FOREWORD

 

 

                                                       FOREWORD

 

Over the at least last twelve years prior to the 2008 election, I have made numerous attempts to try to get into the public forum a serious and broad discussion of the issue of voting reform.  I view this as a necessary first step to improve the operation of our political system so that it serves us better.  With the exception of the first chapter written specifically for this book, the manifestos, essays and other texts in this collection are from my written records of that effort.

The following text of my 1996 letter to Ross Perot in which I tried to raise the issue of voting reform is the oldest text I have of my efforts.

 

                                          June 16, 1996

 

Dear Mr. Perot:

 

In 1992 I wrote you (copy of letter enclosed) to urge you to reconsider your withdraw from the presidential race, which I like many others, was grateful that you subsequently did.  Once again we face a situation similar to that of four years ago: a poor choice of candidates offered by the major parties and a marked reluctance to face up to our country's major problems--future runaway deficit fueled by future unsustainable middle-class entitlements.  However, I feel that you could best serve the country by fulfilling a somewhat different role this time.  And I am writing to urge you to do so.

 

There are three important things that you could do to give the electorate a meaningful possibility of dealing with our problems.  First, support a third-party bid by a Warren Rudman or a Peter Peterson.  Second, use you influence, which effectively precludes your candidacy, to push for a change in the election laws that would permit the electorate to seriously consider a third-party alternative.  And third, engage in nation-wide teach-ins as you did last time.

 

Unless the current system of choosing electors in each state is replaced by a fairer system, the voters will not have a meaningful chance of considering a third-party alternative.  The passage of federal legislation requiring approval voting for president in each state with more than two candidates on the ballot is a way of doing this.  Under such a system, every voter could give one vote each to the candidate or candidates he or she approves of, with the electors pledged to the candidate with the highest approval vote being elected in each state.

 

Such a system would have three important advantages.  First, it would permit voters to better reveal their voting preference in a field of three or more candidates for president.  Second, such a system is easy to understand and implement with machine or paper ballots.  And third, it would probably assure that the winning candidate had a clear mandate to govern--which was not true four years ago.

 

Should you push for such a system as a candidate, I fear that the anti-Perot press would try (successfully) to argue that the effort was self-serving.  But should you do so as a public-spirited citizen, I believe you could have a profound effect.  In order to reach you and the public on this issue, I am also writing this as an open letter for an op-ed piece.

 

                                          Sincerely yours,

 

                                          John Howard Wilhelm, Ph.D.,

                                          Economics

 

Enc.:  Text of 1992 letter.