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
- being reasonably popular and
- NOT being viscerally hated by a significant segment of the population.
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.