Another Surprise Endorsement


In a recent Reflection, I noted that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), son of libertarian Ron Paul (R-TX), caused something of a stir among “movement libertarians” (a phrase rather ironic — sort of like “organized cats” or “conformist rebels”) when he endorsed Mitt Romney, aka the Rich White Mormon.

Even more fascinating is the recent announcement by Wayne Allyn Root that he is resigning from the Libertarian Party’s National Committee to switch to Romney and Ryan &‐ albeit with some understandable reservations: “I don’t deny that Romney and Ryan aren’t libertarians, but Romney is a pro-business capitalist and Obama is a Marxist-socialist.”

He added, “The economy has been trashed. This is about my kids’ future, it’s about my businesses. There is no hope for America if Obama is re-elected.”

Root was the Libertarian Party’s VP nominee in 2008, running with Bob Barr. (Barr has signaled that he, too, will support Romney.)

The move has aroused a lot of criticism. One blogger called Root a turncoat who sold out after a rich Mormon helped him pay off campaign debts. Another said that Root is just angling to take a run at replacing Harry Reid (D-NV, and ironically yet another Rich White Mormon). Root seems to confirm this when he says that he “plan[s] to join Tea Party U.S. Senators like Rand Paul, Jim DeMint, Marco Rubio and Mike Lee in the near future, representing the great state of Nevada.”

What’s the old (and probably apocryphal) Chinese curse? “May you live in interesting times.”

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Rodney Choate, P.E.

I opined here that I was highly skeptical about Instant Runoff Voting.

I went to Wikipedia and made a review of Instant Runoff Voting. I now stand corrected to a point. Many voting schemes would be preferable to the plurality system we now have for President. I would be willing to run an IRV system as a trial. But I also wish a simple two-step runoff system could be shown to more people as well. I grew up with the simple two-step system and it seems fine. It is also simple and easy to understand.


Gary Jason

To the readers of my piece: Root has done an interesting interview with Reason Magazine about his decision. You may find it interesting. Here is the link:


The very first thing that I thought of when I saw Roots video of him leaving the Libertarian Party and joining the republicans was that he was setting himself up to run against Harry Reid, who has another 4 years before he's up for re-election. Root at the LP convention in 2008 struck me as a political opportunist who shifted alliances and positions as it suited his ambitions. Sadly, it appears that I was only too right about him.

Gary Jason

It appears to be dawning on a number of people that it is much easier to achieve your political ends by being part of a large party and having a seat at the table, pushing that party in the direction of policies you favor, than forming feeble third parties that at best do nothing, and at worse, help elect officials who accelerate the establishment of policies you hate.

This is a function of our voting system, of course. As I noted in these pages some years ago, if we moved to some other system (such as ranked voting), it might be different. But we haven't, so it isn't.

MM from Georgia

Liberarians kept Harry Reid in power. Reid would've lost in 1998 except for the one percent of the vote the LP took. We would have been rid of Reid and he's still there 14 years later. They also helped Democrats win a bunch of races in Montana (U.S. Senate and Governor), Arizona (two House seats) and Utah(one House seat) in 2012. They saved the Gabrielle Giffords Arizona seat in 2010 when Democrats were losing all around her. The Libertarians have become a weapon for Democrats to use in winning close elections. Win by one vote and you win. Democrats should pay the LP's filing fee. Of course, the LP usually claims the other two parties are alike. They aren't.

Rodney Choate, P.E.

Re: Your reference to "ranked voting".

This is what is sometimes called "instant runoff".
I have been thinking about this problem for a long time.

We have a defacto two party system. The number one cause of this is the lack of open primaries, with runoffs between the top two vote-getters, in each state. Even if states wanted to institute such a proper method, they are prevented from doing so by a national law of Congress, which requires that the states select their electors on ONE single day- thereby forcing "plurality" elections for the electors.

The first step toward ending this defacto two party system would be to change that congressional law and start promoting primaries and runoffs. Until then little will change. Of course, it's probably too late for us now anyway.

I'm not a statistician, but I am a philosopher and an engineer with a math minor, and I think the "instant runoff", or "ranked voting" concept would have its own built-in problems with fairness and some other things. I"m skeptical of it. Everyone should have to choose between the top two vote-getters in a separate runoff election. Instant runoff would not work that way, and that is my main problem with it.


Gary Jason

Dear Mr. Choate:

Thanks for reading my it happens, I have written before in these pages about the many different proposed alternatives to simple majority voting...some of which have been tried elsewhere (such as in Australia). You might want to look at my piece, "Ballot Boxing," in Liberty, August 2009.

Rodney Choate, P.E.

Gary, in your response to me above, you referred to "simple majority voting". Just for clarity, did you mean to say "PLURALITY" voting in that message to me?

It is plurality voting I condemn, and "simple majority" voting I am praising- IF, by that we mean and "simple" open primary and a "simple" runoff. I cannot envision a more appropriate and just election method. But if you have written a more elaborate and thoughtful essay on the matter I would be interested in reading it. I am very intellectually curious and honest. But I'm not sure I have the old issue of Liberty around. Do have an easy link or copy of it you could send.

Should I read the essay, would you be curious as to my reaction to it? I do think I recall that essay.

Thanks for the comments

Gary Jason

Rodney--the editors provided a link to my old piece, and the subject of voting systems is a deep one (really, at the heart of that area of economics called "public choice theory")--an area that goes back to Condorcet at least. And I am not sure that there is any perfect system of voting, if you mean a system that accurately results in everyone's preferences being expressed.

But what I mean is this. We could adopt a ranked preference system: faced with a Libertarian Party candidate, a Republican, a Democrat, a Green Party on, ranked voting would not just ask me to vote for one, but allow me to rank them. So I could rank as number one myself (write in my own name); as number two choice the Libertarian; as number three the Republican; as number four the Democrat; and as number five the Greenie. The election is held, and if someone wins a majority of the number one ranked votes, he wins outright. If not, we throw out the one with the lowest number of number one rankings, and count again. Keep going until we get a winner.

What you seem to prefer is multiple votes, which, alas, are impractical and have drawbacks of there own. For example, you seem to be saying, that after all the primaries in which parties choose their nominees, we have an election, and if none of the candidates wins a majority, we hold another election with the top two vote getters alone running. The expense and time involved would be high. Also, what if after the first round we discover invormation about the two remaining candidates that would have made the earlier cnadidates morte attractive? Seems unfair...

Rodney Choate, P.E.

I don't know who my second choice is until I see who the top two favorites are, and I submit that when you realize what could happen under an instant ranking system, you might come to feel that way too. Though you don't realize it, the instant ranking system is indeed ultra-democratic, and suffers the same fault as two foxes and a chicken deciding what to have for dinner. That is the moral statement of the mathematics involved in these instant ranking systems. As I mentioned previously, I'm an amateur philosopher and my engineering degree gives me a minor in mathematics.

It appears that many people have little or no exposure to the open-primary/runoff election system of which I speak. But I grew up with it, and we don't consider it an unreasonable expense at all- and certainly not unfair. In fact, we love it.

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