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At the National Post, Matt Welch straddles the national divide.

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  1. The degree of public certitude we see these days is not unique in history, and it is a product of the winner takes all electoral system. Such a system means that, inevitably, two coalitions will form.

    It is, to me, a mistake to characterize these coalitions as being defined by opposing ideologies. Rather, these coalitions are formed out of the One Issues that drives each of their members to vote. People may or may not like various aspects of a candidate, but the degree to which they are motivated to actually vote for their guy is the degree to which either A) Their guy is right on their One Issue or B)The other guy is horribly wrong on the same issue.

    Looking to myself, I am a little 'l' libertarian for whom the right of self defence is non negotiable. I abhor Republican proposals like the Marriage Amendment, but if you put me in a situation where the Dems are right on that civil liberty issue but are very wrong on guns, the Dems lose my vote - and I will campaign against them if I feel sufficiently threatened on that issue.

    I seem to recall some local commenters splitting with me on this issue, as they weight the issues differently. By the same reasoning I apply to my own values, I absolutely understand that their votes will almost never go to the Republican.

    So, voting in a winner takes all election is an exercise first in holding one's nose about the unpleasantness contained in one's own coalition and second in backing the coalition, warts and all, to the hilt, for fear of one's Big Issue being compromised.

    The other guy has to be the devil, because the whole coalition is trying to win the election, and they get nothing if their guy doesn't win. Glorious intra-coalition cooperation is what this is.

  2. Republican's aren't pro-2nd amendment. Just like small government and economic freedom, it's just an afterthought that they play lip service to. I wouldn't discount the assault weapons ban and other gun control measures being revived once the elections are over, no matter who wins. So it's not surprising that crossover groups like the Pink Pistols (pro-2nd amendment and pro-gay rights) end up endoring candidates like Badnarik. After all, Bush was elected in 2000 on a platform that included renewing the assault weapons ban.

  3. How much of the 'coalition building' is made possible by the ballot access laws? If anyone could get their name on the ballot, say like the California recall election, with a minimum of effort and money, would some of these coalitions built on an amalgam of One-Issue voters splinter, because they can get the ACTUAL candidate they want on the ballot? Or would it have a minimal effect, since people will still be drawn to a small number of candidates who are deemed to have 'a chance to win' and who are closer than the other guys on their one issue?

    I actually don't think that kind of ballot access would be all that overwhelming nationally. Yes, California had hundreds of people stick their name on, but if it was a recurring thing, the novelty of it would wear off quickly, eliminating, say, 1/2 of those people. Then there would be people who could conceive of being governor, but not US President, reducing the list more. Also, the cost of getting on a significant number of ballots in different states would add up fast, meaning that the frivolous ones wouldn't spread to every state.

    Any opinions?

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