Meeting Krist Novoselic (and _Not_ About Our Mutual Love of Grunge)

Tonight I saw former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic (no-vo-SEL-ich) do a Q&A at Seattle's Town Hall, for an audience of maybe 30 people (several of whom I think just came to see "the bassist for Nirvana"). Unfortunately I did not get the opportunity to tell him about how incredibly influential his band's music was to me, back when I was in 7th grade in 1991, air drumming to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" after school.

Here's an mp3 clip of the audience Q&A section at the end. I asked the first question, basically talking about the election scenario at http://rangevoting.org/IRV.html

I started recording right after he began answering my "question" (it was really just a statement).

In his meandering response, he started talking about "monotonicity", as if it was some bizarre concept that hurt to pronounce, and was an extremely uncommon anomaly. But my example didn't bring up monotonicity - I was specifically talking about the fact that IRV can exhibit the same kind of "spoiler" problem that it is supposed to "solve". The problem arises in about 19.7% of IRV elections.

After the talk, I spoke with him for a few minutes about how, if we want to get to proportional representation, we have to start by getting an election method that will break two-party domination. He has TWO big problems/misconceptions.

1) He does not believe there are Constitutional/judicial hurdles to be overcome in order to get STV at the national level (which is obviously the only level that's really going to make that much of a difference in our lives, because local politics means nothing on the big issues like the Iraq war). I wish I had the NET with me right there, so I could point him to http://rangevoting.org/PropRep.html (and maybe even http://rangevoting.org/SupremeCt.html )

2) He believes that IRV has caused two-party domination because it is the will of the people. He specifically cited Fianna Fail, the party that has had a near presidential _monopoly_ in Ireland. I was just starting to explain to him that 21-23 of the 27 countries in the world that use a traditional "top 2" runoff have broken free of duopoly (so
obviously it IS the voting method that is the crucial difference, not the "will of the people") - but we had already been talking about this issue for a few minutes, and he said, "I'm going to have to let you go", and then started addressing other people gathered around to speak with him, most of whom were Nirvana fans who praised him liberally, and received hugs.

Points I took away from this:

1) Talking in real life, without the Internet handy as a reference tool, is INCREDIBLY frustrating (unless maybe you have a photographic memory).

2) Unfortunately Novoselic is 100% a publicist for IRV - NOT a voting methods expert. That should have been obvious to me, but I had higher hopes. I mean heck, I'm a musician and I'm obsessed with the very grunge music that his legendary band was a part of, and I consider myself (along with most of the voting method geeks at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RangeVoting ) to be, more or less, an "expert" on voting methods (that is, all of us on that
list know more about election methods than 99.999% of the public, for sure). Krist doesn't even have to work - he lives off his musical fortune; so shouldn't he have had the time to research voting methods at least as extensively as me? I shouldn't let myself get too frustrated about this, but it was disappointing. I really hoped he'd "get it". I can't blame him too much though, because he is fed whatever Steven Hill and Rob Richie tell him, much of which is extremely deceptive and misleading.

COOL NEWS - he mentioned Range Voting a couple of times, so at least the name is out there in the public sphere to at least some degree.

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