2012-06-23 00:19:30 UTC
pretty much the same way; a community believes or is led to believe it
needs leaders, everyone in the community is invited to attend a meeting
and encouraged to seek a leadership position. At some point, members of
the community are nominated for office and an election is held. This
methodology is common to such disparate groups as the Junior Chamber of
Commerce, the local Little League, and the Town Meetings that were once
a staple of American politics - and from which our present system grew.
A notable thing about this process is that it is passive. Democracy,
which we believe to be government "by the people" implies the active
participation of the people. Our attempts to achieve democratic
outcomes by this method fail because nothing in the process seeks the
active participation of the individual members of the community.
Instead, the membership waits for individuals to step up and take
leadership positions. There is an assumption that those who step
forward have the knowledge, ability and desire to serve the common
interest - an assumption that is frequently wrong. There is also an
assumption that those who do not step up are not competent to influence
the choice of leaders - an assumption belied by the broad distribution
of talented individuals in the population.
The idea of calling a meeting and encouraging all members of the
community to attend and participate fails because most of us lack the
peculiar certainty that allows us to speak for others. That does not
mean we do not have sound, rational ideas about how humans should
interact, it just means we are less vociferous than those who step forward.
This phenomenon is influenced by many factors, not least of which is the
size of the community. The larger the group, the less inclined most of
us are to participate in the discussion and the more inclined we are to
simply form unvoiced opinions. Many of us are unaware of our political
talents because we are never placed in a situation that calls upon us to
exercise that ability. If we had an electoral process that encouraged
us to discuss current and prospective issues with our peers and have
meaningful input into the community's activities, some of us would
blossom. Some, who start out unsure of their ability, would, when their
reason is consulted, learn they can persuade others of the value of our
Persuasion is an important component of the electoral process. When
persuasion occurs between two people, it takes place as a dialogue with
one person attempting to persuade the other. In such events, both
parties are free to participate in the process. The person to be
persuaded can question the persuader as to specific points and present
alternative points about the topic under discussion. Under such
circumstances, it is possible that the persuader will become the persuaded.
However, when persuasion involves multiple people, it has a greater
tendency to occur as a monologue. The transition from dialogue to
monologue accelerates as the number of people to be persuaded increases.
The larger the number of people, the less free some of them are to
participate in the process. They have fewer opportunities and are less
inclined to question specific points or offer alternatives about the
topic under discussion.
In such circumstances, the more assertive individuals will dominate the
discussion and the viewpoints of the less assertive members will not be
expressed. The assertive individual is unlikely to be persuaded of the
wisdom of an alternative idea, because the view will not be expressed or
This rationale suggests the wisdom of devising an electoral method that
makes every member of the electorate an active participant in the
process. The critical question such a discussion must answer is, "How
can we create an electoral process that allows and encourages the entire
electorate to exercise their ability to guide the community's affairs to
the full extent of their desire and ability?"
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