I am not much more than a vaguely interested bystander in the whole AV debate going on over the Channel, but Richard George’s metaphor of buying drinks at the pub at the end of his longish post on AV inspired something in me. Late at night, my unpreoccupied brain found another, simpler metaphor – that of the Coke machine. And so, without further ado, I present to you, the increasingly strained metaphor of voting systems as Coke Machines:
UK (current system):
You choose your drink*. If the machine has run out, you get nothing. No refunds.
You choose your drink. If the machine’s run out of that one, you get another choice. Still no refunds, and the machine’s often out of everything but Coke and Pepsi anyway.
[*The machine lists your choices as Coke, Pepsi, Fanta, Espresso Coffee, Green Tea, Genuine British Tea, and Bovril.
What you actually get, though, is Coke Zero, Diet Pepsi, “New” Coke, watery Decaf, an unspecified herbal beverage, pond scum, and Bovril. ]
…. but of course, I couldn’t let it rest there.
You have several choices of drink, but you always choose Coke or Pepsi, in case you get the wrong drink.
You choose several drinks you might like. The machine gives you an odd mixture of some of the most popular ones. You forget about it for another four years, and go back to watching the cricket.
There is a wide range of drinks on offer. You choose one, then go on strike for three weeks because the machine gave you the wrong change.
The large, well dressed men standing next the machine mention that Coke is a very refreshing beverage, and very popular with lots of people. There’s plenty of Coke in the machine.
Pre-2011 Middle Eastern Democracies:
No matter what drink you choose, you get Coke.
Current Middle Eastern Democracies:
Someone has pushed the machine over. You can’t tell if it’s working, because there are too many reporters in the way asking you what you think about it being pushed over.
The machine is free, but only serves a generic Cola, and is only stocked one day a year. No-one knows which day. Occasionally you get a live hand-grenade with the pin pulled.
You are given a drink by the machine. The ingredients are not listed. The machine tells you it is good for you, so you drink it.
The machine plays stirring music with intermittent kazoo interludes. You are not allowed to touch it to find out that it’s empty.
… and that’s about where I fell asleep. Feel free to come up with additions or improvements.