by Stuart Gathman

Voting for the right lizard

In Themes of Insanity, AP English student Lorraine McKee writes:

By using a “democracy” of a people ruled by lizards, Adams shows the stupidity of people voting for something they hate. Adams has Ford Prefect, an objective third party, explain this situation to Arthur in the following passage:
‘On [the robot’s] world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.'
          ‘Odd,’ said Arthur, ‘I thought you said it was a democracy.’
‘I did,’ said Ford, ‘It is.'
‘So,’ said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, ‘why don’t the people get rid of the lizards?'
‘It honestly doesn’t occur to them,’ said Ford. ‘They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.'
‘You mean they actually vote for the lizards?’
‘Oh yes,’ said Ford with a shrug, ‘of course.’
‘But,’ said Arthur, going for the big one again, ‘why?’
‘Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,’ said Ford, ‘the wrong lizard might get in’” (Adams 576).
This conversation displays through the madness of a world voting for lizards the problems and stupidity in the democratic societies in real life. Lizards are clearly politicians – they rule the people, no one likes them, and yet the people continue to vote for them. This is madness and idiocy in and of itself. Only the fear of the wrong lizard (politician) being in control keeps the people voting. Seeing as one lizard is very much like another, voting makes no difference. This society, lead by lizards, is really ruled by the morons that keep putting the lizards in power. Adams comments by using slightly deranged satire that any world that continually votes for something it hates is the paramount of lunacy and idiocy and by doing so says “the morons are in charge.”

The necessity to vote for a lizard "lest the wrong lizard get in" is not insanity, but a mathematical consequence of "Plurality Voting".   One of the simplest (but not easy) ways to break the two party stranglehold on America is to allow voting for more than one candidate.  This is called "Approval Voting".  There are mathematically better, but more complicated voting methods (involving ranking candidates), but approval voting is already supported by voting machines, and is already in use for many local elections.

There is another economic principle keeping the lizards in power:  "Bad money drives the good out of circulation".  When clad coinage replaced real silver in the US mint, people used the cheap coins for "legal tender", and treasured the silver in lock boxes.  In a similar vein, the best leaders are reluctant leaders - they have better things to do.  But it is too easy for those with nothing better to do than seek power to best a reluctant leader at the polls.
Posted 11/30/2007 at 12:24 PM

Mr. Gathman, Could you comment on my most recent post (January 12th)? I remember you were talking to me about it a long time ago, and I wanted to hear again what you were saying.
Posted 1/12/2008 at 10:58 PM by pikljooce
gThankyou SO much Mr. Gathman. I figure if anybody knows about, it's you.
Posted 1/13/2008 at 1:35 AM by pikljooce

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