Going Down the Road

By Nightower, Jim | The Nation, May 27, 2002 | Go to article overview

Going Down the Road


Nightower, Jim, The Nation


Let's Go IRV!

In the late 1950s, as the somnolent Eisenhower years were drawing to a close, a new presidential campaign sprang forth and millions of Americans gleefully rallied under its exultant slogan, I GO POGO! Pogo the possum was the lead character in Walt Kelly's, witty, wily and widely read satirical comic strip. A modest and level-headed sort, Pogo was always trying to make sense of the nonsensical doings of PT Bridgeport, Tammananny, the prattling cowbirds and other outlandish critters he lived among in Kelly's Alice-in-Wonderlandish Okefenokee Swamp.

We could use Pogo to help us make sense of today's political swamp, in which the people's will has been drowned in the mire of big money and most folks feel that their votes don't count. But wait! While we don't have Pogo, there is a new common-sense choice available to us, offering a modest yet powerful opportunity to democratize our system. The exultant slogan of this campaign is, I GO IRV!

Sally, Bob and Harry

* IRV is not a person or a possum--it's an electoral process with the wonkish full name of Instant Runoff Voting. Its biggest appeal is that IRV literally makes every vote count. Voters indicate both their favorite candidate and their runoff choices, in order of preference, all on one ballot. If four people are in a race, instead of marking only one of the four boxes (as now) you put a "1" by your first choice, a "2" by your second... and so on. When the votes are counted, if no candidate is the first choice of a majority of voters, an "instant runoff" takes place. Here's how it works: The vote tabulators drop the candidate who came in fourth. But--and a beautiful "but" it is--they add the second choice votes of that candidate's supporters to the tallies of the top three. If this still doesn't produce a majority winner, they drop the third-place finisher and the next choices of these voters are allocated to the top two...until one candidate accumulates enough votes to add up to a majority.

This liberates us to be both principled and pragmatic! Let's say your choices are Sally Sensational, Bob Boring and Harry Horrible. Unlike today's winner-take-all system, IRV makes it easy for you to go with your heart and choose Sally. If she doesn't make it, you have not wasted your vote and allowed Mr. Horrible to win. Instead, your second choice is then allocated to Bob's tally, helping him defeat Harry.

IRV does several other big things for democracy. One, it encourages more Sally Sensationals to run, greatly adding to the debate, because now they can appeal to voters on the basis of their ideas, not on a prejudgment by the cognoscenti that they are spoilers who "can't win." Two, Bob Boring can't ignore or trash Ms. Sensational, because Bob will want to be the second choice of her voters--indeed, Bob will have to adopt more of Sally's positions, rather than tilting toward Mr. Horrible, as he now does. Three, voter turnout will increase, because an ordinary person's participation and vote matters in the final tally. Four, formal campaign debates will be opened to more than two candidates, because now the "third" and "fourth" candidates are real factors without "spoiling" the party. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Going Down the Road
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.