The lesser of two evils

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The lesser of two evils

Unread postby Iago » 25 June 2016, 04:50

I've seen arguments about this play out on Twitter in the context of the American primaries, but it appears pertinent to any country dominated by two major parties.

In an election, should you, as a rule, vote for the least bad of the two candidates? On the surface it seems unambiguously rational: X is flawed, but they're not nearly as flawed as Y, so let's vote for X in order to minimise the potential harm. But if the party of X know that people will always vote for them to prevent the party of Y gaining office, what motivation do they have to improve? The rhetoric in election seasons is consistent: the Y-candidate is dangerous and we can't let them win; and as the Y-candidates gradually drift deeper into their wing on the spectrum, the X-candidates tend to be pulled in the same direction as they try to maintain a bipartisan compromise. In such circumstances, is it still the best action to accept the less bad or the two, or is it better to give your vote elsewhere?
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Re: The lesser of two evils

Unread postby Saul » 25 June 2016, 15:26

With the two party system in America, you have to vote for one of the two candidates if you actually want your vote to count.
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Re: The lesser of two evils

Unread postby Nickr » 25 June 2016, 20:16

There's usually never two candidates. In the US context: Vote Libertarian.
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Re: The lesser of two evils

Unread postby homomorphism » 25 June 2016, 23:23

Nickr wrote:There's usually never two candidates. In the US context: Vote Libertarian.



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Re: The lesser of two evils

Unread postby rogonandi » 26 June 2016, 15:14

You vote for whichever party suits your life situation, and then when that no longer applies you shift your vote to a different party.
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Re: The lesser of two evils

Unread postby poolerboy0077 » 26 June 2016, 18:15

Iago wrote:I've seen arguments about this play out on Twitter in the context of the American primaries, but it appears pertinent to any country dominated by two major parties.

In an election, should you, as a rule, vote for the least bad of the two candidates? On the surface it seems unambiguously rational: X is flawed, but they're not nearly as flawed as Y, so let's vote for X in order to minimise the potential harm. But if the party of X know that people will always vote for them to prevent the party of Y gaining office, what motivation do they have to improve? The rhetoric in election seasons is consistent: the Y-candidate is dangerous and we can't let them win; and as the Y-candidates gradually drift deeper into their wing on the spectrum, the X-candidates tend to be pulled in the same direction as they try to maintain a bipartisan compromise. In such circumstances, is it still the best action to accept the less bad or the two, or is it better to give your vote elsewhere?

They have little to no motivation to improve, but what would be the point in giving your vote elsewhere in a winner-take-all system? What good will that accomplish if not to guarantee a victory for the party you like the least?

homomorphism wrote:
Nickr wrote:There's usually never two candidates. In the US context: Vote Libertarian.



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Re: The lesser of two evils

Unread postby homomorphism » 26 June 2016, 23:08

poolsie wrote:They have little to no motivation to improve, but what would be the point in giving your vote elsewhere in a winner-take-all system? What good will that accomplish if not to guarantee a victory for the party you like the least?


IF we accept either way that your vote numerically has so little value that it can be safely ignored, why vote for a mainstream candidate over a third party candidate?
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Re: The lesser of two evils

Unread postby poolerboy0077 » 26 June 2016, 23:14

homomorphism wrote:
poolsie wrote:They have little to no motivation to improve, but what would be the point in giving your vote elsewhere in a winner-take-all system? What good will that accomplish if not to guarantee a victory for the party you like the least?


IF we accept either way that your vote numerically has so little value that it can be safely ignored, why vote for a mainstream candidate over a third party candidate?

I was assuming that a sizable portion of the voting bloc would be thinking likewise. I'll be voting for Kanye, anyway.
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Re: The lesser of two evils

Unread postby Iago » 27 June 2016, 13:19

poolerboy0077 wrote:
homomorphism wrote:
poolsie wrote:They have little to no motivation to improve, but what would be the point in giving your vote elsewhere in a winner-take-all system? What good will that accomplish if not to guarantee a victory for the party you like the least?


IF we accept either way that your vote numerically has so little value that it can be safely ignored, why vote for a mainstream candidate over a third party candidate?

I was assuming that a sizable portion of the voting bloc would be thinking likewise. I'll be voting for Kanye, anyway.

Is it by necessity a winner-take-all system? It depends how large the bloc of dissatisfied voters is. The common line of thinking is that, if a party loses badly, or its ability to pass legislation is weakened, then there are two good possible outcomes: either the party will change its policies to regain the lost votes, or they will move closer to the opposing party to try to win over some of their voters, and thus these lost votes will go to minor-party candidates or independents. It looks to me like either scenario requires some bullet-biting, and the counter-argument is often made that vulnerable sectors of the population can't afford short-term legislative losses, that they might live or die depending on who wins the election. For such people, or people who see one singularly important value being threatened, it's clearly rational to vote for the candidate and party that will protect them or their interests, even if there are many other problems with them; and indeed they can become as bad as they want, as long as they aren't as bad as the other major option. What I've been wondering lately is, with a view to the longer time scale, whether it can be rational to hope that more good might come from trying to elect minor parties or independents to, at first, a few seats.
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