Making it better

An interesting math problem – and the Two Party Political System.

I heard an interesting broadcast yesterday that made me take pause on the way we hold political discussions. It was a simple math problem.

A lot of people are calling for the end of the two-party system. But, basically, if we have a three party system that that means the vote can be split three ways – and what can happen is that a radical minority can elect a president with only one third of the vote. If we had five parties, then a very small 20% radical group could elect a president.

The hope of the two party system is that both candidates will have to at least “lean” towards the middle.

We tend to think that a third party will give us more of a say. But just think about it. For instance: imagine that the Republican party broke into two factions – one kindof middle, and one far right. And the Democrats did the same. We would then have four parties and the very radical factions could win with 25% of the popular vote.

So the really interesting part about this is that we don’t really hear that kind of simple reasoning when we call for the end of the two party system. Usually when we talk about a new party it centers around how “I want another choice.” But this simple math can turn the discussion from “me and what I want” to a broader discussion about what is best for all of us.

It also really brings to mind the fact that there are people out there who have really studied politics, and understand how things work way more than us every-day people. And that maybe we would do the discussion some good by studying the issues we argue about.

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