Election dynamics

New snippet for The Hordes of Chanakra later today.  In the meantime, some political philosophy.

People invoke a “conspiracy” to ensure that the candidates are “the same” creating the illusion of choice.


No conspiracy is necessary. All that’s necessary is that politicians want to win elections.

Consider the typical election (at least at the national level) in the US: person currently holding office got a majority of the vote. In order to win you need to get a majority. Even if you get every one of the people who did not vote for the current individual, that’s not enough to make a majority (if it were, someone else would be the current officeholder). You need to get at least some of the voters who voted for the current officeholder.

Say you do. Now, next time around the opposition wants to do the same thing. They want to win. The folk who voted against you aren’t enough (or you would have lost) so they need some of the voters who voted for you.

Repeat over a bunch of elections and both sides are trying to appeal to a lot of the same voters. However much they may differentiate themselves “on paper” what they do starts to look a lot alike, not because of any puppetmaster pulling their strings but because they’re competing for voters who want the same things. Well, those voters may way they want one thing, but demonstrate by what/who they vote for what they really want.

This similarity causes some people to object. What they want is different from the group both sides are wooing. They may suck it up and accept that they’re not going to get all they want and instead try to push for a little bit of what they want through one of the existing sides, or they may abandon the existing sides and try to create a new one that can win elections. But, again, unless they can get a lot of the voters voting for the existing sides, which means appealing to their wants. it’s a forlorn hope. This is what we have had to date with the Libertarian, Socialist, CPUSA, Green, and other “third parties”.  These generally have not been numerous enough to be worth going after at the expense of the larger numbers who could go either way between the major parties.

The thing that changes that dynamic is if enough people abandon the existing parties to force a reassessment of what it takes to get that majority.  That requires either a major change in what the population wants–something that generally doesn’t happen quickly–or a “crystallization” of gradual changes with the parties having moved slowly one way while the population has slowly moved another, then reaching a tipping point to overcome inertia which can be heralded by mass “desertions” from one or both of the existing major parties.  The interim can be chaotic and ugly until things settle down to a new dynamic with both (all) sides seeking to woo many of the same voters, but a different group that wants something different from the previous dynamic.

This may be where a Trump candidacy is taking us.  Before Libertarians were generally getting less than 1% of the vote at the national level.  Before Trump became the sole remaining Republican candidate they were polling 11%.  Now running around 20%.  This could be the “sea change” that either forces a reassessment of the Republican party to a more libertarian viewpoint (and then, since the Democrats want to win elections, they have to woo many of those same voters and so are forced as well to move in that direction), or that leads to the collapse of the Republican party and the rise of a new major party in it’s place.  The last time that happened was in the 1854-60 timeframe with the founding of the Republican Party itself and its winning of the Presidency for Abraham Lincoln.

The other scenario, of course, is that the “mass exodus” will fizzle leaving two parties appealing to the “goodies that other people pay for” crowd.

I have my own views on which way I want it to go, of course.
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