Voting Can Be Dangerous: Use the Buddy System

While this blog is non-partisan, it does represent a particular world view. The philosophy of this blog is informed by a belief in the virtues of: a reverence for the natural world, both within and without; being able to live peacefully with our neighbors, immediate and global; and appreciation of art, which enables expression of ideas that can't materialize as powerfully, or even at all, otherwise.
"Politicians use the truth to tell lies, while artists use lies to tell the truth." This, of course is an extreme statement, but it does have an artful touch to it. Some in politics have a natural talent for knavery. Yet many politicians are just as true to their duties as you or I; except our bosses tend to demand more of us than we do of them.
When we are called upon to exercise our democratic right to vote, let us not take for granted what some have died for. When we are in that booth, just ourselves and a machine, let us remember the reason we have our right to vote in the first place: to hire the right people for the job: the privilege of working for us, the people of the United States.
But then we cannot leave the affairs of the state in the hands of those who may contrive to exclude others most fit for the job: especially when we, the caretakers, have all but demanded they be given free reign. No, we must remind our public servants of their role and behave as only the most benevolent masters would without abandoning them to their own folly.
When the Republicans and Democrats are the only real voices for the American people is when I will defend them. But where was that voice when the right to declare war was ceded, fully and "legally," to the President? Where are the voices now in protest of our unsustainable and toxic energy plan? Tyranny is not the vestige of the underdogs. The two major parties have been controlling executive access in this country and doing so with such fervor that competitive exclusion has slipped into an institutionalized oligarchy. Furthermore both of their current offerings do not respect the need for peace and neglect the fragility of our biotic communities. And you, the American voter, know this full well.
In the United States, our electoral process is set up to favor majority parties. It marginalizes smaller campaigns or even big campaigns through non-conventional routes. The two big partisan beasts strike fear in the hearts of conservatives and progressives alike because we are more concerned about how they differ from each other than how they differ from what we really want.
From my experience in speaking with average people about voting for third-party candidates, they've been incredibly supportive of their campaigns, but apprehensive about actually casting a ballot. Some see "spoiling" as an immediate threat. Others see a third-party vote, even if it is aligned with their true beliefs, as still a "wasted" one.
Accusations that elections were "stolen" by legitimate opponents are preposterous. There is a great arrogance among major parties who believe that third-parties exist solely as a tool to tip an election from choice A to choice B. Third-parties are not yet taken seriously as a legitimate alternative choice. But some new ideas have given the American voter the possibility to do just that.

Enter Vote Pact, and VoteBuddy, two websites that are promoting basically the same concept of forming an alliance with a double from the "other team." You find someone you know well, a close friend or a family member, and you both agree to defect from the major parties. In some instances, you might find a pair that votes for the same third-party candidate. Essentially, you are agreeing to disagree with the status quo and, in a way, are celebrating your common ground. The net effect: there is no "spoiler" and the major party candidates are still relatively where you both left them.
Another site, from The Center for Range Voting, illustrates the advantages of a different style of election. It too promises to level the playing field and eliminates the controversy and hullabaloo of third-party participation in elections. Dubbed the "Hot or Not" method to voting, it has been featured in publications like Technology Review, Salon.com, the New York Times, and Newsweek. A sample ballot is displayed below.

You were probably thinking only artists could be this creative. Of course there is the possibility of cheating with the buddy system. This is why you truly need to know the person you are making your pact with and trust them. If anything, this solution for third-party voting is a test of relational skills. And while range voting isn't quite ready for prime time, it seems like a good institutional solution for storming the bipartisan castle; although it's not as unpredictable and exciting as the other, currently possible method.
One of the greatest things about humans is our ingenuity. While we certainly don't have a monopoly on ideas in this country, or always have a good one (see: past two Presidential elections), we are always looking to solve problems. People wanted to vote for third-parties but were afraid to "take away" a vote from the "lesser of two evils." Now we are shown the way to take two votes at a time from the "evil of two lessers" and give them to the candidates who truly paint pictures of nature, peace, and art.

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