Good for the Godless Party

The Secular Coalition for America has put together a Secular Scorecard for our representatives in both houses of congress, evaluating them for how they voted on issues of importance (separation of church and state, science, funding religious organizations, that sort of thing) in the past year. It’s interesting in a sad way in how it’s split along party lines: the lesson is that the godless should never, ever vote Republican, but that Democrats are only mostly safe. There are a few screwballs like Salazar and Nelson of Nebraska that throw off the general rule that you can divide them neatly by party, but generally you see disparities like this, for Minnesota.

MINNESOTA Party RC130 RC131 RC132 RC133 RC1 RC2 RC158 RC159 RC163 RC206 Score

Coleman, N

R 0

Dayton, M

D + + + + + + + + + + 100

Even if Democrats aren’t godless themselves, they’re mostly on our side on the issues that count.

Sadly, I suspect that rather than being proud of their voting record, this is one endorsement they’ll struggle to hide.


  1. Alex says

    I think you’re right PZ. And it is sad.

    I’m not in marketing, but I’ve worked around those types long enough to be fairly certain that with the right positioning, their voting record could be hailed as being as American as apple pie – appealing to the notions of fairness, inclusion, and mutual respect for all. It’s hard for me to imagine that the Democratic Party doesn’t have the vision and resources to put together a campaign such as this.

  2. Robert says

    And of course Marilyn Musgrave gets a zero. It is of cousre my fault that she is even in office. See I was just old enough to vote… but didn’t… when she was elected out of my district (for those of you who don’t know, she is one of the original architects for the federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage).

    She is a stain upon my state and our country. Although the whole inicident has now kept me voting in all elections. So I suppose there’s some small good in it…


  3. Chris says

    Actually, any non-Christian, and maybe Catholics too, shouldn’t vote Republican. The Republican agenda is very dangerous to anyone but the “right kind” of Christian.

    In my own state, Allen, a zero, is up for re-election this year. I hope we can kick him out.

  4. Erasmus says

    Yeah Robert if only you had voted. That woulda changed EVERYTHING.

    Anyway, I find it quite fascinating that folks skeptical of sky daddies are so willing to embrace the mysticism of political representation. I say a pox on sky daddies and ground daddies.

    Go ahead and say, don’t vote don’t complain. that is so fallacious it has become boring to refute. There is nothing contradictory about that type of skepticism. On the other hand… perhaps it satisfies some sort of tribal urge to participate in popularity contests while holding to irrational notions of cause-effect in politics and general affairs of life.

    you’ll never see caddisflies ganging up to vote on a leader. yet they thrive. hmmm.

    alternatively, jeebus said ‘consider the lilies, neither do they toil nor spin’. he coulda said vote too.

  5. Brian says

    Did you notice that we lost every. single. vote on the HR bills, except the one that had no chance because Bush finally decided to use his veto. But I’ve got to say, I don’t really care all that much about the Mt. Soledad cross, though the political maneuvering is kind of irritating.

  6. Alex says

    Ummm, yeah.


    1. Political parties are real things and therefore any mysterious questions you may have about them can be answered.

    2. Majority parties have greater influence on laws which govern everybody.

    3. It is wise to participate in a system where others may have a say on what you can/can’t do, think, or say.

    4. Popularity contests are good things when they involve informed rational people that participate in rational discourse that decides critical future events.

    5. Caddis flies and lilies don’t vote because they haven’t yet figured out a way to mitigate those “hanging-chads”.
    6. Humans haven’t figured out those chads either but we still give it our best.

  7. T_U_T says

    Go ahead and say, don’t vote don’t complain.

    Yeah ! Forget voting, let insane extremists govern your country, and don’t complain while watching your loved ones being massacred one after other…

  8. bernarda says

    There are some surprises: Trent Lott and the other senator from Mississippi actually voted for stem-cell research! and got a 10%.

    Not so surprising, Holy Joe Busherman of Conn only managed a 60%. “Centrist” Republican McCain only 20%.

  9. Erasmus says

    alex i agree with you about caddisflies and lilies to a point. not sure they WOULD vote. it involves the assumptions you outlined, namely…

    3. ‘participate’ in the system is an assumption i don’t buy. aside from the statistical oblivion of one vote, the notion that a ‘vote’ translates into some material result is an assumption i completely reject. for the same reason that i reject the notion of prayer resulting in any material result. basically i don’t buy the cause-effect schematic.

    4. ‘rational people’ and ‘rational discourse’ that ‘affect events’ is another one i don’t buy. i would assume you are a student of machiavelli enough to know that ‘rational’ does not fit into the political equation. the notion that popular opinion (whether translated from polls or votes) affects decision making should be severely curtailed by observing the actions of, say, this administration. IMO voting is a mechanism for appeasement of the peasants, to prevent uprisings, not to encourage representation and participation.

    i’m not saying politicians don’t make decisions that affect the price of gas or putting you in jail for smoking a doobie, but it doesn’t follow that it is ‘wise’ to participate.

    to me, voting is like going to church. i don’t do either.

    I wonder if anyone out there has stats on how many atheists/agnostics vote, vs. ‘believers’. always found this purty innerstin.

  10. Erasmus says

    TUT, if you voted, then you still have insane extremists running your country. Forget it dude. go fishing or something. if you didn’t vote, it’s not your fault. doing neither will change anything. parsimony thus suggests voting is superfluous.

  11. says

    my rep from NY wasn’t bad with 90% and that’s because he, Hinchey, didn’t vote at all on one bill. Senators Clinton and Schumer scored right.

  12. T_U_T says

    the notion that a ‘vote’ translates into some material result is an assumption i completely reject.
    It is just a few hundred kilometers from where I live to former yugoslavia. Believe me, it is pretty hard to reject the existence of material results of bad voting decisions if you can see them with your own eyes. Your skepticism looks from here very like skepticism about whether pushing the trigger while you are looking into the gun barrel will really result in blasting your head off.

  13. T_U_T says

    if you voted, then you still have insane extremists running your country.

    But the their chance to take over the government will decrease a little

    doing neither will change anything

    this is a flat, plain falsehood. A falsehood that may literally kill you…

  14. Alex says


    I don’t know that I stated any assumptions.

    1. is a fact
    2. is also a fact
    3. is an assertion based on the definition of “wise”.
    4. is an assertion based on the definition of “good” with the qualifier “when”.
    5. fact
    6. fact

    I just prefer a little more accuracy with language, but I’m no expert.

    Cooperation is an evolved mechanism. There is hugely profound meaning in that teeny sentence that cuts across species and back through time. There are reasons for its existence. It can very useful, and for a lot of things, absolutely required.

    Our political system, indeed democracy, is based on the organized cooperative. A hominid society without organized cooperation would never be able to get past the stone age. It’s not perfect because of greed, ignorance, and fear. But then those human frailties are common in most all of our endeavors.

    I guess it just sounds like you’re throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    Are you proposing a dictatorship?

  15. anonymous says

    Off topic but is anybody else having problems with (I get redirected to which displays a large picture telling me “do not kill yourself” and “we will be back soon”)? I’m working under the assumption that is is a legit message put up by the owner so, does anyone know what the problem is? Or was Stupid Evil Bastard hacked?

  16. Markus says

    Indiana doesn’t bare well. My rep (4th IN dist) got a 0%.

    But Senator Bayh got 100%! Maybe he’ll run for president. I’d at least consider him in the primaries while certainly considering others.

  17. moniker says

    + voted correctly
    – voted incorrectly

    What a great grading scale that tells me absolutely nothing about how I interpret their vote as opposed to how you interpret it. What’s wrong with + meaning they voted yea and – meaning they voted nay?

  18. Krakus says

    I think what you Yanks need is another alternative. Few other democracies in the world have a two party only system. A two party system polarizes the voting public (and the political rhetoric) into two mututually exclusive extremes. Morevover only one of those extremes needs 50%+1 to win. In three or more party systems I think you tend to see more moderate positions on all sides because the parties themselve don’t want to alienate too many people for fear that they’ll vote for someone else. Just my two cents.

  19. J says

    that’s the studpidest thing I’ve ever seen. They use 8 votes that are always partyline? Sheesh.

  20. Eclogite says

    I live in Texas and am, sadly, represented (poorly, I might add) by Republicans. My House member scored a 0, 1 senator scored a 0 and the other scored….wait for it….a 10. Great….

  21. Julia says

    “aside from the statistical oblivion of one vote”

    Sometimes one vote means a great deal. In a city election a few years ago, I persuaded my elderly and invalid mother, who always gave serious thought to the political issues but because of her health had not voted for years previously, to express her views through an absentee ballot. The incumbent felt sure of being returned, and didn’t do much campaigning. The challenger my mother preferred won by a single vote. He is an extremely active person in government, and has succeeded in coaxing through a number of changes that affect our lives every day. Had my mother not voted, presumably there would have been a tie, the shocked incumbent would have gotten out and campaigned, and quite likely he would have won the run-off.

  22. Alex says


    Clearly two orthogonal line segments of equal length intersecting at their midpoints is a superior demarcation technique. Ergo, the reasonable votes get them.

  23. Kayla says

    Yay, not bad! My representative got 90, and my senators each got 100 (all Dems). Yay Maryland. :)

  24. Tom says

    Hi, Gang!

    My two cents: the current political situation exists because of very intentional power-grabbing by people who mean no good to honest rational thinkers and wannabees (like me). Those of us who want change MUST organize and MUST find ways to exert influence on behalf of candidates who do represent us. Voting is only a start.

    Erasmus, please reconsider. Your voice and your vote is needed! Thank you, T_U_T! Thank you, Julia! Alex, you sound like a leader. Got a blog yet?

    Look, I know PZ is not running a political blog but isn’t it rational thinking that we must engage? I have so much to learn and I DON’T want PZ and other Science bloggers silenced because of the whim of someone who simply does not want him (and you all) speaking.

    I for one would like to see all of the candidates who have the ‘endorsement’ of the Secular Scorecard receive overwhelming support from people of good faith. PZ’s post has alerted me that I could be (MUST BE) evaluating the incumbents from my own state (but I was gonna try to vote them out anyway).

    And then, who are the power-brokers behind these guys? What pulls their strings? Can they be won over? Can they even be influenced?

    The power grabbers are NOT going to stop. Neither can we. Blogging and commenting here are great. This is a fabulous gathering place. Let’s follow up with action. We owe it to ourselves and the future. I know, I know, you’ve heard it all before.

    Thanks for letting me rant.

  25. moniker says


    Clearly two orthogonal line segments of equal length intersecting at their midpoints is a superior demarcation technique. Ergo, the reasonable votes get them.”

    Reasonable to whom? The people who are making this ‘report card?’ Well bully for them. Give me the facts of the vote, yea or nay, and I’ll make up my own mind whether or not I agree with my representative’s stance. So far I know the vote number and title (I can hit up Thomas for more if I like), and what they think of my rep’s decision. No actual information I can use to get a better appreciation for the voting record. Unless I choose to start blindly following an interest group now.

    What a fine waste of time they made rather than an actually useful tool for the electorate.

  26. Erasmus says

    TUT meet the new boss, same as the old boss. hitler was elected democratically. the assumptions that some of y’all are falling for are that there is a causal link between your vote and some material outcome. you can red herring that material outcome all you want but ultimately some dickhead is in office doing what he wants to do, despite what you voted. so some other dickhead gets in office, does what HE wants to do. to paraphrase PZ, the earth keeps spinning, population genetic frequencies keep changing, so big whoop.

    i’m not a nihilist. but i think to be rational about the whole thing is to forgo belief in sky daddies and ground daddies. philosopher kings or omnipotent creators are all bunk in my book. ask me for a better alternative? someone said a dictatorship? hardly. a better alternative would be everyone mind their own goddam business and hoe their own taters. you say that it is impossible, i agree. there are always some demented fuckwits telling someone what is right and wrong, god said this or the government said this. a pox on all those houses. why would you want to be one of the rabble?

    there is a big deal between saying ‘this is a stupid way to behave’ and saying ‘this is the way you should behave’. i’m not giving you an alternative, i’m saying your belief in political systems is epistemically equivalent to believing in Thor Satan Shiva the Masta Pasta and Jehovah.

  27. JohnnieCanuck says


    If you follow the link PZ put in the first line, you can click on their details link to see each roll call result and what SCA considered correct.

    As far as I can see that is what you are wishing they had done.

  28. Far Away says

    In Australia, we have effectively a two-party system – the Labour party on the left (sort of) and a conservative party/coalition on the right which we call the Liberal Party (to confuse Americans).

    Voting is compulsory. Of course, you can go into an electoral booth and write “none of the above” or more colourful messages on your ballot paper – you just have to get your name crossed-off as having voted. However, over 90% of the eligible adult population cast valid votes in federal elections.

    In addition, we have what is called preferential voting. So if there are 3 candidates for a seat, you have to put 1, 2 or 3 against each candidate. If no-one gets more than 50% of the total vote, you eliminate the person who came third, and re-allocate their second preferences so that you elect the person who got more than 50% of the two-party preferred vote. (More candidates simply means you eliminate the person at the bottom of the list, and keep working up until you get past 50%).

    The main effect of this system of compulsory and preferential voting is that to become the government you have to get fairly close to half the adult population voting for you or preferring you to the main alternative (marginally complicated by the sytem of electorates, so that occasionally it is possible to get more than 50% of the seats in Parliament with say 49% of the total preferred votes).

    This means that the government has to be fairly middle of the road and if one party were to be taken over by extreme right wingers or extreme left wingers (as defined by those people in the middle), then they are unlikely to become government.

    We also have a Senate that gets to review and reject most legislation (not Budgets), so that the government has to have control of both houses simultaneously in order to be sure of getting its legislation through. It does at the moment. But we generally also have only half the Senate up for re-election every 3 years, at the same time as our House of Representatives, in order to give people the opportunity to consider whether the government should not be too powerful.)

    In addition, we also vote on Saturdays and the boundaries of electorates for Federal government are determined by a statutory authority that is independent of government. (naturally, it is more complicated than this but for details, see This statutory authority – not the state governments – also actually runs the elections.

    It also helps that we have a Parliamentary system, so that the Executive power really derives from the Legislature (although we slightly disguise this by the government appointing someone to pretend they are the Queen of England living in Australia who signs off the legislation, and deals with the occasional crisis like one we had in 1975).

    As a result, in my view, we end up with sensible, middle-of-the-road governments, highly unlikely to do anything too extreme. (Lots of people on the left or right in Australia would disagree with this analysis, however.)

    My admittedly distant view of the US system leads me to conclude that to solve a lot of your political problems and their implications for science, you need to start with reforming the electoral system.

    Compulsory voting might not be a goer in the US, but like most things it simply becomes a habit, as shown by the fact that the vast majority of Australians vote and cast a valid vote.

    You don’t need all of our system obviously, although I think that a truly independent body to set electorate boundaries and run elections would be a good thing to aim for.

    Despite this sensible system, we do still have unusual conference entertainments. And our foreign policy is pretty closely aligned with yours.

  29. T_U_T says

    hitler was elected democratically

    You apparently fail to notice that it happened
    exactly because lots of people did what you tell us we should do.

    the assumptions that some of y’all are falling for are that there is a causal link between your vote and some material outcome.

    Do you really think you can let facts vanish in thin air by relabeling them as assumptions ?

    ultimately some dickhead is in office doing what he wants to do, despite what you voted

    You can vote him in, and you can vote him out. He is not the pope, to be elected for lifetime. So he can’t do what he wants and stay in the office for very long. And voting for dickheads is rather a poor strategy, anyway…

    better alternative would be everyone mind their own goddam business and hoe their own taters

    Oh yeah… anyone should care about nothing but herself. We should completelly ignore that as soon as this happens all thugs will gang up, start plundering and no one will be able to stop them on his own…

  30. truth machine says

    aside from the statistical oblivion of one vote

    Sorites fallacy.

    the notion that a ‘vote’ translates into some material result is an assumption i completely reject for the same reason that i reject the notion of prayer resulting in any material result. basically i don’t buy the cause-effect schematic.

    Kinda like how the creationists don’t buy the cause-effect schematic of evolution.

  31. truth machine says

    the notion that popular opinion (whether translated from polls or votes) affects decision making should be severely curtailed by observing the actions of, say, this administration.

    As opposed to some other administrations. But hey, voting is only for appeasement, it doesn’t have any material effect. Ayup.

    Funny though how, when the county supervisors here went from 3 liberals, 2 conservatives to 2 liberals, 3 conversatives, a whole bunch of policies suddenly changed.

  32. truth machine says

    I think what you Yanks need is another alternative.

    The problem is our voting system, which has been proven to tend to lead to two parties. Instant runoff voting or similar systems, and proportional representation, would change that.

  33. truth machine says

    TUT meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    Meet the sloganeer.

    hitler was elected democratically.

    And what is true of one case is true of all cases, eh?

    the assumptions that some of y’all are falling for are that there is a causal link between your vote and some material outcome.

    It’s not an assumption, it’s a rational inference. You should try engaging in the practice some time.

  34. truth machine says

    you can red herring that material outcome all you want but ultimately some dickhead is in office doing what he wants to do, despite what you voted. so some other dickhead gets in office, does what HE wants to do

    Which is a good reason to vote for the dickhead whose desires most closely match your own.

    Are you really this stupid, or is this a very clever parody someone extremely stupid?

  35. truth machine says

    i’m not a nihilist…a better alternative would be everyone mind their own goddam business and hoe their own taters. you say that it is impossible, i agree.

    You’re not a nihilist, but your better alternative is something that you consider to be impossible?

    Must be a parody.

  36. Erasmus says

    parody all you want. i made it abundantly clear that i wasn’t offering an alternative. the only rational alternative is to suspend belief in political systems and government as a means of doing anything that you consider right or wrong, JUST AS it is the most rational choice to suspend belief in sky daddies.

    the idea that ‘a causal link between your vote and a material outcome’ is a rational inference is absolutely ludicrous. i won’t call you names and denigrate your intelligence, you have a big leader and swivel hanging out of your mouth. if i jerked on it too hard hook might pull your guts out. if ONE VOTE has ever been lost or not counted your ‘rational inference’ is clearly bogus and remains a [crappy] assumption. I will leave that up to you to decide if it’s ever happened.

    i really think the source of the ire directed at my comments is because some of my fellow non-believers are CLOSET believers in government and politics as a means of improving people’s lifes. This is only true if you allow government and politicians to define what is valuable in those lives, which is exactly the business that they occupy most of their time with. If you are willing to settle for statistical arguments for value then voting is for you. You have earned your birthright.

    Sky Daddy, Ground Daddy. Everyone believes in something. I believe I’ll get back to work.

  37. David Harmon says

    1) I think Erasmus is a probably a Troll.

    2) While I agree with a lot of PZ’s positions, I think he neglects the pragmatic reasons why it’s necessary to humor at least some religious views — that is, such tolerance translates into votes. Bluntly, while fundamentalism is clearly an Enemy Of Reason, there are other religious positions, such as Deism, which can be strong allies.

    Somebody who say “OK, I accept evolution and all that, but I think think God has to be in there somewhere”, is drifting from some other (usually more religious) position, toward Deism or suchlike. From our perspective, that’s a good thing, because we can work with Deists and other “mild” religious stances. On the other hand, if we grimace or snap at people every time they mention God, we end up with fewer allies than me might have had — and these days, we need every ally we can trust.

  38. says

    Getting away from the hardly surprising discovery that the GOP is more religious, one ought to ask, why have they so often engaged in these petty and largely symbolic desecrations of the principle of separation of church and state? I think the reason is this; they’ve found they’re unwilling or unable to pass the major items of their agenda (cutting or even restraining federal spending, immigration policy that isn’t a total joke, a roll back of racial preferences). Their foreign policy has been a disaster, as a result of applying naive idealistic principles to complex situations. Their base is mutinous. So what they reckon is that they can buy off the Christian Conservatives with nonsense like the Mount Soledad Cross (and the Dems were particularly spineless on that one too; there wasn’t one senator who was willing to block the transfer).

    The actions listed in the SCA’s rating were fiscally cheap, and the GOP is making the calculation that the electoral cost is also small – they must reckon that secular conservatives either don’t care enough, are too small in numbers to matter, or have already bailed on the GOP:

    They may be right.

  39. says

    hitler was elected democratically.


    Hitler never had more than 37 percent of the popular vote in the honest elections that occurred before he became Chancellor. And the opposition among the 63 percent against him was generally quite strong. Hitler therefore would have never seen the light of day had the German Republic been truly democratic. Unfortunately, its otherwise sound constitution contained a few fatal flaws. The German leaders also had a weak devotion to democracy, and some were actively plotting to overthrow it. Hitler furthermore enjoyed an almost unbroken string of luck in coming to power. He benefited greatly from the Great Depression, the half-senility of the president, the incompetence of his opposition, and the appearance of an unnecessary backroom deal just as the Nazis were starting to lose popular appeal and votes.

    Go read the whole thing.

  40. Krakus says

    Wintermute: hitler was elected democratically. Lies!

    I’m not sure that is neccessarily true. In a parliamentary system its possible to have fewer than 50% of the votes and hold a majority of the seats thereby having a majority government. I beleive this is similar to the way Britain does it too, although I think Autralia’s run-off system generally prohibits this from happening. This is one issues we’re dealing with in Canada regarding parliamentary reform. Each voter votes in his/her riding and the representative for that riding who gets the MOST votes (not neccessarilly more than 50%) gets to go to parliament. In our last 3 Liberal majority governments, the party never earned more than 50% of the votes but had in excess of 50% of the seats in parliament. As for dictatorial powers, I’m pretty sure that most democracies have that built into their constitution somehwere. I know in Canada we have the War Measures Act, which when invoked by the PM gives the government the power to arrest and imprison people without due process, among other ’emergency’ powers. The Brits have the Defense of The Realm Act whihc is similar in scope.

  41. says

    There is also a regional component to the numbers. Where did dissenting votes in each party come from?
    GOP – the 10 reps and 6 senators who broke the most were from: Connecticut (3) Maine (2) Illinois (2) Arizona (2) Deleware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, New Hampshire.

    (New England, some northeast, some midwest)

    Dems – the 16 reps and 10 senators who broke the most were from: West Virginia (4), Illinois (3), Georgia (2), North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Delaware, Pennsylvania, California, Hawaii.

    South, Border, Plains (roughly)

  42. Loren Petrich says

    First, Adolf Hitler was not elected democratically; the Nazis never won a majority vote in an election where they had to compete with other parties. They formed a coalition with another party, the Nationalist Party (DNVP). And when in office, they exploited the Reichstag Fire to get more power for themselves.

    And as to that scorecard, there is a very dramatic difference between the two parties, as I have calculated here.

    I found that the Democrats usually score high and the Republicans score low; a few Democrats scored as low as many Republicans, but no Republicans scored as high as many Democrats. Also, the highest-scoring Republicans usually come from pro-Democratic “blue” states, while the lowest-scoring Democrats usually come from pro-Republican “red” states.

    Their average scores:
    House Democrats: 75
    House Republicans: 7
    Senate Democrats: 82
    Senate Republicans: 5

  43. Loren Petrich says

    Here is a nice Wikipedia article on voting systems.

    Our usual system here in the United States of America, plurality voting or first-past-the-post, is generally considered the worst possible. However, many other countries use various alternatives, like preference voting and proportional representation, which seem to work well and make “strategic voting” unnecessary.

    And what’s especially nice is that implementing such systems does not require a Constitutional amendment — only appropriate changes in election laws.

    For Presidential elections, abolishing the Electoral College would require a Constitutional amendment, while changing the way that the electors are chosen requires only appropriate changes in the states’ election laws. Winner-take-all is not written into the Constitution, which I’ve discovered by reading it.

    There are some efforts to get states to give their electoral votes to whichever party wins the popular vote, but an alternative I prefer would be to have states give their votes in proportion to how many votes each party got. Thus, a state with 20 electoral votes might have 55% Democratic, 40% Republican, and 5% Green. Under winner-take-all, it would make all 20 electors Democratic, but under proportional representation, it would make 11 electors Democratic, 8 Republican, and 1 Green.

    However, the two parties may not want to risk their “safe” states; the Democrats may not want to risk California and the Republicans may not want to risk Texas.

    Changing election laws for US Congresspeople would be even easier; it would require only changes in appropriate state and Federal laws. For one-seat races, one can implement various alternative schemes, like approval voting and preference voting. And for states with several House seats, one could combine several House districts to form “superdistricts” with several Representatives, which can then be chosen by something like the Australian system, or else party-list proportional representation (the seats would be apportioned in proportion to how many votes each party received).

    And the same can be done for state and local elections.

    Approval voting: vote for whichever candidates one likes. A lefte might vote Democratic and Green, while a right-libertarian might vote Republican and Libertarian. The votes are then counted in the usual manner.

    Preference voting. Rank candidates by preference, then use any of various algorithms to find an overall preference, like Borda, Condorcet, or instant runoff.

    Finally, I remember back from the 2000 elections, when it seemed that Al Gore might win the electoral vote while losing the popular vote, that the Republicans were planning a campaign to discredit the Electoral College in case that happened. And in a recent Washington State governor’s race, when it seemed like the Republicans would barely win, they were planning a campaign to demand that the Democrats be good losers and accept the result of the election. But when it was the Democrats that won, they loudly demanded recounts.

  44. says

    It’s interesting in a sad way in how it’s split along party lines

    Andy Tanenbaum, the guy behind, has noticed the same thing. He picked eight progressive groups’ senator scorecards, and found that the scores are clustered around 0% and 100%, with a definite trough in the middle. has lots of scorecards that special-interest groups have given politicians. Looking through the ones for my representatives, it does look as though there are a lot more 0s and 100s than one would normally expect, and the scores in the middle tend to be either on specialized issues (like agriculture or the arts) or given by groups with a fairly narrow focus.

    So it does look as if this is a deeply divided country.

  45. Krakus says


    I think you’re conflating a majority government with a democratically elected one. They are not mutually exclusive and indeed under multi-party systems, and certainly under parlimentary systems it is possible to have a ruling government without a majority. For example:

    a) the ruling party does not have the majority in number of votes but does have a majority in seats in parliament,

    b) the ruling party does not have the majority in number of votes AND does not have a majority in the number of seats in parliament.

    The latter is called a minority government. Canada currently has one. In the last election, the Conservative party only gained 36% of the votes and 40% of the seats in parliament. What does this mean?

    a) If the other parties can get their act together, they can defeat the government in a vote of non-confidence which dissolves the parliament and means a new election. (Its happened to every Canaidan minority government so far except the last one)

    b) The government can use political leveraging and strategy to play off the competing parties (the current one seems to be doing a surpisingly good job…much to my chagrin).

    c) The ruling government can form a coalition government with another party to have the majority rule, however this means compromising on policy issues to conform with a middle ground between the two parties.

    If in 1933 the National Socialists formed a coalition with the German National Peoples’ Party, then there wasn’t anything undemocratic about that. This is common practice in parliamentary democracy. Both parties were strongly nationalistic and both were xenophobic, and this is likely why they formed a coalition in 1933, because of common ground. When analysing history, particularly WW2, its easy to lay the blame exclusively at Hitler’s feet. He is not innocent, and he did exploit the public’s fears to gain power. The National Socialists (Nazis) gained the most votes and the second most votes went to the another nationalist party. No one could have foreseen the events that followed but the rise to power of the Nazis refelcted the general sentiment amongst the German people of that time. Please do not misconstrue my feelings for the war. Many of my family died in Eastern Europe as a direct consequence of the war. I even had relatives die at death camps. My point is, that even through legal, and democratic (by which I mean governments elected by the people) systems it is possible to created horrific governments that go on to infamy; and also, we should never underestimate the caapacity for people to commit acts and unspeakable cruelty to others. It all becomes much easier to do when ‘eveyone else is doing it’.