As Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) enjoys a surprising yet refreshing surge in the polls, it is leading many people to wonder if he actually has a shot at winning the Republican nomination. But Paul’s biggest obstacle facing him is not Romney or Obama. It is the Electoral College and the idea that has been implanted in the voter’s mind; a third party candidate can never win a presidential election.
Since it is safe to assume that the backroom bosses of the GOP will never allow Paul to touch the Republican nomination with a 10 foot pole, this is the dilemma that Paul will face when he gives in and succumbs again to a dreaded third party candidacy. He has been in this situation before and it usually ends up with a .01% or so showing. But it seems Paul has finally broken into the mainstream political conscience, despite an infuriatingly oblivious (or is it the opposite) media, and it could mean a substantial showing in the polls. The U.S. needs to get rid of our electoral process that has drifted away from voter influence and replace it with an instant-runoff system that offers substantial choice and works to eliminate political corruption.
But a substantial showing that fringe candidates deem a success is obviously unsubstantial if the goal is to actually win the presidency. For the U.S. to move closer to the democracy it so closely affiliates itself with, it must reform the electoral process. An instant-runoff type system will loosen the stranglehold that two-party politics has on this country right now. This system gives voters the ability to rank candidates in preferential order. If Paul receives the least amount of votes, he is eliminated and this voter’s vote would change to their second choice. This process repeats until a majority is found. No longer will voters view third party candidates as a wasted vote. If this voter is a Republican that likes Ron Paul but knows in reality he won’t win, they will end up settling for Mitt Romney. Instant-runoff fixes this dilemma with a simple change and it will allow for candidates with views more representative of the people (rather than of extremely polarized political elites) to have a stronger opportunity to win.
Settling is a lazy excuse for democracy. An instant-runoff method or the many other viable options for voting is where true change takes place and it is already being used in many countries and even in local elections within the U.S. The public has made it painfully clear that politics are not working for them (see Congress approval rating) and many are open to other options.
The Electoral College is the cruelest joke of our democracy and is something that most Americans don’t really understand, for good reason. Our voting system has been propagated as this untouchable system that works if you don’t think about it. It is almost treasonous to suggest that our voting system is undemocratic. So don’t count on hearing much about alternative voting methods on the news or in congress.
But there is one thing you can count on; Americans eventually getting fed up. The atmosphere in this country is shifting from complacent to angry and hopefully it will continue to shift to active.
We need to demand a new system because the very core of our democracy, voting, is the most tainted aspect. If we aren’t happy, we need to make it clear and make sure our representatives do something about it. Politicians were created for us. They were not created to cater to banks, corporations, and ideological extremists.
Electoral reform is a solution that will get to the very root of the problem rather than picking at it from the outside through legislation and protests. It is an issue that needs to be brought in to the mainstream media’s discourse. This will return the U.S. government from the reality of a thinly-veiled lobbying racket which has developed from our electoral procedures and back towards a true democracy that we strive for.
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