Sunday, October 05, 2008

Robbery

In the wake of the bailout, something I've been thinking for a long time has become much more important. By now it's clear that the representatives in Washington are not representative of the will of the people, but in reality believe they know better than we do. I'm not going to get into how this is trickle-down economics with a scary sense of urgency, but instead focus on the real problem; the republic.

In this day and age of instant communication and mind-blowingly fast computation, why are we willing to settle for anything less than direct democracy? I don't know about you folks, but I want my individual interests to be represented just as much in government as anyone else's. With Obama and McCain unwilling to discuss direct democracy and electoral reform, it boils down to two options:
  • Vote for a candidate who supports the voting system that gave us George W. Bush and supports the "representation" that gave us the bailout, or
  • Vote for a third party candidate who supports voting system reform and direct democracy. If that's not Nader that's fine by me, but please don't vote for "good enough" or "lesser evil" when you have the opportunity right now to actually support governing ourselves.
If you disagree with me on this, please let me know, because I am honestly baffled as to why intelligent people are content with what we have now.
Freedom is participation in power. - Cicero

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10 Comments:

Blogger coriolinus said...

Premise A: the democratic vs republican divide in this country roughly corresponds to the division of people who embrace change vs people who detest change.

Instant Lemma: major changes will automatically gain more traction among democrats than republicans; more of them will be willing to consider the issue on its merits.

Premise B: the margin of victory in presidential elections is narrow.

Premise C: there exists sufficient distinction between the political platforms of the democratic and republican parties for it to matter which wins an election.

1. Changing the nature of the electoral system counts as a major change.
2. In the voting system as it currently exists anyone who votes for a third party candidate loses their ability to express a "second choice" opinion as to which of the major party candidates they would prefer.
3. People who prefer a democrat in office over a republican, knowing the above, vote democrat, even if they support the policies of a third party candidate more.
4. People who prefer a republican in office over a democrat are less likely to be interested in electoral reform in the first place.

4:14 AM, October 09, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not going to vote for president.. just the other stuff.

Vote out your current reps, senators, etc. if you don't like how they are representing you...thats what you are supposed to do..yet they get voted back in every time.

12:03 PM, October 09, 2008  
Blogger Explodicle said...

Anonymous: Not every office I get to vote for has a candidate with a direct democracy and electoral reform platform. For those positions I'll have to vote based on other issues.

Coriolinus: I think the fact that you must split everyone up into two halves (change vs. no change, liberal vs. conservative, etc) is itself our biggest problem. The plurality vote is forcing us to compress our political ideas, something with an infinite number of dimensions, into a one-dimensional spectrum: "right" vs. "left". If we need to consider our options based on two arbitrary sides, they should be bipartisan democracy versus non-partisan democracy.

10:25 PM, October 09, 2008  
Blogger coriolinus said...

I like your imagery of the plurality vote compressing a multidimensional system into a single dimension. I agree that this is a bad thing for political discourse and the voter.

However, when I rank the issues I care about, the nature of the voting system is not particularly close to the top. I think that (relatively) short term concerns like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the economic meltdown are more important factors in this election.

If I thought that I could get away with it--that a vote for a third party candidate would not lower the chances of my second choice candidate being elected--then I would be voting third party right along with you. Unfortunately, New Hampshire is a relatively closely contested state. Not voting democrat works out to be an implied republican vote: the one whose vote mine didn't cancel.

I think that if alternate electoral systems gained some grassroots appeal, and started appearing in elections for mayor and so forth around the country, it would be a lot easier to use the issue as a party plank. For now, though, nobody whose focus is victory will include an issue whose terms have to be explained to the voter; that opens up too much opportunity for the opposing camp to misexplain things in an unflattering way.

11:22 PM, October 09, 2008  
Blogger Explodicle said...

Why would you list Afghanistan as an issue on which the two candidates differ? They both want us to stay in Afghanistan for at least their whole term. Obama at least has a goal of leaving Iraq by 2010, but we have no real assurance that he will not let the date slip and "compromise" like he did with those wiretaps. On the biggest economic meltdown issue (the bailout) they voted alike as well.

If we look primarily at the short term when deciding candidates, then our long-term will always suffer. When we focus on just a handful of issues, it gives our elected officials the opportunity to mess everything else up. Which of the two is against the DMCA? Which one voted against reauthorizing the Patriot Act in 2006? When our civil liberties become the hot issues, what else will then sneak past us?

I agree that a bottom-up approach is more effective than top-down, but if someone insists on going top-down, I will still support him.

(Sorry it took me so long to reply, I've been on vacation this week.)

3:07 PM, October 18, 2008  
Blogger coriolinus said...

I list Afghanistan as a point of difference because that war has a completely different priority to the two candidates. McCain is focused on Iraq, and scarcely thinks of Afghanistan at all. Obama wants to bring it back into the limelight. (ref: first debate)After all, for a long time it seemed like we were actually winning there.

As for the rest of it, it comes down to Premise C. I think, perhaps naively, that there exists sufficient distinction between the candidates for it to matter which one wins. You, perhaps cynically, think not.

8:31 AM, October 19, 2008  
Blogger Explodicle said...

I do think it matters who wins, but do not think either McCain or Obama are good enough. If you're satisfied with one that's your call, but they do not impress me.

11:18 PM, October 24, 2008  
Blogger mostly junk melvin said...

I have often wondered about exactly the same thing, but I have no answer as to why, probably because the answer itself is too complex for me to grasp, or human beings being what they are, just more often than not, make little or no sense
sometimes I am made to wonder how anything get done or any progress is made
and yet, we seem to stumble along

9:03 PM, November 07, 2008  
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