About Vote Pact

The Problem:

Most voters don’t vote for—often don’t even consider voting for—third parties because they view voting for a third party as helping the establishment party they most dislike. Disenchanted Democrats continue to vote for Democrats because they don’t want Republicans; disenchanted Republicans continue to vote for Republicans because they don’t want Democrats.

VotePact.org—The Solution:

Disenchanted Republicans should pair up with disenchanted Democrats and both vote for third party or independent candidates they more genuinely want instead of cancelling out each other by voting for each of the two establishment parties. This would free up votes by twos from each of the establishment parties. This liberates the voters to vote their actual preference from among those on the ballot, rather than to just pick the “least bad” of the two majors because of fear. They could each vote for different candidates, or they could vote for the same candidate. If the later, it could offer an enterprising candidate a path to actual electoral victory.

Republican Democrat Independent
BEFORE VOTE PACT 10 Voters 10 Voters 0 Voters
AFTER 1 VOTE PACT 9 Voters 9 Voters 2 Voters
AFTER 2 VOTE PACTS 8 Voters 8 Voters 4 Voters
AFTER 3 VOTE PACTS 7 Voters 7 Voters 6 Voters
AFTER 4 VOTE PACTS 6 Voters 6 Voters 8 Voters
Republican Democrat Independent 1 Independent 2
BEFORE VOTE PACT 10 Voters 10 Voters 0 Voters 0 Voters
AFTER 1 VOTE PACT 9 Voters 9 Voters 1 Voters 1 Voters
AFTER 2 VOTE PACTS 8 Voters 8 Voters 2 Voters 2 Voters
AFTER 3 VOTE PACTS 7 Voters 7 Voters 3 Voters 3 Voters
AFTER 4 VOTE PACTS 6 Voters 6 Voters 4 Voters 4 Voters

How does this work? Are you hooking people up?

Right now we’re not hooking people up, but we’ve set up a FaceBook page that might help people do that. We’re mostly asking people to find people in their life—friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors, etc.—and talk to them about this—they can find a “vote buddy.” But we’re open to help from folks to try to figure out ways to use the Internet to connect people from different parties. This is a volunteer effort. We definitely encourage people to write up their efforts, make YouTube videos about them, perhaps with their “vote buddy,” and might post these.

Are you just trying to help a particular candidate?

No. We’re trying to free people from the fear of not voting for candidates that more represent their beliefs. Over the years, real independents, principled progressives, libertarians, and authentic conservatives, as well as others, have been unrelentingly manipulated by the establishments of the two major parties. They should wake up to the fact that they can join together, rather than be kept apart by the establishment party apparatchiks who exploit them to maintain the ruling duopoly. It could help any independent or third party candidate.

But isn’t there a robust debate between the Republicans and Democrats?

Both the establishments of the Republican and Democratic Parties are at odds with a large portion of the U.S. public on a host of issues: corporate power, power of Wall Street, curtailing civil liberties (NSA, FISA, “Patriot Act”); aggressive militarism (expanding the military, funding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, backing autocratic Saudi Arabia and Israeli expansionism); corporate trade (NAFTA-type trade deals such as the TPP), fossil fuel subsidies, the “drug war”, etc. Many people don’t support these policies are are trapped in the two-party system. We’re offering them a way to help free themselves. In addition, in the 2016 current presidential race, the ascendancy of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders has would-be Republicans and would-be Democratic voters looking for alternatives, albeit for different reasons.

Achieving Dialogue:

VotePact would facilitate and would be propelled by meaningful dialogue on the issues by citizens. This would likely emphasize issues in which the establishment parties have most colluded: constitutional powers, issues of war, corporate dominated trade, infringement on civil liberties and big money in politics to name a few. In the 2016 presidential race, given the high negatives of the likely nominees Clinton and Trump, there could be millions of people wanting a path to voting for independent parties. The creative powers of the citizens will likely produce “pair ups” that no political consultant could possibly have predicted. This could achieve a steady stream of novel news stories.

The Voting Precursors:

The VotePact idea is not dissimilar from how politicians actually act towards one another—one votes for the other’s project in return for a favor. The politicians manipulate the voting system all the time for their narrow interests; the people should be able to vote in a manner which maximizes the public interest. Note that VotePact may be largely irrelevant if instant runoff voting or score voting or a similar system were adopted, but the establishment has prevented such reforms. VotePact can be seen as “do it yourself” voting reform. But VotePact has advantages even over such reforms: it can help force meaningful dialogue between unlikely protagonists, potentially leading to a healthier political culture and given its grassroots nature, could rapidly spread under the right circumstances.

I’m Already Planning on Voting for an Independent Candidate, Could this Apply to Me?

Not directly—if you’re fearlessly voting for the party or candidates that most reflects your beliefs, that’s great. You’re free. But you can be a “match maker” for others. For example, friends may approach you—perhaps with the intent to “bring you to your senses” to instill fear that your vote might help the establishment candidate they most dislike. You can turn the tables on them and show them that they could vote for an independent or minor party candidate too. Their fear may have merit. VotePact requires some work, but allows them to vote for the candidates they most want without helping the establishment party candidate they most dislike.

The Campaign Strategy:

A campaign able to tap into both would-be Democratic and would be Republican voters could do the following: Get endorsements in pairs—a former union official who has always voted Democratic with a small business owner who has always voted Republican for example. They would each give their reasons for voting for the candidate at a news conference, which would end with the candidate bringing them together, both shaking hands with the candidate in the middle. Thus the candidate is seen as bringing people together, ending the partisan bickering and moving people forward together in positive direction. This will be an example for other people, giving them ideas for how they can “pair up” with someone else. The creative powers of the citizenry could then be set free in a novel manner. Groups like “Democrats for Candidate X” and “Republicans for Candidate X” could be brought together and pair people up.

Turning the “Spoiler” Question Around:

VotePact is in a sense self-promoting; that is, it answers the perennial “aren’t you a spoiler” question in a direct manner. Independent candidates and others have rarely forthrightly addressed this issue. It does so in part by putting the onus on the questioner—by finding their “political mirror image”—to find a way out for themselves. The question is answered thus, for example: “I understand your concern: you really don’t want the Republican to win, so you’d rather vote for the Democrat even though you really want to vote for me. There’s a way out for you: Join with someone in your life, someone you know and trust, a relative, a friend, a coworker, who prefers the Republican—and both agree to vote for me (or your friend can vote for some other third party candidate). This solution requires work, but it gets you political freedom. There’s a way out of your dilemma, I hope you’ll take it. People all over the world and throughout history have risked their lives and fortunes for political freedom. People in the U.S. today should be able to exert the emotional and mental strength to join with someone they disagree with to emancipate themselves from the two-party duopoly.”

The Issue of Trust:

There is the issue of how the people can trust one another to actually vote for who they say they’ll vote for; this is similar to the classic “prisoner’s dilemma.” The major answer to this fear is dialogue, dialogue and more dialogue—for the people to really talk through what they want and to develop trust in the political realm that they have in other areas of life, as friends, co-workers or neighbors. This interweaves the personal and political. This is part of the reason we’re not connecting people. We’re encouraging people to pair up with people they already know and trust. This way, they avoid cancelling out each other’s votes. These relatives and friend might actually avoid talking politics, since they know they disagree. VotePact uses that disagreement to their mutual advantage. The political establishment wants you to not talk about your beliefs with people you care about. To do so is genuinely revolutionary in the best sense.

Another alternative is to each get absentee ballots, fill them out together and mail them together. (Some states allow you to vote on the day of the election and override your absentee ballot, so check your local regulations before you do this.)

Creating a Multi-Way Race:

However, if VotePact has a substantial impact, it will affect the polling results (skewed as those sometimes are) and therefore its major consequence would be to let people see the viability of an independent run. That is, VotePact helps the scales to drop from the peoples’ eyes so they can judge candidates on their merits rather than being confined to the Democratic-Republican horse race. Once this happens, trust in effect becomes less of an issue as the illusion of inevitability of Republican-Democratic dominance is shattered. Think of the success of Jesse Ventura; or that the Greens in Germany were fond of saying that they are not from the left or right, but out in front.

What it’s not:

This is not “vote swapping”—in which voters in so-called “swing” states who want to vote for third parties “swap” votes with committed Democrats and Republicans in so-called “safe” states. This was outlined by VotePair.org and VoteTrader.org, both now defunct. Unlike “swapping,” VotePact is not an attempt to “minimize the damage” of a third party run—it is designed to actually shake up the political spectrum, create a realignment and open the door to actual victory for independents or emerging parties. Also, VotePact does not result in people voting for candidates they don’t want—it frees people to vote for candidates they do want, but are held back by fear because of the limitations of the voting system. While the Electoral College is central to “vote swapping,” it is not at all central to VotePact, though VotePact does work best if the two voters are in the same state.

But Independent Parties and Candidates are a Joke:

Often third party candidates “run” for office without the slightest thought that they themselves can win. This mindset has often not attracted candidates that are more protest votes than people who seriously expect to attain the office they are on the ballot for. VotePact seeks to overturn this mindset. A movement along these lines, realigning the political spectrum and asserting an authentic anti-establishment center, should be able to produce the individuals who would actually take on the mantle of running for office in a serious way.

What’s the back story about this?

Sam Husseini has written about this a couple of times (for example, see his piece in 2000—and he asked Nader about this the day Nader launched his 2004 campaign—but there has been little sustained effort to get this to people who are not political junkies, who might be the most receptive to it.

Totally independently, in 2000, Kent Van Cleave launched an effort called VoteBuddy with the same idea.

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