.

    In the long-run, single member districts with plurality elections is the most stable and will work best to preserve liberty. It does mean we have to work hard to make changes. We have to earn the voters’ trust. So far, Libertarians have not done the hard work necessary to earn that trust, so we only win small, local victories.

    When has any LP candidate for President, Senate, Governor or Congress spent even 10% of the winner’s buget on his or her own broadcast TV advertising?

    Never.

    That is why we haven’t been winning.

    Libertarians need to build local organizations. Donate generously to key campaigns and run party building advertising. We need to run articulate, presentable candidates, stop infighting, and do the hard work needed to make our case with the voters. When we do these things over an extended period of time, we will win.

  7. John Jay Myers

    I usually make a rule of never debating people with anonymous names, so I will keep this brief.

    The LP doesn’t win and doesn’t get the percentages, because people are going into the voting booth with the feeling if they don’t vote against the “X” candidate the “Y” Candidate will win, and that Z candidates are a waste of their vote.

    Everyone is fed up with both the major parties, unfortunately each person is only fed up with one them at a time.

    There is more than one path to victory for the libertarian party. And any steps towards freedom or awareness are positive steps.

  8. Thomas L. Knapp

    Be Rational @ 6,

    You write:

    “In the long-run, single member districts with plurality elections is the most stable and will work best to preserve liberty.”

    An interesting claim. I’m interested in how you arrived at it.

    When it comes to stability, it’s hard to beat Iceland, the oldest parliamentary democracy in the world (since 930 AD).

    Iceland, which uses proportional representation rather than single-member plurality districts, ranks as the 5th freest country in the world according to The State of World Liberty Project.

    The United States ranks eighth, and has been around for only about a quarter as long.

    The freest country in the world, Estonia, also eschews single-member plurality in favor of proportional representation.

    The second freest country in the world, Ireland, uses Single Transferable Vote.

    The fourth freest country in the world, Switzerland, leaves election methods up to the cantons.

    The seventh freest country in the world, the United Kingdom, uses a mixture of single-member plurality districts and proportional representation.

    Of the countries that rank as freer than the US, only Canada and the Bahamas use single member plurality districting.

  9. Robert Capozzi

    IMO, efforts to change the voting system should be conducted by tax-exempt non profits…the economics are better there.

    A political party advances ideas and candidates, in our case, to make change in a L direction. I’d be shocked if an institutional change advocated by a non-major party was the highest and best use of our limited partisan bandwidth.

  10. JT

    BR: “When has any LP candidate for President, Senate, Governor or Congress spent even 10% of the winner’s budget on his or her own broadcast TV advertising?”

    When has an L candidate for any of those offices even HAD 10% of the winner’s budget for the entire campaign?

    According to a Washington Post report this year, D & R candidates for Congress averaged $4 million in spending. I’m sure the average L candidate for Congress was able to raise considerably less than 10% of that.

    And don’t even get started on candidates for U.S. President.

    I believe that in the last fiscal year the LP had about a $1 million budget for its operations.

    If we want to spend way more for advertising and promotion, we need way, way more donors to the party. It’s as simple as that. If we don’t, then we don’t.

  11. JT

    Also, I sympathize with those who want to change the current voting system to make the electoral process more inclusive, but I really think it’s a moot point. D & R politicians benefit enormously from the current system and won’t change it completely without tremendous pressure from many millions of voters. Meanwhile, most voters don’t care about how alternative voting systems work. The current system is too easy: most votes=winner.

  12. Be Rational

    We need to advertise more to grow.

    We need to grow more to advertise even more.

    It’s not a chicken or egg problem, it’s a compound interest problem. We need to invest in promotion to build our brand, which will increase our size, increase our donor base, increase our fundraising and allow even more advertising.

    We spend money on ballot drives but do not follow up with campaign advertising. This is why we can’t grow enough to win.

    Few people will vote for us when it is obvious we are too small to win. But, when we spend enough to compete, spend it properly on broadcast TV and radio, we can build our party and win.

    The current US electoral system is not our problem. We can win with single member, plurality districts. We just have to, for once, follow rational, known techniques.

  13. John Jay Myers

    I can say “We need to do “X”” but it means nothing if we have no way of doing “X”.
    (we don’t have millions of dollars)

    And your current methods of trying to get people involved fall flat, for the numerous reasons, some listed here.

    If we attract people saying we are solely a political party, then those people abandon ship at the next election cycle dissapointed.

    There has to be more to the party to keep people involved, in my opinion even to get people involved who may not vote for us this election.

    We need to show people that we have a valid seat at the table and why.

    This goes with recruitment…. and it is a very important part of raising money, which is needed to do the things you want to do.

    Do you want to get people involved? Give them a reason to get involved. Do you want to get people to donate? Show them you are doing something for the cause, not just trying to get elected.

    We are not just another political party, and unfortunately the talk that we should solely focus on that, the “win at all costs” philosophy, will bite us in the ass.

    More and more people are seeing the light of the libertarian message, but more and more Libertarians are willing to soft sell the message, making those people turn away from the party.

    All we need to do is a reach a bit of critical mass, more like 10-15% then we will be taken very seriously. So we should try to keep hold of our key demographic….. libertarians.

    But… the other major reason why people don’t get involved with the party is that they have seen time and time again that the game is rigged, or that (in their eyes) we don’t have a chance to win, if we can at least educate them on issues like approval voting etc. we stand a chance of gaining sympathy, members, and people willing to donate to the cause.

    Continually slamming our head into a brick wall believing that “No… No… this time for real” is not how I want to spend the next 30 years.

    And lastly, we will win noone over by proving how “Right” we are too, or how “left” we are too.

    The point to being libertarian is that we believe in less government, as much less as we can wash our hands of, that is not right or left.

    We have to focus on what makes us different from the right or the left.
    Why would you join a group that is exactly like the group you are in, except they can’t get elected?

    All this being said, as someone who is knee deep in the political part of the party, we need to grow and motivate our county leaders to keep the pressure up for more good candidates and grow that way as well.

    But you shouldn’t diss other peoples ideas unless you are out there showing us what a difference one man named ‘be rational’ can make.

    As I said there is more than one path to victory for the Libertarian Party.

  14. Be Rational

    @13 The methods I have outlined here and on other threads have only been tried in limited cases by the LP, but when tried, advertising has pulled greater votes for the party. When used properly it also has brought in new members, greater fundraising capacity, more candidates and party growth.

    The LP has failed to grow and succeed due to bad management and poor leadership.

    There is no correct Libertarian voting system. The LP as a party should not waste its resources on attempting to change a voting system to one that will lead to less liberty and less stable government.

    We are more likely to gain support based on our actual positions than on attempting institutional change in our voting system. In fact, since many, such as myself, do not agree with the goals of those who want to change to what IMO is an obviously worse electoral system, it is quite possible that by going down the path toward trying to change the electoral system instead of building the LP, we will lose many of our current donors, end up with a yet smaller party, and a party with even fewer resources for growth and advertising because the leaders of the remnant will insist on squandering a greater percentage on a foolish attempt to change the voting system.

    There may be more than one path to liberty, but due to the scarcity of resources we cannot take every path. We must choose the best path and work together. Attempts at changing to a worse electoral system, one with no L principle to support it, away from a system that the general public and many Libertarians like, is a waste of resources. At best, it is a path to nowhere at all. Even if the goal were obtained and the voting system changed, it would take us nowhere or, I believe, make things worse.

  15. JT

    BR: “We spend money on ballot drives but do not follow up with campaign advertising. This is why we can’t grow enough to win.”

    Well, I understand what you’re saying here. But ballot drives can be expensive in a lot of states, and there’s no point for the LP not to have candidates on ballots. Broadcast advertising can be expensive too (even in markets that aren’t major metropolitan areas). L candidates don’t have a network of big-time donors and special-interest group backers like D&R candidates do. And the national party can’t fund much broadcast advertising with its current budget. It still needs to have some kind of office and staff and vendors and other various expenses, even if many Ls think those things can be done more cheaply than they are now.

  16. Dale Sheldon-Hess

    It all comes down to spoilers.

    Third parties don’t win, because voters are worried that if they don’t vote for their least-hated major party, then the OTHER major party will win, and that would be terrible.

    Approval voting, unlike any other idea out there, goes a long way toward eliminating that problem.

    It will take time: changing to approval voting immediately won’t create a Libertarian majority in congress next election. But when every voter can vote for their true favorite, with ZERO fear that their vote will accidentally throw the election to the candidate they like least, then you WILL see the votes for third parties grow. Slowly, over time, they will grow.

    This is the way out of the “I won’t vote for you because you can’t win/We can’t win because you won’t vote for us” trap. You still may not win, but now, at least, people can vote for you, so maybe, just maybe, you CAN win.

  17. Be Rational

    @8

    Those are interesting statistics that support my argument that single member districts with plurality elections is the best system.

    3 of the top 8, according to your report use single member plurality voting: The US, the Bahamas and Canada.

    Another, Great Britain has a mixed system with some single member districts. I would also argue that GB is less free than the US. But using your rankings, that’s 4 of 8.

    Now, some other factors must be taken into account. Smaller sized countries with homogenous populations and standing traditions are likely to eschew changes in any direction. Countries with long traditions of liberty, or recently escaped from tyranny are likely to work harder to maintain liberty, even if their electoral system is not the most conducive to maintaining liberty: Iceland, Switzerland, Ireland and Estonia all fit here, and as you said, Switzerland has a mixed system. And each of these systems is different.

    I would also argue that having a system with states, provinces or cantons, with some ability to stand up to the federal or national government also aids in the preservation of liberty – an essential reason to maintain and strengthen our Electoral College System.

    Seems to me that your data supports my point: Single member plurality elections are the best system to maintain liberty. This is the largest group of the eight, representing the largest land areas, the largest populations and the most diverse and most volatile populations.

  18. Be Rational

    @16 I’ve seen no evidence to support the spoiler argument.

    LP candidates are unknown. The LP runs no advertising so very few people have heard of our candidates (in some cases we can be thankful this is so), as a result, those few who have heard of them (discounting our own members), seeing no public support, are unable to fully trust our candidates, so other than our own base, no one trusts them and because of this, other than our own base, no one votes for them. In most cases the only time an observant voter hears about our candidates is if they happen to notice the strange extra names on the ballot. The unobservant voters don’t notice them there either.

    So, if we work for decades, squander our resources and through some unlikely miracle happed to change our voting system, we will have a smaller, mismanaged party that still no one has heard of so still no one will trust our candidates and they will still recieve no votes.

    I cannot support the spoiler argument as a justification to waste resources on a long-shot venture with little chance of succeeding that will likely result in no improvement in vote totals if by some miracle the long-shot venture should succeed and would replace a voting system that seems to be better at promoting stability and liberty and possibly, indeed likely, the new system would in the end make things even worse in America, elect no Libertarians and result in even less liberty.

  19. John Jay Myers

    BR, you seem to think that I am advocating the LP do something… I am not, I am advocating people that want to do something … do it.

    If you haven’t seen the evidence of the “spoiler” effect then you live in a shoe. That is all I can say.

    I am not (and would not) advocate that the LP spend any resources on this.

    I will do what I want, and I don’t need people who sit behind their computer all day doing nothing towards moving the party forward to tell me how I should spend my time.

    People who talk non-stop about what the LP national should do and shouldn’t do, but for all we know are probably not even affiliated with their county or local party, work my nerves.

    If you spent more time out actually recruiting people and having meetups and events trying to gain members to a local party, you would quickly become aware of the power of the “spoiler” effect.

  20. d.eris

    BR writes: “There is no correct Libertarian voting system. The LP as a party should not waste its resources on attempting to change a voting system to one that will lead to less liberty and less stable government.”

    Again, you have yet to provide any evidence of this claim in support of plurality. Are you just an IRV flack? Nonetheless, in Colorado a bill was passed in the last few years urging localities to implement an alternative voting system and specifically advocated IRV, if I recall correctly. Some places have begun to do just that, and IRV is used in a number of cities there, Aspen among them, I think.

    The CO LP’s advocacy of approval voting is a reasonable response to this situation, essentially agreeing with the calls of voting reformers who supported and passed the measure urging an alternative system, but also disagreeing on the method, and stating correctly that IRV is effectively no better than plurality, and urging instead the implementation of a superior system, allowing more freedom of choice, which is also simpler than IRV and more reasonable than plurality, i.e. approval voting.

  21. Clay Shentrup

    Be Rational,

    Say you have the following voting blocs and their preferences.

    15% Lib>GOP>Dem
    15% Lib>Dem>GOP
    35% Dem>others
    35% GOP>others

    The first two groups, totaling 30% of the voters, favor the Libertarian. But if the polls look like this, they will realize (also based on historical evidence) that the Libertarians have something like a 0.1% chance of winning. And so, if they are sane/rational/strategic, they will tend to VOTE for their favorite between the Democrat and the Republican.

    In fact, in exit polls of Nader supporters in the 2000 election, around 90% of them claimed to have voted for someone other than Nader (most for Gore). So the actual VOTE numbers from the above PREFERENCES would be something like:

    Libertarian = 3%
    Democrat = 48.5%
    GOP = 48.5%

    And, knowing that’s going to happen, the media has almost no interest in covering Libertarian candidates or politics in general. And this is all a self-perpetuating cycle of effective political irrelevance, which places a ceiling on the party.

    Plenty of other people had your same idea that the voting method was not the problem. Decades ago. Their fate was Darwinian. See this graph:
    ScoreVoting.net/TPHist.html

    Now, if you click on my name, you’ll find a page showing exit poll data from Score Voting and Approval Voting elections. Here’s some sample results:

    Plurality (real election)
    Bush 50.7
    Kerry 48.3
    Badnarik 0.32

    Bush got 158 TIMES as much of the vote as Badnarik.

    Now Score Voting (aka Range Voting)
    Bush 40
    Kerry 56
    Badnarik 7.2

    Now the winner (Kerry) gets only about 8 times as many votes as Badnarik – meaning the LP does about 20 times as well with Score Voting. Nader actually gets about 43% as much of the vote gotten by Kerry, showing just how wide the doors could swing open for minor parties, even in the very beginning.

    Finally, with Approval Voting it was:
    Bush 39
    Kerry 61
    Nader 21
    Badnarik 0.64

    This doesn’t mean third party success would happen overnight. The LP platform is still a long way from the center. But the tone of political discourse would presumably change quite rapidly, as the election results would reveal the TRUE support for alternative political viewpoints that are currently marginalized and treated as politically inviable. The importance of cash would presumably decrease rapidly, since candidates would only have to prove they SHOULD be elected not that they COULD be elected.

    I think LP candidates would have to meet the electorate halfway and compromise on some things to win in any single-winner election methods. But they would instantly cease to sabotage their philosophical allies. Their supporters would never have to FEAR supporting them. They could still cast a strategic vote for the lesser evil, while waiting for the LP to grow enough that voting only for the LP candidate would be strategically sensible for voters who favor the LP.

  22. Thomas L. Knapp

    Two things to keep in mind:

    1) There are almost certainly no silver bullets.

    Approval voting or some other change in the electoral system might improve the prospects of LP candidates … or it might not.

    BR’s claim that “single member plurality elections are the best system to maintain liberty” does seem to be both historically baseless (hint: Even America’s founding fathers made no such argument, and the development of single member plurality districts for Congress happened over time as the US moved away from liberty) and prima facie silly, but that doesn’t mean that a switch to IRV, approval, STV, whatever would magically fix things.

    2) Just as there are almost certainly no silver bullets going forward, there are almost certainly no simple explanations looking backward.

    “Wasted Vote Syndrome” does seem to exist. It’s not obvious, however, that it has been the, or even a, decisive factor in the LP’s failure to become America’s majority party.

  23. Robert Capozzi

    tk, have you been reading the Tao? There is no certainty in the future and history is blurry and subject to wide interpretation. That leaves now, which is the clearest things get here.

    I am interested in your historical interpretation that US history was a progression from liberty. The Constitution from the Articles led to ending states establishing religions. And the single biggest boon to liberty happened in the 1860s. Women gained rights over time, too.

    I was unaware that states didn’t have districts at the founding. When did that practice start?

    As for decisive factors, that’s easy. It’s all about the individual’s motive. If motivated by fear and negativity, failure always occurs, even when there seems to be success. If motivated by love and positivity, success always happens, since what is happening now is not resisted. Embrace what’s happened right now and we realize that it really is all good.

    That may seem abstract, but I’d say it’s highly practical. It keeps things simple and straightforward.

    Q: Why is the LP not a major party?
    A: Not enough members, not enough voters.

    Q: Why not enough members and voters?
    A: Don’t know…we could ask them, but it seems unlikely we can get a definitive answer.

    Q: What do we do now?
    A: Advocate for the value of liberty in an attractive way as possible and let the chips fall where they may. And enjoy yourself.

  24. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    You write:

    “have you been reading the Tao?”

    Several times, in several translations, over several years — but it’s been awhile. Last time was when I was managing a Taoist’s campaign for the LP’s presidential nomination.

    Frankly, I’ve never found it particularly worthwhile, but different strokes for different folks, I guess.

    “I am interested in your historical interpretation that US history was a progression from liberty.”

    I wouldn’t describe it as a simple progression. In some specific respects — like the one you allude to, the end of chattel slavery — it has been the opposite.

    In general, however, the US has moved away from liberty since the ascent of the Republican Party in the 1850s and 1860s — and I’m not talking about the Civil War, although that certainly introduced some pernicious effects.

    FDR didn’t introduce big government to America — he just followed the template of the previous 70 years, most of it drawn up by Republicans.

    “I was unaware that states didn’t have districts at the founding. When did that practice start?”

    I’m not sure when it started, but it didn’t become federal law until 1836; that law was repealed in 1850, then reinstated in 1862. So from 1789-1836 and 1850-62, states were allowed to (and some did) elect their entire US House delegations “at large” — one election for X seats, the top X vote-getters elected.

  25. Robert Capozzi

    tk, thanks for the at-large history.

    I guess it depends on how one views slavery. I view it as an institution enabled by big-government, so my estimation is that government was MUCH larger in the 1850s than it was in the 1880s, for ex. With the population booms of the mid-to-late 19th century and early 20th, the net incidence of coercion as a percentage of GDP didn’t cross back above 1860 levels until at least the 1930s, if not later.

  26. JT

    Clay Shentrup: “And so, if they are sane/rational/strategic, they will tend to VOTE for their favorite between the Democrat and the Republican.”

    Just as a side point, I don’t think many voters cast their votes FOR their favorite candidate (or party) as much as they cast their votes AGAINST the other candidate (or party, if they’re straight ticket voters). There are many cases in which a voter will say, “I totally agree with you Libertarians on most issues, but I HATE X. I just can’t vote for you.” Sometimes they add that they intend to do so in the future–but for many that future never comes because each election cycle is “the most important one.” I think the best approach is for Libertarians to offer policies that can overcome that very real phenomenon and grow to the point that voters feel like there’s a lot of momentum on our side.

  27. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    You write:

    “the net incidence of coercion as a percentage of GDP didn’t cross back above 1860 levels until at least the 1930s, if not later.”

    Break out the math for me.

    Let’s start with unitization. How many excluded immigrants equal one police shooting of an innocent? How many of each equal one life spent enslaved?

    Next, calculation. How are each of the above calculated as a fraction of GDP?

  28. Be Rational

    @23 The voting blocks and percentages you give in your first example are just made up figures and no more valid than the 40% of the vote promised by Milnes’s PLAS plan.

    Likewise, an exit polling fantasy vote game is little better.

    But, we can look at LP races over the years, and 2010 in particular. We can see LP candidates who get higher percentages of the vote as their relative amount of personal campaigning and media budgets increase. Candidates for State Rep with active campaigns and budgets approaching 10% or less of their winning opponents can be seen getting 10%, 15% and more. If we funded them at parity in a few races we could finally actually test the “wasted vote” problem. However the evidence we have shows this problem to be miniscule and that it shrinks as we spend more.

    We never raise and spend enough on our best or most important races. Everyone wants to be the hero and begs for money for his own campaign even when there are better places to budget it. We don’t manage and plan, we squander and waste resources.

    The best way to see that there are actually few voters who would vote LP due to the wasted vote syndrome is to look at LP candidates in 2 way races. We often score much better in these races by percent of votes cast, but, when we look at the number of non voters we get a much different perspective.

    In some of these cases, although the LP candidate may score 4%, 8% or more instead of the usual 1%, these additional votes largely represnet the “anybody but the dominant big party” vote for that district. Then, when you look at non voters we find 20% to 40% are just not voting.

    With only two candidates there is no possibility of a “wasted vote” and yet most voters who do not support the sole major party candidate just choose no one. This shows that the “wasted vote” argument is not significant, when such voters choose from between 5 to 1 and 10 to 1 (or more) to support no one at all. Their fear or lack of trust of the unknown LP candidate exceeds their dislike of the sole major party candidate.

    It is the lack of advertising of our party and our key candidates or targeted best candidates that has prevented the LP from growing and succeeding. This is just plain bat leadership.

    We should not waste a penny nor a minute’s time on attempting to change our voting system (beyond fair ballot access).

    We need to get busy building our party with effective advertising and party building methods.

  29. Robert Capozzi

    TK: Let’s start with unitization. How many excluded immigrants equal one police shooting of an innocent? How many of each equal one life spent enslaved? Next, calculation. How are each of the above calculated as a fraction of GDP.

    ME: I’ve done some math on this, but it’s not handy. For illustration, I count slaves as 100% state coerced. The rest of the pop. is coerced by government spending as a % of GDP. I could not account for immigrants excluded; since they are excluded, I don’t see how we include them in the calculation. A bystander shot is a rare occurence, so from a top-down % of GDP perspective, they would not move the number much, if at all. (They could be counted in the slave, 100% coerced category if need be.)

    So, if the slave pop. in 1850 was 25% and the government spending represented 10% of GDP for non-slaves, abolishing slavery drops the State’s net incidence of coercion to maybe 8% on day one.

    There could be “add factors” for things like immigration restrictions, but I doubt there’s either good data or a useful way to integrate such a thing into the formula.

    Over time, residents of the US on average enjoyed relative liberty unless one was a slave prior to 1865. Ending slavery was a massive step function increase in average relative liberty. Since then, the trend has been for liberty to be on the decline, as I see it. Government spending is IMO a reasonable (if imperfect) proxy for liberty denial.

  30. Gains

    RC @31:

    How did you calculate carpet baggers and other coercive aspects of “reconstruction”. How about the draft including the drafting of immigrants for the civil war.

  31. Erik G.

    I’m still not sold on the notion that approval voting is the best reform method to advocate, given that the general public is less apt to understand it compared to any system of ranked-choice. Is approval voting the best system mathematically? Sure. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to advocate.

    The best shot for reform is probably IRV, since it’s easy to understand and runoff voting is something most Americans encounter at some point in their lives (I don’t know how many elections in school, for example, I participated in that used runoff voting). And before the approval voting cult gets riled up, bear in mind that I’ve said approval voting is the best system mathematically. I just don’t think that, as a matter of politics, it’s the best system to advocate.

    I’d also question how approval voting would be viewed by the courts. IRV has already been cleared, but approval voting may not be if and when it were to face a court challenge.

  32. Erik G.

    Also, I’d hesitate to use something like stateofworldliberty.org for any sort of liberty/freedom rankings. The fact that it gives Ireland a 99.95 (highest of those actually scored – see the *s next to the 100.0 scores), when abortion is illegal in Ireland, should probably tell you something.

    Everyone has a different view of what constitutes liberty/freedom, and it’s safe to say that stateofworldliberty.org probably isn’t in line with the views of a lot of freedom lovers.

  33. Robert Capozzi

    G: How did you calculate carpet baggers and other coercive aspects of “reconstruction”.

    ME: Hard to calculate. In contemporary times, some have tried to measure the dead-weight loss of regulations on the economy to say that government takes over 50% of GDP vs. over 40% of GDP. The carpetbaggers might be something like modern-day regs, but assigning a aggregate number to it is difficult.

    g: How about the draft including the drafting of immigrants for the civil war?

    me: The period of 1861-65 saw a spike in the net incidence of coercion. Unwinding slavery was not an easy thing, and the drafts during the Confederate Elite Insurrection and some Reconstruction policies were unfortunate side-effects of the process. A chart showing the net incidence of coercion in the US should be “smoothed” to take out one-off events. We want to see the trends over time, and not fixate on the perturbations. It’s not a precise measurement as it is; it just gives us a sense of how the net effect of government coercion has grown over time.

  34. DJW

    “In some of these cases, although the LP candidate may score 4%, 8% or more instead of the usual 1%, these additional votes largely represnet the “anybody but the dominant big party” vote for that district. Then, when you look at non voters we find 20% to 40% are just not voting.

    With only two candidates there is no possibility of a “wasted vote” and yet most voters who do not support the sole major party candidate just choose no one. This shows that the “wasted vote” argument is not significant, when such voters choose from between 5 to 1 and 10 to 1 (or more) to support no one at all. ”

    @BR: Or, they voted straight party. If you have R + L in a two way race, everyone who votes straight D does not cast a vote in that race.

  35. Robert Capozzi

    tk, you tease. On its face, that your analogy makes no sense to me. Mine is an analytical tool to give us a sense of just how burdensome government has been over time. Soviet planning was application of the labor theory of value. These seem like very different things to me.

    Perhaps, as an exponent of a stateless society, you cannot or will not attempt to quantify the burden of government. If you know of a better metric, I’d like to hear it.

  36. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    The analogy to Soviet Five Year Plans isn’t about theory of value, it’s about the substitution of made-up numbers for real ones in the absence of the real ones being knowable.

    GDP is a highly suspect variable in the first place, but:

    – Not all coercion is, or likely can be, expressed as a fraction of GDP.

    – Even assuming 100% coercion on the part of slaves (a dubious assumption) it’s not obvious that Slave X’s input to GDP is the equivalent of Non-Slave Y’s input to GDP. It might be greater (because the whip is cracked). It might be less (because the coerced do only what they’re forced to).

    Pretty much every calculation you’re making falls into the same category as “I could not account for immigrants excluded; since they are excluded, I don’t see how we include them in the calculation.” There are the costs of excluding them. There’s the coercion of excluding them as a variable. There are the fractions of GDP not brought into existence because of their exclusion.

    Your whole “net reduction of coercion” theory is a lot like those old pre-Copernicus clockwork models of the cosmos — lots of complicated orbits, etc., to account for everything circling around the earth … pretty, but bearing almost no relationship to reality nor, being based on false premises, capable of bearing any such relationship.

  37. Thomas L. Knapp

    EG@34,

    That abortion is illegal in Ireland may, indeed, tell us something.

    As a matter of fact it almost certainly does tell us something.

    What that something is, though, isn’t very clear at all.

  38. Be Rational

    @38 Yes. A significant percentage of voters tend to vote straight party – with or without a straight party device on the ballot. These voters are choosing to vote for no one in races where there is no candidate representing their preferred party. This is a logical way of voting as it promotes their ideological viewpoint with a lower cost in terms of effort required.

    It is therefore essential that the LP build itself up over a very long term by investing in party building and advertising, reaching out to young people from middle school age and up to create our own base of straight party loyal supporters. We must also make an effort to peel away the disillusioned long term voters of other parties and to pick up independents who are willing to commit to a party.

    In short, we must build up our own team of committed, loyal, straight Libertarian voters to the point where we have the resources to challenge the two dominant parties and to displace one of them.

    When we build up to the required critical mass, the rush to change will occur rather quickly. The build up would take decades under good management and focused competent leadership and if we focus and don’t waste resources. If we keep running about on fools errands in pursuit of magical solutions such as tilting at voting system changes, we can never become an effective political force of any kind.

    There is very little to be gained from worrying about the tiny number of “wasted vote” swing votes. When the time comes that the LP has done its party building and invested in significant advertising, they will swing our way if our candidate is the most appealing to them individually. A leaf that blows in the wind does not make a loyal supporter.

    Changing voting systems will not bring a significant increase in votes to the LP. The desperate pursuit of the multitude of disparate voting systems is waste of time and resources that detracts from the only road that will lead to our success – party building and investment in targeted advertising and promotion on a long term, consistent basis.

  39. Michael H. Wilson

    Be Rational is on the money from what I observe. Call it what you wish, education, sales, advertising, campaigning, public relations, etc. but focus on getting the word out.

  40. John Jay Myers

    @42 again, it sounds good, but it lacks a step, getting from where we are, to anywhere near where you would need to be just to make a dent with advertising.

    Unfortunately we don’t appeal to our ideological members right now.

    I also don’t think that it will take decades of leadership, we have just seen two major movements take off in under 2 years. Both with no leadership.

    Both the Ron Paul movement and the Tea Party movement exploded around grass roots support, one strong similarity in these movements is that (more for Ron Paul) they sprang from the idea of freedom appealing to people who were sick of politics as usual.

    Most of these people are labled as extreme as we are, we saw the tea party sucked back into the Republican Party, without much problem.

    We need to stick to our principles, and do what we need to do to support local growth.

    Why try to be like the other parties, when people have disdain for the other parties… and their rigged systems.

  41. Michael H. Wilson

    I like to think one of the things we should be doing is focusing on what some call guerrilla public relations. Doing the small things that others are avoiding, i.e., putting out weekly local or state media releases , this includes sending those media releases to the colleges and university papers, publishing a news letter, a decent looking one, that gets left on college campuses, advertising in college news papers, publishing op-eds in the alternative papers, buying ads on the local buses, non threatening ones that say things like “Support the Bill of Rights”, developing more and better literature, working to improve the party’s website and building websites for specific issues, such as Bringing all the Troops Home, etc.

    How’z that for starters?

  42. Robert Capozzi

    tk: Your whole “net reduction of coercion” theory is a lot like those old pre-Copernicus clockwork models of the cosmos…

    me: Hmm, I trust you didn’t give the impression that net incidence of coercion, or even per capita analysis, is the be-all and end-all. Of course it’s not. It’s A metric. GDP is A metric. Taxes and spending are metrics.

    Quantifying something like immigration controls is just not possible, at least in my imagination.

    Perhaps you don’t care to use statistics to make the case for liberty. I view them as an arrow in the quiver. If one uses statistics, comparing and contrasting stats over time seems like a pretty good way to go.

    If the government takes $5000 per year per capita now and it took $500 per year per capita in 1880, that begins to give me a sense of scope. If it took $400 per year per capita in 1840, but 20% of the pop. was in bondage that was backed by law, taking a swing at the cost of the bondage to normalize the stat seems reasonable to me.

    Yes, methodological challenges abound.

  43. Robert Capozzi

    more…

    tk8: The United States ranks eighth, and has been around for only about a quarter as long.

    tk24: Even America’s founding fathers made no such argument, and the development of single member plurality districts for Congress happened over time as the US moved away from liberty…

    me: It appears to me Tom that if you are willing to employ “relative liberty” measures that you do above, and comparisons over time, you are implicitly if not explicitly using a net incidence of coercion:liberty measurement. If not, why not?

  44. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    “Net incidence of coercion” is not a metric.

    Since various types of coercion can’t be commensurably unitized (e.g. one “coercion unit” = three muggings, 1.7 rapes or 11/32nds of a murder), they can’t be forged into “a system of related measures that facilitates the quantification of some particular characteristic” (the definition of a metric).

    @8: I never said I agree with the “rankings” I mentioned (or that I disagree with BR’s contention that single-member plurality districts are the “best”). I was simply pointing out that not everyone agrees the US system of electing representatives is most conducive to liberty.

    @24: My claim that the US has “moved away from liberty” is a statement of subjective perception, not a claim of objective measurement.

    The two are not entirely dissimilar, and may look very similar at certain points.

    The point where they clearly diverge is prescriptive:

    I oppose coercion where I see it, period.

    You entertain bizarre fantasies of horse-trading a little to get a little less of coercive activity X in exchange for putting up with a little more of coercive activity Y, where X is an allegedly more coercive and Y less coercive by some imaginary “metric.”

  45. Robert Capozzi

    tk, your “subjective perception” probably doesn’t come out of thin air. I do believe we’d agree that government coercion is “higher” now than it was in 1840. We’d also agree that for a subset of the population then, government coercion was MUCH higher then than it is now, namely, for slaves.

    Trading happens in all aspects of human action. Yes, I’m willing to rank and then focus efforts on the areas where I think the most progress can be made. Your opposition to coercion, “period,” seems to imply that you are ambivalent between which of these you’d eliminate first if you had your druthers: NORAD, social security payments, funding for the Iraq War, and salaries at the Ex-Im Bank.

    My stance — which in your mind is “bizarre” — is that the last two are more ripe for reductions, and therefore worth effort in the near term. Thanks for your feedback. I can’t say I agree. In a relative, subjective world, some things are worth effort and some things are quixotic. If you cannot or will not differentiate among dysfunctional and sub-optimal forms of coercion, that is your business. I can’t say I see how that works, though.

  46. Gains

    There might be a different metric that is more reliable and more naturally digested. Coercion by government requires courts and prison cells. Could there be a better way of gathering the “coercion coefficient” from a derivative source like number of court cases or number of people in prison/jail?

    It does seem a little difficult to add up perceived details about a time and sum them into a coercion factor. It would be really hard to take everything into account. But it feels like there should be some consistent point in the bureaucracy mechanism where all coercion passes through and that would be the place to take the sample.

  47. Gains

    BR @42: “Changing voting systems will not bring a significant increase in votes to the LP. The desperate pursuit of the multitude of disparate voting systems is waste of time and resources that detracts from the only road that will lead to our success – party building and investment in targeted advertising and promotion on a long term, consistent basis.”

    I agree with your entire thesis except your call to action has a premise that grates on me. The problem flags for me as soon as someone says something like, “…the only way…” and confirmed when the argument is to not do some thing that is reasonable, but not the writers preference.

    Alternate voting systems activism does not draw away from other things we need to do. There is no wasted activism. Activism is additive. If someone is interested in alternate voting systems, to allow that activism keeps them in the party and helps your marketing efforts and retaining and recruiting those people is the very foundation of “party building”.

    You do not build a party by narrowing its purpose and activity. You build a party by expanding the attractiveness of it to people. That means supporting the things that the people want, not trying to limit them into a channeled course of action.

    So, I do agree with your want to concentrate on wider and consistent advertising. But we also need to make sure that we have a culture and infrastructure that will handle new people, with their new interests.

  48. Robert Capozzi

    g, I’m open to other metrics, but (criminal, I assume) court cases and people in jail could be government doing its job in some instances, overstepping its job in others. Even if it was a factor, I’d think you’d want to weight it as a percentage of the population.

    In TK’s (fantastical?) stateless society, perhaps there would be no jails, only civil restitution courts. Contemplating such things makes my head hurt, like most speculation does.

  49. paulie

    Cleared by Akismet2011/01/07 at 3:26 pm

    I’m still not sold on the notion that approval voting is the best reform method to advocate, given that the general public is less apt to understand it compared to any system of ranked-choice. Is approval voting the best system mathematically? Sure. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to advocate.

    As I understand it they actually consider IRV to be worse than the current system.

  50. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob @51,

    You write:

    “Your opposition to coercion, ‘period,’ seems to imply that you are ambivalent between which of these you’d eliminate first if you had your druthers: NORAD, social security payments, funding for the Iraq War, and salaries at the Ex-Im Bank.”

    No, it doesn’t “seem” that way — that’s just part one of your usual dodge to try to disguise your own position.

    Part two, of course, being something along the lines of “My stance — which in your mind is ‘bizarre’ — is that the last two are more ripe for reductions, and therefore worth effort in the near term.”

    Setting aside the fact that the first three of those four are on the table right now, they’re not responsive to the difference in our positions.

    An issue like education — where I favor abolition but will settle for cuts, while you toy with calculative “adjustments” like vouchers and tax credits that increase government on one side of the scale while reducing it on the other — is more illustrative of that difference.

  51. Be Rational

    @45 “…@42 again, it sounds good, but it lacks a step, getting from where we are, to anywhere near where you would need to be just to make a dent with advertising.

    Unfortunately we don’t appeal to our ideological members right now.

    I also don’t think that it will take decades of leadership, we have just seen two major movements take off in under 2 years. Both with no leadership.

    Both the Ron Paul movement and the Tea Party movement exploded around grass roots support …”

    1) As far as advertising, it’s like investing. It seems that you don’t have enough money or income to invest, so you put it off until you do. The outcome will likely be that you will never have “enough” so you never begin.

    We must begin a targeted advertising program with the resources that we have. Build our local orgainizations and work to increase our resources. Properly targeted advertising will add members and donors and increase resources available which will, in turn, allow us to increase our advertising. We must begin if we are to grow. We can target by demographics, by type of media, by region. With our limited funds we should do all together for a tightly focused media plan. It means good leaders will have to make the wise and difficult choices. Members and donors will have to understand that their own city and state will likely NOT be one of the early limited target areas.

    2) I agree that we need to remain “principled” and appeal to our ideological base. We also need to be “marketable” in order to reach out to new prospects, which means being reasonable and moderate in our message without betraying our principles. We must have attractive articulate spokespersons who reach out to key audiences. Our advertising has to reach out to all in an inticing, clever, witty fashion – bring them in to explain and teach later. This can include targeting certain groups like Wayne Root does, but should be balanced by targeting other groups on all the fringes of our quadrant. We need to be welcoming and open to all as Robert Capozzi always stresses.

    3) I do not agree at all that the Ron Paul and Tea Party movements came quickly from nowhere with no leadership. In fact, these examples seem to demonstrate the opposite.

    Ron Paul has been providing the leadership. He has taken principled stands for decades. After decades of principled leadership, and generating growing interest, followers and supporter lists during those decades, the Ron Paul machine hit critical mass and when the opportunity came he was able to ride that wave.

    The so-called “Tea Party” movement is a combination of Ron Paul supporters, Libertarians, conservatives and others who are fed up who also came from decades of “leadership” of these movements. They did seem to come together quickly with fewer visible “leaders” than other such groups, before being largely coopted by the Republican Party. But, the “Tea Party” has certain elements that have allowed it to rise quickly and because of those elements, it seems destined to fade out in a few years – as many popular fads do – it will run its course and disappear.

  52. Be Rational

    @53 IMO advertising … (and I include an organized effort for “earned media” coverage through PR, spokespersons, events etc. and outreach events that require an investment in time and money such as county fair booths and gun shows) … is the only way to build the LP. We have to grow to win or even to affect the public dialogue of the issues, and we have to advertise to get there. Broadcast TV and Radio advertisements are an investment in building our brand image. We have done little to none since the Clark for President TV spots – and they were very successful. In fact, I believe that without the members and supporters brought in by the Clark TV campaign there would be no LP today. We are still riding the ripples set off by those ads.

    But, our resources are limited. When we spend party members’ and donors’ time and money on one project, it will generally take away from or reduce resources available to allocate somewhere else. We must make wise leadership decisions on where to invest our resources.

    1. Changing voting systems is not a good idea as a Party project because, it will take resources away from party building and advertising projects.

    2. It is also a questionable activity because it could actually make it harder for the LP to win enough seats in the long-run to change government policy. No one has offered any evidence whatsoever that LP candidates will be more likely to win with some other voting system. It could be that we will win a few seats earlier but be frozen out over a longer time horizon.

    3. There is no libertarian “principle” involved in the various systems. It’s a matter of strategy. IMO, single member districts with plurality elections and no runnoffs are the best system to promote long-term stability and liberty. And, the Electoral College is the best way to elect the Pres and VP, although the states should adopt the system used in Maine and Nebraska to allocate electoral votes.

    4. Finally, the recently adopted system in CA called “top two” is already a potential disaster. The nutty voting experiments being advocated and, in some cases, adopted are so dangerous that it might be better for the LP to actively come out and oppose all these changes, although for now I’d prefer we focus on party building and ignore these nutty ideas.

    However, should such “reforms” which I believe are dangerous and anti-liberty actually start to gain traction and should the LP actively engage to promote these nutty ideas, then I, and others equally motivated, would have to allocate resources to work against the “reforms” and against the LP.

    This would mean the LP would not only squander resources needed for party building by promoting voting system change, the LP would also lose the resources provided by numerous members and donors.

  53. John Jay Myers

    Be Rational, most of what you are saying isn’t horrifieing to me. But I suppose in true Libertarian fashion, this is the knit pick blog, so let me get out my knit picklers.

    I think you are wrong on Ron Paul, he didn’t even know the movement was happening.

    He was a shocked as the rest of us. You are right that he has been principled for years, and espouses a principled message…. but that is not what created the Ron Paul revolution.

    To say that Ron Paul “lead it” or even created it, is just plain wrong. He barely knew it was happening.

    It happened because the message was right, and people on a grass roots level started to get together and they made things happen, they started putting signs up everywhere… total cost to Ron Paul $0.

    They started blogging non stop …. total cost to Ron Paul… $0.

    Meet up groups all over the United States, total cost to Ron Paul… $0.

    They created something others wanted, Ron Paul was not the “candidate” he was the message.

    We completely failed to capture that, but could again.

    What you are saying is not horrible, and it’s not all wrong…. but this whole top down rigamaroo is not going to work. A certain degree of it wont hurt, but it would need to be different than you desire… it would involve simply being the message…. loud and clear.

    We need to make every buck count, and every new member needs to help to get the message out there… we need a real revolution in politics.

    Again, the Tea Party didn’t “brew” (no pun intended…okay sort of) for years, it exploded from people who had enough. Then it was contained quickly by the powers that be.

    These were two giant opportunities that the Libertarian Party let slide. People are going to quickly wake up to the fact that the Republicans are going to let them down, and we need to make plans to be there for them. Now.

  54. Clay Shentrup

    @ Erik G.,

    “the general public is less apt to understand [approval voting] compared to any system of ranked-choice.”

    Approval Voting is simpler than pretty much every ranked voting method in existence. You just remove the “no overvote” rule from our present system, and the candidate with the most votes still wins.

    This is empirically proven in a couple of different ways.

    1) Approval Voting leads to FEWER spoiled ballots, whereas ranked voting leads to about SEVEN TIMES as many.
    ScoreVoting.net/SPRates.html

    2) Approval Voting has lower Kolmogorov Complexity. Which you can easily see if you write a computer program to tabulate Approval elections vs. IRV elections.

    3) Approval Voting is precinct summable, so it can be easily and transparently summed from precinct totals, unlike IRV.
    ScoreVoting.net/IrvNonAdd.html

    4) Score Voting works on every voting machine in the USA, including noncomputerized ones, right now, without modification and without reprogramming. But IRV cannot be made to work on many kinds of voting machines.

    “The best shot for reform is probably IRV, since it’s easy to understand and runoff voting is something most Americans encounter at some point in their lives”

    Well, the empirical data says it is HARDER to understand. I have asked numerous really smart people I know here in San Francisco, who are software engineers and such, to explain IRV tabulation to me, and NONE of them have gotten it right. Not. One. Read this humorous instant message exchange I had with a co-worker who is a professional software engineer, and has voted in SF elections (colored text halfway down the page):
    http://www.electology.org/san-leandro-inamdar

    “I’d also question how approval voting would be viewed by the courts. IRV has already been cleared, but approval voting may not be if and when it were to face a court challenge.”

    Perfectly valid point, but I have not been able to find any law in e.g. Colorado that clearly prevents it.

    And even if it turns out to be politically difficult, so what? There’s no clear indication that IRV is better than ordinary runoffs. In fact, for third parties, IRV is vastly worse. See this page which shows that at the country level:
    ScoreVoting.net/TTRvIRVstats.html

    Since you’re a third party supporter, and presumably you don’t like political suicide, I think that page should be impressive to you.

    And please, please reconsider your view about the relative complexity of Score/Approval Voting compared to IRV. I think the evidence is very conclusive here in favor of cardinal methods.

    That said, thanks for the civil tone and credit on at least the mathematical issues.

  55. Clay Shentrup

    Be Rational,

    Let’s get back to reality.

    In exit polling done by groups like ANES, something like 90% of voters who claim to prefer a third party candidate also claim to have voted for someone OTHER than that candidate.

    Every single one of them is a vote that third parties currently LOSE by not having Score Voting.

    Your argument to the contrary is equivalent to saying (virtually) everyone who votes is sincere under our current system. I think it’s quite clear that this is not the case.

  56. Clay Shentrup

    Oh, and if you look at large-scale exit polls done at actual election sites on actual voters who had just voted, minor parties get much more support with Approval Voting than they did in the real election. This was done in some French and German towns in the past couple of years, and the results were really astounding.

  57. Robert Capozzi

    jjm59: To say that Ron Paul “lead it” or even created it, is just plain wrong. He barely knew it was happening.

    me: I see your point, but I’d not put it that way. Paul may not be a classic “leader,” but he has been a facilitator. He ran his 08 campaign reasonably well (aside from NewsletterGate), leading to his becoming a catalyst for a movement. He could have gone back to being a backbencher, but he used the momentum his campaign he developed to found Campaign for Liberty. He remains highly available to the media.

    Heck, despite their errors in reading the Constitution, the Rs would not have adopted such a tack without the influence of Paul, IMO. He’s made originalist constitutionalism a serious edge view. Prior to 08, constitutionalism was off the edge toward the fringes. I’m not a constitutionalist, but I find it a solid position that pulls the debate in a L direction.

    Paul is not a Nader type, that’s true. He doesn’t sit astride a movement, calling most of the shots.

  58. Eric Sundwall

    Advocating a better ‘system’ isn’t the strategic blunder ‘be rational’ claims. Be real, identify yerself. It isn’t a zero sum game. IE we advocate on one level and can’t proceed on another.

    I would submit that even if the resources were there, that massive advertising would not go as far as some believe seem to believe. It’s not a matter of applying market behavior and reaction in an electoral sphere.

  59. Gains

    BR @58:

    Any approach that counts on all eggs in one basket is extremely risky. I also do not like “party projects” as they are antithesis to what a coalition organization is.

    Any time we try to imagine the party as a monolithic entity we are acting in delusion. The worst part of an “one party one project” is that it is ablative. Those not excited by the one project are dejected that is if they were not first purged so that the “one way” faction was able to focus all the party.

    I patently reject the idea that voting systems activism draws away from the party. Look above, just the mention of alternate voting and there is a new person posting in this forum. The more projects we have, big and small, the more we offer in the marketplace and the more customers we have.

  60. Be Rational

    @66 What we see when we discuss alternative voting systems is that a group of people come out who are focused on that issue. It does not make them Libertarians.

    But, this group of people take the opportunity to draw activists and finanacial resources to their own pet voting system change projects and away from useful party building activities. Since they don’t agree on which system change is better, they compete with each other and create a bit of unfocused noise, but so fat, little change.

    The fact that they’ve had little success is a good thing as the changes they advocate would make things worse. But, they are draining resources away from worthwhile projects and wasting them.

    Putting all of our LP eggs in one basket would be a bad idea, of course, but that would mean targeting everything on one race or maybe one place. We can promote a diversified basket of party building opportunities and build our party and avoid the “one basket” problem quite easily.

    However, backing voting change system requires a different analogy. It is the equavalent of flushing our eggs down the toilet. Sure, they won’t be in one basket, they won’t be included in any of the variety of party building baskets possible. No. Those resources will be gone. Wasted forever. It’s a guaranteed waste of resources and will, at best, accomplish nothing.

    OTOH, history has shown that when the LP runs professionally produced advertising on the broadcast media, we bring in prospects, members, donors, donations and get more votes.

    The Clark for President campaign brought in thousands of new prospects, members and donors. Although these resources were wasted over the subsequent years. Party organizing meetings in the two years following the 1980 campaign were at higher levels of attendence than any seen since. These were the people brought in by advertising.

    Since then the party has run no significant advertising of any kind. But, in those cases where it has been tried, the results show that we can still generate prospects, members, donors, donations and votes. We can win ballot status cheaper than petitioning for it in numerous states and build the party.

    It’s amazing that after all these years of getting nowhere, the same people still whine about and waste their time promoting voting system change as if it were a magic wand for victory. The single answer that will let us win without doing any hard political work and investing.

    Of course, we have others who think that the magic wand is to find a celebrity to nominate for President or the top of the statewide ticket for some state LP.

    We have to do the hard work and careful, dillegent investing in our party in order to grow to a size sufficient to win. We have to advertise on the major media.

    The longer we wait to begin, the longer we will have to wait to win.

    Warren Buffet began his investment career by delivering newspapers. He invested and reinvested those few dollars and built his fortune from that seed money.

    We need to start investing now, and to continue to invest in our party by creating a targeted advertising and outreach campaign.

    We cannot grow until we begin to invest in our own growth.

  61. Be Rational

    “diligent” “so far” IPR needs an edit function.

    We should take a look at those limited cases of LP advertising and measure the results. The states where we spent enough to win Ballot Status vs. those where we spent spent less and didn’t. We can also compare vote totals in states where we spent some money in some media markets vs. other markets where we spent none and compare voter response.

    We really need to get serious and build a professional political organization and stop dreaming about magical solutions to our problems.

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