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Geeks, Geek Issues and Voting 510

David Allen wrote in with a question we would all do well to think about this year. For Americans: it's high time we thought about who we want to run the country for the next 4 years. What kind of laws we would want passed...or repealed. Who would be the ideal "Geek Ticket" and why? Although slightly USA-centric, this topic might also be of interest to our non-US readers so that they can discuss what they want out of their government in the near future. Click below for the actual text.

David Allen asks: "Along with everybody else, I've been thinking about who to vote for recently. I've been seriously considering Bill Bradley, or even David McReynolds for President. Now the question: It seems to me that what I'm really looking for is a mixture - somebody who will regulate the Internet insofar as they will keep businesses from violating my privacy, but people who will keep out of the internet, so it can remain a free conduit for information exchange. (No silly crypto laws, freedom of speech and such). There's no mistaking that the internet is a big issue for me. Where do many slashdotters fall along this continuum? There doesn't seem to be a candidate who's willing to go to bat for privacy but not muck around in freedom of information areas. Of course you could always just not vote. Is there a candidate that would fit that bill, and somebody who could really make those things happen?

By the way, for slashdotters interested in getting a decent fix on what each candidate thinks, check out the candidate selector which isn't quite as arrogant as it sounds."

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Geeks, Geek Issues and Voting

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  • I got a 61 on the Pat Buchanan scale! Other candidates scored higher, but he could be the President that would satisfy all of my deviant homosexual urges.
  • I shudder when I hear people talk of the Geek Ticket, or the Republican Ticket, or the Democratic Ticket.

    I am proud to say that I don't belong to a single political party. Why? Because I make my own decisions. I support the candidate that best fits me, not the candidate with my favorite letter after their name.

    I urge all of oyu to engage in some good political discussion and debate, but in the end, make your own choice. Don't let anyone shame you into a choice, and dont be a one-issue voter. Vote for more then just the guy who's best for the Net, because the Net is just a small piece of our world. No one is perfect. Make your choice on the best candidate. And for God's sake, vote. If you don't vote, don't bitch.
  • Why don't we start our own "Geek" party? Our mascot would obviously be the penguin. I can think of a few open-source programmers who would make pretty good politicians. The ideals held by most open-source people seem to be more ethical than most politicians I've seen. Most modern day politicians just run for personal glory, making issues out of non-issues. I think the "Open Source" candidiate would get things done. Good idea? Bad idea? I just think our current two-party system stinks.

  • You know, I've never really given Nader much thought. Small potatoes, wasted vote, could never win, etc.

    But I sure as hell ain't voting for Bush, and I'm less and less certain of Gore.

    So I took the Presidential Candidate Selector []. And, much to my surprise, I found that nobody even came close to my beliefs, save for good ol' Ralph Nader. (Though, to my fright, Orrin Hatch showed up, though way down on the list. :)

    Nader really seems to be right up there on the geek ticket, if my results and those of several fellow geeks are any indicator. Anybody know his beliefs on copyrights, patents, etc?

    It's clear that he doesn't think much of Microsoft. That's a hell of a start. :)
  • Looking at the president only as a way of changed seems a bit short sighted. If we really want to protect privacy online, but not limit business, we need to also look into the senators and congressmen/women. The president can't make the law. Laws go through congress and then to the president.

  • That's what I am thinking about.

    I think Clinton's plan of having the government invest a portion of Social Security is about the most God-Awful idea I have ever heard of in my life.

    Could you imagine the federal government being an influential shareholder in the 500 largest companies in America!?

    I would like to see social security either done away with (for individuals under the age of 30 or so), or the ability to invest a portion of that money into (approved) equities... but YOUR ownership, not the governments.

    It would be nice to see a candidate come up with a realistic plan of lowering taxes. Definitely estate taxes (the end-all of the small businessman) and capitla gains taxes, but also income taxes. I really do feel we are paying tad more than our forefathers had ever envisioned.

    I have not seen one who has come up with such a plan however.
  • As my subject line so eloquently states, I believe I should be your next president.

    Hell, I'm a people's person. I read Slashdot. I love computers. I have a significantly low tolerance for frivilous lawsuits. And I like Brocolli. Really, I do.

    Anyway, our next president should be a geek. Seriously. What typical politician do YOU know of that sympathizes with the geek community? (Al Gore's "Open Source" website DOES NOT COUNT.) And believe me, we know what we're talking about. For example, when DIVX was introduced, I, as well as many many others predicted it's demise, and LOOK! It's gone.

    (Hell, we as a community should run. Slashdot for president?)

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • by jagapen ( 11417 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @09:46AM (#1435082)

    Personally, I would like to see the practice of "fusion" legalized and/or instituted in Presidential elections. "Fusion" is the practice whereby multiple political parties can nominate the same candidate. This is a highly useful tool for voters. Here's why:

    Third-party candidates have no chance of winning the Presidency; therefore very few people will "waste" their votes on a third-party candidate; therefore... You get the idea. With fusion, a third party can nominate one of the major-party candidates that most closely represents their views. Then when at the polls, one can vote for a third-party ticket without "wasting" one's vote, because the candidate is also a major-party candidate and could win.

    For example: Suppose that the Green Party also nominated Al Gore. Then on election day, Gore gets 47% of the vote as a Democrat, and 5% of the vote as a Green. These add up to 52% of the vote, and Gore wins. He also knows that he owes a good chunk of his victory to Greens, and he'd better pay attention to the issues they espouse.

    I'd be happier with such a system, though I did vote for Nader in 1996.

  • From HHGTTG

    "Anyone who wanted to be president, shouldn't be allowed to be president"

    Presidents, Congressmen, All those bunch should be drafted. It's not a very high paying position so the only advantage to being a president is powah. And we all know powah leads to corruption and sinister stories involving cigars and stained blue dresses.

    I hearby draft... um... My parrot.

    You are a threat to free speach and must be SILENCED!
  • Here's an agenda I'd like to suggest: strongly consider supporting and voting for third party candidates. There has been a mentality in this country that you have exactly two choices on that first Tuesday in November (where year % 4 == 0 (heh)). Not so. The emergence of the Reform party has cracked that wall a little bit, but I'd like to see it crumble completely.

    People assume that one of the Big Two parties is going to win anyway, and voting for a third party is a waste of a vote. But what if everyone stood back for a second and voted *not* for the most likely candidate, but for the candidate that seemed most likely to be the right person for the job? What if we voted as individuals, not as a pack? Maybe we'd end up with 40 candidates and none get over 10% of the vote. Maybe we'll need a runoff election every four years. But would that be such a bad thing? Maybe it would give a suitable underdog a shot for once.

    Myself, I really like Ralph Nader and the Green Party -- he got my vote in 1996 and he'll get it again this year. But a lot of the hackers I know are Libertarians or Free Marketeers or Socialists or whatever, and that's fine. I'm sure there are great candidates in all these camps, really. Why not give them a shot. "Gee Dubya" is pretty obviously an imbecile and a stuffed shirt for his corporate backers -- do you really want to see him win? Is Al Gore, proud internet innovator, any better? Fuck no he's not. The survey at Select Smart [] isn't a bad place to find a candidate that comes close to your ideology, whatever it may be. And Project Vote Smart [] is also a pretty good place to learn more. And don't forget about local elections either -- they're less glamorous, but they have far more impact over your day to day life than the high profile CNN elections. Be an informed and active voter above all else. It's worth it.

  • by Diamond Slicer ( 39462 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @09:52AM (#1435087) Journal
    Q.? Can a political party exist soley on the Net?

    I hereby nominate myself as the Offical Canidate of the Geek or /. Party. I should be elected because:

    I am a geek - and all geeks are superior to other types of humans.
    I run Linux. (Distro is kept secret for fear of alienating geek voters)
    I can code C,C++,Pascal,Basic,Visual Basic, HTML and have a rudimentary (very poor) knowledge of Perl.

    If elected:
    I will destroy Windows - and open the WinNT source.
    I will destroy and any other .com that is annoying and stupid.
    I will let DeCSS go to the stars (tell DVD guys to go to hell)
    I will make the stupids slaves. (This should attract voters.)

    Note: The above presentation assumes that only smart people vote. Sadly (I am in Minnesota USA) that is not the case - our gov is Jesse "The Body" Ventura (an ex-pro wrestler whos iq ranges from 1 to 5). While literacy tests and like should not be reinstituted how about making a geeks vote count for 2.

    Yes, I vote... but rarely does the canidate of choice get elected.
  • ...I think Geeks take themselves way too seriously when they talk of building their own political platform. Geekdom is hardly broad enough to warrant its own ticket.
  • Disclaimer: I'm not a US citizen so I can't vote myself, but I do live in the US, and what happens in the US has a big effect on the rest of the world, so I do care about this.

    To me, the big issue is simply campaign finance reform. Behind most of the evil legislation that's passed these days, you can see the shadowy hand of corporate lobbying and influence. It's a sickness that is destroying democracy in this country (and elsewhere).

    Basing your vote on other issues is futile: it doesn't matter who's the President or what they try to do, as long as corporations have a lock on the legislative process.

    So therefore I favour John McCain. Sure, he may have some odious positions on Net censorship and other things, but the fact is he has a track record of trying to deal with the corruption at the core of the political system. It's pointless to hack away at the branches of the tree of evil and ignore the root (apologies to someone-or-another for the quote).

    As the campaign unfolds many people may make all kinds of promises for reform, but we all know those promises are worthless. Vote on the track record.
  • I don't think there can be an ideal geek ticket. We are all way too different. The Internet "elite" often gets sterotyped into a conservative, quasi-Libertarian type of group - but in the first 4 posts in this subject I saw a socialist and somebody supporting Ralph"corporations are evil" Nader. We all have different beliefs, different backgrounds, and ultimately we all want different things from government. Personally, I want government to leave me alone - to stop regulating every aspect of my behavior and to stop using the police power of government to take about 40% of my gross earnings to redistribute to other parties who have absolutely no claim on my personal output.

    I'll be voting Libertaian - probably Harry Browne as he seems to be the leading candidate to win the nomination. You can learn more about Harry at

  • I'm 31 and have been voting in Presidential elections since '88. Usually I vote Democrat in federal and state elections, because I prefer most of the stated Democrat policies over Republican. But I'm just disgusted with huge soft money donations, lobbyists writing the bills that our legislators pass (along with another contribution), and the many riders and procedural tricks legislators use to subvert debate in what was supposed to be an open and public legislative forum.

    I'd like to support the Reform ticket, but there's no way in hell I'll vote for Pat Buchanan. I'm actually considering joining the Republican party just so I can vote for McCain in the primary, because of his support for the McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform legislation... and I think he stands a better chance against Bush than Bradley does against Gore.

    Honestly I like both McCain and Bradley more than I like the entrenched Gore and Bush and if either of them wind up in the general election I'll probably vote Democrat or Republican based on this and not party politics.

    I am SICK of party politics! The constant fighting between these two behemouths is affecting our democracy/republic in very dangerous ways... I honestly feel very disenfranchised from our political system -- which as a middle class computer geek if I'm the norm then our leaders better wake up. The current duality and conflict between just two parties has turned far too corrupt leaving us citizens holding the bag time and again.

    What about a multi party system based on proportional representation like Germany has? I think if we could reform campaign finance and create a system with more than two parties we might gain the citizen's trust in the political system once again. Obviously, the only way for citizens to trust their government is if the government's representatives actually act in the citizen's interests, and that's clearly not happening with our current political system.
  • Too true, why we are still willingly voting for someone to rule over us is beyond me. I never wake up in the morning and say gee, I'd like someone else to make all my decisions for me today.

    Switzerland has used direct voting on issues for centuries now, some states have had referendums on some issues for several decades. It is pretty sad that we ask for a commander of bullies every four years.
  • by Robert Wilde ( 78174 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @10:01AM (#1435111)
    I think, whether we have to put up with McCain, Forbes, Gore, or Bradley will be generally okay. The only real threatening candidate is Bush.

    In the end though, research the candidates yourself. Don't rely on the superficial mass media reports, but spend some time using the vast resources of the Internet to probe their positions, and reach your own decision. Do vote because our democracy is not a sham unless you believe it is.
  • I took the quiz myself and was pleasantly surprised to find Ralph Nader high on my list. Here's where Nader stands according to the Presidential Candidate Selector []:
    • Pro-abortion-rights
    • Pro-gay
    • Pro-gun
    • Pro-environment (duh)
    • Pro-education-reform, including vouchers apparently
    • Anti-WTO/GATT
    • Pro-Linux (ok, this isn't on the website, but we know this about Nader from his recent comments.)

    Frankly, the more I think about the alternatives, the more strongly I support Nader for President. He might not win, but fsckit, the idea is to vote for the (wo)man you want to be President, not necessarily for the winner.

  • by PLaNeTJoe ( 126687 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @10:03AM (#1435115) Homepage
    from a wealthy and politically connected family. Someone who can argue passionately about the smaller issues while bending over to corporate America every time on the things that really matter. Someone who looks good on TV. Someone who defended the nation from the Mexican Viet-Cong or spent a summer overseas under heavy protection because he was a senator's son.

    What a poor joke the American political system really is.

  • It is still early enough in the race to consider a meta-view of what this is all about. I suggest the chapter T he Political Marketplace [] from David Friedman's [] book Price Theory: An Intermediate Text []. I think the average Slashdot reader can handle the math. Friedman gives a lengthy discussion of the undesirability of tariffs. If that doesn't interest you, or you don't like all that math, skip to the section labelled, PUBLIC CHOICE: ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF THE POLITICAL MARKET about halfway through.
  • The president can't make the law.

    Executive orders.
    Clinton's signed a record amount into law. Sorry to burst your bubble, congress is obsolete.


  • To be prez of the USA, you have to be over 35, born in USA, and lived in USA for a certain amount of time (I think it's 14 years, but that may be the caffeine... talking). Leaves out a good many hackers and general /. populace (myself included).

    Actually, I just checked, and 14 is correct. I'm amazed. Some of my 9th grade civics is still there after all these years!

  • Try again with more 'don't care' boxes checked on the issues you don't feel as strongly about.
  • by Gandalf_007 ( 116109 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @10:15AM (#1435144) Homepage
    Maybe we'd end up with 40 candidates and none get over 10% of the vote. Maybe we'll need a runoff election every four years. But would that be such a bad thing? Maybe it would give a suitable underdog a shot for once.

    Not likely.

    For those of you who aren't familiar with the American electoral system (which, unfortunately, includes a great many Americans), here's what happens if nobody gets a majority of the electoral votes (actual popular votes only decide which candidate the electoral votes of a state go to):

    • There is NOT a runoff election. There never was, and never will be, unless the constitution is amended!
    • The election is decided by the House of Representatives (the Senate gets no say).

    Which means, that if no candidate gets a majority of the vote, it goes to the house, the Republicans vote for Bush, the Democrats vote for Gore, and Bush gets elected (which might be the lesser of two evils).

    Just my $.02 to clear things up.

  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @10:15AM (#1435146)
    No such thing. Can't happen. Doesn't exist. How arrogant of slashdot readers to assume they and they alone are the sum of geekdom. Since when was being a geek strictly computers? I know art geeks, car geeks, even *sports* geeks. There are some attributes that are generally accepted to be geeky, but all the candidates thus far do not meet those meager requirements. So before you go dropping your ballot, consider the following...
    • Geeks tend to have a wide range of political tastes. Really, about the only thing that's safe to say is that they're unconventional and anti-authoritarian.
    • Geeks are not (contrary to *cough* some websites) limited only to computers.
    • Most geeks would rather be doing what they like than out voting or trying to influence the stupid masses of people who vote. Just give me my xDSL and leave the internet alone, k?
    • Contrary to popular belief, Eric Raymond or Richard Stallman will not be running for president. You can still vote for them, however.

    And this concludes my post. You may now moderate me down per the dogmatic policies.

  • To me it seems strange to presume that all geeks will agree on any set of issues.
    Are all geeks pro-choice?
    Do geeks want affirmative action to continue?
    How about drug controls? More? Less?

    OK the majority probably feel that Evolution should be taught, but really how many issues do geeks really agree on? Yes many probably agree on the laws governing the internet. But that's probably not even going to be much of an issue. Maybe we should make it one.
  • by Pope ( 17780 )
    And what, presently, is the population and land area of Switzerland?
    It's easier to have direct representation in these circumstances.

    as for my own opinions, I have voted in every election here in Toronto since I became eligible:
    If ya don't vote, ya don't get the right to bitch.

  • You're serious, aren't you?

    You have three candidates, A, B and C: Now if I vote for candidate C, my vote ultimately goes to candidate A or B?

    But that's *NOT* who I voted for!

    This sounds a bit like the "Two Party Preferential" system we use in Australia. I don't know if that's the system used for US Congressional and Senatorial elections, but it sucks. A candidate can have the most primary votes, and still be beaten on preferences from the candidates who have less primary votes.

    Is done, is bad!
  • We are certainly independent thinkers the rest of the time.

    Actually, the geek stereotype is one of the most common and well-known stereotypes that there is. The fact that you're at Slashdot and trying to explain what an independent thinker you are shows that you're doing a good job of fitting that stereotype. It's hard to take the group seriously as a bunch of free-thinkers when they're falling all over themselves to act just like everyone else. It's just like the little goth kiddies who think they're so independent, even though they all dress and act alike.

    I'm an independent thinker, and I wanna be unique! (Just like everybody else)


  • The current Slashdot Poll is getting stale anyway. Why not make the 2000 election the next poll. Take the complete list of candidates from the candidate selector [] and see who we say we'd vote for. CmdrTaco, Hemos, are you listening?
  • by Nathaniel ( 2984 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @10:25AM (#1435172) Homepage
    <FUD>Third-party candidates have no chance of winning the Presidency;</FUD>

    Go look up 'self-fulfilling prophecy'.

    Now stop spouting that worn out fud. Get a grip. Each vote for a third party helps dispell the mindset which helps make third party votes more difficult to get.

    There is nothing special about the Democratic or Republican parties. They are not enshrined in the constitution, they haven't always been around. And they both seem to be a bit long in the tooth.

    Go outside sometime, and find a registered voter who belongs to one of these parties. Ask them if they agree with their party on all issues. They will say 'no'. Now ask them to give the party a rating on a scale of 1 to 10. Repeat this process a few times. You will find that very few people are happy with they two party system.

  • To answer your questions:

    Q. What distro do you run?
    A. Slackware. Always have...Started off with Slackware '96. Currently running a mix of machines using Slackware 3.6.0 / 4.0.0 / 7.0.0

    Q. What type of a geek are you?
    A. I became a Geek when I got a Commodore 64 in my hot little hands at the age of 5. That was in 1984.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • I want all the presidential candidates to undergo Voight-Kampff testing. I'd be a lot happier about Al Gore if I knew for sure whether or not he was a replicant (Not That There's Anything Wrong With That). Also, given that Voight-Kampff tests for normal human empathic response, it might also prove whether such a thing as a "compassionate conservative" really exists.
  • While it is true that Ralph Nader's chances of getting elected are "approaching zero," a vote for him is not wasted.

    For a political party to be "official" in most U.S. states, it needs to get a certain percentage of votes in a statewide election. For a party to get U.S. matching funds for a presidential campaign, it needs to have gotten a certain percentage of votes in the previous presidential campaign.

    Many state Green Parties are vying for official status with this election, and the Association of State Green Parties is working to get matching funds for the next election. So a vote for Ralph Nader is an important step in breaking up the current two party system. (If the Republicans and Democrats even count as different parties.)

    -Dave Barker, Green Party member, []

  • If you're not in a party you're not allowed to vote in primaries... Case in point, we may not even get to vote for Bradley if Gore is our only Democratic choice.

    You can be registered with any party and still vote freely.

  • To me, the big issue is simply campaign finance reform.
    Not being from the U.S. I can understand why you look at American campaigns the way you do. But I'm an American citizen who has had the "privilege" of running for a federal office (US Congress, CO, district 2, 1996) and I can tell you that you have the problem exactly backwards and the solution exactly inside out.

    It is the current campaign finance legal morass that allows corporations and other large organizations to buy favors from the federales through campaign contributions. Only Demoblicans can get those "corporate" contributions because they have set up the laws to favor incumbents. Current "campaign finance reform" is strictly and completely "incumbent re-election insurance."

    Having watched this all from the "inside" I favor complete repeal of all "campaign finance" laws with the only remaining requirement that all candidates (at all levels of office in all government posts however small, including dogcatcher) post the amounts and source of their campaign contributions on the web. No limits. Foreign contributions (like the Chinese to Clinton) would still be prohibited, but that's all.

    Such a situation would allow someone like Gene McCarthy (who got an $800,000.00 contribution from a single anonymous donor in 1968) to knock off the nomination of the incumbent president (Lyndon B. "Warmonger" Johnson) in 1968 in the New Hampshire primary. Such upsets cannot occur under the current incumbent guarantee laws.

  • by dutky ( 20510 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @10:29AM (#1435188) Homepage Journal
    What would make anyone think that geeks have a common set of political interests or agendas? We have seen, over the past century and a half, that other supposedly unified subsets of the electorate (e.g. women) end up having nearly as diverse political opinions as the electorate as a whole: what would make us think that geeks are any different.

    Just because I'm a geek, what does this tell you about my opinions on:
    • abortion
    • welfare
    • homosexuality
    • civil rights
    • church-state separation
    • taxation
    • defense spending
    • market freedom
    • monetary policy
    • foreign policy
    • immigration
    • economic theory
    • judicial activism
    • gun control
    • freedom of expression
    or any other important political issue by which I might choose a candidate for high office?

    Political opinions among the geeks who are my friends and coworkers ranges from radical leftism, to centrist liberalism, to free market libertarianism, to fiscal conservatism, to right wing religious radicalism, all the way to outright apathy. While we may usually agree on what is a good or bad technical issue, it is rare indeed for us to agree about the broader issues that govern our lives and how we cast our votes.

    I would as soon vote for a geek-centered candidate as I would vote for a candidate running on a platform emphasizing only their stand on abortion or foreign policy. These may be important issues in an election but they are not the only issues. The same goes for geek/technology issues.
  • by Uruk ( 4907 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @10:31AM (#1435197)
    "I am proud to say that I don't belong to a single political party. Why? Because I make my own decisions. I support the candidate that best fits me, not the candidate with my favorite letter after their name."

    Makes sense to me. But I didn't really think all that many people really identify themselves with republicans or democrats so strongly that they don't make their own decisions. It's just that the parties tend to fall in a certain spectrum. For example, if you feel strongly about the need to regulate gigantic businesses through legislation, it's pretty bloody unlikely that you're going to vote republican. Similarly, if you want to get rid of welfame and affirmitive action, I would think it would be very rare that the democrats would put somebody up that you'd want to vote for.

    I was the guy who submitted the question - hopefully you checked out the David McReynolds link. I've been thinking more and more about voting for him if I see him on the ticket in my state. (Unfortunately, I find myself in Virginia) I agree with his views more than any other candidate, with some small nitpicking exceptions. In general though, I think it's worth voting for him even though I know he can't win, because IMHO (and I know this could draw flame because other people tend to have NSHO's) a vote for a third party candidate is like a protest vote, or equivalent to a "vote of no confidence"

    For those of you who have ever heard any spoken word performances by Jello Biafra (yes, that's his name) he suggested something quite interesting - running the election as usual with an extra option - you could vote "No Confidence" on as many candidates as you wanted. And if any candidate had more than X% (where X is determined through the democratic process) of no confidence votes, the election would have to be redone, BARRING that candidate from the "redo" election, because voters had voted him off the ticket.

    You would have to redo the whole thing though, since if there are two candidates, and one gets 60% no confidence, the guy who actually wins obviously wasn't running against a worthy opponent in the public's view. (i.e. it wasn't so much that he was good, but rather "The lesser of the two evils"

    My ~3.2 Pfennigs

  • You're just excusing yourself from being lazy.

    If you don't want to vote, that's fine. You can just say you'd rather play quake or whatever, that you don't care who wins.

    But claiming you won't vote because of the electoral college is a complete cop out.

    First, there are other issues of the ballet, that are not decided by the electoral college. These are worth voting on.

    Second, not voting is a show of support for the current system, with the duopoly of the Democrats and Republicans. They are currently enjoying the status quo, and will do nothing to change it.

    The only way we will ever get rid of the electoral college is to shake things out of this rut, and topple the two parties currently in control.

    If you really want to get rid of the electoral college, go out and vote for ANY third party. It won't help overnight, but it will help get us there sooner.

  • Actually, not voting does not mean that you're apathetic or that you don't give a damn. Check out the link in the article that's on the words "not vote" (I'm not looking at the story at the moment, I don't have the text)

    It has a link to a site with a large number of philosophical reasons to stay home and avoid voting. And it's not about apathy.

    A quote by Jello Biafra comes to mind - I don't really buy it, but it just popped into my head for some reason - "If voting CHANGED anything, they'd make it ILLEGAL. The Republicans are on the outside what the democrats are on the inside"

  • True, but you might think about hedging your bet, and choose the lesser of two evils. If, for example, in your state, Bush beats Bradley by 1 vote, and those electoral votes were what he needed to win the election, and you voted for Nader, would you think that you made the right choice?

    Warning: explicit political content

    If Junior wins by only one vote, then he's in deep trouble over the next four years. Chances are the House would be run by Democrats...meaning Bush would have a hell of a time getting his platform through. Meanwhile, the Democrats might start paying more attention to their Liberal heritage, if they figured out that they lost that election due to former Democrats switching to the Greens. Would I think I made the right choice? Hell yeah. It might get some people in the Democratic party to wake up and figure out that it's not all about soccer moms and suburbanites.

    I would feel even more right about it if the Democratic alternative was Gore. I can sum up the way I feel about Gore in two words: Clipper and Tipper.

  • Now then, Donald Trump. Mmm hmm. At least he'll have a flashy campaign. Lots of TV ads I suppose.
    I've seen Trump on Larry King live. He's about the biggest idiot I can imagine, boasting about how often he's screwing his supermodel girl friend. What a jerk...

    Bill Bradley, is that the African-American?
    No, he's not. He is 'the other' Democratic candidate and has had better results in the polls than Gore (at least some time ago).

    I'm not a US citizen myself, but I don't think anyone but Bush, Gore and Bradley has a chance to win. So, while it's great to be informed about the other more exotic people in the race, choose the candidate of these three that has the least idiotic views in your opinion. That's the way I usually vote, because you'll never find a person that perfectly matches your point of view.
  • Ralph Nader Pro gun? I think not. Anyone who supports the Brady bill in any form cannot have a label of "Pro Gun" when the Brady bill is just the first step toward greater gun control. It happened in Australia, Great Britain and now Canada, and you can be sure the same tactics are working in the US as well.

    Personally, I got Harry Browne, a libertarian candidate at the top of my list - but unfortunately it gave me some socialist ass as #3 (completely the oppositve on most of my views).
  • Few minor followups to points others have raised:

    A: Political Party Affiliation for Primaries.

    Logical. I would probably register as something if I wanted to vote in the primaries. I say if because I don't know where I will be living when the election rolls around, and since primary voting differs from state to state, I can't really say one way or the other.

    B: No Vote, No Bitch.

    Of course, this is AMerica, and everyone has enough free speech to be able to bitch about anything. However, if you can vote, and don't, as far as I am concerned, shut up. You had your chance to express your real opinion, and you didn't. If you don't have the chance, then that's different.

    C: None of the Above.

    Perfect. I would love a None Of THe Above vote. I probably wouldn't use it real often, but options are nice.

    D: Extra Thoughts.

    One other thought. Let's lose this one-on-one crap. Democrats and Republicans each pick one candidate, and they run against each other. Heck, let's float everyone who can afford to. Chances are, everything would end up the same anyways, but at least in this case, we could still vote for Bradley over GOre, if we wanted to.
  • Ok, fair point, no run-off -- I'd forgotten about that. But that doesn't undermine the point, does it? What kind of majority is needed -- a simple >50% of the electoral votes or it goes to the House? Or would it be enough to simply have more than all other candidates? I knew this stuff at one time but can't remember it now. All this notwithstanding, I still don't think this is enough to discourage voting for third party candidates on the executive level, and it's *definitely* an incentive to inject some more variety into Congress on the federal legislative level. And the lower down the chain you go, the greater the impact could be; all the more reason to pay attention to (and run for!) local elections.

  • Good thing I voted for him in the last election... (now, how many of you out there even realized you had the choice when all you ever heard about was Bill Clinton or Bob Dole?)

    Of course a lot of the items I expressed no particular opinion on - however what I would have preferred would be an option to keep the status quo, without radical change either on one side or the other (for example, affirmative action - I don't want to vote for somebody who vows to never let it be changed, but on the other hand I don't want to vote for a racist either). Be that as it may, here's the scores I came up with:

    Ralph Nader: 76
    Bill Bradley: 69
    John Hagelin: 69
    Al Gore: 64
    Warren Beatty: 54
    John McCain: 48
    Howard Phillips: 33
    Donald Trump: 32
    Pat Buchanan: 29
    George W. Bush: 29
    Steve Forbes: 27
    Gary Bauer: 23
    Orrin Hatch: 22
    Harry Browne: 15
    Alan Keyes: 10

    The only surprise there (other than how poorly that moron Bush did) was John Hagelin. I'd heard of him, but couldn't remember where. The Natural Law Party platform does look like one I could support. And he's a "PhD ... quantum physicist" - just like myself and the man of the century...! And he's also challenging for the Reform party nomination. Then I remembered where I'd heard of the guy - anybody remember the Maharishi International University with the bouncing transcendental meditators? Hagelin was their token physicist, and he'd previously recommended transcendental meditation as the solution to crime in Washington DC (crime was up the day they tried the experiment). More info at

    Hagelin is "director of Maharishi University of Management's Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy". He "follows the teachings of His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi". The institute publishes on the "Maharishi effect". Weird stuff. I don't want to be a religious bigot or anything, but I've got to wonder if there's some undercurrent here we should be concerned about...
  • Frankly, the more I think about the alternatives, the more strongly I support Nader for President. He might not win, but fsckit, the idea is to vote for the (wo)man you want to be President, not necessarily for the winner.

    That, Sir, is an excellent point. I lose sight of that core idea all too often, as I know that others do, too. Thank you.
  • There is nothing special about the Democratic or Republican parties. They are not enshrined in the constitution, they haven't always been around. And they both seem to be a bit long in the tooth.

    You're right, they used to be called Whigs and Tories. Still the SOS though.

    I have voted third party in the last 3 presidential elections, and will continue to do so. If all of the whiny bastards who don't show up to vote because "it doesn't matter" or "I'd just be throwing my vote away" actually turned out and voted, there'd be a hell of a showing of newfound support.
  • Most people don't have the time to get a real insight into complex issues. I definitely include myself in this statement...

    It would be too easy to manipulate the public view. Can you imagine 300 million Americans voting on crypto laws? You know, crypto, the stuff drug traffickers and terrorists use to communicate ;-)
  • One other thought. Let's lose this one-on-one crap. Democrats and Republicans each pick one candidate, and they run against each other. Heck, let's float everyone who can afford to. Chances are, everything would end up the same anyways, but at least in this case, we could still vote for Bradley over GOre, if we wanted to.

    Problem with this, is that you might end up with a split goverment ala the stuff we see in parliamentary systems - where the legislature has no confidence in the executive "branch". This will lead to far more stalemates and power grabbing than we already have.
  • >You have three candidates, A, B and C: Now if I vote for candidate C, my vote ultimately goes to
    >candidate A or B?

    No, that's not what he was saying at all.

    He was talking about, hypothetically, the Democratic candidate being Gore, and the Green candidate being Gore. Both parties actually floating the same person as their candidate. So your ballot would have:

    [ ] Democratic -- Al Gore
    [ ] Republican -- Jim Billbock
    [ ] Green -- Al Gore
    [ ] Silly -- Zimfram Wubble-Wubble

    ...and a vote for Green-Gore or a vote for Demo-Gore would be a vote for Gore, but would also be a message to the candidate about the relative popularity of the ideals of the parties supporting him.

  • Well, If I were able to vote next year I'd be voting for Harry Browne []. He's the Libertarian Party [] canidate.

    As for the best possible presidential canidate I can think of... ESR for president!

  • [As stolen by me from]

    Homer: America, take a good look at your beloved candidates. They're
    nothing but hideous space reptiles. [unmasks them]
    [audience gasps in terror]
    Kodos: It's true, we are aliens. But what are you going to do about
    it? It's a two-party system; you have to vote for one of us.
    Man1: He's right, this is a two-party system.
    Man2: Well, I believe I'll vote for a third-party candidate.
    Kang: Go ahead, throw your vote away.
    [Kang and Kodos laugh out loud]
    [Ross Perot smashes his "Perot 96" hat]
    -- "Treehouse of Horror VII"

    The next day, Kodos announces the result: "All hail, President Kang."

    The field in front of the Capitol has now become a working ground
    where humans are whipped by aliens and used to carry materials.

    The Simpsons family is working too, with Homer and the kids carrying
    wood, and Marge pushing a wheelbarrow of cinderblocks -- with Maggie
    on top.

    Marge: I don't understand why we have to build a ray gun to aim at a
    planet I never even heard of.
    Homer: Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.

  • of the 535 members of congress:

    *29 have been accused of spousal abuse
    *7 have been arrested for fraud
    *19 have been accused of writing bad checks
    *117 have bankrupted at least two businesses
    *3 have been arrested for assault
    *71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
    *14 have been arrested on drug related charges
    *8 have been arrested for shoplifting
    *21 are current defendants in lawsuits
    *In 1998 alone, 84 were stopped for drunk driving
  • Of course I am speaking relative to other candidates. Nader supports the Brady Bill, which has a lot of good ideas in it (now that instant background checking exists, and not counting the 10-round limit on detatchable magazines), and wants to implement "carefully thought out gun control." (emphasis mine) Compare this to:

    It should be noted that Buchannan, Hatch, Keyes, Forbes and Bauer are similar to Browne in supporting gun rights. But all of these candidates (except Browne) are too fascist for me. Browne is Libertarian, which I have some issues with, although nowhere nearly as many as with the GOP in general.

  • If that's your criteria, I'd go with Al Franken in a heartbeat. I'd vote for him anyway, tho.
  • Umm, most libertarians have always acknowledged that military projects, such as DARPA, are valid functions of government. DARPA may have provided the backbone, but the Internet as it exists today is almost entirely the product of freedom and capitalism.
  • I agree that fusion should be legalized in the U.S. I believe it is currently only legal in New York state (and possibly a smattering of other places).

    Of course, speaking as a member of the Green Party of Michigan [] and follower of third party politics it is highly unlikely the Greens would nominate Al Gore.

    Speaking of the Greens, Nader is again the forerunner to receive the Green Party nomination for president. Last time he spent less than $5,000, only one in seven voters even knew he was running, and still came in fourth. This time he has promised to do real campaigning and real fundraising. Help Nader out. []

  • Assume, for the sake of argument, that you are elected President of the United States. Further assume that you have the power to enact or overturn any piece of legislation and that the Congress will back you up on it. Would you overturn Roe vs. Wade? What sort of effect do you think that would have on the number of abortions performed in the United States?

    I think that any reasonable person would agree that the country would be better off if there were fewer abortions. I mean, nobody runs around saying "Gee, we need more abortions in this country!" But legalized abortion, as it exists now, is only a mechanism. If you remove the mechanism without doing anything to address the problem, another mechanism will spring up in its place.

    I wish we lived in a country where we didn't have to deal with rape. I wish we lived in a country where we didn't have to deal with incest. Where we didn't have to deal with pregant heroin addicts. Where we didn't have to deal with rampant unsafe, unprotected sex. Where we didn't have to deal with single mothers living in filth and squalor. And on, and on, and on. Yes, I wish we lived in a country like that, but we don't. And it doesn't do anybody a bit of good to pretend that we do.

    This is why I'm amused by people like Gary Bauer who sanctimoniously proclaim "If I'm elected president, abortion-on-demand will end!" Beg pardon? How naive can you get? I'll say it again: legalized abortion is only a mechanism, and if you take one mechanism away, another will spring up in its place. All that you've really taken away is the ability of a woman to have access to a safe (albeit unpleasant) medical procedure. If a woman needs the procedure, she'll still be able to get it from some back-alley butcher. Or perhaps a guy that her older brother knows will set her up with some black-market European abortion pill for a couple of Benjamins.

    If you want to work to reduce and eventually eliminate abortions, then I say: fine! It's a noble effort. But if you're going to do it, do it right. Work to alleviate the problems that I enumerated above. Stop and ask yourself why women get abortions, and concentrate your efforts on attacking those problems, because if you do that, then abortion becomes superfluous! It would no longer be necessary! But don't say "Hey, I'm going to sign this piece of legislation and that will be it", because I'll tell you what: Women were getting abortions before Roe v. Wade, and if a right-wing president and a right-wing Congress overturns it, they'll still be getting abortions after it, unless you focus on the core problems.

    I guess you could call me strongly pro-choice, but strongly anti-abortion. :-)
  • If you're not in a party you're not allowed to vote in primaries

    Wrong. In at least California a law was passed which allows anyone to vote in any primary (I'm not sure if you're allowed to vote in more than one). The primaries are important, so if your state allows this make it a point to make your choice about which candidates will be there for the Presidential election.

  • This platform was used by a character in Robert Anton Wilson's "Schroedinger's Cat Trilogy", and now constitutes my minimum standard for candidates. If they won't work for life extension and an economy based on something better than wage slavery and taxation, then i'm ignoring them. In the ideal world, there would be no death or taxes. A true idealist should expect no less from a candidate.

    chars is barely sufficient
  • Signal 11, with all due respect, I'm not sure that I agree with you.

    I guess the first order of business is to say "the Computer Geek ticket." But since computer geekdom is what brings most of us to Slashdot, I think the computer part was a given.

    Second, you're right, geeks are not limited to computers. But it is those computers that, by and large, bind us. As a large part of our lives, they can, at times, become a cause. (ie, etoy, encryption rights, privacy, etc.) So we choose to focus on that afor the purpose of this discussion.

    Thirdly, you're right, geeks do have a wide range of political tastes. But it seems that most of the geeks that I know are Democrats, frequently with Liberatarian leanings. And the more that I've thought about this, the more that it seems logical to me.

    We [computer] geeks are all about rules. Every language, standard, RFC and protocol is a set of rules by which we abide. Thanks to things like the RFC system, these rules can be changed. But we recognise the importance of a core set of standards by which further standards can be devloped.

    This, IMHO, is quite similar to our US system involving the Constitution [], with amendments and, of course, thousands upon thousands of laws within the scope of that Constitution. A rule set that can be modified, with subrules that must fit within the intitial standard.

    To many of us, this is extremely logical. It fits into all of our programming knowledge neatly. So the Libertarian Party [], whose core value is upholding the Constitution, is an extremely logical party to identify with. Further, Democrats [], for the most part, tend to be more in line with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. (Not always, of course, but more so than Republicans [].)

    So, we have a political leaning. And we have causes based on our desire to have the freedom to live the way that we like to. To export strong encryption, to use strong excryption, to be free from government monitoring, to be free from censorship, and to be free to engage in the computing practices that we see fit on our own systems, from disassembly [] to peaceable protest [].

    In conclusion: Yes, Signal 11, I think that there is a Geek Ticket. The candidate that best matches our common ideals to have the freedoms to take part in the open sourced [], copylefted [], quasi-socialist ventures that so many of us live for and love so much. We don't need to form a new party or anything, but I do think that it would be helpful for us to determine which candidate best meets our common ideals.

    And that's why I think this is a great story with great threads. :)
  • Alan Keyes is the African American candidate in this race. He's got a PhD from Harvard. He's also anti-abortion and anti-gay-rights, which is enough to eliminate him as a candidate for my vote.

  • I think that many potential candidates that people believe in get otherwise eliminated because people don't want to 'waste' there vote. Thus the candidate doesn't get the support they need to win, or to even look competitive, and it's a self fulfilling prophecy.

    Thus, to solve this problem, I propose the following- Any non-major candidate that may have decent prospects of winning should propose the following - that each of those who would desire to see him/her win, vote in a pre-election (online or a similar methodology)- If a sufficient number of votes are recieved to suggest a win, or a close race even- then they should be encouraged to vote in the primary for that candidate. If not, then the voters should be encouraged to vote for whom they would have chosen as second best, or alternatively the candidate may suggest whom they would like the votes cast for and why...

  • because once you start regulating somewhere, where is the limit?

    'Slippery slope' arguments sound really good, but in fact they only really apply to actual tangible slopes which happen to have low-friction surfaces. The Internet is already regulated otherwise it wouldn't work. Think DNS. Or how about if someone defrauds you in an online sale; would you prefer that he get away scott-free in the interest of non-regulation?

    Instead of mindless opposing 'Regulation' in all forms, take some time to think about what (specifically) you think should be free of regulation (and why), and what kinds of regulation the rest should have (and why). That's called a position; otherwise it's the worst form of naive idealism.

  • Bill Bradley, is that the African-American?

    No, but he did play professional basketball... however, that does not make him black.

    Interestingly, the only African-American candidate on the list, Alan Keyes, also seems to be one of the most conservative. After I took the poll, he was at the bottom. With a score of 4. Only 4. I can tell that if his views determined where this country was going, I'd be going to another country. But I guess I'm an extremely liberal person (80 for Ralph Nader, 79 for Bill Bradley).
  • he strikes me as the poster boy of moderate liberals, ie. just left of centre

    Depends on the position. I suspect that

    let no one think the Socialist Party has abandoned the goal of social ownership of the commanding heights of industry, combined with democratic control, and decentralization and community involvement

    would be considered more than "just left of centre" even in many of the European social democracies - didn't the British Labour Party "abandon that goal" (although I have the impression not all members approved of that) in the past couple of years or so? (I'd check out their Web site [], but it appears to have been designed by Yet Another Damn Javascript Rules OK Web designer - I select "Our policies" under "What are you looking for?", but see no sign of a "Go" button, so my suspicion is that it expects you to be running Javascript so that the page's code can take you there as soon as you select it; sorry, I'm running Netscape on a UNIX-flavored OS, and the main function of Javascript on those platforms appears to be to create files in your current directory with "core" in the name. BTW, the page in question has "Build and powered by Oracle", etc., on it; I'm not sure whether Oracle counts as one of the "commanding heights of industry" or not.)

    I suspect the "maximum wage" proposal of no more than a 4x difference between minimum and maximum wages might be considered more than "just left of centre" in at least some of those countries as well; they have lower wage differences than the US, some significantly lower as far as I know, but I don't know how many of them have only a 4x difference.

    On the other hand, more stringent gun control, a universal health plan, and a drug policy other than "fill up the prisons" would, I suspect, not even be considered left of center in most other industrialized countries. Various of those have, in the past, been proposed in the US by politicans other than those from the Socialist Party.

    Yes, the center, in US politics, is significantly further to the right than the center in other countries (not that the centers in other countries are necessarily clustered closely together; I have the impression that the center in the UK would be to the right of the center in France, for example). I'm not sure that McReynolds would be only slightly to the left of center in other countries, however; I think that's a bit of an exaggeration of the situation.

    (Personally, I wish the center in the US were further to the left. I suspect there are other "geeks" in the US who'd like to see it further to the left, some who'd like to see it further to the right, and some who think it's fine where it is. If you move from a one-dimensional scale to a multi-dimensional scale, to account for the fact that there isn't a 100% correlation between views on government health insurance and views on the minimum wage and views on free trade and views on teaching evolution in the schools and views on homosexuality and views on feminism and..., I suspect, as others have indicated, that the "geek community" wouldn't cluster narrowly in a small region of that space, although they might be less widely distributed than the population as a whole.

    BTW, I'm not saying there's no correlation between views on various issues, I'm saying it's not 100%, and it's probably not 99%, either.)

  • But I'm just disgusted with huge soft money donations, lobbyists writing the bills that our legislators pass (along with another contribution), and the many riders and procedural tricks legislators use to subvert debate in what was supposed to be an open and public legislative forum.... I'm actually considering joining the Republican party just so I can vote for McCain in the primary, because of his support for the McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform

    Did you know that the McCain/Feingold plan stops soft money but doesn't do anything to regulate the labor unions from their lobbying activity? What it will effectively do is kill the republicans' ability to motivate their base via media outlets since their soft money is limited but still allow the democrats to motivate their base via the labor unions. It's still not the answer and it's DEFINATELY not better than the current system since it's completely one sided...

  • I submitted this story yesterday but it was rejected. Here it is roughly as I remember it:

    The Capital Dispatch, part of the New York Times' Cybertimes division reports [] that the FEC is looking for about 30 volunteers to sit on an advisory committee. The committee will consider proposals to give individuals access to the information that companies obtain from them.

    I recommend that slashdot members nominate a representative. Here are a few questions to consider:
    1. What personal and political qualities do we want in a representative?
    2. How will the representative communicate with the community? Perhaps they could be given their own slashdot section.
    3. Should they represent non-American slashdotters? (This is a US committee focusing on a domestic issue)

    I visited the FEC web site today. It gives this description of the committee:

    "The purpose of the Advisory Committee is to provide advice and recommendations to the Commission regarding implementation of certain fair information practices by domestic commercial Web sites. In particular, the Advisory Committee will address providing online consumers reasonable access to personal information collected from and about them and maintaining adequate security for that information."

    Here's a few useful links:
    • []
      The New York Times' Story written by Jeri Clausing [].
      She may be a good contact on the issue.
    • []
      The FEC site- includes a link to an acrobat file describing the committee and the nominating process.

    Nominations are due by January 5. Nominees must be able to attend meetings on
    Feb. 4, Feb. 25, March 31, and April 28. The meetings are open to the public. We could see whether C-SPAN will cover them.


    My personal website,, is offline for the Christmas break.

  • A couple of (mostly) factual points:

    1. Even in states with so-called non-partisan primaries, you may only vote in one party.

    2. Parties serve to synthesize conflicting and competing beliefs and interests (we all believe in law enforcement and in privacy- but where does crypto regulation fall?) as well as competing factions (labor democrats want more trade restrictions, 'new' democrats don't). Of course, by voting in a primary you are compromising your beliefs-- but so is the radical next door. It allows minorities to be heard, and even sometimes win, even though majorities in the end rule. If you feel you are above this process of compromise and persuasion, our system rewards you by making you irrelevant to the process.

    3. Parties are exactly like open source development projects. We say "show me the code" or "send in a patch". Politicians say "run for office" or "contribute to a candidate you like". Note that most successful politicians know to value your time and hard work more than money-- especially for programmers, whose time is so valuable! So find a state legislator you can agree with, and help him/her out! If they are as good as you think they are, you'll eventually see things happen.

    4. Read "Take Back Your Government" by Robert A. Heinlein. He was a democrat ward boss in LA during his post-navy, pre-science fiction days. Ignore Jerry Pournelle's liner notes-- Heinlein's advice is true to this day.

    5. Decide what you really believe. Rank those beliefs. Then look at what candidates have done in the past. That is the only real measure of their worth. Odds are, you'll be surprised who you like most. If you rebel from your result, then rewrite or rerank what issues you care about, but be clear on why you believe what you believe. Joining a party isn't compromising your principles, it is enacting those principles. What you want to avoid is joining a party, and then deciding what you believe. Or deciding that it is your way or the highway-- that's an excuse for laziness.

    Did I mention to read Heinlein? Everyone seems to think that politics is about money and media-- but those are only marginally effective.

  • Other than the "I have a problem with destroying farmland with concrete jungles" part (where they might agree, but not think the Government should do anything about it other than not encourage it by subsidizing it either directly or indirectly), I suspect Harry Browne should've been the one it picked for you.

    In order to check whether the selector included Harry Browne, I entered what I thought would be the "hard-core Libertarian" choices, and it did put Harry Browne at the top...

    ...followed by Alan Keyes (I hit the "social issues" buttons pretty hard on the Libertarian side; I don't know whether it weighted them differently, or if the neutral stance I took on some - e.g., gay rights, as I suspect Libertarians would, in general, oppose both sodomy laws, etc. and anti-discrimination laws affecting private citizens - helped him out, or if he's just not as hard-assed on those issues as some of the other "social conservatives", or what).

    I'm curious precisely how it makes its guesses about how well various candidates' positions fit somebody's positions. Does it give some answers a greater weight, based on, for example, a notion of how strongly people tend to believe in their positions on those issues?

  • Personally, I would like to see the practice of "fusion" legalized and/or instituted in Presidential elections. "Fusion" is the practice whereby multiple political parties can nominate the same candidate.

    There is nothing in the law to prevent this. In fact, this is common practice in New York state elections, where the Conservative Party, Liberal Party and others routinely nominate the candidates of the major parties.

    In fact, the mechanisms are already in place in presidential elections, where you are not really selecting a candidate and running mate when you vote. You are actually voting for a slate of electors, selected by a political party, who have pledged their votes in the electoral college to a candidate and his running mate. So if two parties endorsed the same ticket and both were on your ballot, you could pick the party label you wanted.

    The biggest obstacles to this actually happening in a presidential election are as follows:

    • The biggest challenge for minor parties is getting on the ballot in the first place.

    • The candidate would have to accept the second nomination, which could hurt him in the race for the first. A candidate who is perceived to have weak party loyalty may lose favor among activists within his "primary" party if he shows too much interest in the nomination of "secondary" parties. One of Gore's bludgeons against Bradley for the last several months has been Gore's assertion that Bradley is not sufficiently loyal to the Democratic party. He'd lose that issue if he were perceived as being too close to the Greens.
  • While noting that my own stance against abortion inflates the Republican scores, I was still surprised that John McCain ended up on top of my list. I was going to point out why in geek terms, but the post ended up being too d--- long.

    BTW, Nader was so far down the list I didn't even notice his name. So I am very curious as to why so many "geek" posters like the guy so much.

    Which leads me to an idea for Rob and the gang... Maybe /. can run a set of polls over a few days with the same questions so we can see how the /. geek voice looks -- then enter the results into the SmartSelector (after all the polls are done) and see how the candidates are ranked accordingly. (Personally I'd have an initial poll which would rate which questions /.'ers found most important, then run the polls in that order. Betcha by the time the polls were done, the whole 'Net media world would be watching for the results. Comments anyone?

  • Please people, take a real stand: Don't VOTE!

    Some stand. If voting means you have miniscule power, not voting means you've effectively given those who do vote the right to speak for you. At that point, you may as well be a non-citizen.

    Someone once said that democracy is like three wolves and a sheep voting on breakfast. Constitutional Democracy forbids such a vote. On the other hand, if the sheep decide not to excercise their rights, the wolves can simply ignore the Constitution. This might explain the government we have today, in fact.

    Besides, who the fsck counts non-voters? I sure don't. All non-voting says to anyone is that you're too lazy to participate. Voter strike has to be the most brain-damaged protest concept I've ever heard of, period. No offense.

  • "One of Gore's bludgeons against Bradley for the last several months has been Gore's assertion that Bradley is not sufficiently loyal to the Democratic party. He'd lose that issue if he were perceived as being too close to the Greens."

    That's it, I'm for Bradley ;)

    Seriously- when I did the selector thing (ack, I'm bushifying!) my top three were: Nader by a definite amount, then Bradley and Gore almost exactly tied (!). This illustrated for me how peculiar such quizzes can be, since I think of Tipper and the PMRC when I think of Gore (I do _not_ want Tipper as First Lady).

    I am very leery of voting for Nader, only in part because I figure he can't win- I also think he's too rabid about some things, even things I agree with. I wouldn't want a president who frothed at the mouth over consumer protection, just one who _supported_ it (if you follow me).

    Hearing that Bradley is not a sufficiently loyal democrat makes my day :) good, I hope he's not. I think the two-party system is a mess, and I like him better if he's not bought and paid for by the Party. Hopefully he's not _too_ alienated from them- Hunter S. Thompson, covering the '72 race, figured out some very disturbing things about party politics, basically that the party was happy to backstab George McGovern in exchange for losing the current election and then being able to move in four years later after Nixon was all done. It's paranoid, it's twisted, but the analysis was very convincing.

    *hums to the tune of Pinball Wizard* "...that President Bradley, sure plays a mean basketballll.."

  • American presidential elections are, simply speaking, bizarre.

    We think we're voting for a presidential candidate --- and the ballots claim we are --- but in fact we're voting for a group of people, usually named by the candidate, who say they'll vote for that candidate if sent to a meeting of a small select group that actually elects the president.

    State law requires them to honor that statement of intent --- but those laws are unenforceable under the federal constitution. The pledges are rarely ignored, but it has happened, relatively recently; the "feature" isn't dead.

    If nobody gets 50%+1 of the votes in that body, then the House decides --- from among the top _3_ vote getters. This has only happened once (1826), and came close to happening another time (1876: there was a debate about who actually got to sit in the electoral college), so it's anybody's bet what might happen, although political analysts in 1992 (when it could have happened had Perot played his cards differently) thought it likely that the vote would come down along party lines.
  • Well, if anyone, not Bush.

    Bush is a governor-backed governor. As you know, governors are "losing" a lot of sales tax to ebusiness. Of all the candidates, Bush was the most reluctant to maintain that the tax ban be pushed back a bit more (note - note indefinately).

    It also appears Bush might be the most of inept of the candidates about technology (my own impression there). Al Gore seems semi-clueful...but I personally don't agree with all his views. Bill Bradley seems a bit more open-minded, and all encompassing. His views involve querying all possibilities, and then coming to a consensus, instead of thinking "My idea is Hot Shit - agree with me!" I have no idea about McCain, but of all the Republicans he seems to least dangerous and most approachable. - the Java Mozilla []
  • They forgot to include the rights of unborn babies

    In my book unborn babies shouldn't have any more rights than do dogs and cats (and before someone flames me, I am not a PETAphile err... animal rights nut). We put hudreds unwanted dogs and cats to sleep every day. Nobody likes doing that, but it is an unfortunate reality. Let me ask you this: Would you send a baby home with someone who wants to abort it? I think maybe abortion is the more humane things. Be realistic, what every baby deserves is to have parents that want it and can take care of it, can support it and can do what is necessary to bring it up to be a good and productive member of society. Abstinance is a religious nut's pipe dream. It just isn't going to happen. Birth control of course is what really should happen -- but of course it isn't 100% effective, and sometimes people don't use it when they should (again I ask, should we send home babies with people with judgement as bad as that?) Adoption is a valid option in many cases, but it isn't the right thing for every situation of an unwanted pregnancy. Not to mention that many babies are essentially unadoptable (those that aren't white healthy newborns are unfortunately unlikely to get adopted). I don't see why it is a good thing for every baby that would be born with birth defects, drug addicted or AIDS infected to be forced to be carried to term.

    I don't consider the anti-abortion stance to be consistant with conservatism either, at least not fiscal conservatism. It is much more cost effective to abort a baby than pay for 18 years of welfare for mother and child followed most likely by a lifetime of either welfare or incarceration for the kid who is likely to have grown up neglected and/or abused. Sure, that doesn't always happen, but unwanted kids usually grow up (or sometimes don't) with two strikes against them from the beginning.

    Call me a cold hearted, callous person (you wouldn't be the first one), but I am unappologetic about looking at this from what I would consider to be a calm and rational viewpoint.

    I think it is better to concentrate on taking care of the children that are already born before we worry about the rights of the unborn.

  • is he an American citizen?

    No, he is a Mexican citizen, and therefore not elegible to run for the office of President of the United States. In fact, even if he were to become a naturalized citizen of the US, he still could not become the US President under the rules which state you must be born on US soil in order to be President.

  • As for the best possible presidential canidate I can think of... ESR for president!

    ESR's a good guy, and he's certainly got the brains and the money to hold office...but government by essay??

  • When I can vote, you can bet it won't be for any politicians. I'll be writing in people I know and trust

    While a somewhat noble jesture, it is essentially throwing your vote away unless you can convince a lot of other people to write in your choice. I don't like voting for the lesser of evils much either, and I have occasionally written in someone when I absolutely couldn't stomach any of the candidates running (usually someone who is running unopposed), but it is not something I make a standard practice of. Unfortunately that often does mean that I am voting for someone I don't like very much in favor of someone I really dislike.

    May I suggest that perhaps you would be better off trying to convince those people you know and trust to seek the nomination for offices for which they might be able to make a difference in? If they can't find an established party they can live with, candidates can usually be put on the ballot by means of gathering enough signatures on a petition. A candidate even without a party has a much better chance of getting elected if they are on the ballot instead of a write in. Even minor party candidates generally get far more votes than do total independants on the ballot. And the unfortunate reality is that most of the time, one or the other of the major party candidates will be the one that gets elected. I'm not saying that there isn't a reason for people to run for office even

    One thing I'd really like to see is a requirement that a candidate has to get more than 50% of the vote to get elected (even in a 3-way race). I am a bit torn between forcing a run-off between the top two vote getters or whether we should do something like have an option for 'none of the above'. If none-of-the-above won, then all of the current candidates on the ballot would be disqualified and we'd have to have a new primary to select new candidates. I think that might allow us to get rid of some of the real turkeys by forcing the parties to give us candidates that don't totally suck.

  • Libertarianism says that what the US Government is doing with M$ is wrong

    Don't confuse Ryndianism with Libertarianism. Not all Libertarians think what is happening to Microsoft is wrong.

    We don't give absolute power to government, we shouldn't give absolute power to business, either.

    That is almost exactly how I feel about it. The thing that Microsoft has done wrong is that they have conspired to infringe on all of their competitor's rights to compete fairly. While we should legislate as little as possible, if a given market has continuously proven that it cannot correct itself (which generally only seems to happen when one company resorts to anti-competitive measures such as Microsoft has been found to), then unfortunately the government may not have much choice but to act to help restore a balance.

    If Microsoft had really gotten their monopoly position through building a better product, doing a better job of marketing or distributing it, etc, then I'd be against breaking them up. Unfortunately, it seems indisputable that their reliance on dirty tricks and anticompetitive behavior has at least as much to do with their financial success as anything else.

  • Why the hell are we paying for 'non-critical' portions in the first place? If they aren't important, lets just cut them out permanently.

  • Honestly, people complain about the "two-party" system, but that's not the problem America has. We can get third-party (and in many cases, fourth-party, fifth-party, etc.) candidates on the ticket, but people, even if they prefer the underdog to one of the major party candidates, still don't vote for him. Why?

    Because except for the "protest vote" value, it doesn't pay to vote for a candidate that doesn't have a good chance of winning. Whine all you want about how you're not "throwing your vote away", but this is a real problem.

    Hypothetical election: If McCain (who's my favorite of the current candidates, BTW), Gore, and the Perfect Libertarian Geek candidate are on the ballot in the presidential election, I'm probably still going to vote for McCain, lest the Perfect Geek siphon off enough Republican votes to cause Gore to win. If 30% of the voters preferences run "McCain,Geek,Gore", 30% run "Geek,McCain,Gore", and 40% run "Gore,McCain,Geek", then if everybody voted for the candidate they liked best then you'd end up with *more* people unhappy with the election results.

    There's an essay in _A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper_ (great book, worth buying or borrowing; sorry I forget the author) about the quirks of voter preferences in multi-candidate elections - in it the author presents a hypothetical election with 5 candidates, and 5 fair-sounding ways (including the plurality vote) of determining a winner.. except that a different candidate would be chosen the winner by each method.

    People have talked about "None of the above" votes and other different systems that would force a new election... but we shouldn't *have* to have election after election to choose between the same group of candidates. And besides, while "None of the above" might help in cases where neither party puts up a good candidate, it does nothing for cases where a third party candidate is marginalized because of a close race between the major parties.

    What I'd like to see, personally, is an election system where each voter can vote "Yes" or "No" for each candidate, and the candidate with the largest majority of "Yes" votes wins. (Or a new election is held if no candidate gets a majority). That way, if no party puts up a good candidate, then a new election must be held. If a good third party candidate is running in a race where the two leading parties are close in votes, then voters can safely vote for *both* the underdog and their favorite of the leading candidates, giving the third party entry a chance without risking "throwing their vote away". We wouldn't have to worry about the Greens "stealing Democrat votes" or the Libertarians "stealing Republican votes" anymore, and nobody would ever be "throwing their vote away". And if people were really fed up with all the candidates, they could vote "No" to all of them and get a new batch.

    Of course, since such a system:
    a. Is change, and therefore "scaaarry"
    b. Is threatening to both the entrenched parties
    it'll never happen.

    And of course, what I'd *really* like to see is the ability for people to give 0 votes, 1 vote, or .3245 votes to each candidate, so they could rank them by preference... but stupid people would think that was too complicated, and stupid people have a vast majority vote no matter what system you use to count them...
  • I was a campaign manager in two elections for the state house. Most of the so called reform is one group trying to prevent it's opponents from making contributions. The real problem is the Goverment has assumed too much power. Most contributions are made because someone wants to use the goverment as a club to beat someone over the head OR because someone is trying to keep from getting beat over the head. Limit the power of the Goverment and you will find the contributions drying up.
  • In theory, he could be eligible to run for President in the (very unlikely) event that wherever he was born in Mexico was ever annexed by the United States. That's where the "14 years" clause in the qualifications for office comes in. I don't know how exactly the interpretation would come down on that if it were ever litigated, though I suspect for reasons of expediency (if nothing else) any citizen of the former sovereign would be considered a natural-born U.S. citizen.
  • 3. Has nothing to gain from being President. This probably precludes anyone who actually wants to be President. If you want to be President, you're probably not qualified.

    Reminds me of an Arthur C. Clarke novel I once read ("Children of a Distant Sun" or somesuch). The colony had a constitution that basically forbade anyone who wanted to be the leader from doing it, and the person was chosen randomly. I think; it's been eons since I read it.

    Of course, then some refugees from Earth show up and all hell breaks loose...
  • I have to agree...

    Heinlein writes a lot about how communism is bad, which falls into the trap of assuming that communism is the same as a *archy, and that capitalism is a democracy.

    The got way too caught up in the anti-Russia thing to realize that he was anti *Russia*, not anti *communism*. (Yes, he may have problems with communism too, but he presents anti-Russia arguments against both.)

    Admittedly, this is circumstantial, because it says nothing about his views on how to vote to make a democracy work, but it does show that he can't clearly identify the issue, and that he's got a large stake in pushing democracy even if it's got flaws.
  • Well said. It concerns me that just because I support Free Software, many might expect me to agree with ESR (for example) on issues of extreme libertarianism and gun control.
  • I love it when people's response begins with just one word:


    It really helps open people's minds to your point. In my state, I cannot vote in a primary unless I'm registered for that party. I'm a registered Libertarian, and there isn't a very strong party in my area anyway, so there have been no primaries for quite some time.

    So, it may be "Wrong" in your state, but it's the way things are here. Thanks for playing.
  • I have to disagree with the "rules" part. Drawing on both my own personal experience and Appendix B of the Hacker Dictionary, geeks are generally anti-authoritarian. They don't follow rules because they're there - they follow them because they have a good reason to follow (which is not that somebody might punish you for disobeying it!).

    The RIAA has some "laws" regarding music distribution. Know any geeks that follow them?

    The federal government has "laws" about software copying, see many geeks following those laws?

    The RFC system, quoted in your own dialog, is often overridden by technical necessity - the FIN_WAIT2 state, for example, has no timeout (look up SO_LINGER in your sockets book for a more detailed analysis). Solution - put one in and violate the standard. Many such "rules" have been bent, some of them outright broken. Witness Richard Stallman's recent POSIX_ME_HARDER post...

    In short, I reaffirm my belief that geeks do not subscribe to any specific political beliefs. The only ideals I've found common amongst geeks is the so-called "hacker ethic".

  • it really helps open people's minds to your point.

    You're right. That was a bit blunt :-) I was just trying to be brief, and it was late(MET). In any case I was just making the point that there is at least one state where you have a choice. It would help if you told me what state you're in, where it's not allowed. Afterall, I did specifically say: at least in California...

    If your state doesn't allow that sort of thing, maybe that's something it should institute; again I don't know what state it is, so I don't know if voters can pass propositions into law...

    No offense was meant.

  • Excellent points, one of which I would like to highlight with a couple of examples: All of the sudden - my vote starts to look like it might make a little more of a difference. Just a thought.The two examples are as follows:
    1. Harry S Truman's re-election. The Republican party thought that their candidate was a shoe-in (easy winner), and was very much the candidate of the "elites". The Democratic party machinery (which put Truman in the Vice Presidency in '44, only to have FDR die on them) didn't support Truman very well either. So Truman hops on a train and proceeds to get out the vote of "the ones who didn't matter" to the elites, and wins the Presidency. (IMHO one of our best Presidents, by the way.)
    2. IIRC, John F. Kennedy won the 1960 election in a margin narrower than any other election this century. IIRC the margin was so narrow that if a few thousand voters in the City of Chicago had voted the other way, or even not voted, Nixon would have been President in 1960, not 1968. Now then, I have heard that the Daley political machine may have had an undue (essentially controlling) influence on much of the vote, but if a large number of people had not cast their votes one by one for Kennedy throughout the rest of the State of Illinois, Chicago wouldn't have mattered.
    So, as flawed as the system may be, votes count. Especially in shaping the local and state judiciaries and legislatures, which is where the future national leaders come from.

    That's why they call it participatory democracy. And BTW, the U.S. isn't actually a democracy, it's a republic with democratically elected officials.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @05:08AM (#1435543) Homepage Journal
    This is kind of a pet peeve with me.

    The problem with third party candidates in this country is that our system assumes that the relationship of candidate preference is transitive when applied over the electorate. Mathematically, this is not the case, that is to say, it is not the case that if A > B and B > C then A > C. This is like the rock/scissors/paper game. It is quite possible that 2/3 of the electorate prefer A to B, 2/3 prefer B to C, and 2/3 prefer C to A.

    This leads to "strategic voting", where you vote atainst your own preferences to avoid a worse outcome. If it comes down to Gore/Bush, I'll vote for Gore though perhaps Nader would be a better choice.

    If you took the political theory of Declaration of Independence seriously, you would choose the candidate that the most people would assent to be governed by. That is to say, I should be able to vote for Nader, and also for Gore (or Bradley) if I would find it acceptable to be governed by either. When you added up each candidate's votes, you would get a count of how many people find him acceptable for the job.

    The relationship of being acceptable to more people is transitive. This mathematical advantage also has important practical advantages. It would empower third party candidates, who would no longer be caught in a catch 22 phenomenon of unelectability. It would eliminate the need of candidates to pander to political extremes. It would prevent extremist political factions from gaining disproportinate power by their ability to make or break coalitions (like the religious right here, or to a greater degree in Israel). However no minorities would be come irrelevant due to tactical considerations (e.g. I can count the Christian right out because the Buchannan has a lock on them).

    This kind of assent based voting would substantially increase the degree of political equality in this country. However it would go against a catch phrase that is used as a stand in for equality: "one man, one vote." Ironically, one man, one vote emphatically does not ensure political equality. This kind of voting system would be a simple cure for many of the political problems of this country; unfortunately, the current parties are in power because of the existing system's deficiencies.

  • The problem with politics is that it is marketing driven and not idea driven. One of the infuriating things if you've ever been a geek dealing with marketing types is that they want to reduce everything to catch phrases. Comparing political discourse to real discourse is like comparing advertising jingles to Bach. The average Slashdot thread is dozens of times more informative than the average presidential debate, crude references to Natilie Portman's anatomy notwithstanding.

    These questions assume that on any given issue, a dimension exists on which you can set up a simple dichotomy. For example, do you want to "reform" Social Security or to "protect" it? What if you think the only way to protect it is to reform it? Doesn't the nature of the reforms factor into things?

    The campaign finance reform question is even worse. What they are really asking is whether you would vote for somebody who supports one the kind of reforms currently being bandied about. What if you don't think any of the reforms will work? Practically nobody really likes the way campaign finance works in this country, so nearly everybody should support some kind of reform. However, it would be easy to come up with an even worse system, that of course the nature of the reform is important.
  • It's probably too late to contribute meaningfully to this discussion, but I ought to try anyway.

    As I learned in my Business Law class this semester, it's only thanks to Ralph Nader that we even have a legal right to privacy.

    Back in the 1960s, Nader wrote a book about a General Motors car (the Corvair?) called Unsafe at Any Speed. He really ticked off General Motors, and they tried everything to discredit him...tapping his phone, going through his mail, even hiring a prostitute to sleep with him.

    Nader sued over this, alledging invasion of privacy. He won, and that court case is what set the precedent for the court-sanctioned right to privacy in this country. You certainly won't find a right to privacy specifically delineated anywhere in the Constitution; before that case, it simply didn't exist.

    Given that I'm repeating hearsay, I may not have my facts 100% right, but I'm sure they're close enough.
  • I think I'd be happy just cutting it all, thanks. I am not so much concerned with an immediate tax cut. Before we can worry about that we need to worry about the huge federal debt. So far the government has only made token progress on that.

  • No, an executive order is a law written and signed into law by only the president. Congress has 90 days to react to it, and try to stop it (this has only happened once AFAIK)

    This is different than a law initiated by congress and signed by the president. Clinton has signed more executive orders than any other president in history.

  • New taxes, I don't know, but he can certinly spend money without congressional approval.
    For a recent, revelant example, Clinton signed an executive order about a year ago creating the government y2k tastforce. They had a pretty large budget and congress had nothing to do with it.


"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"