Grand Illusion: the Myth of Choice

Theresa Amato was Ralph Nader's campaign manager for his presidential runs in the 2000 and 2004 elections. Earlier this year she published a book on the institutionalization of the two-party state and the hurdles faced by anyone seeking office as an independent or on a third party ticket. Alternet has published an extended excerpt from the work, entitled Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny. From the preface:
In the run up to the 2004 elections article after article appeared documenting the reigning chaos in our electoral procedures, and surmising that another “Florida 2000” could happen. After the election, questions were raised in Ohio and in the gubernatorial race in Washington State, but in 2008, the infatuation with the electoral system was otherwise directed to the early primaries and the “historic” potential to elect Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. With neither election as razor-close as the 537 vote discrepancy in Florida 2000, some of the prior attention paid to our electoral systems has waned.

To the extent concern is shown, it tends to focus on the mechanics of registering to vote, keeping accurate lists, and having votes counted by machines of better-than-dubious programming or security. Less concern is directed to the far more disenfranchising systemic problems of having a “winner-take-all” system that results in uncompetitive elections in most congressional and local races. Nor is there a widespread movement toward choice maximizing voting systems, or just better competition by structuring campaign finance systems to encourage participation for more than our millionaires or those who have access to them.

In this country, we are really just at the beginning of understanding the deep flaws with our arcane electoral processes. Virtually none of the attention is on the rights of third-party or independent candidates to compete on a level playing field with the major parties so that all voters, not just two-party voters, have a chance to vote for whom they want. This book is written for third party and Independents candidates, their voters, the election law reformers and chroniclers, and all those who have tried or will try to grapple with the stunning incompetence and injustice of the broken, two-party dominated American electoral system.

-Theresa Amato, June 3, 2009


Michael said...

Sounds like a book I ought to read. Thanks for the tip.

d.eris said...

Many reviews I have seen have been positive, though others claim it is somewhat dry, which probably means it has tons of useful information.