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An Expensive Referendum
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saxifrage00
It’s been repeated over and over that a Presidential election where the incumbent is running for office is really a referendum on the success of that President. The American people will re-elect their President if they’re satisfied with the way he has lead their country so far.

I’m writing to mock America. You just had a referendum that cost 3.9billion dollars and took two years to complete. Are you fucking incompetent?

No where else in the world is an election, let alone a referendum, that incredibly expensive to run, nor take that long to execute. Many countries, mine included, find two months to be far more than enough time to campaign, and expenditures are usually in the hundred millions, not in the billions. That’s to say that an American election takes more resources in time and money by a factor of ten over what’s necessary to make a simple choice of who will form the government. Actually, scratch that—it’s a factor of ten more than what’s already considered excessive in most other countries.

You people have the most inefficient democracy of any developed country. Not only that, but for all that effort, wasted time, and unnecessary expense, all you can manage to do is offer a choice between two people out of your 225 million? Evidently, you value choice in flavours of ice-cream more than you do who will lead your country.

Tell me, are you really satisfied with the way this works?

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I think part of the problem is the voting system—it's not safe to vote for third parties even if they have significant media coverage. How many people would vote Nader if they thought he had a really good chance of taking the White House? The vast majority of those don't because they know he doesn't have a chance against not only one, but both of the two big parties' candidates.

I would argue that the primaries just result in a race to the middle for the same reason. It's just not safe to put up a Presidential candidate who is very far from the status quo. It would be political suicide to offer up a candidate who had any opinions that were even marginally contentious. The whole point of an election is to choose what policies will form the government. That has no chance of actually happening when the people who push candidates forward are afraid to suggest policy that is different from what's already being done.

Have a look at http://www.electionmethods.org/ . It's an interesting look at alternatives that actually allow candidates to dare to be different, and voters to dare to vote for them.

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