Time for plan B?

I know a lot of libertarians are planning to vote for Kerry as their protest vote, counting on the assumption that the GOP keeps the congress, and that divided government will bring the long missed fiscal conservatism back to the budget.

That plan looked OK when Bush and Kerry were neck-and-neck and Kerry had a comfortable if not commanding lead in the Electoral College projection.

Now, post-RNC bounce, Bush is starting to campaign and Kerry is down, both nationally and state-by-state.

If Kerry can't pull it out, wouldn't that suggest that the next option is to work to defeat Republicans in house/senate races this fall? One hopes that if the "divided government" strategy is indeed the reason for some libertarians' votes for Kerry[1], I'd hope that their down-ticket voting would be complimentary- vote Kerry for Pres, GOP for congress. If Kerry looks to lose, vote Donk for congress.

The problem then being that, if successful, we'd elect people who, instead of being hypocrites, are genuinely and openly in favor of spending gobs and gobs of federal cash... (and taxing you more now, to boot)

fn1. Aside from Jacob Levy's explanation, which isn't (for me) completely persuasive, I can't imagine why a libertarian would vote for Kerry. I can see voting for Badnarik (shudder) or sitting on your hands, but...

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Since the chance that your

Since the chance that your individual vote for will determine the outcome of the election is negligible why would one wasting his time voting (and worrying about who to vote for) at all?

And if even Catallarchs can't be persuaded of the simple fact that voting is a waste of an individual's time, then what prospect is there of rationally persuading great masses of people of more complex propositions?

I believe in the futility of

I believe in the futility of voting. I have a definite hope that Kerry wins, and I buy Brian's point that if Bush wins it may be better if the Dems pick up those key Senate seats. But there is no connection between that hope and strolling to the voting booth.

And if even Catallarchs

And if even Catallarchs canâ??t be persuaded of the simple fact that voting is a waste of an individualâ??s time, then what prospect is there of rationally persuading great masses of people of more complex propositions?

I'm not sure why you keep making statements like this - "If those Austrian Catallarchy guys..." or "You'd think that the people at Catallarchy..." We're not all the same. We don't have the same beliefs.

The argument for the futility for voting is based on the critique of the idea of any single vote being able to affect the outcome of the election. As far as I can tell, Brian did not talk about his particular vote at all. And if we're talking about "many" votes or about not affecting the outcome of the election, than the argument against voting does not apply, depending on how many "many" is. For example, although I do not plan to vote, I hope that any libertarians that do vote do so for Kerry. That statement has nothing to do with the futility of my own vote.

You're giving too much

You're giving too much credence to the polls. There's almost always a post-convention bounce, but it rarely lasts. The poll numbers go up and down, creating the illusion of rapidly changing support levels. But in the end, I'll bet we get a nearly 50-50 split just like in 2000. In any case, I think the chance of changing the party in the White House is greater than the chance of changing the party in one or both houses of Congress.

"Iâ??m not sure why you

"Iâ??m not sure why you keep making statements like this - â??If those Austrian Catallarchy guysâ?¦â?? or â??Youâ??d think that the people at Catallarchyâ?¦â?? Weâ??re not all the same. We donâ??t have the same beliefs."

I understand that you're not all the same, but surely Catallarchy is composed of bloggers who ought to be a pretty favorable audience for sound arguments, no?

It seemed to me that Brian was discussing the utility (in terms of electoral outcome) of different voting strategies. That utility is negligible. Does anyone want to say he wasn't?

It seemed to me that Brian

It seemed to me that Brian was discussing the utility (in terms of electoral outcome) of different voting strategies. That utility is negligible. Does anyone want to say he wasnâ??t?

Again, I didn't see him mention anywhere that he was talking about his own vote. He might have been, but I see no evidence for it.

There is nothing irrational about trying to convince a group (libertarians who are going to vote) to vote for candidate X if the goal is to change the outcome of an election if the potential difference in critical votes is smaller than the potential target audience. Based on our internal server statistics, the number of people who read this blog regularly is many times greater than the difference in the Florida 2000 vote. I realize that not all CTLY readers live in the same state, but its also possible that other non-regular-CTLY-reader-libertarians will end up reading this post due to links from other bloggers. As an example, the last post we made on the Libertarian Party was Instalanched.

The argument against trying to convince a group of voters to vote a certain way is not the same as the argument against cast an individual vote. A person can rationally both not vote but at the same time try to convince a group of voters to vote a certain way. It's entirely consistent with game theory.

I still don't understand why

I still don't understand why libertarians can possibly prefer Kerry over Bush. I can understand not voting for either but voting for Kerry? Surely that is trading one version of statism for another? Unlike one of the posters above, I hope that any libertarian that does not vote for Bush does not for Kerry either. I also hope that some here are fortunate to have the opportunity to vote for Libertarian candidates in the Nov.

Jonathan, "The argument

Jonathan,

"The argument against trying to convince a group of voters to vote a certain way is not the same as the argument against cast an individual vote. A person can rationally both not vote but at the same time try to convince a group of voters to vote a certain way. Itâ??s entirely consistent with game theory."

Groups do not evaluate arguments, nor do they vote. Any argument offered for the utility of voting a certain way is necessarily an argument put to individuals and evaluated by individuals. And since the utility of the individual vote in terms of electoral outcome is negligible there is no sound argument that can be offered based on such utility.

So yeah, there can be utility to the individual in swaying a number of other individuals to vote a given way. But that cannot be accomplished by any valid argument from such utility, it can only be accomplished by purveying nonsense.

If the goal here is to dupe voters with nonsensical arguments I suppose that's defensible. But it ain't very diginified.

I wasn't talking about my

I wasn't talking about my own vote- I'd rather jump into a pool of -20C ethanol naked than vote for Kerry.

But I am planning on being capable of voting this year, though I'm not sure if I'm voting for Atlee Hokie or Badnarik. It's a tough decision at the moment, for as I point out in my post above, Badnarik just keeps doing things that make me want to scream, rather than embrace his cause.

A vote isn't a waste of time, so long as you know why you're doing it and what its for.

since the utility of the

since the utility of the individual vote in terms of electoral outcome is negligible there is no sound argument that can be offered based on such utility. So yeah, there can be utility to the individual in swaying a number of other individuals to vote a given way. But that cannot be accomplished by any valid argument from such utility, it can only be accomplished by purveying nonsense.

First, I'm not sure this is true. For example, an individual might value changing the election results so highly that even a tiny chance produces significant utility. After all, people play the lottery.

More importantly, one can make plenty of arguments about voting that involve indirect utility from electoral outcome. Consider "If you are going to vote, and you want to vote for the major party candidate whose victory would be best for libertarians, vote for Kerry, and here's why...". There is plenty to be said about election outcome and utility if you simply assume one of the many common, rational reasons to vote.

"First, Iâ??m not sure this

"First, Iâ??m not sure this is true. For example, an individual might value changing the election results so highly that even a tiny chance produces significant utility. After all, people play the lottery."

Yeah, but if they spent a year discussing what numbers they should pick for their lottery ticket that would be kind of loopy, wouldn't it?

And while the situation you describe might obtain in some possible scenario it's pretty hard to see how anyone could value the difference between the existing candidates above, oh say, $20 million in their own pocket. That would also be loopy. A lottery ticket is almost always far more valuable than a vote.

And Brian suggests he's going to vote for a fringe candidate which brings the chance that his candidtate will win to as near absolute zero and makes no difference.

If you wanted the LP candidtate to win the election which would do more to enhance his chance to win: 1) voting for him or 2) buying him a single Powerball ticket for $1?

"More importantly, one can make plenty of arguments about voting that involve indirect utility from electoral outcome. Consider â??If you are going to vote, and you want to vote for the major party candidate whose victory would be best for libertarians, vote for Kerry, and hereâ??s whyâ?¦".

How do you fill in the "why" when the return on the individual's vote is still negligible?

"There is plenty to be said about election outcome and utility if you simply assume one of the many common, rational reasons to vote."

What's a rational reason to vote?

Brian, "A vote isnâ??t a

Brian,

"A vote isnâ??t a waste of time, so long as you know why youâ??re doing it and what its for."

Why would you vote, and for what purpose?

Groups do not evaluate

Groups do not evaluate arguments, nor do they vote. Any argument offered for the utility of voting a certain way is necessarily an argument put to individuals and evaluated by individuals. And since the utility of the individual vote in terms of electoral outcome is negligible there is no sound argument that can be offered based on such utility.

If a group of individuals is going to vote (irrationally from their own individual perspectives) anyway, it is not irrational for me to try to convince them to vote in a way that I believe will marginally benefit me as long as the subjective costs of this convincing are less than the subjective benefit I receive.

If I vote for Badnarik, I'm

If I vote for Badnarik, I'm going to do it so that the people tabulating the votes will have one more to count in his column. The numbers reported afterwards would be interesting to me (I want to see how many other people voted as I did) and perhaps interesting to other people. I know that I'm not going to be the one electing him.

OTOH, marginal theory would suggest/predict that my vote is worth more to Badnarik than either Kerry or Bush, because he has so few... :grin:

Brian, "If I vote for

Brian,

"If I vote for Badnarik, Iâ??m going to do it so that the people tabulating the votes will have one more to count in his column. The numbers reported afterwards would be interesting to me (I want to see how many other people voted as I did) and perhaps interesting to other people. I know that Iâ??m not going to be the one electing him."

Since the number of others who will vote for Badnarik in no way depends on your vote, such a vote is indeed a waste of your time. Not that it's not your time to waste.

JTK, you still don't seem to

JTK, you still don't seem to understand why I'm voting. I'm not voting to influence people NOW, I'm voting (a) because I might feel like it and(b) to possibly influence people LATER.

Going on the "Box theory" of social relations/struggle, I'm still on the ballot box & soap box, because I'd rather not pick up the ammo box and jury duty seems awfully dull. Voting is a very imperfect method of preference aggregation (esp. compared to a market where one could bid for what government one wanted, and get something more like what you as an individual want) but its better than the alternative (no voting under a hereditary monarchy/dictatorship of the proletariat/oligarchy of the academics, etc.).

Given that you can't know for certain whether or not my vote will influence people AT A LATER DATE to vote in a different manner (or influence politicians to change policies at a later date), I can't see how you can say with apparent certitude that my vote is a waste of time. At the very least, de gustibus non disputandam est.

Don't Vote! You've seen all

Don't Vote!
You've seen all the campaign posters; now it's time for some anti-campaign posters