one more time with the decisive mathematical proof (creators syndicate/la times, 2004):
Electoral Chaos Theory
By Crispin Sartwell
"A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush."
Children, as you trudge through this vale of pain known as human life, the major parties will proffer arguments to the effect that you should vote for the moral munchkins they've nominated. Unlikely as it seems, one of these might someday be convincing. This one isn't.
Calculations concerning how voting for X affects the candidacies of Y and Z lead directly to completely insane complications. But to the extent we can work out the problem at all, voting for X is never equivalent to voting for Y or Z.
First of all, let's take the clearest scenario. All your life you've voted, and you've only voted Democratic. This time you are torn perfectly in two between Kerry and Nader: you would under no circumstances consider Bush or some other candidate or not voting. Let's suppose that Nader has absolutely no chance, and your preference for Nader has no effect whatever on anything else. Under these circumstances you nevertheless vote for Nader.
Your vote for Nader took a vote away from Kerry, but it did not one add for Bush. Whatever you want to say about this scenario, it is obviously not the same as ditching Kerry and voting for Bush. As we would say in baseball, Kerry's lost half a game.
Now the notion that you've tossed half a vote to Bush depends in turn on a variety of other factors, while the idea of partial votes opens up heretofore unimagined vistas in logic, such as that in some cases not voting is voting, while in others voting is not voting, and in yet others voting once is voting many times.
The distribution of the fragments of your vote to the candidates depends upon the various alternatives you would entertain, their weights, and their own effects. So for example, if there were no chance you were going to vote for Kerry in the first place, you haven't reduced his vote total at all by voting for Nader. If there were a 25% chance you were going to vote for Kerry, and you vote for Nader, then you're only throwing that 25% of your half vote to Bush. That's .125 of a vote.
In the case we're imagining you're 50/50 between Kerry and Nader. So you're only taking 50% of your half vote from Kerry. To make this intuitive: if someone intended to vote for Kerry and accidentally pulled Nader, that is obviously the loss of a half vote to Bush, because the probability of voting for Kerry was nearly 100%. So now we're down to .25 of a vote even in the cleanest case.
For the Democrats, a vote for Nader is a "wasted" vote: it is tantamount to not voting. So we are going to have to ask, in cases where you vote, whether you're failing to vote, and in cases where you don't, who you're voting for.
If you are a potential Kerry voter, not voting is, on the basic Democratic account, voting for Bush in exactly the same way as is voting for Nader. This equivalence supposes that under no circumstances is a vote for Nader a vote for the winner. But though the chances of Nader winning are small, they exist. Perhaps they are equal to Nader's polling numbers nationally, say 2%.
A vote for Kerry reduces Ralph's slim chance of winning and to exactly that extent is a vote for Bush. To be precise it takes away that fraction of a vote that is proportional to Nader's chance to win halved: a hundredth of a vote. So it's .01 of a vote for Bush. Even in the case of pure dilemma, that reduces your vote for Bush to .24.
Obviously, the idea that the Democrats are entertaining is that votes and vote fragments are wasted if they go to a loser. Bush's chance of winning, let us say, is 49%. So you have a 51% chance of wasting your partial vote for Bush when you vote for Nader. Hence, a vote for Nader is .1176 of a vote for Bush.
The antecedent chance that you will vote for Kerry - which fixes the fraction of the vote you're giving to Bush - is reduced by the chance that you will not vote at all. Since about half of eligible people vote in US presidential elections, the average factor is about .5.
Then you're giving Bush .0588 of a vote. That's unlikely to change the outcome, even in Florida.
And if you considered voting for Bush at all, all bets are off. Indeed, pretty quickly you'll find that people who once had a little inkling for Bush and ended up voting for Nader did not vote at all, because they repaid to Kerry what they subtracted from Bush.
It might be fun to spend a few years working on this problem, and a Nobel in psychomathematics might lurk in the research, or maybe just psychosurgery for the researcher .
But let us not be hasty. We should also entertain the idea that a vote for *Kerry* is a vote for Bush.
After all, it is a vote for the war in Iraq, for the Patriot Act, for No Child Left Behind, against gay marriage, for deficit spending on a massive scale, and so on.
Perhaps "Kerry" and "Bush" are simply two names for the same thing. Then, though voting for Nader might be voting .0588 for Bush, voting for Kerry is voting for Bush entirely.
But let's be generous and postulate that Kerry only coincides with Bush 75%. Of course it still follows with mathematical precision that no matter who you vote for - and even if you don't vote at all - you're voting for Bush. Defeating Bush in this case is conceptually impossible, and Democrats by their own calculations would do well to give up. In fact, they have.
At any rate, if the Democrats are right that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush, and if the average Nader vote is .0588 of a vote for Bush, voting for Kerry is voting for Bush about 13 times.
i have a terrifying admission to make: my work is plagiarized from ludwid wittgenstein. that's why my work sucks so bad that it tastes like sperm. (wait does that work? what is sucking, what ejaculating etc in this metaphor? fuck it i just don't care anymore. anyway i plagiarized that from ludwig too, of course.) worse than that, my actual favorite song by the rolling stones, whom - as you know - i have proven mathematically to be the greatest band in history, is this one. i feel that proof of the transcendent greatness of this song - which is transcendently greater than any other song in the very history of songs - is unlikely to emerge through the mathematical disciplines as currently configured, though each of these, of course and incomprehensibly, is a non-denumerably infinite realm. this will certainly require the profound yet logically impossible development of trans-non-adenumerable infinite infinities, or whatever. fortunately i have some free time, and i'm devoting my next 57 years to scratching futilely, like a cute little kitten, at this impermeable surface. when i get it, as i inevitably shall, i shall dedicate the non-denumerable or entirely nonexistent nobel to jane irish and jane sartwell.
christ i had forgotten how hilarious and great this whole album is. you'd think that would be hard when you listen to it twice every day for five years. right now i'm hearing it as their best album, which is ridiculous since i'd also rank sticky fingers as the greatest album in rock history, this one outside the top 50. i have overcome rationality itself and finally realized the teachings of my dear teacher soren kierkegaard. when i was attacking him during his office hours once at the university of beaumont (texas)... man, he was hard to deal with; he'd just sit there laconically, his face invisible underneath that stetson, loading and unloading that fucking colt; like my dearish rorty, he'd just revel in his irrationality, glorying epiphanically in every reductio ad absurdum with which i battered him. that shit sucked too, like..whatevs. but i'm suddenly finding it very encouraging that i can forget literally anything. i used to be able to forget literally nothing.
plus i am so over these giant reflections on the whole shape of my life, like out and loving the woman artist: a how-to-guide, though these contain my most beautiful and honest writing (eds.? best am essays, etc?) but that shit is sysiphean or however one might spell that. i'm so over that shit. ok, am i certifiably sane now? then why the rubber room?1
1[did i make up this mode of comedy? absolutely not. it is what is known in theories of hilarity as 'high burlesque.' i have fucking perfected it though.]