Lesser-evilism and third parties

John Halle john.halle at yale.edu
Mon Aug 28 15:33:42 PDT 2000

> Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2000 15:56:11 -0400
> From: Brett Knowlton <brettk at unica-usa.com>
> Subject: Lesser-evilism and third parties
> The problem is the winner take all system itself. If we had proportional
> representation, this dilemma would melt away, and progressives wouldn't
> have to worry about being sold out by New Democrats (and right-wing
> fascists wouldn't have to worry about being muzzled by compassionate
> Republicans).
> Obviously we don't have proportional representation, and I'm not claiming I
> have a vision of how to best move in that direction. But I do find it
> surprising and a bit depressing (note the small 'd') that there isn't more
> discussion/agitation around this kind of electoral change on the Left.

I think there is a certain discomfort with these sorts of "good government" solutions since they play into the hands of the technocratic wing of the Dems who assume that all problems have to do not with institutionalized social and economic injustice, but with poorly engineered governmental machinery. So while I agree that proportional representation would help, as a strategic matter I think progressives are better off organizing around issues which go directly to the heart of the increasing class polarization which "good government" types (such as Gore and Bradley) have been directly responsible for in recent decades.

> Instant runoff voting is the best realistic step I see in the
> direction of making American third parties more viable. It's
> happening in a few states (there's currently a proposal in Vermont,
> supported by the Govenor, to start using IRV to elect Vermont
> Govenors), and some leftists are beginning to be aware of its
> potential. Nader endorsed IRV in his big Portland speech last week,
> for instance. But I agree, there needs to be a lot more activity on
> this front.
> - --BD

Btw, is everyone clear on the fact that Nader sold out the Portland Colliseum at $7 a head? With the exception of lobbyists and corporate CEOs, does anyone know of a single person who would pay 7 cents to see Gore.


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