The continuation of this discussion: https://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=9707139&cid=53004045
I think that any winner-take-all system (including instant run-off) is going to destroy a party's ideology, because for every "normal" issue the voters are going to be distributed on a bell curve. Actually, it is possible to imagine 3D or higher issues, but that's not how it works in practice as the elements and dimensions are reduced to the minimum in search of clarity (or suitability for public debate?). Black-and-white binary issues are quite rare in the real world.
Assume that you start with two politicians discussing an issue. Then each of them is motivated to change his position towards the middle to capture the largest number of voters. If he crosses the middle, then he may start losing the small tail of voters "far behind" his new position, and that's where you seem to be. However, because you are in the small tail, it's still a winning election strategy, and you're more likely to be "neutralized" by some extremist on the other end who is equally offended by the politician who started on his side before moving to the center.
Today's so-called Republicans tried to "fix" the problem by moving the goalposts. That's more like rigging the game. They quit worrying about their actual beliefs that could be rationally justified and just started each discussion from the most extreme position on each issue. Essentially they were trying to redefine the bell curves more in their favor, but they have completely fallen off the cliff at this point. In other words, they started each discussion by lying about what they really believed, but instead just said whatever was most distant from their political opponents. The party of Honest Abe has been taken over by right wing extremists, anti-government fanatics, and various strains of haters. Not all of their voters, but definitely the entire leadership. GOP party-line discipline has become more extreme than within Lenin's Bolshevik Party.
At this point, the internal strain has become so severe that the so-called Republicans are alienating a key constituency, the people who always vote the same way. The evidence indicates that most people prefer to repeat their last vote rather than admit they were wrong. (That's the key to gerrymandering, by the way.) About 60% of the voters have been regarded as predetermined voters. Trump is actually flipping many of them because he focused so strongly on the extremists. Inertia notwithstanding, I am increasingly unable to see how any moderate person is still willing to call himself a Republican.
I think that coalitions help, though some of that is by venting off the extremists into their own parties. They still feel like they are represented even though the votes of their representatives are almost never decisive. However, perhaps the larger problem is with direct democracy itself. It doesn't scale, and I'm increasingly in favor of scalable hierarchical systems where your votes are actually more meaningful.
You may be familiar with the economists' analysis? It is so unlikely that your vote will matter that any other use of your time is better than voting. Economists are supposedly good at figuring out prices, but not so good at real values. I'd prefer a mathematical approach... How many times would you have to vote before one of your votes would turn out to be decisive? It's kind of like the birthday paradox. With two people, the chance that the 2nd person has a different birthday is 364/365, which is quite small, but as you add more people, you multiply 364/365 by 363/365 by 362/365 by... Around 30 people, you're almost sure to have a match, and you can use the same approach (but with more complicated math for multiple races in each election) to figure out when you would actually get to pick a winner.
Thank you for the provocation of my thoughts. Seems heavy enough to be worth porting to my journal...