Bet 291

Duration 6 years (02007-02012)

“Neither major U. S. political party will hold conventions or indeed primaries to select their 2012 Presidential nominees.” Detailed Terms »

Jason W Galbraith


Sam Stigler


will go to The American Civil Liberties Union if Galbraith wins,
or Lewis & Clark College if Stigler wins.

Galbraith's Argument

The most likely reason for my prediction coming true is that there will be no U. S. Presidential election in 2012. I believe there is an over 65% chance that we will enter one of two modes of government -- Open Despotism or Anarchy. Open Despotism would result from a military coup against the winner of the 2008 election to prevent his or her coming to power the next January and ending the Iraq/Iran/Afghanistan War. Anarchy is another possible result of military intervention against Iran this year, but only if the overall world situation deteriorates (from Russian/Chinese determination to resist U. S. agression) to the point that the top executive officials must flee to continuity of government bunkers. This scenario could be just a facet of The End of Civilization globally. Given the behavior of Presidents Putin and Hu to this point, however, I believe it is less likely than Open Despotism.

Another possible result of the abovementioned military coup is Pseudo-Democracy. Having overthrown the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and narrowly averted the undoing of their global plans through the inauguartion of a Democratic President, our local theocrats may adopt its manner of selecting Presidential candidates by having the National Security Council, the National Association of Evangelicals, or some other mostly unelected body choose no fewer than six but no more than twenty well-known Americans to face off against each other in the 2012 election. The media will echo the official line that this is more open and free than a system in which only two candidates ever have a chance. Indeed, there may be only slightly less difference between the political positions and philosophies of the 6-20 candidates in this system than there is between the two candidates of our own.

The possibility of the current system of primary elections followed by conventions followed by a general election dominated by the current two major parties, surviving until 2012, I put at 15% or less.

Stigler's Argument

Galbraith's argument fails to take into account the incredible resilience of the U.S. institutions of government over the years since its inception. The country has already been through a similarly divisive war, Vietnam, after which the established system remained intact.

Unless something very significant were to happen that would significantly shift the balance of power in the world away from the U.S., there is no reason to believe that the world stage will look much different overall in 5 years than it does now.
Furthermore, in response to Galbraith's Open Despotism argument, the U.S. military would never stage a coup against the elected government, for there is no reason for them to: Many of the servicemen and women have joined the military specifically because the believe in the values that the elected government of the country stands for. (And by "elected government" I mean ANY government, regardless of party affiliation.) Others have joined the military to earn money for education, or work towards citizenship. No matter the reason, they are indoctrinated to follow the chain of command -- all the way up to the President. Open Despotism does not seem likely in the foreseeable future.

Anarchy, too, is a very unlikely possibility. I say this simply because the "doomsday" situation that Galbraith describes is a worst-case scenario, one that is likely to be avoided by both sides.

I do not really buy into the notion of "pseudo-democracy" run by right-wingers either, as this is the first I've heard of such a far-fetched idea. It sounds to me like Mr. Galbraith has been watching "The Colbert Report" a little too much.

Detailed Terms

If the US has not descended into Open Despotism, Pseudo-Democracy or Anarchy before the incumbent party holds its 2012 Presidential nominating convention, the challenger wins. Note: The definition of Pseudo-Democracy is the thorny issue here. I have defined Pseudo-Democracy as any system in which ALL Presidential candidates on the ballot (however many there are), have been selected by a body that was not itself democratically selected. I accept that the delegates to the conventions in the current system ARE democratically selected, and will continue to be in any reformation of the current system put forward by the major parties themselves. Pseudo-Democracy is the most subtle way in which the parties could lose control of the process and its rules. If this (or the other more easily defined alternatives) happens, the predictor wins. (Note: In order for the predictor to win on the basis of a pseudo-democracy, one must exist as defined in paragraph 2 of his argument.)