Ron Paul or Mitt Romney? Americans Deserve More than One Vote in the 2012 Election
Mitt Romney is going to win the Republican nomination. Sorry Ron Paul. I know, you're trying to win delegates and make a stand, but the fact is the Paul campaign was doomed from the start, just like any candidate’s is when it fails to fit the mold of its political party. And especially if that campaign is run out of a third party. This isn’t a good thing; it’s a symptom of how American politics has become less than democratic; it forcibly limits the discourse and policies of those who would contend to govern. And this needs to be fixed through a massive change to our voting system.
Oh sure, you’ll hear how people like Paul, Gary Johnson (the former Governor of New Mexico), or any other fringe political contender can’t win because of their esoteric policies, or some type of media conspiracy. But that’s not entirely true. Clearly, their policies were not a deterrent to them gaining some type of office to begin with. As for the media, it’s not so much a vast conspiracy (Fox excluded), as it is a calculated investment of their resources to reap the most profit from their coverage. This means the media will focus on candidates who they believe have the best chance of winning the race by appealing to the broadest audience (Romney, or Perry when he entered the race), or they’ll focus on the spectacular flameouts during the campaign (Cain, Perry after he entered the race).
As much as media focus is a calculated investment, so is a vote. When a person decides to vote for president, that person is no longer necessarily voting for who they believe to be the best candidate. Why not? Because they want their vote to count. Because realistically, they’ve only got a choice between two candidates who generally hold an arbitrarily set list of principles that stem from the political parties they’re a part of. If they don’t vote for the candidate on “their” side, that’s essentially a wasted vote. Ask everyone who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. That is why candidates like Paul have no chance to win the presidency; unless you’re a diehard supporter, you know better than to waste a vote for him. But there’s a way to change this, to allow people to vote for whom they believe is the best candidate without feeling as though they’ve thrown away their vote: give voters more than one vote.
Give people as many votes as they want. The sole condition is that no one may vote for a single candidate more than once. You’re a Democrat in 2008, and you think Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton would make a good president? Vote for both. You’re a fiscal Republican in this election that supports Ron Paul the most, but also wants to pick Romney just in case Paul doesn’t have enough support? Express yourself. Hell, vote for Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer if you think they’d do a good job. You just couldn’t decide between Rick Santorum and Herman Cain earlier in the Republican primaries? See a doctor, because you have a brain tumor and it’s probably terminal.
If people can vote as much as they want, you’ll get a more honest spectrum of political thought being displayed in voting booths. You’ll have candidates contend who would have otherwise been left on the cutting room floor of their party’s primary simply because their views might not coincide with that party’s views. There wouldn’t be a need for primaries, because they wouldn’t serve to eliminate anyone from the race. People would vote for political individuals rather than political parties. Slowly, the narrative would begin to shift. The media would have to cover candidates that were outside the status quo, simply because the heightened potential of their success would help dictate a new status quo.
This isn’t anything close to a be-all, end-all solution, of course. There are a lot of campaign laws, financial barriers and political power disparities that hinder the development of third parties and independent runs. The system is fundamentally broken in many ways, which is why steps need to be taken to repair it. This could be that first step.
At worst, giving people as many votes as they want will yield no significant change for the political landscape. Perhaps the country will still elect either a candidate who is socially and fiscally conservative, or vice versa. Or maybe someone who holds fiscally conservative but socially liberal positions will be elected. Maybe a libertarian will be elected, or even a socialist. Someone who isn’t beholden to a major party and dependent on its support.
The point is, the winner will be the person most voters believe is capable of running the country efficiently, not the person most voters believe won’t screw it up quite as badly as his opponent. This is a no-risk, high-reward proposition that could potentially revolutionize American politics, disrupt the hold political parties – and by extension, special interests – have on politicians and usher in a new political landscape. In other words, there’s absolutely no chance this will ever happen.