Sentence long update on life: I'm at Berkeley studying Vision Science now.
I've started getting involved with the (currently small) Campus Greens organization (which meets Mondays at 7:10 in 200 Wheeler).
So today I heard Todd Chretien, Green senatorial candidate speak to a group of about 30 as part of the ASUC Speaker Series. Todd titled his talk "Why Students Should Never, Ever Vote for the Democrats," which I think is somewhat unfortunate. Todd has an eloquent platform and I share a lot of the same views, but I also think that the title incites the type of reaction that eliminates any possibility for reasonable discussion or discourse.
I think that people don't want to listen to you if you insult them, or just say something shocking - the novelty (if any) quickly wears off (it's taken me a while to figure this out, but I think I learned the difficulty in trying to actively engage those who support the Democrats when talking (ranting?) to Janet on the streets of Brussels over the summer).
I think that we need more boring nitty-gritty politics, because no one will hand over the helm to people with big ideas (even if they are the right ideas). The big picture is important, but it has to be negotiated with real, tangible, local progress.
Todd gave a short run through of his top three issues ( war in Iraq, education, the two party system), and then opened it up for Q & A. In answering the questions, he covered a lot of ground in both domestic and foreign policy, but I felt like it was a discussion of issues larger than those someone who admitted he had no chance of winning could hope to influence....
So as the last question for the night, after expressing these sentiments I asked what we could do locally, that's within our power, mentioning current choice voting efforts in Davis and Oakland. Unfortunately, Todd stuck to his anti-war protest-in-the-streets approach (even taking an outlandish pot shot at proportional representation by mentioning something about Hitler getting elected).
Most of my life I, too, have been a big ideas person, but I can't say I've accomplished much with them, which is why I'm trying something new...
Until I came to UC Davis, I had never realized that there could be different voting systems. Choice voting is a way of reaching a majority (greater than 50%) consensus.
Choice voting allows everyone to vote their conscience without the fear of having your vote "wasted." After the polls close, if your top-ranked candidate, Alice, has the least amount of votes, she is eliminated and your vote transfers to your next choice, Bob, in your order of preference. This process ("instant run-off") continues until candidates reach enough votes to be elected (the threshold). This consensus building mechanism ensures that the elected officials will represent the greatest possible proportion of the voters.
Contrast this with the current system: candidate Mallory and Minnie, representing a minority of the population could get elected when multiple similar candidates (Alice, Bob, Chris, and Debra) representing the viewpoints of the majority of the population split the vote between one other.
This would not happen under choice voting, because when Alice is eliminated, those votes would go to the next choices of her supporters. This would provide more votes for the remaining majority candidates, ensuring that one of them gets elected.
I encourage Davis voters to vote yes on Measure L this November so that the City can continue looking into this effective system.
Paul Ivanov UC Davis Class of 2005