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Voting against vs. voting for

BY Christian Crumlish | Wednesday, October 20 2004

Brief blog reveries: Simon World's excellent notes from a John Zogby talk in Hong Kong led me to Cicero's post about The 'No' Vote at Winds of Change.

Here's the nutgraf:

This is indeed a negative election, but not because of the stinging ads and verbal attacks promulgated by each side. It is negative because most people are not voting for their candidate - they're voting against the other candidate. All this has left me with a queasy feeling that many Americans have lost faith in their system of government. The act of voting has become an exercise in cynicism, not hope. Such cynicism, while always somewhat a part of electioneering, has become overwhelmingly popular. My shallow polling sample shows that most voters are really not for either Bush or Kerry; they're simply scared of the way things are and are exercising the 'no vote'.

And while personally my politics are different from Cicero's and the majority of his readers, I was reminded of something I posted back in June as I was finishing up my book, about how the two parties have become anti-parties, organized mainly around the imperative of stopping the other party from winning.

Then commenters in the thread reminded me that each of the candidates do have their own fervent supporters, so maybe it's bunk and we aren't all that polarized.

Would hacking the voting system to incorporate some form of proportional representation (state allocation of electoral college votes, instant runoff voting as was recently adopted in San Francisco, or other, more drastic reforms) help depolarise our body politic?