Monday, November 19, 2012

How to Improve Democracy

USA recently extended the incumbent’s term. Kenya will go to the ballot next year (2013). Both are democratic, at least nominally. Still I insist: As far as democracy is concerned, we have been duped. Still, it seems the ballot is here to stay, even after it has speedily evolved into a blatant charade in which none of the characters on offer are good prospects for the future.

I hereby recommend a far-reaching improvement to the voting process.

Every voter should cast a “double-edged vote”: one “positive” vote for the preferred candidate AND one “negative” vote against the least favored candidate. This will create two sets of data: the most popular (directly liked) and least popular (actively hated) candidates, which data can then be ranked in order of (un)popularity. The winner will thereafter be declared to be the one who strikes the best balance between
  1. being reasonably popular and
  2. NOT being viscerally hated by a significant segment of the population.
Hence, one may lose the popularity vote and still stand a chance. However, winning the “we actually hate you” vote, especially by a landslide, earns automatic disqualification from the job of Commander-in-Chief, no matter what margin with which the relevant aspirant won or lost the opposite tally.

The way I see it, practical results of such a ballot measure could be numerous and beneficial.

The “two-horse race” election scenario will collapse in such an environment. Supporters of the top two contestants will unfailingly vote against their biggest opponent. Big coalitions will automatically disqualify one another. And the vote-splitting stratagem, since it is impotent in the negative vote scenario, could actually work against its architects. A rational aspirant will therefore avoid the established parties (political Augean stables), opting to run for office at the helm of a reputable (or at least harmless) political party! While this presents the possibility that an anonymous nondescript might “pass between" the big shots and clinch the reins of power, this is a better deal than giving a divisive character a White House/State House address.

A winner thus produced will not polarize the nation, as Kenya’s 2007 post-election debacle very nearly did and as America’s 2012 poll aftermath threatens to do. Remember that the negative vote serves to disqualify the divisive character, which definition fits both horses. (Some of the current secession-minded Americans we are hearing about found that the re-election was the last straw. It’s not a racism thing. Another blog post will examine this.)

Third, and most tantalizing, the “double-edged vote” would compel politicians on the campaign trail to cut out posturing, swallow their pride, talk conciliatory and plead with the citizens. “If you won’t vote for me, then please don’t vote against me!” Wouldn’t that simply be spectacular to hear? Then we would scrutinize their track record, and they would be ill at ease and really sweaty.


  1. It was a very heated election here in America. I personally did not care for either candidate, but voted nonetheless. I live in one of the states that is secession-minded. It makes me sad to live in a nation now that is so greatly divided. We are all terribly concerned about our future. I like your ideas for an election--double-edged vote. You brought up some very good points that I wish America would also examine for future elections!

    1. Thanks for reading, menopausal mama. I was half serious and half kidding. Things are coming to a head worldwide. You know how they say when America sneezes, the planet catches a cold? That.


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