Posted Nov. 4, 2014 at 3:25 PM
(The cartoon above was as published in Taunton Daily Gazette.
As I write, I have no idea whether the next governor of Massachusetts will be Republican Charlie Baker or Democrat Martha Coakley. But I think I have a greater chance of joining the ranks of Biblical figures Enoch and Elijah and actually not dying, than seeing Evan Falchuk (United Independent Party), or the two independents, Scott Lively or Jeff McCormick, being elected to governor.
Apparently, the Green-Rainbow Party has have no gubernatorial candidate this time out, but they have candidates for secretary of state, state treasurer, and state auditor — again, not a snowball’s chance in Hades of getting elected.
According to the Patriot Ledger, “Falchuk has no political experience and is bankrolling his campaign with more than $2 million of his own money. He recently spent more than $400,000 on several television ads.”
There was a far better way to spend that money in an attempt to build a third party.
The problem with voting for Falchuk is that it’s a vote thrown away that could have been expended on one of the two viable candidates. And under our present system, third parties will never develop. A major political party has not evolved since the American Civil War, and even before that there were only a few.
The cure for this non-development of third parties is instant run off voting, which I will summarize with a liberal use of Wikipedia. Instant runoff voting “is a preferential voting system in which voters rank the candidates in order of preference rather than voting for a single candidate.
Ballots are initially distributed based on each elector’s first preference. If a candidate secures more than half of votes cast, that candidate wins. Otherwise, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Ballots assigned to the eliminated candidate are recounted and assigned to those of the remaining candidates who rank next in order of preference on each ballot. This process continues until one candidate wins by obtaining more than half the votes.”
With instant runoff voting, you can confidentially vote for a Nader-type knowing that you are not helping a Bush-type get elected; Bush would need a majority and if he did not get it, you would tally up the votes of the second choices of the people that voted for Nader to see if they voted for Gore or Bush. If Bush already had a majority, whether you voted for Gore or Nader would not matter anyhow.
There are many advantages of having instant runoff voting other than third party development, such as avoiding a minority view winning a primary or local election with under 50 percent of the vote by splitting the majority view. But to independent candidates, the very existence or non-existence of instant runoff voting is literally the difference between being meaningful, viable candidates or not. It is everything. It is the political universe, the end-all-to-be-all. Without it, they are nothing.
Instant runoff voting sounds great, but the two major parties will never implement it since it would undermine their power. Precisely, and that’s why it needs to be made part of the electoral process by the initiative petition. If you read the forbidden items that cannot be the subject of a binding initiative in the Massachusetts Constitution, election reform or the manner of conducting elections does not appear on the “can’t do” list.
Here is the very big bone I have to pick with the Greens, the “Independent Third Party,” or Libertarians. Whenever you want to do anything in life, whatever the endeavor, you need to remove the major or insurmountable barrier that impedes you.
But to these independents, advocating for instant runoff elections is at best an interesting footnote. Instead, it should borderline be their sole focus. Instead of the Green Party putting no-hope candidates on the ballot, getting instant run-off voting on the initiative ballot could have assured them a meaningful place at the table in the future. For about $250,000 (possibly a lot less), one could have easily put a binding initiative petition on the ballot to make instant runoff voting the law, ensuring that third party candidates are viable. This would have been a far better use of Falchuk’s $2 million or the efforts of third parties.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, is a Pittsfield attorney.