Ford Prefect explaining to Arthur Dent about why a robot said "take me to your lizards".
"It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see..."
"You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?"
"No," said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, "nothing so simple. Nothing anything like to straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."
"Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."
"I did," said ford. "It is."
"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"
"It honestly doesn't occur to them," said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."
"You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"
"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."
"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"
"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?"
"I said," said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, "have you got any gin?"
"I'll look. Tell me about the lizards."
Ford shrugged again.
"Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them," he said. "They're completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone's got to say it."
-- Douglass Adams in So Long, and Thanks for All the FishWe have a system where people are too afraid to vote for someone wildly different from the status quo simply because of the risk of the vote not counting and someone even worse being elected. The election system, which has a byproduct of creating two dominate parties, is to blame for people making save votes. There are two mutually exclusive problems we need to solve before getting our nation back in line: Winner-Take-All districts and Single Choice Voting. Winner take all:
The Winner-take-all system reduces the quality and choice of candidates. Political parties nominate a candidate, which are then included for election. People vote for those choices and the majority vote wins a district. So, since a whole district is won by the majority even with a close election, a candidate can win even while not garnering the popular vote. The system disenfranchises voters by conscripting the votes of people that were opposed to the majority candidate.
This problem can be addressed for Federal and Statewide elections with the National Popular Vote initiative. I suggest reading up on it since it is the easiest method for election reform since the State Legislature determines how Electoral Votes are divided among candidates. There is no need for Congress to pass a bill. Each state can fix the problem.
National Popular Vote disconnects the candidates from the party (therefore you can have multiple candidates from the same party on the ballot) and overcomes the winner take all district problem. Not only that, it will direct the attention of the political candidates to the proper places (where there is a high Electoral Vote to moderate voter ratio). NPV also plays nice since it doesn't go into effect until a majority of States have signed up (based upon Electoral Votes). In addition, there is no fear of Mob Rule with NPV since the Electoral College would still exist. The people making the individual Electoral College votes still have the choice to go against the grain, against the will of the people, and make the right vote if needed.
Note: I'll have to make a separate dedicated post on National Popular Vote since it's that important for reforming our country.Single Vote Elections:
The method for choosing two top candidates for a run-off vote when no single candidate initially received a majority vote is the other major reason why people are compelled to make a safe vote time and time again.
Voting for a third party is scary since it makes it possible for the least desirable candidate to win. This often happens when a major political party splits. The unsplit party wins since the voter base was divided in the other party. This reinforces the corrupt two party system we currently suffer.
The solution is Full Ranked Choice voting (aka Preferential Voting with a full list of candidates). A full ranked choice vote (where the voter orders all candidates for an instant run-off) is the most just system and allows voters to go beyond taking the safe vote. A voter can order his ballot so that the large party candidates are ordered at the end of the list. A voter has more liberty with his/her vote and risks nothing by choosing a new party candidate a the first vote.
Full Ranked Choice voting and National Popular Vote are essential for dismantling the massively powerful party machines and making our politics more moderate... more party independent... more just.
Note: As with NPV, I will make a dedicated post on Full Ranked Voting. It is extremely important.