reflections from the Libertarian fringe
J. Robert Latham
spoke earlier this month, mostly for the Republicans and Democrats
on the ballot. But enough voters spoke for Libertarian candidates in
2004 to keep us on Utah's ballot in 2006. Thank you for allowing us
to continue participating in the conversations that shape public
this progress, some organizations maintained their policy of
apartheid toward candidates affiliated with non-incumbent political
parties. (I prefer "non-incumbent party" to "third
example, although Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and his
Democratic challenger Greg Skordas didn't object, KUED television
wouldn't allow Libertarian challenger Andrew McCullough to join
KBYU television kept Libertarian 3rd Congressional District
candidate Jim Dexter out of its debate for that race, despite Rep.
Chris Cannon's request to include him.
existing "winner-take-all" electoral system in the United
States makes it incredibly difficult, although not impossible, for
any non-incumbent party to receive more than single-digit support in
a race contested by the two incumbent parties. Political scientists
call this loaded-dice effect "Duverger's Law."
as many political scientists have observed, the winner-take-all
system is not only dangerously polarizing American citizens, but
also orphaning "blue" voters in "red" states and
counties. And vice versa.
alternative is to change the rules we use to elect our
representatives from a winner-take-all system to a "full
representation" electoral system, beginning at the local level.
Under that system, representatives are elected from multi-seat
districts in proportion to the number of votes received. It assures
that political parties or candidates will have the percent of
legislative seats that reflects their public support. A party or
candidate need not come in first to win seats.
representation systems, had they been invented prior to the drafting
of the U.S. Constitution, would almost certainly have been adopted
by the Founding Fathers to elect members to the House of
Representatives because, to quote John Adams, they create "in
miniature, an exact portrait of the people at large."
argue that the political process shouldn't be opened too much, lest
undesirable individuals get a seat at the table. Faced with the
choice, which would you rather have Timothy McVeigh sitting on your
City Council? Or sitting outside your City Council building in a
the party of Lincoln, Bush and Huntsman genuinely wants to reach out
to the rest of us, its members should level the political playing
field by transforming America's and Utah's two-party system into
something akin to the multi-party representative democracies in
which Afghanis and Iraqis will soon participate.