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An Electoral Reform

Dreamed by Jim Shaw, c.1994.

I was trying to illustrate these devil-alien bunnies with antennae, but they were too cartoony. Then I saw a Semitic head with crown of thorns I'd been sculpting & I screwed some wood slats in for ears.

I talked to Mike about my idea for third party candidates to be allowed, in close elections, to throw their votes to one of the major parties, so people could vote for a candidate that actually reflected their views, without throwing away their vote.

Then I saw a bus advert with devil bunnies on it.

Devil-bunnies and electoral reform: dream sketch by Jim Shaw. Click to enlarge.

SOURCE: Jim Shaw's Dreams, Jan. 1995, Smart Art Press. Dreamed 1987-95, probably 1994. Only one of three dreams that night--and #2 was political too: on TV, New Gingrich's mom tells of fighting heroin addiction, and Mrs Dole sings a Republican version of "You give me Fever". Bare mentions & no pictures, though...


Amusing--since Shaw's electoral idea, under the name ranked-choice voting, is now, 25 years later, standard in my home town, and is being considered statewide. If no one wins a true majority, the weakest candidate's votes get checked for second preferences, and those votes get added to the surviving contenders. The new weakest vote-getter's votes get redirected, and so on, till someone gets an absolute majority. The main difference is that Shaw's system has candidates redirecting votes; in my town, voters themselves choose their backup votes.

Shaw emphasizes his idea's moral strength--voters can express their real preferences and still get leaders they can live with.

But in practice, his idea also fixes a big practical problem with the traditional system. In three-way races, two similar candidates can split their faction's vote so a third candidate squeaks in on a plurality, enacting policies the majority dislikes. Example: in 2000 Al Gore and Ralph Nader split the liberal vote, letting George W. Bush squeak in despite a shortfall of several million votes (overruled by two unethical Supreme Court justices, it must be said). His atrocious record--thousands dead in 9/11, another thousand in the botched relief effort when Katrina hit New Orleans, hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq and Afghanistan, then the worst economic crash in generations--show that "plurality take all" has real costs in bad policy.

Ranked choice is no cure-all; it wouldn't have changed the 2016 Trump/Clinton contest. Her clear majority was overturned by the Electoral College, which gives big-state voters less weight. Different systemic problem! As of 2019, at least, devil-bunnies rule. But maybe not forever.

And sometimes those crackpot ideas in dreams, the ones that are supposed to be revealed as nonsense in the cold light of dawn, turn out to be better than waking logic.

--Chris Wayan

LISTS AND LINKS: politics - choice - fairness & justice - creativity - bunnies - demons & devils - dream humor - pencil dream art - more Jim Shaw - Wayan dreams of an evil political jackalope in Hedgehog Dispensary

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