The Aleph Blog » Blog Archive » NOTA Bene


Like my friend Cody Willard, I believe that one of the most important things that could happen politically would be to break the stranglehold that the Republican/Democrat duopoly has on the political process.  This evening, I am here to offer a simple way that this could be achieved without creating a third party.

(Wait a minute: could we bring “restraint of trade” charges against the Republicans and Democrats for their suppression of third parties?  After all, politics is a business, albeit a twisted one…)

NOTA: None of the above.  Whether by law or by constitutional amendment, all elections should allow for “None of the above” to be a choice.  If “none of the above” wins the election, the candidates are thrown out, and a new election would be held two months later, with none of the prior candidates participating.  Existing officeholders would continue until a new officeholder is elected.

My opinion is that if “None of the above” were an option in the current Presidential race, it would win handily.  Also, as far as the Republicans are concerned, it would have won their nomination, and the convention would have been old-style, where a compromise candidate would have arisen, far more amenable to average voters than Mr. Romney.

We need a brake on the system to arrest the power of the two parties, and give them real competition.  “None of the above,” helps provide that, so that when you have two lousy polar opposite candidates, they will be forced toward the center, or be eliminated by “None of the above.”

NOTA worked to destroy the politics of the Soviet Union; maybe it can help us as well.  If you’re tired of the polarized opinions of the Republicans and Democrats, then I would suggest pushing for legislation or Constitutional amendments that require the ability for all elections to have “None of the above” as a choice.

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3 Responses to NOTA Bene

  1. Helical_Investor says:

    I’ve never been shy about writing in my own name on occasions. Not dissimilar to a NOTA vote, but without the consequence you suggest. I do agree that we would likely benefit from an old style convention, where the delegates we elect are then tasked with finding a suitable candidate.

  2. RichL says:

    You could also hope that Bloomberg starts a new Centrist Party, where the non-crazies from both parties could find a home. If he funds it for the first 5 years with no outside large contributors allowed, the effect of money on politics would be reduced.

  3. izimbra says:

    I believe that a national switch to some form of Condorcet voting would go along way. The basic idea of Condorcet voting is that it allows voters to express a rank order of preferences, so if they prefer a third party candidate who is unlikely to be the eventual winner, they lose nothing by listing that candidate as their first choice and later rank ordering their choice between the major party candidates. There would be cost involved in doing this, but I believe it would lead to a gradual positive change for a set of reasons: when people don’t feel (with rational cause) that they are wasting their vote on unpopular candidates, it allows a) elections show the true strength of the minority candidates and positions, b) the minority candidates can recoup more funds and therefore are more able to compete, c) the field doesn’t get shrunk nearly as fast in the beginning, d) third parties do a lot better, and e) the public debate is broadened. Factor in all of those changes over a few decades with several election cycles and it could yield a big change. It’s just more rational as an election method, both intuitively and in some well defined mathematical senses (see the Wikipedia link below).


David Merkel is an investment professional, and like every investment professional, he makes mistakes. David encourages you to do your own independent "due diligence" on any idea that he talks about, because he could be wrong. Nothing written here, at RealMoney, Wall Street All-Stars, or anywhere else David may write is an invitation to buy or sell any particular security; at most, David is handing out educated guesses as to what the markets may do. David is fond of saying, "The markets always find a new way to make a fool out of you," and so he encourages caution in investing. Risk control wins the game in the long run, not bold moves. Even the best strategies of the past fail, sometimes spectacularly, when you least expect it. David is not immune to that, so please understand that any past success of his will be probably be followed by failures.

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Additionally, David may occasionally write about accounting, actuarial, insurance, and tax topics, but nothing written here, at RealMoney, or anywhere else is meant to be formal "advice" in those areas. Consult a reputable professional in those areas to get personal, tailored advice that meets the specialized needs that David can have no knowledge of.

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