Discussion:
Conceiving a Democratic Electoral Process
(too old to reply)
Fred Gohlke
2012-06-23 00:19:30 UTC
Permalink
Since time immemorial, democratic political action has taken place in
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
ideas.

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
discussed.

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?"

Respectfully submitted,

Fred Gohlke
----
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Juho Laatu
2012-06-23 08:19:48 UTC
Permalink
Since time immemorial, democratic political action has taken place in 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.
I think the method in princple encourages people to participate, e.g. via membership in a party. It may however well be that this channel of inluence (bottom-up within parties) is weaker than we woud like it to be. Also voting can be seen as a very powerful yet easy way to influence on the direction that the society will take (of course unless you think that this path does not work either).
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.
Or there is an assumption that voters will elect only or mainly people with "the knowledge, ability and desire to serve the common interest", which may also be 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.
I think successful business people may have similar thoughts on the business sector. Maybe the same also with scientists etc. I mean that people tend to think that their sector, their organization, their country and they themselves are the best or the most important one, or close to that. In a democratic society people however hopefully generally feel that normal people actually should (directly or indirectly) decide what the direction of the society is and which people should lead it (otherwise we are already departing the great idea of democracy).
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 ideas.
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 discussed.
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?"
I agree that the methods or the working practices of organizations as a whole could and should be improved. One option is to take the approach to encourage a persuation style approach in small groups. That does not rule out other opportunities like improving the internal procedures of organizations so that they better lift up persons that would be the best to put at the top positions. All hands and all tricks are needed. People have taken few steps forward from the rules of jungle but that doesn't mean that the rules would be perfect at this point in history.

Juho
Respectfully submitted,
Fred Gohlke
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Fred Gohlke
2012-06-23 16:07:13 UTC
Permalink
Good Morning, Juho

re: "I think the method in princple encourages people to
participate, e.g. via membership in a party."

On the contrary, Juho. Joining a party is profoundly passive. Instead
of expressing their own view, party members cede their right to guide
their community to an organization that is unable to serve the public
interest because it is committed to pursue narrow special interests.
Witness the national debt crisis in Greece - and in the United States.


re: "Also voting can be seen as a very powerful yet easy way to
influence on the direction that the society will take."

Voting for choices defined by political parties creates an illusion of
power but is a sign of great weakness. It is like your mother giving
you a choice of Wheaties and Corn Flakes.

The easiness you cite should give you a clue. Achieving democracy is
not easy. It must be accomplished in the face of enormous power,
whether the upper classes that dominated your country for so long or the
economic interests that dominate mine, now.


re: "Or there is an assumption that voters will elect only or
mainly people with "the knowledge, ability and desire to
serve the common interest", which may also be frequently
wrong."

This is unclear; it seems to contain a double negative. It does,
however, lead me to ask the precise means by which voters can determine
whether or not those they vote for have "the knowledge, ability and
desire to serve the common interest". Partisan electoral systems
provide no mechanism for a careful examination of the candidates by
their peers. Are the voters to rely on the self-serving assertions of
the candidates and their party?

I am aware of your commitment to partisan politics, but I wonder if you
can help us move beyond that. Can you help us address the critical
question: "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 each individual's desire and
ability?"

Fred
----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Juho Laatu
2012-06-23 19:46:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
Good Morning, Juho
re: "I think the method in princple encourages people to
participate, e.g. via membership in a party."
On the contrary, Juho. Joining a party is profoundly passive. Instead of expressing their own view, party members cede their right to guide their community to an organization that is unable to serve the public interest because it is committed to pursue narrow special interests. Witness the national debt crisis in Greece - and in the United States.
Ok, maybe this is a bad implementation of a party system. I think both systems with ground level member participation or not may yield bad results, although disconnected leadership may do so with higher probability.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "Also voting can be seen as a very powerful yet easy way to
influence on the direction that the society will take."
Voting for choices defined by political parties creates an illusion of power but is a sign of great weakness. It is like your mother giving you a choice of Wheaties and Corn Flakes.
The easiness you cite should give you a clue. Achieving democracy is not easy. It must be accomplished in the face of enormous power, whether the upper classes that dominated your country for so long or the economic interests that dominate mine, now.
I agree that often democracies do not work as well as we would like them to work. But democracy is so far the best method we have, and it includes the idea that societies are at least supposed to do what the voters want. (I didn't recognize the upper classes problem as characteristically my problem.)
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "Or there is an assumption that voters will elect only or
mainly people with "the knowledge, ability and desire to
serve the common interest", which may also be frequently
wrong."
This is unclear; it seems to contain a double negative.
My intention was to say that even if the politicians generally tend to be "bad", the voters could be "good" (or at least "better") and tehrefore have a tendency to elect better than "bad" politicians more often than really "bad" ones. (And that also this ideal might often not work very well.)
Post by Fred Gohlke
It does, however, lead me to ask the precise means by which voters can determine whether or not those they vote for have "the knowledge, ability and desire to serve the common interest". Partisan electoral systems provide no mechanism for a careful examination of the candidates by their peers. Are the voters to rely on the self-serving assertions of the candidates and their party?
People can often tell quite well which ones of their friends have good moral code and which ones do not. Their understanding of the moral code of the politicians and candidates is however typically based on what they see in the TV and what they read from the newspapers. This means that people are far more likely to make mistakes in their estimates. But they might be able to make some guesses that are better than random guesses. Those closer connection based approaches that you have discussed could do better from this point of view.
Post by Fred Gohlke
I am aware of your commitment to partisan politics, but I wonder if you can help us move beyond that.
I'm not committed to partisan politics. I tend to accept some formal structure or classifications as a tool that may help people understand the different alternative lines of evolution that the sociesty has. I mean that if you want communism you can vote communists, and you need not check separately the ideology of each candidate, if you know that all candidates of the communist party do meet some basic criteria. Apart from this interest to offer people this kind of general classifications in one way or another, I don't have much interest in maintaining strict party control. I don't believe in the destruction of the party stucture either in the sense that I'd believe that people would make better decisions if parties would vanish tomorrow (people might get as bad results as they get today,
but in some brand new way).
Post by Fred Gohlke
Can you help us address the critical question: "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 each individual's desire and ability?"
The discussion/persuation/proxy/multilevel methods might be one approach worth a try. Openness of the backround processes and preparetory work, combined with media that would have greater interest to analyze and comment the alternatives neutrally would help. Independent financing of the political activities would help a lot. One small idea would be to have an "office" (independent of parties, possibly with independent workers) whose role would be to clarify the structure an behaviour of the society to the voters and thereby make them more capable of making good decisions. There are many tools to make progress. Unfortunately in every organzation the incumbents prefer the old rules, strong role of the current leading groups, and they oppose any changes that might take some power away from th
em. It is thus always an uphill battle. Driving downhill is easier. Fixing a corrupt system is always a major challenge.

Juho
Post by Fred Gohlke
Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-06-23 20:26:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
Good Morning, Juho
re: "I think the method in princple encourages people to
participate, e.g. via membership in a party."
On the contrary, Juho. Joining a party is profoundly passive. Instead of expressing their own view, party members cede their right to guide their community to an organization that is unable to serve the public interest because it is committed to pursue narrow special interests. Witness the national debt crisis in Greece - and in the United States.
Ok, maybe this is a bad implementation of a party system. I think both systems with ground level member participation or not may yield bad results, although disconnected leadership may do so with higher probability.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "Also voting can be seen as a very powerful yet easy way to
influence on the direction that the society will take."
Voting for choices defined by political parties creates an illusion of power but is a sign of great weakness. It is like your mother giving you a choice of Wheaties and Corn Flakes.
The easiness you cite should give you a clue. Achieving democracy is not easy. It must be accomplished in the face of enormous power, whether the upper classes that dominated your country for so long or the economic interests that dominate mine, now.
I agree that often democracies do not work as well as we would like them to work. But democracy is so far the best method we have, and it includes the idea that societies are at least supposed to do what the voters want. (I didn't recognize the upper classes problem as characteristically my problem.)
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "Or there is an assumption that voters will elect only or
mainly people with "the knowledge, ability and desire to
serve the common interest", which may also be frequently
wrong."
This is unclear; it seems to contain a double negative.
My intention was to say that even if the politicians generally tend to be "bad", the voters could be "good" (or at least "better") and tehrefore have a tendency to elect better than "bad" politicians more often than really "bad" ones. (And that also this ideal might often not work very well.)
Post by Fred Gohlke
It does, however, lead me to ask the precise means by which voters can determine whether or not those they vote for have "the knowledge, ability and desire to serve the common interest". Partisan electoral systems provide no mechanism for a careful examination of the candidates by their peers. Are the voters to rely on the self-serving assertions of the candidates and their party?
People can often tell quite well which ones of their friends have good moral code and which ones do not. Their understanding of the moral code of the politicians and candidates is however typically based on what they see in the TV and what they read from the newspapers. This means that people are far more likely to make mistakes in their estimates. But they might be able to make some guesses that are better than random guesses. Those closer connection based approaches that you have discussed could do better from this point of view.
Post by Fred Gohlke
I am aware of your commitment to partisan politics, but I wonder if you can help us move beyond that.
I'm not committed to partisan politics. I tend to accept some formal structure or classifications as a tool that may help people understand the different alternative lines of evolution that the sociesty has. I mean that if you want communism you can vote communists, and you need not check separately the ideology of each candidate, if you know that all candidates of the communist party do meet some basic criteria. Apart from this interest to offer people this kind of general classifications in one way or another, I don't have much interest in maintaining strict party control. I don't believe in the destruction of the party stucture either in the sense that I'd believe that people would make better decisions if parties would vanish tomorrow (people might get as bad results as they get today,
but in some brand new way).
Post by Fred Gohlke
Can you help us address the critical question: "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 each individual's desire and ability?"
The discussion/persuation/proxy/multilevel methods might be one approach worth a try. Openness of the backround processes and preparetory work, combined with media that would have greater interest to analyze and comment the alternatives neutrally would help. Independent financing of the political activities would help a lot. One small idea would be to have an "office" (independent of parties, possibly with independent workers) whose role would be to clarify the structure an behaviour of the society to the voters and thereby make them more capable of making good decisions. There are many tools to make progress. Unfortunately in every organzation the incumbents prefer the old rules, strong role of the current leading groups, and they oppose any changes that might take some power away from th
em. It is thus always an uphill battle. Driving downhill is easier. Fixing a corrupt system is always a major challenge.

Juho
Post by Fred Gohlke
Fred
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Fred Gohlke
2012-06-25 20:10:22 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Juho

re: "Ok, maybe this is a bad implementation of a party system."

That's a non-sequitor. The point I made was that "Joining a party is
profoundly passive."


re: "I agree that often democracies do not work as well as we
would like them to work. But democracy is so far the best
method we have, and it includes the idea that societies are
at least supposed to do what the voters want.

Don't be misled by the propaganda that inundates us. Political parties
are quasi-official institutions designed to acquire the reins of
government. They do not create democracies, they build oligarchies
(political systems governed by a few people).

In party-based systems, control of government is vested in the party
leaders who select the candidates for public office and arrange the
resources for their election. As a condition of their sponsorship, they
require that the candidates support the party, thus giving the party
ultimate control of the elected officials.

The party system is in no sense democratic. The prime movers, those who
control the party, are not elected by the people. In fact, most people
don't even know who they are. They are appointed by their party and
serve at the party's pleasure. We, the people the parties are supposed
to represent, have no control over who these people are, how long they
serve, or the deals they make to raise the immense amounts of money they
use to keep their party in power.

When we allow political parties to usurp the power of governing a
nation, it is foolish to imagine that the people have retained any
rights. It is a tragedy that so few of us recognize (or are willing to
acknowledge) that we have relinquished our right to govern ourselves to
unknown people who proclaim themselves our agents.

Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-06-25 20:35:11 UTC
Permalink
Political parties are quasi-official institutions designed to acquire the reins of government.
I agree. But in democracies the voters can (at least in principle) kick the worst of the partis out of power. I note that a two-party system has some additional problems since the party that was kicked out is likely to return in power soon, even if they do not make those changes in their policy that the voters wanted when they kicked it out.
They do not create democracies, they build oligarchies (political systems governed by a few people).
Yes, I agree that parties typically have tendency to drive the system towards oligarchy and not towards (more voter controlled) democracy.
As a condition of their sponsorship, they require that the candidates support the party, thus giving the party ultimate control of the elected officials.
Sponsoring is a separate topic. Different societies have different rules for the financing of the political activity. Organizations tend to drift slowly towards stronger lobbying and financing by interest groups.
When we allow political parties to usurp the power of governing a nation, it is foolish to imagine that the people have retained any rights.
One has to be careful and continuously work against any such developments in order to stay even at the current level.

There is one fundamental problem here. If you want to change the direction or avoid this kind of developments you need to co-operate with other people. When you form such a co-operation group you already possibly form a new party (or a group that later becomes a party). At some level you are thus bound to have "party like" groups that drive the joint intereste of its members. If the reform is purely individual based it could be too weak to cause lead to any changes. Can we do better than manage our parties and other interest groups as well as we can?

Juho



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Fred Gohlke
2012-06-26 20:12:08 UTC
Permalink
Hi, Juho

re: "Yes, I agree that parties typically have tendency to drive
the system towards oligarchy and not towards (more voter
controlled) democracy."

Precisely. And that knowledge urges us to 'think outside the box' - to
'go where no man has gone before.' We need new thinking. We need a
fresh approach that seeks out and elevates our best advocates of the
common interest in a way that leads, inexorably, to reaching our common
goals.


re: "Sponsoring is a separate topic."

Absolutely not!!!!

Sponsorship is the heart of party power. Their ability to choose and
sponsor the candidates we are allowed to vote for gives them control of
the entire political process. They write the rules by which the
government functions, sell legislation to vested interests, and choose
candidates committed to enact the laws written for them by the people
who finance their election campaigns. It would be hard to imagine a
more dangerous political arrangement.


re: "I agree. But in democracies the voters can (at least in
principle) kick the worst of the partis out of power."

Are you speaking of the way the people kicked the National Socialists
out of power in Germany in the last century? It took a lot of people to
do that and it cost a lot of lives (not all of them German). Must we
repeat our past mistakes?


re: "There is one fundamental problem here. If you want to change
the direction or avoid this kind of developments you need to
co-operate with other people. When you form such a co-
operation group you already possibly form a new party (or a
group that later becomes a party)."

This touches on the crux of the matter.

Partisanship is natural for humans. We seek out and align ourselves
with others who share our views. Through them, we hone our ideas and
gain courage from the knowledge that we are not alone in our beliefs.
Partisanship gives breadth, depth and volume to our voice. In and of
itself, partisanship is not only inevitable, it is healthy.

Unfortunately, partisans have a penchant for denigrating those who think
differently, usually without considering the salient parts of opposing
points of view. Instead, they seek the power to impose their views on
those who don't share them. Communism and National Socialism showed
these tendencies. Both had features that attracted broad public support
throughout a national expanse and both degenerated into destructive
forces because their partisans gained control of their governments.

The danger in Communism and National Socialism was not that they
attracted partisan support; it was that the partisans gained control of
government. In general, partisanship is healthy when it helps us give
voice to our views. It is destructive when it achieves power. All
ideologies, whether of the right or the left, differ from Communism and
National Socialism only in the extent to which their partisans are able
to impose their biases on the public.

Partisanship is a vital part of society - provided it is always a voice
and never a power. The danger is not in partisanship, it is in allowing
partisans to control government.

We have the tools and the ability to conceive a non-partisan electoral
method. Let's start.

Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-06-26 22:30:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
Hi, Juho
re: "Yes, I agree that parties typically have tendency to drive
the system towards oligarchy and not towards (more voter
controlled) democracy."
Precisely. And that knowledge urges us to 'think outside the box' - to 'go where no man has gone before.' We need new thinking. We need a fresh approach that seeks out and elevates our best advocates of the common interest in a way that leads, inexorably, to reaching our common goals.
I agree that all modern democratic systems have potential to get better.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "Sponsoring is a separate topic."
Absolutely not!!!!
Sponsorship is the heart of party power.
Ok, not separate but one that is associated with party power. What I meant with "separate" is that sponsoring rules and practices may be very different in different countries, and that sponsoring rules can be changed without changing the other rules.
Post by Fred Gohlke
Their ability to choose and sponsor the candidates we are allowed to vote for gives them control of the entire political process. They write the rules by which the government functions, sell legislation to vested interests, and choose candidates committed to enact the laws written for them by the people who finance their election campaigns. It would be hard to imagine a more dangerous political arrangement.
I agree that sponsoring can be very dangerous to a political system.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "I agree. But in democracies the voters can (at least in
principle) kick the worst of the partis out of power."
Are you speaking of the way the people kicked the National Socialists out of power in Germany in the last century? It took a lot of people to do that and it cost a lot of lives (not all of them German). Must we repeat our past mistakes?
I'm afraid the main rule is that major improvements come only after major catastrophes. We must work to make the practices better.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "There is one fundamental problem here. If you want to change
the direction or avoid this kind of developments you need to
co-operate with other people. When you form such a co-
operation group you already possibly form a new party (or a
group that later becomes a party)."
This touches on the crux of the matter.
Partisanship is natural for humans. We seek out and align ourselves with others who share our views. Through them, we hone our ideas and gain courage from the knowledge that we are not alone in our beliefs. Partisanship gives breadth, depth and volume to our voice. In and of itself, partisanship is not only inevitable, it is healthy.
Unfortunately, partisans have a penchant for denigrating those who think differently, usually without considering the salient parts of opposing points of view. Instead, they seek the power to impose their views on those who don't share them. Communism and National Socialism showed these tendencies. Both had features that attracted broad public support throughout a national expanse and both degenerated into destructive forces because their partisans gained control of their governments.
The danger in Communism and National Socialism was not that they attracted partisan support; it was that the partisans gained control of government. In general, partisanship is healthy when it helps us give voice to our views. It is destructive when it achieves power. All ideologies, whether of the right or the left, differ from Communism and National Socialism only in the extent to which their partisans are able to impose their biases on the public.
Having one single ruling party is no more a democracy. The problems may be the same as with multiple parties, but worse. National Socialism grew within a democratic system. Better watch out that our countries will not degrade to that level.
Post by Fred Gohlke
Partisanship is a vital part of society - provided it is always a voice and never a power. The danger is not in partisanship, it is in allowing partisans to control government.
But someone will have the power to govern. Maybe better to have some democratically elected politicians in power than people that do not need the support of the people. I'm also not sure that it would be easy to create hierarchical systems that would lift the best people to the top to govern us. In a way also communism relied on one party structure that would lift the best rulers to the top. I mean that whatever the structure of the system is, people will find ways to misuse it. Multiple parties can be used to balance the madness of the other parties. If there is only one solution, it will be officially right and it may deny eny need to improve the system (it may rather get corrupt and lock people to that now non-working structure).
Post by Fred Gohlke
We have the tools and the ability to conceive a non-partisan electoral method. Let's start.
Let's generate better methods. Are you sure that you don't want parties even in the sense that there would be ideological groupings that people could support? Or in the sense that there would always be an alternative to the current rulers.

Juho
Post by Fred Gohlke
Fred
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Michael Allan
2012-06-27 00:10:11 UTC
Permalink
(brief comments and a question)
re: "Sponsoring is a separate topic." ... Absolutely not!!!! ...
Sponsorship is the heart of party power. Their ability to choose
and sponsor the candidates we are allowed to vote for gives them
control of the entire political process. ...
I agree. Maybe we could define the party as:

(a) a *primary* electoral system
(b) one that sponsors candidates for *public* office
(c) where voting is restricted to *private* members
We have the tools and the ability to conceive a non-partisan
electoral method. Let's start.
Let's generate better methods. Are you sure that you don't want
parties even in the sense that there would be ideological groupings
that people could support? Or in the sense that there would always
be an alternative to the current rulers.
Imagine waving a wand and eliminating (c), the restriction of primary
voting to private members. What effect would it have on the parties?
What effect on the official elections?
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528
http://zelea.com/
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Juho Laatu
2012-06-27 07:12:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
(brief comments and a question)
re: "Sponsoring is a separate topic." ... Absolutely not!!!! ...
Sponsorship is the heart of party power. Their ability to choose
and sponsor the candidates we are allowed to vote for gives them
control of the entire political process. ...
(a) a *primary* electoral system
(b) one that sponsors candidates for *public* office
(c) where voting is restricted to *private* members
We have the tools and the ability to conceive a non-partisan
electoral method. Let's start.
Let's generate better methods. Are you sure that you don't want
parties even in the sense that there would be ideological groupings
that people could support? Or in the sense that there would always
be an alternative to the current rulers.
Imagine waving a wand and eliminating (c), the restriction of primary
voting to private members. What effect would it have on the parties?
What effect on the official elections?
The ability of parties to restrict voters' choice on who will be elected certainly concentrates power to the inner circles of the party. Currently used methods may have one candidate only or several candidates (per district). Several candidates might be ordered by the party (closed lists) or by the voters (open lists, STV). Preliminaries are another approach to letting voters (party members) influence more on who will be elected.

If we want to divide the opinion space into parties but we want to eliminate all party internal influence on who will be elected, what could we do? One approach could be to allow parties to be formed, and they would have their ideologies, but in the election voters could vote for any person. Each voter would vote for one person (or a list of persons) as a representative of one of the parties. In order to make this work we might need some restrictions, not to end up in a situation where the votes are distributed too widely. Maybe we would allow voters to vote only people of their own area. Maybe we would have a hierarchical system where the (numerous) winners of the first level would elect the (much fewer) represetatives of the next level. This would happen separately within each party. We
might limit the choice of candidates to people who have given their permission (e.g. by joining or announcing support to some party - or maybe even multiple parties).

Juho
Post by Michael Allan
--
Michael Allan
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Fred Gohlke
2012-06-28 13:30:48 UTC
Permalink
Good Morning, Michael

I'm glad to see you. I hoped this topic would attract thoughtful
comment. I may have misunderstood your point, though.

I think you are suggesting that party primaries be open to the public?
Is that your intent? If so, would the attending non-partisans have to
vote for one of the party's candidates?

I'm anxious to examine your ideas, but want to be sure my understanding
is correct.

Fred
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Michael Ossipoff
2012-06-28 22:27:09 UTC
Permalink
On Thu, Jun 28, 2012 at 9:30 AM, Fred Gohlke <***@verizon.net> wrote:

Fred:

Before I reply, let me mention that, as you've probably heard, the U.S.
state of California has recently enacted a law that replaces its partisan
elections with a Runoff system, which takes away the official status of
parties in California elections. Parties can endorse, but have no official
status, and are effectively removed from the electoral system in California.
Post by Fred Gohlke
Good Morning, Michael
I'm glad to see you. I hoped this topic would attract thoughtful comment.
I may have misunderstood your point, though.
I think you are suggesting that party primaries be open to the public?
No. With a good voting system, such as Approval, there needn't be any
primaries. I propose Approval, with no primaries.

But, if you want a separate pre-election choice of parties' candidates,
then sure, public primaries are one of several perfectly good ways of
choosing a party's candidates. Public primaries are common practice now in
the U.S. Myself, I oppose letting parties have any official status in
elections. I don't believe in government sponsored party primaries. In
fact, as I said, primaries are entirely unnecessary, when the voting system
is something better than Plurality.

Alternatively, in list PR countries, there can be open list elections. That
system is well-established in several European countries that use PR.
I described open-list PR in my previous posting to this thread.

In the U.S., one advantage of a better voting system, such as Approval, is
that primaries are unnecessary. Just have, on the ballot, the names of all
of the candidates who want to run. Maybe there have been endorsements of
some candidates by some popular people in the party.. Maybe different party
notables will endorse different candidates. That will probably usually be
the case. But that doesn't amount to undemocratic party
candidate-selection. It's just exercise of free speech by individuals.

A party needn't be anything more than a group of people who say, "We
advocate this set of policies. This is our platform:..."
How can you object to that? Is it really bad to say that you agree with
other people?
Post by Fred Gohlke
Is that your intent?
No. My intent is Approval as our single-winner method, to replace
Plurality. Approval, with no primaries. As described above.

You continued:

.> If so, would the attending non-partisans have to vote for one of the
party's candidates?

First, I don't advocate primaries. But, when there are public primaries,
there's no need to let someone vote in a party's primary unless they're
registered with that party.

So, to summarize:

I advocate, for all of our single-winner elections, Approval, with no
primaries.

I ask if there's anything wrong with expressing agreement with other
people. ...and if there's anything wrong with that agreeing group of people
publishing a platform, and with people running for office in support of
that platform if they want to. ...With the understanding that you don't
have to vote for any of them unless you want to. There will surely also be
independent candidates who don't support any party's platform, but who
instead, publish their own platforms.

Or, say you agree with most of party X's platform, but disagree on one or a
few key or minor points. You can say that in your campaign messages. Or
maybe you completely support the party X platform, so you can say so. Or
you can say that you support some subset of their platform, but that you
differ in specified ways, on certain specified issues. Or you can publish
your own platform. If it has significant similarity to that of party X, you
might want to say so. Or you can publish a platform with no resemblance to
that of any party.

And, as a voter, you can make a point of never supporting a candidate who
mentions a party, if such is your preference.

Mike Ossipoff





I'm anxious to examine your ideas, but want to be sure my understanding is
correct.

Fred
Post by Fred Gohlke
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Michael Allan
2012-06-29 12:01:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
Good Morning, Michael
I'm glad to see you. I hoped this topic would attract thoughtful
comment. I may have misunderstood your point, though.
I think you are suggesting that party primaries be open to the
public? Is that your intent? ...
Yes, as a thought experiment. So even the members of competing
parties may vote in the primary. Let's call this the assumption of
"universality".
Post by Fred Gohlke
... If so, would the attending non-partisans have to vote for one of
the party's candidates?
Let's assume not. Let's assume instead a purely democratic process in
which all choices (including the initial nominations) are decided by
voting. Call this the assumption of "equality". (Later I'll explain
why I think these assumptions are valid.)
Post by Fred Gohlke
I'm anxious to examine your ideas, but want to be sure my
understanding is correct.
So what would be the effect on parties? Clearly they could no longer
be parties by the following definition, since (c) is now eliminated.

(a) a *primary* electoral system
(b) one that sponsors candidates for *public* office
(c) where voting is restricted to *private* members

But maybe that's just a formality. What would be the *actual* effect
of eliminating (c)?
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528
http://zelea.com/
Post by Fred Gohlke
Post by Michael Allan
(brief comments and a question)
re: "Sponsoring is a separate topic." ... Absolutely not!!!! ...
Sponsorship is the heart of party power. Their ability to choose
and sponsor the candidates we are allowed to vote for gives them
control of the entire political process. ...
(a) a *primary* electoral system
(b) one that sponsors candidates for *public* office
(c) where voting is restricted to *private* members
We have the tools and the ability to conceive a non-partisan
electoral method. Let's start.
Let's generate better methods. Are you sure that you don't want
parties even in the sense that there would be ideological groupings
that people could support? Or in the sense that there would always
be an alternative to the current rulers.
Imagine waving a wand and eliminating (c), the restriction of primary
voting to private members. What effect would it have on the parties?
What effect on the official elections?
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Fred Gohlke
2012-06-30 16:26:46 UTC
Permalink
Good Morning, Michael

re: "What would be the *actual* effect of eliminating (c) (where
voting is restricted to *private* members)"

It would have an effect on the kind of candidates chosen by the party
leaders, and that would affect the characteristics of the candidates.

The party leaders would choose candidates who could be relied upon to
fulfill their obligation to the party for its support of their
candidacy, but who would appeal to the broadest possible spectrum of
voters. In other words, it would cause the party leaders to feign
centrism while picking candidates that ensure the party leaders will
maintain their power.

The candidates, since they cannot hope to achieve election without the
financial and logistical support of the party, will accede to the
party's demands. They will be the individuals most accomplished in the
arts of obfuscation and deception.

Non-partisan candidates may be added to the slate, but they cannot mount
a practical campaign. The effect of the parties' many years of
manipulating public opinion by using the principles of behavioral
science forms an impenetrable barrier to candidates who do not have
party support.

While the idea of opening primary voting to the public would almost
certainly reduce the power of political extremists, it does not give the
people a way to determine the character and integrity of the candidates.
The process does not include careful examination of the candidates -
except by the self-interested party leaders. The people have no choice
but to use the (mis)information disseminated by the parties and the
candidates to try to choose a trustworthy individual from the slate of
candidates.

Is that a reasonable assessment? Are there other possibilities?

Fred
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Michael Allan
2012-06-30 20:03:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
The party leaders would choose candidates who could be relied upon
to fulfill their obligation to the party for its support of their
candidacy, but who would appeal to the broadest possible spectrum of
voters. In other words, it would cause the party leaders to feign
centrism while picking candidates that ensure the party leaders will
maintain their power.
Yet given the assumption of equality, the party leader is formally on
a level with any party member. Each has a single vote at each step of
the primary, including nomination. With the further assumption of
universality (eliminating c), the members of the opposing parties are
now given a vote, as are the members of no party (N). The primary
electorate for party P is therefore:

P + Q + R + ... + Z + N = everybody

The same applies to each of the other parties Q, R, etc. Each has the
same primary electorate. It is therefore likely that each will make
the same decision and sponsor the same candidate.

Given the assumptions (for which I still owe an answer), is this true?
If true, what effect would it have on the parties?
Post by Fred Gohlke
While the idea of opening primary voting to the public would almost
certainly reduce the power of political extremists, it does not give
the people a way to determine the character and integrity of the
candidates. The process does not include careful examination of the
candidates - except by the self-interested party leaders. The
people have no choice but to use the (mis)information disseminated
by the parties and the candidates to try to choose a trustworthy
individual from the slate of candidates.
Is that a reasonable assessment? Are there other possibilities?
Yes to both. You look at the whole cloth which is always reasonable.
Another possibility is to tug at a single thread. As you pointed out
earlier, the parties have no clothing except what they wove for
themselves. They have no support in Anglo-American constitutional
law, nor in French. They remain unattached and external to the basic
structure of modern democracy in those places where it first evolved.
The next step in its evolution could easily see their elimination.
Easy come, easy go.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528
http://zelea.com/
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-02 15:59:08 UTC
Permalink
Hi, Michael

re: "... given the assumption of equality, the party leader is
formally on a level with any party member. Each has a
single vote at each step of the primary, including
nomination."

Absolutely!

This leads to the obvious question of "How?", but asking it may be
premature.


re: "Each has the same primary electorate. It is therefore
likely that each will make the same decision and sponsor
the same candidate."

Why is that likely?

It seems no more likely than that everybody will order chocolate ice
cream. I've never cared much for pistachio but it persists, in spite of
my disregard for it.


re: "If true, what effect would it have on the parties?"

I don't think I can answer the question (at this point). It would seem
that each party would start with a different core and initially propose
different candidates. Thereafter, the decisions of the party members
would be influenced by the non-partisans. The influence would almost
certainly be toward the center because each party can be expected to
already harbor the most extreme advocates of the party's position.
However, the degree of influence would change rapidly with time and
circumstance, so the result cannot be certain.


re: "The next step in its (democracy's) evolution could easily
see their (political parties) elimination."

Oh, my! Oh, my!

I must question the use of 'easily'. There has been nothing 'easy'
about your work over the past umpteen years - or my own - (he said with
a smile).

Fred
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Michael Allan
2012-07-02 22:08:31 UTC
Permalink
Fred and Juho,
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "... given the assumption of equality, the party leader is
formally on a level with any party member. Each has a
single vote at each step of the primary, including
nomination."
Absolutely!
This leads to the obvious question of "How?", but asking it may be
premature.
Yes, I think we should postpone that till we look at the democratic
context. We'll have to use our imaginations because democracy assumes
an equality and universality that has yet to be realized. Meanwhile
the party is a fact, and it seems to rest (at least in definition) on
a contrary assumption, that of *non*-universality. I wish therefore
to begin by imagining away that assumption. What happens to the party
when its primary decisions may no longer be restricted to members, but
must be opened to universal and equal participation?
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "Each has the same primary electorate. It is therefore likely
that each will make the same decision and sponsor the same
candidate."
Why is that likely? ... It would seem that each party would start
with a different core and initially propose different candidates.
Thereafter, the decisions of the party members would be influenced
by the non-partisans. The influence would almost certainly be
toward the center because each party can be expected to already
harbor the most extreme advocates of the party's position. However,
the degree of influence would change rapidly with time and
circumstance, so the result cannot be certain.
When you say "start with a different core", I'm unsure whether you
mean a core of deciders, or of decisions. Either (if enforced) would
violate the assumptions of universality or equality. The parties may
be different from each other (in their histories, if nothing else),
but henceforth they may not make decisions about the sponsorship of
candidates without opening each step of the process to anyone who
wishes to participate. When voicing the first nomination for party P,
the lowliest member of a competing party Q has an equal opportunity to
that of P's leader.

An ultra-left party would normally be expected to start with a left
leaning nominee, but exactly this expectation no longer applies. All
leanings from the center are now equally likely, where the center is
defined collectively by those who choose to participate, and the
effort they expend.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "The next step in its (democracy's) evolution could easily
see their (political parties) elimination."
Oh, my! Oh, my!
I must question the use of 'easily'. There has been nothing 'easy'
about your work over the past umpteen years - or my own - (he said
with a smile).
In that sense, my claim of "easy come, easy go" is woefully wrong. :-)

As an engineer, however, I must say there are things worth salvaging
in the party machine. This is maybe another reason to dismantle it
with care. It sounds strange, but the party introduces an element of
morality that is missing from the state electoral system. The state
system tells us who *shall* be elected to office, but it fails to tell
us who *ought* to be. This failing is something I know you already
appreciate, but I want to emphasize that it's a moral failing. A
power is exercised without a right. It is what we would expect from a
tyrant, not from an institution of democracy.

The party is the opposite of this. Rather than offering facts, the
party offers norms. It says, "You may elect anyone you wish, but here
is who you *ought* to elect."

This is a moral contribution (in form), which is exactly what we need.
Mind you, the actual content is almost always wrong. So we still need
to take the machine apart, if only to fix it. But it *was* aimed in
the right direction, roughly speaking.
Post by Fred Gohlke
... As I've said before, parties always "seek the power to impose
their views on those who don't share them." They don't always
succeed, but when they do it's catastrophic. The threat of
domination is always present in a party-based system.
As well as in a party-free system.
But imagine for a moment that the following is no longer possible:

(a) a *primary* electoral system
(b) one that sponsors candidates for *public* office
(c) where voting is restricted to *private* members

Specifically (c) is no longer possible. Whenever a decision is made
in support of a candidate for public office (or would be candidate),
that decision is open to universal participation. Further those who
do participate are treated equally. Their votes are not weighted, or
anything like that. In such a world, what *other* form of political
domination could take hold?

I would argue that domination is no longer possible. For better or
worse, we would be free.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528
http://zelea.com/
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Juho Laatu
2012-07-03 07:54:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Fred Gohlke
... As I've said before, parties always "seek the power to impose
their views on those who don't share them." They don't always
succeed, but when they do it's catastrophic. The threat of
domination is always present in a party-based system.
As well as in a party-free system.
(a) a *primary* electoral system
(b) one that sponsors candidates for *public* office
(c) where voting is restricted to *private* members
Specifically (c) is no longer possible. Whenever a decision is made
in support of a candidate for public office (or would be candidate),
that decision is open to universal participation. Further those who
do participate are treated equally. Their votes are not weighted, or
anything like that. In such a world, what *other* form of political
domination could take hold?
I would argue that domination is no longer possible. For better or
worse, we would be free.
I agree that getting rid of the financial ties and getting rid of the party internal control on who can be elected would reduce oligarchy within the parties and power of money. But I'm afraid that humans are clever enough to find some new ways to find power and control the processes in ways that are not very beneficiial to the society. The threat will be present even if we would get rid of some of the key mechanisms that cause us problems today.

I used the soviet example to point out that even in a system that, according to its idealistic supporters, was supposed to get rid of the evils of the past, people soon found ways to corrupt the system. Maybe the same applies to the U.S.A. too. It is known to be a leading fortress of democracy, but now I hear some complaints about how it works. No doubt, also new systems, especially if generated from scratch, would find some ways to corrupt themselves. Hopefully they are better than the previous systems, but not always. So we better be careful with them and too hgh doses of idealism. But maybe we can trust that, despite of all these risks, we are on our way from the laws of jungle to something better.

Juho




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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-04 20:31:07 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Michael

re: "Meanwhile the party is a fact, and it seems to rest (at
least in definition) on a contrary assumption, that of
*non*-universality. I wish therefore to begin by imagining
away that assumption. What happens to the party when its
primary decisions may no longer be restricted to members,
but must be opened to universal and equal participation?"

I'm sorry, Michael, but I cannot make such an assumption. I can imagine
universal equality but I cannot imagine a party where the "primary
decisions may no longer be restricted to members". Such an assumption
defeats the party's reason for being. I am unable to imagine an entity
that does not include its essential characteristics.

Is it necessary to imagine 'party' as existing before universal
equality? Would it not be better to imagine 'party', and the
exclusivity that is inherent in the concept of 'party', as a natural
outgrowth of universal equality?


re: "When you say 'start with a different core', I'm unsure
whether you mean a core of deciders, or of decisions."

I mean that the members of each of the parties have a different set of
core opinions. When these core members interact with non-party members,
the effect of their influence on the non-party members will vary,
depending on a multitude of circumstances. The non-party members will
influence the opinions of the core members in the same way.

Moreover, since one non-party individual can only join one of the
existing parties, the individual's influence on and reaction to the
influence of the party is indeterminate. As an imaginary example, an
assertive, strong-willed non-partisan may influence and be influenced by
a liberal party to a completely different extent than the same person
would influence and be influenced by a conservative party.


re: "The parties may be different from each other (in their
histories, if nothing else), but henceforth they may not
make decisions about the sponsorship of candidates without
opening each step of the process to anyone who wishes to
participate. When voicing the first nomination for party P,
the lowliest member of a competing party Q has an equal
opportunity to that of P's leader.

"An ultra-left party would normally be expected to start with
a left leaning nominee, but exactly this expectation no
longer applies. All leanings from the center are now
equally likely, where the center is defined collectively by
those who choose to participate, and the effort they expend."

This is the assumption I cannot accept. It defies the party's reason
for being. I can imagine a system where parties nominate candidates
that advocate the party's position, and then subjects those candidates
to the judgment of non-partisans, but I cannot imagine a party operating
outside the dictates of its membership.


re: "It sounds strange, but the party introduces an element of
morality that is missing from the state electoral system.
The state system tells us who *shall* be elected to office,
but it fails to tell us who *ought* to be. This failing is
something I know you already appreciate, but I want to
emphasize that it's a moral failing. A power is exercised
without a right. It is what we would expect from a tyrant,
not from an institution of democracy."

Morality is a human trait. It cannot exist in non-human entities,
whether political parties or business corporations. Any morality
displayed by such entities is the morality of their leaders. When a
party tells us who 'ought' to be elected to office, it is not making a
moral statement, it is making a self-serving statement. The person the
party tells us we 'ought' to elect is the person the party believes will
best advance the party's interest not the public's interest. When
parties name the candidates for public office, they are, indeed,
exercising a power without a right.


re: "This is a moral contribution (in form), which is exactly
what we need."

I agree we need to let the people impress their moral sense on their
government. That is not possible when parties choose the candidates for
public office.

Is there a way we can pursue this line of inquiry without making
assumptions that strip political parties of their essential nature?

Fred
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Michael Allan
2012-07-05 21:38:58 UTC
Permalink
Juho and Fred,
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
(a) a *primary* electoral system
(b) one that sponsors candidates for *public* office
(c) where voting is restricted to *private* members
Specifically (c) is no longer possible. ... In such a world, what
*other* form of political domination could take hold? ... I would
argue that domination is no longer possible. For better or worse,
we would be free.
I agree that getting rid of the financial ties and getting rid of
the party internal control on who can be elected would reduce
oligarchy within the parties and power of money. But I'm afraid that
humans are clever enough to find some new ways to find power and
control the processes in ways that are not very beneficiial to the
society. The threat will be present even if we would get rid of some
of the key mechanisms that cause us problems today.
Yes, and we should expect this. Even where freedom is a fact and
takes center stage, domination remains in the wings as a possibility.
Consider the choices:

What is What might be
---------- -----------
1. Domination Freedom

2. Freedom Domination

If no obvious forms of domination remain after eliminating (c), then
we might look at the possible forms of freedom. Especially
interesting would be anything that undermined (c), since that would
pave the way for a continuous transition from 1 to 2.
Post by Juho Laatu
I used the soviet example to point out that even in a system that,
according to its idealistic supporters, was supposed to get rid of
the evils of the past, people soon found ways to corrupt the
system. Maybe the same applies to the U.S.A. too. It is known to be
a leading fortress of democracy, but now I hear some complaints
about how it works. No doubt, also new systems, especially if
generated from scratch, would find some ways to corrupt
themselves. Hopefully they are better than the previous systems, but
not always. So we better be careful with them and too hgh doses of
idealism. But maybe we can trust that, despite of all these risks,
we are on our way from the laws of jungle to something better.
Yes, I agree.
Post by Juho Laatu
I'm sorry, Michael, but I cannot make such an assumption. I can
imagine universal equality but I cannot imagine a party where the
"primary decisions may no longer be restricted to members". Such an
assumption defeats the party's reason for being. I am unable to
imagine an entity that does not include its essential
characteristics.
Yes, I agree. The party could not exist. It follows that if (c) were
eliminated, then the party would also be eliminated. Right?
Post by Juho Laatu
Is it necessary to imagine 'party' as existing before universal
equality? Would it not be better to imagine 'party', and the
exclusivity that is inherent in the concept of 'party', as a natural
outgrowth of universal equality?
(I try to explain my aim at bottom.)
Post by Juho Laatu
Moreover, since one non-party individual can only join one of the
existing parties, the individual's influence on and reaction to the
influence of the party is indeterminate. As an imaginary example,
an assertive, strong-willed non-partisan may influence and be
influenced by a liberal party to a completely different extent than
the same person would influence and be influenced by a conservative
party.
I may misunderstand. To be sure, one needn't join a party. A single
individual (member or not) may participate in the primaries of every
party, or no party, or something in between.
Post by Juho Laatu
This is the assumption I cannot accept. It defies the party's
reason for being. I can imagine a system where parties nominate
candidates that advocate the party's position, and then subjects
those candidates to the judgment of non-partisans, but I cannot
imagine a party operating outside the dictates of its membership.
Exactly. So the parties are gone.
Post by Juho Laatu
I agree we need to let the people impress their moral sense on their
government. That is not possible when parties choose the candidates
for public office.
Is there a way we can pursue this line of inquiry without making
assumptions that strip political parties of their essential nature?
We agreed that parties are incompatible with a substansive democracy.
One way or another, they had to go. So we aimed straight for the
heart and now they are gone. Could we proceed otherwise in reality?

Whatever else we do, we cannot avoid trespassing on the essence of the
party system and displacing it *en passant*. But I wanted to be clear
about the form we'd be displacing, the particular form of exclusivity
that parties depend upon, because I think it tells us something about
the practical means of moving forward. (Persuasion won't work. The
parties cannot be beaten on that ground.) How exactly do we proceed?
--
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http://zelea.com/
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-06 17:10:36 UTC
Permalink
Good Morning, Michael

I think I understand your point. Before I comment on it, I'd like to
mention that the example of an assertive, strong-willed non-partisan was
probably of minor importance. The point was that, in any single primary
election, if such an individual participated in conjunction with a
party, it could only be with one party in any one election, and
association with the group would affect both the person and the group.
However, that may be, it is a digression from the line of thought you
were suggesting.

It seems to me the point you're making (and, for goodness sake, correct
me if I've bollixed it) is that, if we are to eliminate partisan control
of government, we must first understand the source of party power.

Parties are able to exercise control because only party members are
allowed to vote on the selection of candidates for public office. To
correct this state of affairs, we must use our imaginations to go beyond
what we can see and imagine that it's possible to lift that restriction.
If we can imagine that, if voting by non-partisans were allowed, the
party would lose control. The implication is that, to eliminate the
power of parties, we must find a way to remove that exclusivity.

I would like to comment on this, but want to be sure my understanding is
correct before I do so. Please let me know.

Fred
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Michael Allan
2012-07-08 22:25:22 UTC
Permalink
Hi Fred,
Post by Fred Gohlke
It seems to me the point you're making (and, for goodness sake,
correct me if I've bollixed it) is that, if we are to eliminate
partisan control of government, we must first understand the source
of party power.
That would be wise, at least. For my part, I point to the absolute
dependence of party power on the combination of a primary electoral
system and an exclusive electorate.
Post by Fred Gohlke
Parties are able to exercise control because only party members are
allowed to vote on the selection of candidates for public office.
To correct this state of affairs, we must use our imaginations to go
beyond what we can see and imagine that it's possible to lift that
restriction.
If we can imagine that, if voting by non-partisans were allowed,
the party would lose control. The implication is that, to eliminate
the power of parties, we must find a way to remove that exclusivity.
The last sentence says it best. There is no way to eliminate primary
elections in a society where freedoms of speech and association are
respected. They are too well armoured. That leaves exclusivity as
the target for our sling stone.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528
http://zelea.com/
Post by Fred Gohlke
Good Morning, Michael
I think I understand your point. Before I comment on it, I'd like to
mention that the example of an assertive, strong-willed non-partisan was
probably of minor importance. The point was that, in any single primary
election, if such an individual participated in conjunction with a
party, it could only be with one party in any one election, and
association with the group would affect both the person and the group.
However, that may be, it is a digression from the line of thought you
were suggesting.
It seems to me the point you're making (and, for goodness sake, correct
me if I've bollixed it) is that, if we are to eliminate partisan control
of government, we must first understand the source of party power.
Parties are able to exercise control because only party members are
allowed to vote on the selection of candidates for public office. To
correct this state of affairs, we must use our imaginations to go beyond
what we can see and imagine that it's possible to lift that restriction.
If we can imagine that, if voting by non-partisans were allowed, the
party would lose control. The implication is that, to eliminate the
power of parties, we must find a way to remove that exclusivity.
I would like to comment on this, but want to be sure my understanding is
correct before I do so. Please let me know.
Fred
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Fred Gohlke
2012-06-27 15:03:51 UTC
Permalink
Good Morning, Juho

re: "I agree that all modern democratic systems have potential
to get better."

That's not exactly a profound comment. In what way does it advance our
discussion? How, exactly, do we make our pseudo-democratic systems better?


re: "What I meant with "separate" is that sponsoring rules and
practices may be very different in different countries, and
that sponsoring rules can be changed without changing the
other rules."

In what way does the fact that different countries have different rules
help us correct the evils of party-based systems?

How, exactly, can the people change the 'sponsoring rules' when the
parties write the rules? The people have no access to, or input into,
the formulation of the electoral rules (witness, for example, the
travesty called 'gerrymandering' in my country). Those rules are
enacted by legislators sponsored by, and responsible to, the parties.


re: "I agree that sponsoring can be very dangerous to a political
system."

I'm glad you agree. Can you describe an electoral process that
eliminates this danger?


re: "I'm afraid the main rule is that major improvements come
only after major catastrophes."

You may consider that the 'main rule', but there's no reason we can't
use our intellectual capacity to avoid it.


re: "We must work to make the practices better."

That's true, although saying so does not constitute an effort to do so.
Can you suggest specific ways of improving the practices?


re: "National Socialism grew within a democratic system. Better
watch out that our countries will not degrade to that level."

Stating the obvious does nothing to accomplish the goal.


re: "But someone will have the power to govern. Maybe better to
have some democratically elected politicians in power than
people that do not need the support of the people."

As we have already agreed, current electoral methods do not elect
politicians 'democratically' because our party systems have degenerated
into oligarchies.


re: "I'm also not sure that it would be easy to create
hierarchical systems that would lift the best people
to the top to govern us."

Of course it won't be easy - worthwhile things rarely are.


re: "I mean that whatever the structure of the system is,
people will find ways to misuse it."

That may be true, but it is no excuse for accepting the obviously flawed
systems we now endure.


re: "Multiple parties can be used to balance the madness of
the other parties."

Are you suggesting we take more of the poison that's killing us?


re: "If there is only one solution, it will be officially right
and it may deny eny need to improve the system (it may
rather get corrupt and lock people to that now non-working
structure).

That's precisely the circumstances in which we find ourselves, right
now. Note that it doesn't stop us from trying to conceive improvements.
Our only difficulty is finding people with the intellect and the
energy to work on finding a better way.


re: "Are you sure that you don't want parties even in the sense
that there would be ideological groupings that people could
support?"

As I've already explained in considerable detail, partisanship is
natural and healthy. Society evolves through the inception and spread
of new ideas. I have no objection to parties - as long as they are not
allowed to control our government. In fact, the method I outlined here
several years ago relies on parties to bring new ideologies to the fore.
If I can come up with a way to use parties productively, brighter
people can do better - when they take the time and expend the energy
necessary to do so.

Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-06-27 16:08:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
How, exactly, do we make our pseudo-democratic systems better?
I have considered numerous options. At this very moment, maybe the sponsoring problem could be one easy (in theory) problem to solve. Just cut out party sponsoring and/or set some limits to the cost of personal campaigns.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "What I meant with "separate" is that sponsoring rules and
practices may be very different in different countries, and
that sponsoring rules can be changed without changing the
other rules."
In what way does the fact that different countries have different rules help us correct the evils of party-based systems?
Maybe the separate nature of party sponsoring allows us to fix it as a stand alone problem. Maybe we could even follow pretty much the same rules in all countries although they may have quite different electoral systems.
Post by Fred Gohlke
How, exactly, can the people change the 'sponsoring rules' when the parties write the rules?
That's an essential and difficult question. Any changes in the way power is distributed in any system are difficult since those people that are in power now, have been the winners in the current electoral system. If they make any changes in the system, they might just oust themselves.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "I agree that sponsoring can be very dangerous to a political
system."
I'm glad you agree. Can you describe an electoral process that eliminates this danger?
I briefly sketched an election method independent very simple approach above.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "We must work to make the practices better."
That's true, although saying so does not constitute an effort to do so. Can you suggest specific ways of improving the practices?
Ok, I already generated two quick improvements, one for sponsoring and one raher radical approach that eliminated the influence of parties in nominating the candidates (assuming that this is what we need). The solutions may be different for different societies and different needs, so often we need to set the target before giving the solution. I'm happy to discuss different solutions for different needs.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "National Socialism grew within a democratic system. Better
watch out that our countries will not degrade to that level."
Stating the obvious does nothing to accomplish the goal.
It is good to keep the warning sign visible all the time. It is so easy to slip to believing that one's own system is right and on the correct track. If people would have guessed where National Socialism might lead them to, they might have rejected it. This applies also to many later and smaller problems. Brutal practices have appeared also elsewhere.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "Multiple parties can be used to balance the madness of
the other parties."
Are you suggesting we take more of the poison that's killing us?
Many medicines are in fact poison if used in too large quantities. Since politics is a difficult game to control, it may be that we have to cure the problems generated by one governmnet by using a poison that at least cancels the effects of the previous government (although probably that also generates new problems as a side effect).
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "If there is only one solution, it will be officially right
and it may deny eny need to improve the system (it may
rather get corrupt and lock people to that now non-working
structure).
That's precisely the circumstances in which we find ourselves, right now. Note that it doesn't stop us from trying to conceive improvements. Our only difficulty is finding people with the intellect and the energy to work on finding a better way.
In a democracy we need also voters that understand these good intentions well enough to accept and vote for such changes (unless we think that we need a revolution). In some sense I advertised parties as a method that makes peaceful "revolutions" possible, i.e. allows us to have different alternaties and therefore also oust one government and replace it with another one.

Juho





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Jameson Quinn
2012-06-27 17:10:08 UTC
Permalink
I am enjoying this discussion and I thank Fred for starting it. However, I
have only a little to add:

1. Under plurality, parties are a necessary evil; primaries weed the field
and prevent vote-splitting. Of course, plurality itself is an entirely
unnecessary evil, mostly because it makes parties necessary.

2. Even without plurality, there would probably still be named, structured
groupings. Unstructured anarchy may be desirable, but it's not very stable.
That's not to say that there's no way to make the power dynamics inside the
party less pernicious, though.

3. As I envision PAL representation, the PR system I designed, parties
would simply be a label that any candidate could self-apply. To keep out
"wolves in sheeps clothing", any candidate would have the power to say,
among the other candidates who share their chosen party label, which ones
they do not consider to be allies. I think those dynamics – free to "join",
no guarantee you won't be shunned by the people who already have "joined",
but the binary shun-or-not choice should help prevent cliques of gradated
power – would be relatively healthy.

Jameson
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Fred Gohlke
How, exactly, do we make our pseudo-democratic systems better?
I have considered numerous options. At this very moment, maybe the
sponsoring problem could be one easy (in theory) problem to solve. Just cut
out party sponsoring and/or set some limits to the cost of personal
campaigns.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "What I meant with "separate" is that sponsoring rules and
practices may be very different in different countries, and
that sponsoring rules can be changed without changing the
other rules."
In what way does the fact that different countries have different rules
help us correct the evils of party-based systems?
Maybe the separate nature of party sponsoring allows us to fix it as a
stand alone problem. Maybe we could even follow pretty much the same rules
in all countries although they may have quite different electoral systems.
Post by Fred Gohlke
How, exactly, can the people change the 'sponsoring rules' when the
parties write the rules?
That's an essential and difficult question. Any changes in the way power
is distributed in any system are difficult since those people that are in
power now, have been the winners in the current electoral system. If they
make any changes in the system, they might just oust themselves.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "I agree that sponsoring can be very dangerous to a political
system."
I'm glad you agree. Can you describe an electoral process that
eliminates this danger?
I briefly sketched an election method independent very simple approach above.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "We must work to make the practices better."
That's true, although saying so does not constitute an effort to do so.
Can you suggest specific ways of improving the practices?
Ok, I already generated two quick improvements, one for sponsoring and one
raher radical approach that eliminated the influence of parties in
nominating the candidates (assuming that this is what we need). The
solutions may be different for different societies and different needs, so
often we need to set the target before giving the solution. I'm happy to
discuss different solutions for different needs.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "National Socialism grew within a democratic system. Better
watch out that our countries will not degrade to that level."
Stating the obvious does nothing to accomplish the goal.
It is good to keep the warning sign visible all the time. It is so easy to
slip to believing that one's own system is right and on the correct track.
If people would have guessed where National Socialism might lead them to,
they might have rejected it. This applies also to many later and smaller
problems. Brutal practices have appeared also elsewhere.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "Multiple parties can be used to balance the madness of
the other parties."
Are you suggesting we take more of the poison that's killing us?
Many medicines are in fact poison if used in too large quantities. Since
politics is a difficult game to control, it may be that we have to cure the
problems generated by one governmnet by using a poison that at least
cancels the effects of the previous government (although probably that also
generates new problems as a side effect).
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "If there is only one solution, it will be officially right
and it may deny eny need to improve the system (it may
rather get corrupt and lock people to that now non-working
structure).
That's precisely the circumstances in which we find ourselves, right
now. Note that it doesn't stop us from trying to conceive improvements.
Our only difficulty is finding people with the intellect and the energy to
work on finding a better way.
In a democracy we need also voters that understand these good intentions
well enough to accept and vote for such changes (unless we think that we
need a revolution). In some sense I advertised parties as a method that
makes peaceful "revolutions" possible, i.e. allows us to have different
alternaties and therefore also oust one government and replace it with
another one.
Juho
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Juho Laatu
2012-06-28 10:12:20 UTC
Permalink
3. As I envision PAL representation, the PR system I designed, parties would simply be a label that any candidate could self-apply. To keep out "wolves in sheeps clothing", any candidate would have the power to say, among the other candidates who share their chosen party label, which ones they do not consider to be allies. I think those dynamics – free to "join", no guarantee you won't be shunned by the people who already have "joined", but the binary shun-or-not choice should help prevent cliques of gradated power – would be relatively healthy.
Is there a risk that candidates could use the disapprovals to run under false flag? (by disapproving all the true candidates of their pre-announced party)

Juho





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Fred Gohlke
2012-06-28 20:12:18 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Jameson

It's great to see you. This may lead to a lively discussion, which will
be wonderful, if it helps us build consensus.

re: "Under plurality, parties are a necessary evil; primaries
weed the field and prevent vote-splitting."

(Note to self: Be sure to read the WHOLE thing, Fred.)

"Of course, plurality itself is an entirely unnecessary evil,
mostly because it makes parties necessary."

I looked up 'plurality' but the definition seemed to relate more to a
number of votes than to a political system. Obviously, I lack
familiarity with the term. In the past, I've taken it to mean a
political process that results in a two-party system. If that's
inadequate, please correct me.

In any case, our (U. S.) governmental system is defined by our
Constitution, and nothing in our Constitution expresses or implies the
need for political parties. They are an extra-Constitutional invention,
devised to advance partisan interest.

Plurality is not ordained!!!


re: "Even without plurality, there would probably still be named,
structured groupings."

As I mentioned in an earlier post, partisanship is natural for humans.
Not only is it natural, it's healthy. It provides the multitude of tiny
feet on which society gradually creeps forward. The degree of group
structure varies, depending on several factors. In modern political
parties, that structure is quite advanced, to support the hunt for power.


re: "Unstructured anarchy may be desirable, but it's not very
stable."

I understand there are folks who preach anarchy, but I'm not one of
them. The nearest traffic light is all the evidence I need to recognize
the need for government.


re: "That's not to say that there's no way to make the power
dynamics inside the party less pernicious, though."

That may be, but finding an alternative to a system that puts parties in
control of government strikes me as an imperative.


re: "As I envision PAL representation, the PR system I designed,
parties would simply be a label that any candidate could
self-apply. To keep out "wolves in sheeps clothing", any
candidate would have the power to say, among the other
candidates who share their chosen party label, which ones
they do not consider to be allies. I think those dynamics -
free to "join", no guarantee you won't be shunned by the
people who already have "joined", but the binary shun-or-not
choice should help prevent cliques of gradated power - would
be relatively healthy.

Whoops! I'm as bad as Casey. I just struck out. I've never seen a PAL
pitch before. I've read this several times and think I get a glimmer of
an interesting concept, but ...

Fred
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Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2012-07-05 21:40:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jameson Quinn
I am enjoying this discussion and I thank Fred for starting it. However,
1. Under plurality, parties are a necessary evil; primaries weed the
field and prevent vote-splitting. Of course, plurality itself is an
entirely unnecessary evil, mostly because it makes parties necessary.
2. Even without plurality, there would probably still be named,
structured groupings. Unstructured anarchy may be desirable, but it's
not very stable. That's not to say that there's no way to make the power
dynamics inside the party less pernicious, though.
3. As I envision PAL representation, the PR system I designed, parties
would simply be a label that any candidate could self-apply. To keep out
"wolves in sheeps clothing", any candidate would have the power to say,
among the other candidates who share their chosen party label, which
ones they do not consider to be allies. I think those dynamics – free to
"join", no guarantee you won't be shunned by the people who already have
"joined", but the binary shun-or-not choice should help prevent cliques
of gradated power – would be relatively healthy.
I'm not sure why the To of this message was set to my address, but while
we're adding our ideas to it, here are mine:

- Aristotle says that elections impart upon a system an element of
aristocracy. In this, I'm inclined to agree, because elections involve
the selection of a choice (or choices) from those that are known to the
people doing the voting. Thus, if a minority has the power to be more
visible, representatives will tend to be chosen from that minority.

- Whether this is a good or bad thing depends upon whether you think
aristocracy can work. In this sense, "aristocracy" means rule by the
best, i.e. by a minority that is selected because they're in some way
better than the rest at achieving the common good. The pathological form
of aristocracy is oligarchy, where there's still a minority, but it's
not chosen because it's better. If aristocracy degenerates too far or
too quickly into oligarchy, that would negate the gains you'd expect to
see from picking someone who's "better" rather than just by chance alone.

- I think that, in practice, the collection of rules that make up the
electoral system has a significant influence on both the nature of
politics in that country as well as on the quality of the
representatives. It's not too difficult to see that if you take it to
extremes: for example, if you'd devise a system where only parties given
permission to operate by already-permitted parties would be allowed to
exist, you'd get political monopoly in short order.

- Thus, it's not too hard for me to think there might be sets of rules
that would make parties minor parts of politics. Those would not work by
simply outlawing parties, totalitarian style. Instead, the rules would
arrange the dynamics so that there's little benefit to organizing in
parties.

- For instance, a system based entirely on random selection would
probably not have very powerful parties, as the parties would have no
way of getting "their" candidates into the assembly. Of course, such a
system would not have the aristocratic aspect either. Hybrid systems
could still make parties less relevant: I've mentioned a "sortition
followed by election within the group" idea before, where a significant
sample is picked from the population and they elect representatives from
their number. Again, parties could not be sure any of "their" candidates
would be selected at random in the first round. While that method tries
to keep some of the selection for best, it disrupts the continuity that
parties need and the effect of "marketing" ahead of time.

- Gohlke has also suggested a method he thinks would diminish the power
of parties, wherein people meet in small groups (of three, but could be
extended) and elect a subset (one of them according to his idea), and
these then repeat the process until the number of representatives is
reduced to the number you'd want. Parties could still exist as
organizations that help people be better at the process, but party
members can't secure a position by appealing to masses; rather (at least
this is the idea), they must be able to defend/compromise in a thorough
discussion of their ideas that the small-group setting supports.

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Michael Allan
2012-07-06 00:22:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
- Thus, it's not too hard for me to think there might be sets of
rules that would make parties minor parts of politics. Those would
not work by simply outlawing parties, totalitarian style. Instead,
the rules would arrange the dynamics so that there's little benefit
to organizing in parties.
Such rules would be difficult to implement while the parties are still
in power. They control the legislatures. I think we need to look at
the primaries. A system of open primaries would be beyond the reach
of the parties, and it might undermine their power. Has anyone tried
this approach before?
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528
http://zelea.com/
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Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2012-07-07 07:29:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
- Thus, it's not too hard for me to think there might be sets of
rules that would make parties minor parts of politics. Those would
not work by simply outlawing parties, totalitarian style. Instead,
the rules would arrange the dynamics so that there's little benefit
to organizing in parties.
Such rules would be difficult to implement while the parties are still
in power. They control the legislatures. I think we need to look at
the primaries. A system of open primaries would be beyond the reach
of the parties, and it might undermine their power. Has anyone tried
this approach before?
We don't really have primaries here, at least not in the sense of
patches to make Plurality work, because we don't use Plurality but party
list PR. There are still internal elections (or appointments, depending
on party) to determine the order of the list - those are probably the
closest thing to primaries here.

I imagine that the primary link is even weaker in STV countries. Say you
have a multimember district with 5 seats. To cover all their bases, each
party would run at least 5 candidates for that election, so that even if
they get all the seats, they can fill them. But that means that people
who want members of party X to get in power can choose which of the
candidates they want. There's no predetermined list, and there's less of
a "take it or leave it" problem than in single member districts.

But I digress. The way I see it, there are two approaches to changing
the rules. The first is to do it from within - to have a party or other
organization that implements those rules internally. The second is from
without, by somehow inspiring the people to want this, so that they will
push for it more strongly than the parties can.

In the United States, the latter might be rather difficult (since money
counts for so much). And perhaps in the US, primaries would be a good
place to start. I don't know, as I don't live there :-)

Don't some local elections over there have free-for-all primaries where
anyone can vote, so the system turns into top-two runoff?

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Michael Allan
2012-07-09 01:29:26 UTC
Permalink
Fred and Kristofer,
Post by Fred Gohlke
I think you're right, the selection of candidates for public office
must be opened to the entire electorate. Such an approach has
eluded us so far because of the lack of organization among the
non-partisans. This lets the parties maintain their control of the
electoral process with the classic 'Divide and Conquer' strategy.
Yes, or at least among the general public. The public may include
partisans, of course, but they would vote together with everyone else
when it comes to public decisions. That's the crucial thing.
Post by Fred Gohlke
We don't really have primaries here, at least not in the sense of
patches to make Plurality work, because we don't use Plurality but
party list PR. There are still internal elections (or appointments,
depending on party) to determine the order of the list - those are
probably the closest thing to primaries here.
Imagine a PR party that invites all residents (even members of other
parties) to participate in the "primary election" of its party list.
It is not an ordinary party with an ideology, or platform. Its only
concern is primary *inclusivity*. It calls itself the "Public List"
and it strives to be just that, and nothing more.

Hypothesis: the Public List will have a lower attrition rate than any
other party. Unlike other parties, it cannot easily offend the voters
because all it does is open its list to their participation. Nor can
it easily offend the nominees and candidates, because it is equally
open to them. It will therefore come to win all elections.

Is this likely to be true? What could work against it?
Post by Fred Gohlke
I imagine that the primary link is even weaker in STV countries. Say
you have a multimember district with 5 seats. To cover all their
bases, each party would run at least 5 candidates for that election,
so that even if they get all the seats, they can fill them. But that
means that people who want members of party X to get in power can
choose which of the candidates they want. There's no predetermined
list, and there's less of a "take it or leave it" problem than in
single member districts.
Wouldn't the Public List also have an opening here?
Post by Fred Gohlke
But I digress. The way I see it, there are two approaches to
changing the rules. The first is to do it from within - to have a
party or other organization that implements those rules
internally. The second is from without, by somehow inspiring the
people to want this, so that they will push for it more strongly
than the parties can.
In the United States, the latter might be rather difficult (since
money counts for so much). And perhaps in the US, primaries would be
a good place to start. I don't know, as I don't live there :-)
Suppose a Public List were made available without pushing. The
parties would continue promoting themselves (and bashing each other)
while the public list would quietly do its job. It might offer a kind
of refuge to voters who were tired of the usual fights, or confused by
the choices. Might this not be enough in itself?
Post by Fred Gohlke
Don't some local elections over there have free-for-all primaries
where anyone can vote, so the system turns into top-two runoff?
I'm not sure. The parties in Canada (where I live) generally don't
field candidates for municipal elections. Even at higher levels, the
nomination mechanism for assembly members is obscure. Ordinary MPs
have little power anyway. Power is concentrated in the leader's
hands. The leadership convention is the only primary contest that
gets much public attention.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528
http://zelea.com/
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-10 19:52:32 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Michael

re: "The public may include partisans, of course, but they would
vote together with everyone else when it comes to public
decisions. That's the crucial thing."

I agree that it's a crucial issue, but, as far as this discussion has
advanced, we've yet to suggest a method by which it can be done. One of
the problems is that people motivated to political action are partisan,
but they are a relatively small part of the electorate. The
non-partisans, virtually by definition, tend to not be politically
active. That does not mean they have no political interest or concern.
They do, but there is no viable 'good government' party they can
support. So, while they should be the greatest voice in the conduct of
our government, they are forced to stand mute because parties dominate
the political scene. That is the crux of the matter.

I feel, like you, that our electoral method must embrace the entire
electorate. Those who don't wish to participate must be allowed to drop
out, but everyone else must have a way to provide meaningful input into
the choice of the people's representatives in their legislature.

Fred

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Michael Allan
2012-07-13 08:15:52 UTC
Permalink
Hi Fred,

I posted my proposal separately. Let me know what you think.
http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2012-July/030751.html

It should be compatible with Practical Democracy/triads and all other
methods, too. If it works, it should enable electoral innovation
across the board.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528
http://zelea.com/
Post by Fred Gohlke
Good Afternoon, Michael
re: "The public may include partisans, of course, but they would
vote together with everyone else when it comes to public
decisions. That's the crucial thing."
I agree that it's a crucial issue, but, as far as this discussion has
advanced, we've yet to suggest a method by which it can be done. One of
the problems is that people motivated to political action are partisan,
but they are a relatively small part of the electorate. The
non-partisans, virtually by definition, tend to not be politically
active. That does not mean they have no political interest or concern.
They do, but there is no viable 'good government' party they can
support. So, while they should be the greatest voice in the conduct of
our government, they are forced to stand mute because parties dominate
the political scene. That is the crux of the matter.
I feel, like you, that our electoral method must embrace the entire
electorate. Those who don't wish to participate must be allowed to drop
out, but everyone else must have a way to provide meaningful input into
the choice of the people's representatives in their legislature.
Fred
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-16 19:12:33 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Michael

I'm working my way through your proposal.

It is not entirely clear how a group can have the form of a party
without the substance. To the extent that people organize, they cannot
escape Robert Michels' dictum: "It is indisputable that the
oligarchical and bureaucratic tendency of party organization is a matter
of technical and practical necessity. It is the inevitable product of
the very principle of organization".

This may be a semantic problem; perhaps some word other than 'party'
would better fit the case (public body?). In any event, acquiring "the
labour, money and other resources needed to make it happen" is non-trivial.

The "argument of inevitable success" may be a bit optimistic. Like all
political ideas, this one bears the burden of persuading a large portion
of the population to adopt the method. Perhaps some form of telephone
application could go viral. That might gain adherents quickly but might
also turn into a passing fad.

There are two worrying aspects about the proposal. One is the lack of a
way for the people to carefully examine candidates to determine their
ability and integrity. The other is that the concept may be susceptible
to media-induced frenzies.

One thought that struck me while studying the proposal was the
similarity to Michael Moore's We Want You (www.wewantyou.us). If a
combination of that effort and your ideas is possible, it might be
beneficial.

Fred
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-30 20:19:56 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Michael

In response to your July 29th post on a different thread:

re: "I guess we can safely assume that reforms (whatever they
are) will not begin with the official electoral process.
It is too difficult to change and too easy to circumvent.
What matters is the selection of candidates, namely the
primary electoral process. Right?"

Yes, we are discussing a possible method of selecting candidates. We
arrived at this particular idea by assuming that parties still operate
in more or less the same way they do today, but that everyone has the
right to nominate candidates for public office - party members within
parties and unrepresented people (in the 'party' sense) as a separate group.


re: "Consider a point in the future at which there are five main
primary processes in operation at varying levels of turnout,
with at least two being reformed processes (your choice
which)."

Process Turnout
------- -------
P 20 %
Q 15 (at least two are
R 5 reformed processes)
S 2
T 1

Is this expectation more-or-less reasonable? Anyone?

Please help me with this one. Are P-Q-R-S-T separate groups (parties?),
each with members making nominations? When you say "at least two are
reformed processes, are you speaking of groups with open nominations?
Are the percentages the percent of the groups' membership or of the
entire electorate?


re: "When you speak (Fred) of controlling the time at which
'candidates are announced', do you mean only for the process
that you and Juho are mooting, say one of P-T? Or all
processes P-T? Your purpose would seem to require control
of all the major primaries."

The concept we were examining imagined a single nominating process in
which partisans and non-partisans nominate candidates for public office.
After being nominated, the nominees for each party (and the
non-partisan nominees as a group) decide which of the nominees are the
best advocates of the party's point of view. Then, the remaining
partisan/non-partisan nominees examine each other to decide which of
their number will be the candidates for public office. Then the people
vote for their choice of the candidates. The question of how many
candidates there would be for each office was not discussed, and,
barring further discussion, would be left to those who implement the
process.

Fred
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Michael Allan
2012-08-02 20:16:04 UTC
Permalink
... Are P-Q-R-S-T separate groups (parties?), each with members
making nominations? ...
They are primary processes, i.e. for selecting candidates prior to the
official election. So the unreformed ones are party primaries, yes.
... When you say "at least two are reformed processes, are you
speaking of groups with open nominations? ...
One could be the process you and Juho were mooting, and another could
feature open nominations, yes.
... Are the percentages the percent of the groups' membership or of
the entire electorate?
Of the entire electorate.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528
http://zelea.com/
Good Afternoon, Michael
re: "I guess we can safely assume that reforms (whatever they
are) will not begin with the official electoral process.
It is too difficult to change and too easy to circumvent.
What matters is the selection of candidates, namely the
primary electoral process. Right?"
Yes, we are discussing a possible method of selecting candidates. We
arrived at this particular idea by assuming that parties still operate
in more or less the same way they do today, but that everyone has the
right to nominate candidates for public office - party members within
parties and unrepresented people (in the 'party' sense) as a separate group.
re: "Consider a point in the future at which there are five main
primary processes in operation at varying levels of turnout,
with at least two being reformed processes (your choice
which)."
Process Turnout
------- -------
P 20 %
Q 15 (at least two are
R 5 reformed processes)
S 2
T 1
Is this expectation more-or-less reasonable? Anyone?
Please help me with this one. Are P-Q-R-S-T separate groups (parties?),
each with members making nominations? When you say "at least two are
reformed processes, are you speaking of groups with open nominations?
Are the percentages the percent of the groups' membership or of the
entire electorate?
re: "When you speak (Fred) of controlling the time at which
'candidates are announced', do you mean only for the process
that you and Juho are mooting, say one of P-T? Or all
processes P-T? Your purpose would seem to require control
of all the major primaries."
The concept we were examining imagined a single nominating process in
which partisans and non-partisans nominate candidates for public office.
After being nominated, the nominees for each party (and the
non-partisan nominees as a group) decide which of the nominees are the
best advocates of the party's point of view. Then, the remaining
partisan/non-partisan nominees examine each other to decide which of
their number will be the candidates for public office. Then the people
vote for their choice of the candidates. The question of how many
candidates there would be for each office was not discussed, and,
barring further discussion, would be left to those who implement the
process.
Fred
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Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2012-07-18 13:45:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
We don't really have primaries here, at least not in the sense of
patches to make Plurality work, because we don't use Plurality but
party list PR. There are still internal elections (or appointments,
depending on party) to determine the order of the list - those are
probably the closest thing to primaries here.
Imagine a PR party that invites all residents (even members of other
parties) to participate in the "primary election" of its party list.
It is not an ordinary party with an ideology, or platform. Its only
concern is primary *inclusivity*. It calls itself the "Public List"
and it strives to be just that, and nothing more.
Hypothesis: the Public List will have a lower attrition rate than any
other party. Unlike other parties, it cannot easily offend the voters
because all it does is open its list to their participation. Nor can
it easily offend the nominees and candidates, because it is equally
open to them. It will therefore come to win all elections.
Is this likely to be true? What could work against it?
There are two areas of difficulty. First, this party would have to have
some kind of administration (that would publish the lists, and so on).
One would have to be sure the administrators don't co-opt the party and
transform it into an ordinary party. Such things have happened, to
lesser degrees, with small parties that have become large. Novel forms
of voting, or consensus based systems, disappear because they're not
effective enough, for instance.

Second, the Public List just reproduces the thing elections are supposed
to solve in the first place - which is finding good candidates. In the
actual election, the "good candidates" are the winners, and get
parliamentary seats or executive positions. But the Public List doesn't
have any people deciding upon the internal election, so it has to have
some kind of primary to construct the list to begin with. And for that
primary, it needs a way of winnowing the field so that voters aren't
faced with having to rank a million candidates in the primary. Making a
primary for the primary could get unwieldy.

So the Public List needs some kind of logic. If it has that - e.g. if it
used Gohlke's triad system - then it could be used to change the
political system without actually changing the general election method.
But if the system isn't part of the general election, then there may be
incentive not to bother. Say that the internal selection process
produces a list of centrists. Left-wingers (who didn't win) may decide
to just vote for a left-wing party instead of the Public List in the
general election. People taking part in the internal election may,
anticipating this, think that "we'll go through all this work and then,
because we're a centrist party, few people will put us first, so why
should we?". This suggests the internal method should be proportional as
well.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
I imagine that the primary link is even weaker in STV countries. Say
you have a multimember district with 5 seats. To cover all their
bases, each party would run at least 5 candidates for that election,
so that even if they get all the seats, they can fill them. But that
means that people who want members of party X to get in power can
choose which of the candidates they want. There's no predetermined
list, and there's less of a "take it or leave it" problem than in
single member districts.
Wouldn't the Public List also have an opening here?
Yes, but STV also supports independents. Even more than in party list,
the Public List's advantage rests only in finding good candidates before
the real election.

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Dave Ketchum
2012-07-09 03:06:43 UTC
Permalink
Time to think.

Primaries are a problem.

Primaries were invented to solve an intolerable problem for Plurality
elections - too easy to have multiple candidates for a party, those
candidates having to share the available votes, and thus all losing.

I would not do away with primaries - instead I would do away with
Plurality and leave primaries to any party that still saw value in
them. So, what is Plurality's basic problem? That a voter can see
value in more than one candidate, want to vote accordingly, and be
prevented by Plurality. Voters need to agree that this fix is
essential and apply whatever effort is needed.

Where to go? Desirable, but not essential, to use the same new method
everywhere. Consider:

. Approval - each voter is signaling equal desire for every
candidate voted for. Better than Plurality, but too often a voter can
have a true desire, and secondary candidates voter wants considered
only if true desire loses.

. Condorcet - voters rank their true desire highest and others
lower. Ranking A over X says A more desired, but not what strength
this desire has.

. Score/range - thoughts similar to Condorcet, but here difference
in rating indicates strength of liking.

. IRV - This sees some trials, and use in Burlington has indicated
lacks.

. Others - this list does not attempt completion.

Such changes could change strength of parties - perhaps, but I
consider the changes too important for this to interfere with going
for better election methods

I see value in parties - Green, libertarians, socialism, etc., let
voters with particular desires work together.
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
- Thus, it's not too hard for me to think there might be sets of
rules that would make parties minor parts of politics. Those would
not work by simply outlawing parties, totalitarian style. Instead,
the rules would arrange the dynamics so that there's little benefit
to organizing in parties.
Such rules would be difficult to implement while the parties are still
in power. They control the legislatures. I think we need to look at
the primaries. A system of open primaries would be beyond the reach
of the parties, and it might undermine their power. Has anyone tried
this approach before?
We don't really have primaries here, at least not in the sense of
patches to make Plurality work, because we don't use Plurality but
party list PR. There are still internal elections (or appointments,
depending on party) to determine the order of the list - those are
probably the closest thing to primaries here.
I imagine that the primary link is even weaker in STV countries. Say
you have a multimember district with 5 seats. To cover all their
bases, each party would run at least 5 candidates for that election,
so that even if they get all the seats, they can fill them. But that
means that people who want members of party X to get in power can
choose which of the candidates they want. There's no predetermined
list, and there's less of a "take it or leave it" problem than in
single member districts.
But I digress. The way I see it, there are two approaches to
changing the rules. The first is to do it from within - to have a
party or other organization that implements those rules internally.
The second is from without, by somehow inspiring the people to want
this, so that they will push for it more strongly than the parties
can.
In the United States, the latter might be rather difficult (since
money counts for so much). And perhaps in the US, primaries would be
a good place to start. I don't know, as I don't live there :-)
Don't some local elections over there have free-for-all primaries
where anyone can vote, so the system turns into top-two runoff?
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-10 19:49:07 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Dave

re: "I would not do away with primaries - instead I would do away
with Plurality and leave primaries to any party that still
saw value in them."

I believe the discussion was more about opening primaries to the public
than to eliminating them.


re: "I see value in parties - Green, libertarians, socialism,
etc., let voters with particular desires work together."

Absolutely, but there must also be a way for those who don't subscribe
to any party to participate in the electoral process. They have no
voice at present, and that's the rub.

Fred
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Dave Ketchum
2012-07-11 00:41:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
Good Afternoon, Dave
re: "I would not do away with primaries - instead I would do away
with Plurality and leave primaries to any party that still
saw value in them."
I believe the discussion was more about opening primaries to the
public than to eliminating them.
True, but I suggest looking a little deeper.

Clones are a problem for Plurality, and primaries were invented to
dispose of clones within a party - still leaves us with such as
multiple parties nominating clones. These are not Plurality's only
problem, so looking for better election methods is still worth doing.

Anyway, I do not argue against primaries for anyone who sees other
value in them.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "I see value in parties - Green, libertarians, socialism,
etc., let voters with particular desires work together."
Absolutely, but there must also be a way for those who don't
subscribe to any party to participate in the electoral process.
They have no voice at present, and that's the rub.
Could say that if they have no voice they have no need of anyone to
speak to.

If there is an idea worth speaking about and no party is interested,
its backers could form a party.
Post by Fred Gohlke
Fred
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-13 15:30:39 UTC
Permalink
Good Morning, Dave

re: "Clones are a problem for Plurality, and primaries were
invented to dispose of clones within a party"

I'm not sure what clones are, but imagine they are multiple candidates
who seek the same office.


re: "Could say that if they have no voice they have no need of
anyone to speak to."

Who has the right to make that judgment? We can't say that until those
without a voice have a practical way to express themselves on political
issues.


re: "If there is an idea worth speaking about and no party is
interested, its backers could form a party."

Forming a party is the height of futility, as I'm sure you're aware. As
long as the major parties write the rules for our electoral process, we
will continue to have a closed system.

Fred
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Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2012-07-13 18:20:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
Good Morning, Dave
re: "Clones are a problem for Plurality, and primaries were
invented to dispose of clones within a party"
I'm not sure what clones are, but imagine they are multiple candidates
who seek the same office.
Strictly speaking, clones are candidates that are so alike each other
that every voter ranks them next to each other (but not necessarily in
the same order). A method passes the independence of clones criterion if
adding or removing clones never alters who wins - unless the winner was
cloned (in which case one of the clones may win) or the winner was one
of the clones removed (in which case a remaining clone may win).

Plurality fails the independence of clones criterion because splitting a
candidate into clones can make them lose (vote-splitting). Borda fails
it because splitting a candidate into clones can make one of the clones
win (teaming). Copeland fails because adding or removing clones of some
candidate A can make the win go from B to C (crowding).

More generally speaking, a clone could be considered a candidate that's
very close to an already existing candidate and whose presence changes
who wins.

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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-15 22:23:41 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Kristofer

re: "Strictly speaking, clones are candidates that are so alike
each other that every voter ranks them next to each other
(but not necessarily in the same order)."

and

"More generally speaking, a clone could be considered a
candidate that's very close to an already existing candidate
and whose presence changes who wins."

Thank you. That's a clear explanation.

Even allowing for my general ignorance of the topic, cloning seems to be
more significant for multi-party systems than for the two-party system
that dominates U. S. politics.

Nah. I guess that opinion is wrong. In the U. S., a third party
probably can't avoid cloning some portion of a major party candidate.
If so, eliminating clones probably increases the distance from a
two-party system to a multi-party system. Anyway, wouldn't we be better
served by conceiving a way to advocate the common interest instead of
worrying about whether or not a clone will harm the parochial interests
of partisans?

Fred
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Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2012-07-18 13:23:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
Good Afternoon, Kristofer
re: "Strictly speaking, clones are candidates that are so alike
each other that every voter ranks them next to each other
(but not necessarily in the same order)."
and
"More generally speaking, a clone could be considered a
candidate that's very close to an already existing candidate
and whose presence changes who wins."
Thank you. That's a clear explanation.
Even allowing for my general ignorance of the topic, cloning seems to be
more significant for multi-party systems than for the two-party system
that dominates U. S. politics.
Nah. I guess that opinion is wrong. In the U. S., a third party probably
can't avoid cloning some portion of a major party candidate. If so,
eliminating clones probably increases the distance from a two-party
system to a multi-party system. Anyway, wouldn't we be better served by
conceiving a way to advocate the common interest instead of worrying
about whether or not a clone will harm the parochial interests of
partisans?
Well, in a working party system, Republicans (say) who don't like the
direction the actual Republican party is taking could go form their own
party. Since they're closer to R than to D, one might call them clones:
everybody (or nearly so) who has a preference for Republicans first
would put the "insurgent Republicans" above the Democrats; everybody (or
nearly so) who has a preference for Democrats would put the Democrats first.

However, since Plurality isn't cloneproof, that splits the Republican
vote. While the insurgent Republicans don't agree with the Republican
party, they like the Democrats even less, and they don't want to give
the election to the Democrats. So they usually don't form breakaway
parties, and if they do, the voters won't vote for them for the same reason.

This (among other things) makes the party system worse than it could be,
and might be why Plurality leads to two-party rule. As a contrast, IRV
is cloneproof and doesn't start to behave oddly until the breakaway
party becomes large enough. Instead of Plurality's two-party rule,
Australia, which uses IRV, has two-and-a-half party rule.

Maybe Condorcet could lead to multipartyism even with single-winner
districts - this would depend on whether it can deal with multiple
viable parties without denying parties' growth into viable alternatives
(as Plurality does) or starting to behave strangely (as IRV does). I
think it could, but I have no direct proof.

In any event, Plurality's lack of clone resistance makes it really hard
to start third parties - and so would make party-based government look
worse than it could be. There's nothing inherent in the concept of
parties that limits the voters to choosing between only two options. The
system does that.

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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-21 17:19:35 UTC
Permalink
Good Morning, Kristofer

The dangers in two-party rule are clear enough. What is unclear to me
is the obsession with devising a party-based system in the first place.
The abject failure of partisan politics screams at us from all corners
of the world. Can we not learn that parties must be subject to the
oversight of those free of commitment to the single-minded, indeed
simple-minded, approach of partisans? Why are we unable to seriously
consider finding an alternative to the obvious flaws of party politics?

In your first post on this thread, you mentioned how a sortition-based
system would weaken the role of parties. Dr. Lyn Carson of the
University of Sydney, Australia reports success using sortition to
settle community and regional difficulties. Should we not examine such
a concept in greater detail?

The bell-shaped curve of leadership qualities is not reserved for
politicians. It's quite easy to see that outstanding leaders are
sprinkled throughout society. Why do we not devise a method of seeking
them out so they can represent us in our government?


re: "There's nothing inherent in the concept of parties that
limits the voters to choosing between only two options.
The system does that."

The concept of parties may not inherently limit voters to only two
options, but it does limit voters to options the parties define. The
people can only vote (effectively) for a party's perspective.

What happens after they cast that vote is (or, at least, should be) a
matter of grave concern. You mentioned in passing (and I think in jest)
that oligopoly isn't operating in Norway, but a cynic might say the
coalitions that have arisen lately constitute "multiparty two-'party'
rule". You may have meant it as a joke, but I believe it to be a rule
of partisan politics that multiple parties always form ruling coalitions.

This raises a vital point: Even in a party-free environment,
legislators will align themselves with other legislators to enact laws
they support. The difference is that the alignments are not 'en bloc',
they are fluid. Such groupings combine and disperse dynamically,
depending on the legislation under consideration. They are inspired by
the judgment of the people's individual representatives, not by the
pre-judgment of parties seeking to increase their power.

I agree that the system limits the voters. Can't we come up with a
better system?

Fred
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Dave Ketchum
2012-07-15 17:28:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
Good Morning, Dave
re: "Clones are a problem for Plurality, and primaries were
invented to dispose of clones within a party"
I'm not sure what clones are, but imagine they are multiple
candidates who seek the same office.
Yes, and looking alike they must share the voters who agree - a
disaster that is suppressible within a party via primaries in
Plurality. But primaries cannot suppress clones from different
parties - one big reason for going to a better voting method.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "Could say that if they have no voice they have no need of
anyone to speak to."
Who has the right to make that judgment? We can't say that until
those without a voice have a practical way to express themselves on
political issues.
I am not making a judgement. Those not ready to speak have no need
for "a practical way to express themselves".
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "If there is an idea worth speaking about and no party is
interested, its backers could form a party."
Forming a party is the height of futility, as I'm sure you're
aware. As long as the major parties write the rules for our
electoral process, we will continue to have a closed system.
Slavery was worth speaking about in the early US - and sufficient for
speaking about. So the Republican party was born. Soon they became a
major party able to elect presidents, in a two-party system where the
Whigs were soon forgotten.

Such as the Greens and Libertarians claim to have worthy ideas.
Post by Fred Gohlke
Fred
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-17 20:07:08 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Dave

You seem to favor some form of a party-based political system.

There is another perspective worthy of consideration: the idea that the
political problems we endure are a result of the (lack of) quality in
our elected officials. When one thinks about the state of our nation,
it is obvious the failures we endure result from the laws passed and the
policies set by the politicians we elect.

The poor quality of our elected officials flows from the dynamics of
party politics. Partisan systems seek to empower one subset of the
people at the expense of the rest. The leaders are willing to sacrifice
integrity to attain their ends. Electoral methods that undervalue
integrity allow the corruption that permeates our nation. To improve
our government, we must conceive an electoral method that prizes
integrity. That is not possible with a party-based system.

Fred
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-08 15:01:33 UTC
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Good Morning, Michael

re: (as you said to Kristofer Munsterhjelm) "I think we need to
look at the primaries. A system of open primaries would be
beyond the reach of the parties ..."

I think you're right, the selection of candidates for public office must
be opened to the entire electorate. Such an approach has eluded us so
far because of the lack of organization among the non-partisans. This
lets the parties maintain their control of the electoral process with
the classic 'Divide and Conquer' strategy.

We must note that the value of non-partisans flows directly from their
lack of organization. In contrast to partisans who seek to advance
their special interests at the expense of the public, non-partisans have
no agenda. They just want 'good' government and, given the means, will
do their best to achieve it.

Opening the electoral process to the entire electorate is challenging.
We must conceive an electoral method that allows non-partisans to have
meaningful participation in the electoral process. When this is
accomplished, the perspective of partisans will be submitted to the
scrutiny and approval of those who may or may not share their views.
Parties will revert to their proper role of persuading rather than
controlling the people.

In the United States, non-partisans constitute a larger portion of the
electorate than registered Democrats and Republicans combined, yet,
because they do not submit to the major parties, they are not allowed
meaningful participation in the selection of elected officials. Their
only options are to vote for one of the major party's candidates or not
vote at all.

Although rarely noted, the situation is grave. Based on figures from
the Census Bureau and the Pew Research Center, the leaders of
approximately 42.6 million partisans (18.3 million registered
Republicans and 24.4 million registered Democrats) will determine the
political options available to 234.5 million people, of which about
191.9 million are not registered with a party and have no voice in the
selection of their representatives.

That's a mockery of democracy.

Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-07-06 09:35:15 UTC
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- For instance, a system based entirely on random selection would probably not have very powerful parties, as the parties would have no way of getting "their" candidates into the assembly. Of course, such a system would not have the aristocratic aspect either. Hybrid systems could still make parties less relevant: I've mentioned a "sortition followed by election within the group" idea before, where a significant sample is picked from the population and they elect representatives from their number. Again, parties could not be sure any of "their" candidates would be selected at random in the first round. While that method tries to keep some of the selection for best, it disrupts the continuity that parties need and the effect of "marketing" ahead of time.
In this mail steram parties have been referred to at leas as 1) groups that dictate the policy (instead of allowing voters to do so), 2) groups that keep the insiders in power for ever, 3) groups that accept only their favourites as candidates, 4) goups that represent the interests of their sponsors, 5) groups that represent the (economical, ideological, psychological) interests of the party insiders. On the more positive side parties have been referred to as 1) groupings that allow similar minded people to influence mor effectively together, 2) simplifying ideological concepts that make it easier for the voters to point out the best difrection that the society should take.

When you refer to making "parties less relevant" and the "sortition followed by election within the group" idea, I think your proposal focuses especially on making the role of carreer politicians smaller, and bringing the representatives closer to the voters. That is a quite effective approach to eliminating lifelong political careers (parties as ideological concepts might still stay). Other techniques could be e.g. to limit the number of consecutive terms, or to elect representatives cyclically from different municipalities.

This approach would make our represenatives less professional. If the representatives become too much "amateurs", we may see a rise of some other level of professional politicians, maybe working in the background, helping or steering the formal representatives. One must thus seek a good balance between professional and amateur politicians.

If we lean on the professional side, the representatives could be pretty much as today, but the politicians would just have to be prepared to do give up and do something else for a while, when they are not elected. If we lean on the amateur side, we could complement this approach by allowing the representatives to stay at home and make decisions from there. Modern communications technology would allow e.g. having 10 or 100 times as many representatives as today, and allowing those representatives to keep their old jobs and vote from their home. That would probably leave space for ideological party offices working to prepare the topics for decision. The final power would still lie in the hands of the representatives (it may be a good thing that they are at home and not under the influence o
f lobbyists at the party office) but certainly some of the power would lie also elsewhere. The overall balance might be quite decent also in the amateur oriented model though.

(I note that the aristrocratic aspect applies probably to many systems, including also fascism and communism, where the idea is that a selected group of people will drive the progress forward. Further I note that large organizations have higher tendency of becoming aristocratic and leading to the power of elite, civil servants, lobbyists and professional politicians, since the higher stakes invite harder players, and the distance from voters gets longer.)

Juho




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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-08 17:04:50 UTC
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Good Morning, Kristofer

re: "Whether this [the assertion that elections impart upon a
system an element of aristocracy] is a good or bad thing
depends upon whether you think aristocracy can work. In
this sense, 'aristocracy' means rule by the best, i.e. by a
minority that is selected because they're in some way better
than the rest at achieving the common good."

Whether or not 'rule by the best' can work depends in large part on how
well the electoral method integrates the reality that the common good is
dynamic. Those who are 'the best' at one time and under one set of
circumstances may not be 'the best' at another time and under different
circumstances.


re: "The pathological form of aristocracy is oligarchy, where
there's still a minority, but it's not chosen because it's
better. If aristocracy degenerates too far or too quickly
into oligarchy, that would negate the gains you'd expect to
see from picking someone who's 'better' rather than just by
chance alone."

Precisely. That is the underpinning of the notion that elections must
be frequent and must allow the participation of the entire electorate.
Frequent to forestall the development of an oligarchy; full
participation to ensure that all views of the current time and
circumstances are voiced and considered.


re: "... the collection of rules that make up the electoral
system has a significant influence on both the nature of
politics in that country as well as on the quality of the
representatives."

Which is the reason we seek the best conception for a democratic
electoral method.


re: "Thus, it's not too hard for me to think there might be sets
of rules that would make parties minor parts of politics.
Those would not work by simply outlawing parties,
totalitarian style. Instead, the rules would arrange the
dynamics so that there's little benefit to organizing in
parties."

The rules (or goals) must accommodate the fact that parties, interest
groups, factions and enclaves are a vital part of society. They are the
seeds from which new or different ideas germinate and lead civilization
forward. Outlawing parties would be an outrage against humanity.

The threat we must fear is not the existence of parties, it is letting
parties control government. We will be best served by devising rules
(or setting goals) that welcome partisans while ensuring they maintain a
persuasive rather than a controlling role in the election process.


re: "For instance, a system based entirely on random selection
would probably not have very powerful parties, as the
parties would have no way of getting 'their' candidates into
the assembly. Of course, such a system would not have the
aristocratic aspect either."

The closing sentence is what makes sortition a poor option (in my view).
It strives to achieve mediocrity rather than meritocracy.


re: "Hybrid systems could still make parties less relevant: I've
mentioned a 'sortition followed by election within the
group' idea before, where a significant sample is picked
from the population and they elect representatives from
their number. Again, parties could not be sure any of
'their' candidates would be selected at random in the first
round. While that method tries to keep some of the selection
for best, it disrupts the continuity that parties need and
the effect of 'marketing' ahead of time."

I regret that I missed this discussion. The idea strikes me as one of
considerable merit. At first blush, the major drawback seems to be that
it denies us the benefit of partisan thought and action mentioned above.

Fred
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Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2012-07-10 09:52:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
Good Morning, Kristofer
re: "Whether this [the assertion that elections impart upon a
system an element of aristocracy] is a good or bad thing
depends upon whether you think aristocracy can work. In
this sense, 'aristocracy' means rule by the best, i.e. by a
minority that is selected because they're in some way better
than the rest at achieving the common good."
Whether or not 'rule by the best' can work depends in large part on how
well the electoral method integrates the reality that the common good is
dynamic. Those who are 'the best' at one time and under one set of
circumstances may not be 'the best' at another time and under different
circumstances.
Perhaps we could say that in a representative democracy, we want
representatives that are alike us (as a people) in opinion but better in
ability to govern. If we consider representative democracy as a proxy
for direct democracy, to make the latter managable, then we could be
even stronger: we'd want representatives that would act as we would if
we had sufficient information and time.

There's a problem, though: it's hard to separate the categories (opinion
and ability) from each other. If a representative says that we can't do
X, is that because it's really a bad idea or because he's part of an
oligarchy that benefits from not doing X? Similarly, if a representative
says we should do X, does he mean that is a good idea, or is he trying
to manage perceptions?

Since it's hard to tell by the representatives' acts alone, that leaves
the system. In an ideal case, the system discourages an oligarchy in the
first place (rather than trying to patch things up when the oligarchy
exists), while placing the good in positions as representatives.

(If representative democracy is/should be a managable way of direct
democracy, then we can also note that it doesn't, by itself, deal with
the problem of opinions changing too rapidly, or of populism. Other
parts of the system should handle that, and we might look at similar
problems dealt with control theory - e.g. machines that respond too
quickly to feedback and thus oscillate between setpoints are adjusted by
adding some attenuation into the system. In an electoral context, that
might take the shape of not frequently re-electing the whole assembly
but rather parts of it, or having different term limits depending on
support, or requiring supermajorities or double majorities.)
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "Thus, it's not too hard for me to think there might be sets
of rules that would make parties minor parts of politics.
Those would not work by simply outlawing parties,
totalitarian style. Instead, the rules would arrange the
dynamics so that there's little benefit to organizing in
parties."
The rules (or goals) must accommodate the fact that parties, interest
groups, factions and enclaves are a vital part of society. They are the
seeds from which new or different ideas germinate and lead civilization
forward. Outlawing parties would be an outrage against humanity.
It wouldn't work, either.
Post by Fred Gohlke
The threat we must fear is not the existence of parties, it is letting
parties control government. We will be best served by devising rules (or
setting goals) that welcome partisans while ensuring they maintain a
persuasive rather than a controlling role in the election process.
So the problem is not partisanship, but rather exclusively partisan
decisions. It it were partisanship itself, the solution might have been
easier, but what you're saying means that we should try to find a
just-right spot instead: partisan influences not too strong (which is
the case now) nor too weak.

What do you think of proportional representation systems? Are they
closer to that sweet spot than are majoritarian systems? Are they close
enough? Certainly Duvergerian oligopoly isn't operating here in Norway -
although a cynic might say the coalitions that have arisen lately
constitute "multiparty two-'party' rule".
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "For instance, a system based entirely on random selection
would probably not have very powerful parties, as the
parties would have no way of getting 'their' candidates into
the assembly. Of course, such a system would not have the
aristocratic aspect either."
The closing sentence is what makes sortition a poor option (in my view).
It strives to achieve mediocrity rather than meritocracy.
Still, if aristocracy (in the original sense) decays to oligarchy too
quickly, then sortition might be "the worst except for all the others".
This is a bit like the discussion about how strategy-proof an electoral
method needs to be. If people cheat all the time and some have
supercomputers by which to calculate the optimal strategy, then you
might have to use a strategy-proof method even though the result is a
lot worse, with honest voters, than if you used a vulnerable method; and
on the other hand, if voters are mostly honest, you can use a method
that's vulnerable to certain forms of strategy if enough people were to
use them, because they won't.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "Hybrid systems could still make parties less relevant: I've
mentioned a 'sortition followed by election within the
group' idea before, where a significant sample is picked
from the population and they elect representatives from
their number. Again, parties could not be sure any of
'their' candidates would be selected at random in the first
round. While that method tries to keep some of the selection
for best, it disrupts the continuity that parties need and
the effect of 'marketing' ahead of time."
I regret that I missed this discussion. The idea strikes me as one of
considerable merit. At first blush, the major drawback seems to be that
it denies us the benefit of partisan thought and action mentioned above.
Right, but perhaps parties would become support organizations of
opinion. If you know you might be picked, you could have greater
incentive to discuss politics with others, possibly in a more organized
manner. It would depend on the size of the sample, however: if there's
little chance that you'll be picked, the incentive would not be as strong.

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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-10 17:05:02 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Kristofer

re: "If we consider representative democracy as a proxy for
direct democracy, to make the latter managable, then we
could be even stronger: we'd want representatives that would
act as we would if we had sufficient information and time."

That's a good way of putting it. Could it be improved by saying we want
representatives that would act better than we act - by making rational
rather than emotional decisions?


re: "There's a problem, though: it's hard to separate the
categories (opinion and ability) from each other. If a
representative says that we can't do X, is that because
it's really a bad idea or because he's part of an oligarchy
that benefits from not doing X? Similarly, if a
representative says we should do X, does he mean that is a
good idea, or is he trying to manage perceptions?

Since it's hard to tell by the representatives' acts alone,
that leaves the system. In an ideal case, the system
discourages an oligarchy in the first place (rather than
trying to patch things up when the oligarchy exists), while
placing the good in positions as representatives."

As you say, it's hard to separate opinion and ability from each other -
and it's impossible to do so from a distances. That's why the system
must give us a way to gauge the judgment and integrity of candidates
before they're elected. Once they take office, their decisions affect
our lives. If we cannot conceive a system that lets us evaluate them as
well as we're able before we elect them we are doomed to an endless
repetition of our past.

Gauging the judgment and integrity of an individual can never be
perfect, but we can get better insight into a person's character through
face-to-face interaction than we can in any other way. If the
interaction takes place in a competitive environment, it will bring out
the vital distinctions needed to identify the better qualified candidates.


re: "If representative democracy is/should be a managable way of
direct democracy, then we can also note that it doesn't, by
itself, deal with the problem of opinions changing too
rapidly, or of populism. Other parts of the system should
handle that ..."

Therein lies the role of partisanship. Society is dynamic and people's
perceptions and anxieties change. As particular concerns arise, their
proponents will attract supporters. While the rabble-rousing effect of
the media cannot be avoided, that influence can be ameliorated if
partisans are given the facilities and encouraged to seek out their best
advocates to outline their concerns and develop alternatives. When
their views are shown to be in the interest of the community, their
alternatives will be adopted, in whole or in part.


re: "In an electoral context, that might take the shape of not
frequently re-electing the whole assembly but rather parts
of it, or having different term limits depending on support,
or requiring supermajorities or double majorities.)

Re-electing a portion of the assembly at each election provides a level
of stability to government. Term limits, while important, become less
so if the people have a mechanism to carefully examine candidates during
each election cycle.

When I think of the size of majorities, I think of the life of our laws.
At present, there is no provision for removing bad laws except by
legislative action. We will be better served when the life of our laws
depends on the size of the majority by which they are passed. Then,
laws which barely pass will have to be re-enacted when they expire.
This forces a re-examination of the law, after it has had an opportunity
to accomplish the purpose for which it was passed. If it is found to be
effective, it may attract a greater majority and a longer life.


re: "So the problem is not partisanship, but rather exclusively
partisan decisions."

The problem is that the parties are allowed to control the people's
access to their government. When the parties enact the rules by which
elections are conducted, they control the way the people can interact
with their government. Gerrymandering and school board elections (in my
state) are screaming examples, and are but the tip of the iceberg. When
the parties write the rules of engagement, democracy can not survive.


re: "It it were partisanship itself, the solution might have been
easier, but what you're saying means that we should try to
find a just-right spot instead: partisan influences not too
strong (which is the case now) nor too weak."

Not exactly. What I'm saying is that the people, all the people,
including non-partisans, must be allowed to participate in the political
process. This is difficult because non-partisans, as a group, are not
active in politics, "yet many of their most important concerns remain
very political." (quote taken from The Report of the Commission on
Candidate Selection - a board composed of the leaders of five large
political parties in Great Britain - that investigated why parties are
not representative of the people.) Conceiving a way to give
non-partisans a meaningful way to influence the political process is a
serious undertaking.


re: "What do you think of proportional representation systems?
Are they closer to that sweet spot than are majoritarian
systems?" Are they close enough?

They are almost certainly better than a two-party system, but they are
not close enough for a fundamental reason. Parties, by definition, have
a narrower focus than the people. They can never represent more than a
portion of the people's concerns.


re: "Still, if aristocracy (in the original sense) decays to
oligarchy too quickly, then sortition might be 'the worst
except for all the others'."

Sortition would be an improvement over what we (in the U.S.) have today.
It would at least raise the level of governance to average. I prefer
to set my sights higher. We have, among us, no shortage of superior
individuals. All we lack is a means of seeking them out and raising
them to elective office as our representatives. My hope is that we can
conceive a means of doing so.


re: (with regard to whether a hybrid sortition system would deny
us the benefit of partisan thought and action) "... perhaps
parties would become support organizations of opinion."

I think they would, but it would be frustrating because the chance of
achieving their goal would be severely reduced. Would it be possible to
include random choices from among those who identify themselves as party
members and random choices from among the non-partisans, with the number
of choices proportional to the size of the group?

Fred
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Fred Gohlke
2012-06-28 16:11:37 UTC
Permalink
Good Morning, Juho

re "... maybe the sponsoring problem could be one easy (in
theory) problem to solve. Just cut out party sponsoring
and/or set some limits to the cost of personal campaigns."

You mention two related issues, sponsorship and campaigning. It may not
be easy to correct them. We should look at each of them more carefully:

Sponsorship:
Corruption pervades our political system because the parties control the
selection of candidates for public office. Candidates are not chosen
for their integrity. Quite the contrary, they are chosen after they
demonstrate their willingness and ability to dissemble, to obfuscate and
to mislead the electorate. They are chosen when they prove they will
renounce principle and sacrifice honor for the benefit of their party.

The result is a circular process that intensifies over time:

* Candidates for public office cannot mount a viable campaign
without party sponsorship, so they obtain sponsorship by
agreeing to the party's terms.

* The party, assured of the loyalty of its candidates, attracts
donors because it can promise that its candidates will support
the objectives set by the party, i.e., the goals of the donors.

* From the donors, the party obtains the resources it needs to
attract appealing candidates and bind them to the party's will.

This cycle makes political parties conduits for corruption. Businesses,
labor unions and other vested interests give immense amounts of money
and logistical support to political parties to push their agenda and to
secure the passage of laws that benefit the donors. The political
parties meet their commitment to the donors by picking politicians who
can be relied upon to enact the laws and implement the policies the
donors' desire. The result is a system that renounces virtue and is
ruled by cynicism. The politicians so selected are the least principled
of our citizens, but are the only choices available to the people in our
elections.

The only way to eliminate party sponsorship is to conceive a candidate
selection process that empowers the people to select their best
advocates, independent of the parties.


Campaigning:
The high cost of election campaigns makes conventional democratic
systems susceptible to the influence of money. Even worse than the
inherently corruptive nature of soliciting funds to finance a campaign,
which invites demands from the financial backers, is the corrosive
effect campaigning has on the candidate's psyche.

Candidates must appear to stand for something but, to attract support,
they continually adjust their assertions to appeal to the diverse groups
whose votes are required for their election. Their personal beliefs
must be subordinated to the interests of their audience. By
campaigning, they gain expertise in avoiding direct answers to questions
and diverting attention from unwelcome topics.

Campaigning is the antithesis of open inquiry, it is one-way
communication centered on deceit, misdirection and obfuscation rather
than integrity and commitment to the public interest. That is why the
term 'politician' is pejorative. The process of campaigning produces
people adept at appearing to champion some idea while standing for
nothing but the success of their party. Political campaigning is a
training course in the art of deception.

To make matters worse, candidates are incessantly lionized by their
supporters. This, coupled with the insidious effect of repeatedly
proclaiming their own rectitude seduces them into believing their own
press clippings. These things have a debilitating effect on the
candidate's character, and, since morality is a top-down phenomenon,
choosing political leaders by this method destroys society.

The only way to eliminate political campaigning is to conceive an
electoral method that has candidates persuading their adversaries (not
the public) that they are the best choice for election.


re: "Maybe the separate nature of party sponsoring allows us to
fix it as a stand alone problem."

The concept of political parties, by definition, includes party leaders
and the selection and sponsorship of candidates for public office.
These things are inseparable in party politics.


re: "Any changes in the way power is distributed in any system
are difficult since those people that are in power now, have
been the winners in the current electoral system. If they
make any changes in the system, they might just oust
themselves."

As my kids used to say, "You got that right!!!" And, that, of course,
is why conceiving and adopting a new electoral method is extremely
difficult. My guess is that it will happen a little bit at a time.
Some communities are already experimenting with new electoral
approaches. If we can conceive a practical democratic method that
raises the best advocates of the common interest to public office, towns
here and there will adopt it and the idea will spread.


re: "I briefly sketched an election method independent very
simple approach above."

Do you mean the idea that we should "Just cut out party sponsoring
and/or set some limits to the cost of personal campaigns."? If so, how
can we accomplish these goals?

I think the best way to do so is to let the people, themselves, select
the candidates (that eliminates party sponsorship) and have the
candidates compete with each other to choose the best advocates of the
public interest (that eliminates campaigning). Are there better ways?


re: "Since politics is a difficult game to control, it may
be that we have to cure the problems generated by one
governmnet by using a poison that at least cancels the
effects of the previous government"

You may be surprised to know that I don't disagree. If may be a good
idea, as many people think, to press for stop-gap measures to eliminate
the worst effects of our present systems. I don't oppose that. What I
oppose is thinking it will accomplish the fundamental changes needed to
replace our oligarchies with democracy.


re: "In a democracy we need also voters that understand these
good intentions well enough to accept and vote for such
changes"

Here, you touch on an important issue. Some people don't want to
participate in political discussions and some people lack the qualities
needed for productive political participation. Any practical democratic
electoral method must function within this reality; it must let everyone
participate, to the full extent of their own individual desire and ability.

Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-06-30 14:18:48 UTC
Permalink
The only way to eliminate party sponsorship is to conceive a candidate selection process that empowers the people to select their best advocates, independent of the parties.
You can buy some votes with a large (advertising, campaigning) budget. To me the question of sponsorship is therefore simply a question of how much the elections should be "one man one vote" and how much "one dollar one vote".

I see the question of independent selection of candidates to be a related but separete problem, since it would exist also without sponsorship.
The concept of political parties, by definition, includes party leaders and the selection and sponsorship of candidates for public office. These things are inseparable in party politics.
Why so? At least in theory we could have a political system that runs on goverment budget money only.
re: "I briefly sketched an election method independent very
simple approach above."
Do you mean the idea that we should "Just cut out party sponsoring and/or set some limits to the cost of personal campaigns."? If so, how can we accomplish these goals?
I think the best way to do so is to let the people, themselves, select the candidates (that eliminates party sponsorship) and have the candidates compete with each other to choose the best advocates of the public interest (that eliminates campaigning). Are there better ways?
There are also more direct ways. In Finland it took some ugly examples like party related support groups using some money that was not intended for campaigning, to make a law that at forces candiates to publish their major sponsors/donations. Publicity seems to lead to some limitations on how much money candidates want to spend and take from different sponsors, and how much sponsors want to give money. Also limits to campaign costs were proposed but not approved this time. The success of these changes depends on how much people want them and how well the democratic system works. The simplest approach is simply to make a law that eliminates all unwanted sponsoring.
re: "Since politics is a difficult game to control, it may
be that we have to cure the problems generated by one
governmnet by using a poison that at least cancels the
effects of the previous government"
You may be surprised to know that I don't disagree. If may be a good idea, as many people think, to press for stop-gap measures to eliminate the worst effects of our present systems. I don't oppose that. What I oppose is thinking it will accomplish the fundamental changes needed to replace our oligarchies with democracy.
I agree that the "poison and counter-poison" idea does not mean ideal democracy. But it may mean robust democracy.

The counter-poison approach is however reasonably safe. I mean that trying to build a system that implements an ideal system at one go, without such radical changes that the counter-poison approach represents, may be more risky. I refer e.g. to the soviet system that tried to rule the country and even the world by lifting the best persons to the top (without allowing opposition that could have acted as a counter-poison). The point is thus that we need true opposition, not just claims that the best people can and will work ther way up to the top. Also current parties follow this idea that best people will rule within the party. It would be nice to have softer systems without the controversial and fighting parties, and a system that would not be very oligarchic, but so far we can only try to
find such set-ups that might work and be as safe as the rough counter-poison approach.

One may try to improve the current (maybe multi) party based systems so that the harmful effects of sponsoring, self-interest and party favourite candidates will gradually reduce. This could take place both within the parties, within some towns, and at country level. Making the experiments within one fragment of the current system may be safer than making a full revolution that would allow the new proposed system only.

Juho




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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-02 13:08:58 UTC
Permalink
Good Morning, Juho

re: "To me the question of sponsorship is therefore simply a
question of how much the elections should be 'one man one
vote' and how much 'one dollar one vote'."

Since we are "Conceiving a Democratic Electoral Process", our focus here
is on "one person, one vote".


re: "I see the question of independent selection of candidates to
be a related but separete problem, since it would exist also
without sponsorship."

Since we are "Conceiving a Democratic Electoral Process", designing an
electoral method that lets the people, themselves, select their
candidates for public office is one of the most fundamental problems we
must address. The design must accept, indeed welcome, the healthy
reality that the people will form interest groups, factions, parties and
enclaves to advance their particular point of view, but must prevent any
of those entities gaining control of the government.


re: "At least in theory we could have a political system that
runs on goverment budget money only."

That can't happen because the donation of private money to support
political action has been deemed an expression of free speech. In any
electoral method that requires vast sums to achieve public office, it
will be impossible to stop the flow of private money to support partisan
interests. Given the adverse effects of campaign-based systems
described in my June 28th post, it would be best if the electoral method
were free of these pernicious influences.


re: "The simplest approach is simply to make a law that
eliminates all unwanted sponsoring."

I disagree. Not only is such a law impossible to enforce, it is an
example of condoning an evil and trying to prevent its effect. It is
much better to to conceive a system that does not require the
expenditure of enormous sums, in the first place.


re: "... trying to build a system that implements an ideal system
at one go, without such radical changes that the counter-
poison approach represents, may be more risky."

At this point, we're not trying to build it, we're trying to conceive
it. Including poison in the concept ensures failure.


re: "I refer e.g. to the soviet system that tried to rule the
country and even the world by lifting the best persons to
the top (without allowing opposition that could have acted
as a counter-poison)."

The 'best persons' you speak of were only best from the point of view of
the party. Of course they didn't allow opposition. As I've said
before, parties always "seek the power to impose their views on those
who don't share them." They don't always succeed, but when they do it's
catastrophic. The threat of domination is always present in a
party-based system.


re: "Also current parties follow this idea that best people will
rule within the party."

As with the soviet system you mentioned, the 'best people' are only best
from the party's perspective. They are not, and, by definition can not
be, best from the point of view of the community. Hence, the community
will always suffer.


re: "It would be nice to have softer systems without the
controversial and fighting parties, and a system that
would not be very oligarchic ..."

How can such systems evolve if we lack the intellect and the energy to
conceive them? To not make the effort is inexcusable.


re: "One may try to improve the current (maybe multi) party
based systems so that the harmful effects of sponsoring,
self-interest and party favourite candidates will
gradually reduce."

That can't happen for a very fundamental reason, a reason that was
explained in detail 100 years ago by Robert Michels, when he wrote
"Political Parties". You can find the link in a post I made yesterday.
I hope you'll read it. It's fascinating.


re: "This could take place both within the parties, within some
towns, and at country level. Making the experiments within
one fragment of the current system may be safer than making
a full revolution that would allow the new proposed system
only."

While it can't happen in parties, it probably will in some towns. Small
communities are the most likely to put advancement of the town's
interest ahead of partisan interest. In this connection, you might
enjoy reading Adversary Democracy, Jane J. Mansbridge, The University of
Chicago Press, 1980.

Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-07-02 14:42:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "At least in theory we could have a political system that
runs on goverment budget money only."
That can't happen because the donation of private money to support political action has been deemed an expression of free speech.
It is possible that some people see it that way, and accept only that approach. But also a system where the govenrment offers web pages for all candidates to freely express their opinions, and where campaign costs are limited to gas for the car of the candidate, could be interpreted as a system that guarantees full freedom of speech to all candidates.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "I refer e.g. to the soviet system that tried to rule the
country and even the world by lifting the best persons to
the top (without allowing opposition that could have acted
as a counter-poison)."
The 'best persons' you speak of were only best from the point of view of the party. Of course they didn't allow opposition. As I've said before, parties always "seek the power to impose their views on those who don't share them." They don't always succeed, but when they do it's catastrophic. The threat of domination is always present in a party-based system.
As well as in a party-free system.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "One may try to improve the current (maybe multi) party
based systems so that the harmful effects of sponsoring,
self-interest and party favourite candidates will
gradually reduce."
That can't happen for a very fundamental reason, a reason that was explained in detail 100 years ago by Robert Michels, when he wrote "Political Parties". You can find the link in a post I made yesterday. I hope you'll read it. It's fascinating.
I'll check this one (maybe the other one too if I get it).

Juho



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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-03 15:22:07 UTC
Permalink
Good Morning, Juho

re: "But also a system where the govenrment offers web pages for
all candidates to freely express their opinions, and where
campaign costs are limited to gas for the car of the
candidate, could be interpreted as a system that guarantees
full freedom of speech to all candidates."

Are you suggesting that, under such a system, the internet would be the
only source of information available to the public? Would you outlaw
political advertising? Do you believe the media would cease to exist or
that the candidates (and parties) would stop using it to sway public
opinion? That seems unlikely.

Suppose, instead, we start with a broader base of candidates from all
groups, partisan and non-partisan. Suppose the candidates chose the
winners from among themselves. Each would have to find out which of
their peers can be trusted to serve their interest before choosing any
of them. Since each of their peers advocate some mix of different
interests, each would have to yield a portion of their goals to achieve
the rest.

Such an approach would have a bias toward serving the common interest
rather than any special interest or party, would eliminate campaigning
and the cost of campaigning, and would ensure that the candidates were
carefully examined by people who seek the same public office as themselves.


re: in response to my comment that "The 'best persons' you speak
of were only best from the point of view of the party. Of
course they didn't allow opposition. As I've said before,
parties always "seek the power to impose their views on those
who don't share them." They don't always succeed, but when
they do it's catastrophic. The threat of domination is
always present in a party-based system.", you said:

"As well as in a party-free system."

First of all, I'm not seeking a 'party-free system'. I'm trying to
conceive a system in which parties do not control government.

In the second place, the suggestion that domination will occur in a
system where parties do not control government is misleading. The
threat of domination I spoke of is the domination of a single party, as
we witnessed with National Socialism and Communism. In a system where
control of the government is vested in the people, the 'domination' (if
it can be called that) is by the people, not any partisan subset of the
people.

And finally, why must electoral power be vested in parties? Why should
non-partisans be disenfranchised?

Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-07-03 16:58:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
Good Morning, Juho
re: "But also a system where the govenrment offers web pages for
all candidates to freely express their opinions, and where
campaign costs are limited to gas for the car of the
candidate, could be interpreted as a system that guarantees
full freedom of speech to all candidates."
Are you suggesting that, under such a system, the internet would be the only source of information available to the public?
Yes, the only direct channel in addition to cahdidate herself. Also the media could of write about the candidates and their opinions.
Post by Fred Gohlke
Would you outlaw political advertising?
Yes, that would be the case in the strictest model.
Post by Fred Gohlke
Do you believe the media would cease to exist or that the candidates (and parties) would stop using it to sway public opinion? That seems unlikely.
No, but media should watch out. If they are caught spending money to suopport some specific candidates, they might be punished.

We could have some limitations on what the party affiliated newspapers can do during the election season. On the other hand the party related media might mostly live on government money now since sponsoring is not allowed. Iff they all have the same or proportional amount of money, we might allow also them to advertise their candidates.

We may ban also private sponsoring. But private voluntary work may be be ok.
Post by Fred Gohlke
Suppose, instead, we start with a broader base of candidates from all groups, partisan and non-partisan. Suppose the candidates chose the winners from among themselves. Each would have to find out which of their peers can be trusted to serve their interest before choosing any of them. Since each of their peers advocate some mix of different interests, each would have to yield a portion of their goals to achieve the rest.
We would have to keep the candiate base very wide and election process very random so that famous an dpowerful candidates don't benefit of their position (and money) too much. Probably we can not fully avoid election of the best known and strongest candidates.

Even if we elect mostly normal people, the sponsoring companies might sponsor them to influence their opinions.

I don't really believe that candidates would genuinely and permanently change their viewpoints and yield a portion of their goals. Also current politicians are good at convincing all voter groups that they agree with just them in all key questions. And of course after the election things may seem a little different. Maybe they can not please all the different groups that they claimed to agree with.
Post by Fred Gohlke
Such an approach would have a bias toward serving the common interest rather than any special interest or party, would eliminate campaigning and the cost of campaigning, and would ensure that the candidates were carefully examined by people who seek the same public office as themselves.
You can improve some essential aspects of the system. But I'd like to see the complete plan, and preferrably also a real experiment with the system, before I can trus that the system work. It may take some time to find all the possible leaks.

Although I believe that new systems that have not been tested yet are likely to require some adjustments, I do believe that there are also tricks that are likely to improve the political system. Limitations in sponsoring are one such thing in my mind.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: in response to my comment that "The 'best persons' you speak
of were only best from the point of view of the party. Of
course they didn't allow opposition. As I've said before,
parties always "seek the power to impose their views on those
who don't share them." They don't always succeed, but when
they do it's catastrophic. The threat of domination is
"As well as in a party-free system."
First of all, I'm not seeking a 'party-free system'. I'm trying to conceive a system in which parties do not control government.
In the second place, the suggestion that domination will occur in a system where parties do not control government is misleading. The threat of domination I spoke of is the domination of a single party, as we witnessed with National Socialism and Communism. In a system where control of the government is vested in the people, the 'domination' (if it can be called that) is by the people, not any partisan subset of the people.
And finally, why must electoral power be vested in parties? Why should non-partisans be disenfranchised?
My intended message was just that humans in general and organizations too have a tendency to seek power and stick to it and eventually dominate others. Whether we call such interest groups parties or something else does not matter. And it is difficult to avoid formation of such interest groups. Even if we would elect random people to represent us, there might be some other groupings that would be happy to "support" the representatives in their work.

Juho
Post by Fred Gohlke
Fred
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-05 20:24:12 UTC
Permalink
Hi, Juho

You raised a multitude of points.


re: "I agree that getting rid of the financial ties and
getting rid of the party internal control on who can
be elected would reduce oligarchy within the parties
and power of money.

That's a promising start. It gives us two basic goals for our new
conception:

1) Parties must not be allowed to control the nomination of
candidates for public office.

2) The electoral method must not require that candidates
spend vast sums of money to achieve public office.


re: "But I'm afraid that humans are clever enough to find some
new ways to find power and control the processes in ways
that are not very beneficiial to the society. The threat
will be present even if we would get rid of some of the
key mechanisms that cause us problems today."

If you are suggesting this as a reason for accepting the corrupt system
we have, we would be foolish to defeat ourselves before we start. It is
better that we forge ahead, however slowly, looking for a method that
lets those who follow us avoid the traps that snagged us and
forestalling any new obstacles we can anticipate.

Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying "The price of liberty is
eternal vigilance". Whether or not he actually said it, those who
follow us should heed the sentiment. At the same time, we must
recognize that it's not enough to just be vigilant, we must also have an
electoral method that lets us counter threats when they arise. This
suggests a third goal for our efforts:

3) The electoral method must give the people a way to address
and resolve contemporary issues.


re: "I used the soviet example to point out that even in a system
that, according to its idealistic supporters, was supposed
to get rid of the evils of the past, people soon found ways
to corrupt the system. Maybe the same applies to the U.S.A.
too. It is known to be a leading fortress of democracy, but
now I hear some complaints about how it works."

You've chosen a good example. I spent five years in my country's armed
forces and stand second to none in my love for my homeland. Because of
that love, I'm keenly aware of its flaws. Instead of just lamenting
them, I seek practical ways to correct them.


re: "No doubt, also new systems, especially if generated from
scratch, would find some ways to corrupt themselves.
Hopefully they are better than the previous systems, but
not always."

The American system was "generated from scratch" and was incomparably
"better than the previous systems". Even so, over time, it became
corrupted. Our founders were aware of the dangers inherent in
partisanship and did everything they could to protect the people from
it, separating the powers of government to prevent the dominance of the
then-perceived factions. The level of anxiety was so great our first
president, George Washington, in his Farewell Address, warned us parties
were likely to become "potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and
unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and
to usurp for themselves the reins of government" - and that's what happened.

An early example of the danger of party politics was the plan advocated
by the then Governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry, to manipulate the
size and shape of legislative districts to protect existing
office-holders. The plan was opposed by the people and denigrated in
the press as 'gerrymandering'. The people of Massachusetts removed
Gerry from office at the next election. In spite of public opposition
to the practice, it was adopted by politicians throughout the young
nation and given the force of law in the several states.

That wasn't the end of this sorry affair. Gerry's party, the
Democratic-Republicans, demonstrated the arrogance and cynicism of party
politicians by rewarding him with the Vice Presidential nomination in
the 1812 national election. Elbridge Gerry, who subverted the American
ideal of democracy, became the fifth Vice President of the United States
under President James Madison.

The people could do nothing to prevent this travesty. The party system
had already evolved to the point the people were excluded from the
political process. The political parties had already arrogated to
themselves the right to pick the people they would let run for public
office.


re: "We would have to keep the candiate base very wide and
election process very random so that famous and powerful
candidates don't benefit of their position (and money)
too much."

If everyone in the electorate can be a candidate, that will keep the
base as wide as possible. When the people have a way to carefully
examine the "famous and powerful candidates" to determine their
integrity and their suitability for office, the danger posed by their
fame and power will be judged by their peers. Stated another way, if
the people can determine that people of fame and power can be trusted
with public office, we need not fear them. Furthermore, validation of
candidates (and public office-holders) must be repeated frequently.
These points suggest additional goals for our electoral method:

4) The electoral method must allow every member of the electorate
to become a candidate and participate in the electoral process
to the full extent of each individual's desire and ability.

5) The electoral method must ensure that all candidates for
public office are carefully examined to determine their
integrity and suitability to serve as advocates for the
people.

6) The electoral method must be repeated frequently (preferably
annually).


re: "You can improve some essential aspects of the system. But
I'd like to see the complete plan, and preferrably also a
real experiment with the system, before I can trus that the
system work. It may take some time to find all the possible
leaks."

I could offer you a complete outline of one possible method of creating
a democratic electoral process (and will, if you so desire), but I would
much rather the outline be developed in concert with the minds of others
on the EM site. This site is, by far, the best I've found for the
careful examination of electoral methods (even if the majority of
posters seem committed to party politics). It is my sincere hope that
other posters on the site will find it worthwhile to join our discussion.


re: "My intended message was just that humans in general and
organizations too have a tendency to seek power and stick
to it and eventually dominate others.

That is a fact we must recognize, address and resolve. We must conceive
an electoral method that harnesses this tendency and uses it to advance
the common interest.

Below is a copy of the list of the goals we've discussed so far. Can
they be honed and improved? What other concerns must we address?

Fred

1) Parties must not be allowed to control the nomination of
candidates for public office.

2) The electoral method must not require that candidates spend
vast sums of money to achieve public office.

3) The electoral method must give the people a way to address
and resolve contemporary issues.

4) The electoral method must allow every member of the electorate
to become a candidate and participate in the electoral process
to the full extent of each individual's desire and ability.

5) The electoral method must ensure that all candidates for
public office are carefully examined to determine their
integrity and suitability to serve as advocates for the
people.

6) The electoral method must be repeated frequently (preferably
annually).
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Juho Laatu
2012-07-05 21:22:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
Hi, Juho
You raised a multitude of points.
re: "I agree that getting rid of the financial ties and
getting rid of the party internal control on who can
be elected would reduce oligarchy within the parties
and power of money.
1) Parties must not be allowed to control the nomination of
candidates for public office.
To me this is not an absolute requirement but one approach worth a try.
Post by Fred Gohlke
2) The electoral method must not require that candidates
spend vast sums of money to achieve public office.
This one could be a good target for practically all societies.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "But I'm afraid that humans are clever enough to find some
new ways to find power and control the processes in ways
that are not very beneficiial to the society. The threat
will be present even if we would get rid of some of the
key mechanisms that cause us problems today."
If you are suggesting this as a reason for accepting the corrupt system we have, we would be foolish to defeat ourselves before we start.
Not a defence of current systems, just a warning that new systems can not be trusted either.
Post by Fred Gohlke
It is better that we forge ahead, however slowly, looking for a method that lets those who follow us avoid the traps that snagged us and forestalling any new obstacles we can anticipate.
3) The electoral method must give the people a way to address
and resolve contemporary issues.
Ok. Is the intention to say that people should be able to react (and influence) when they see some changes in the society or when the politicians start some new initiatives?
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "I used the soviet example to point out that even in a system
that, according to its idealistic supporters, was supposed
to get rid of the evils of the past, people soon found ways
to corrupt the system. Maybe the same applies to the U.S.A.
too. It is known to be a leading fortress of democracy, but
now I hear some complaints about how it works."
You've chosen a good example. I spent five years in my country's armed forces and stand second to none in my love for my homeland. Because of that love, I'm keenly aware of its flaws. Instead of just lamenting them, I seek practical ways to correct them.
re: "No doubt, also new systems, especially if generated from
scratch, would find some ways to corrupt themselves.
Hopefully they are better than the previous systems, but
not always."
The American system was "generated from scratch" and was incomparably "better than the previous systems". Even so, over time, it became corrupted. Our founders were aware of the dangers inherent in partisanship and did everything they could to protect the people from it, separating the powers of government to prevent the dominance of the then-perceived factions. The level of anxiety was so great our first president, George Washington, in his Farewell Address, warned us parties were likely to become "potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government" - and that's what happened.
An early example of the danger of party politics was the plan advocated by the then Governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry, to manipulate the size and shape of legislative districts to protect existing office-holders. The plan was opposed by the people and denigrated in the press as 'gerrymandering'. The people of Massachusetts removed Gerry from office at the next election. In spite of public opposition to the practice, it was adopted by politicians throughout the young nation and given the force of law in the several states.
That wasn't the end of this sorry affair. Gerry's party, the Democratic-Republicans, demonstrated the arrogance and cynicism of party politicians by rewarding him with the Vice Presidential nomination in the 1812 national election. Elbridge Gerry, who subverted the American ideal of democracy, became the fifth Vice President of the United States under President James Madison.
The people could do nothing to prevent this travesty. The party system had already evolved to the point the people were excluded from the political process. The political parties had already arrogated to themselves the right to pick the people they would let run for public office.
re: "We would have to keep the candiate base very wide and
election process very random so that famous and powerful
candidates don't benefit of their position (and money)
too much."
People are able to evaluate their nearby and nearly similar fellow citizens reasonably well, but I'm less optimistic with how they evaluate different, psychologically powerful and well known figures. People tend to manipulate the opinions of each others. Public figures can be seen as supermen or as villains.
Post by Fred Gohlke
4) The electoral method must allow every member of the electorate
to become a candidate and participate in the electoral process
to the full extent of each individual's desire and ability.
Yes except that we may have some limitations to keep the number of candidates reasonable. We may also try to keep the quality of the candidates good by setting some conditions that are not too difficult for good candidates to pass.
Post by Fred Gohlke
5) The electoral method must ensure that all candidates for
public office are carefully examined to determine their
integrity and suitability to serve as advocates for the
people.
This is quite difficult but of course we should do our best to support this target. In local elections people know the canidates better. In "non-local" elections media and other public sources have an important role.
Post by Fred Gohlke
6) The electoral method must be repeated frequently (preferably
annually).
There are some benefits also in not having elections every day. If voters could change their represetatives any day, the representatives might follow the opinion surveys too much. I mean that in a _representative_ democracy one may expect the representatives to make also unpopular decisions (like raising the taxes when there is a need), and explain those decisions and build a complete package of their activities during their term for their supporters only before the election, so that the voters can see if the whole package was good or not. Annual elections may still be ok. And there are also benefits to allowing voters to change the political direction when they (strongly, not temporarily) feel like that.

(One approach would be to build some hysteresis to the system. If voters feel for few months that some representative should be changed to another one, then that change will take place.)
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "You can improve some essential aspects of the system. But
I'd like to see the complete plan, and preferrably also a
real experiment with the system, before I can trus that the
system work. It may take some time to find all the possible
leaks."
I could offer you a complete outline of one possible method of creating a democratic electoral process (and will, if you so desire), but I would much rather the outline be developed in concert with the minds of others on the EM site. This site is, by far, the best I've found for the careful examination of electoral methods (even if the majority of posters seem committed to party politics). It is my sincere hope that other posters on the site will find it worthwhile to join our discussion.
There are many kind of people on this list (good) and they have very different ways to participate in the discussion (good).
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "My intended message was just that humans in general and
organizations too have a tendency to seek power and stick
to it and eventually dominate others.
That is a fact we must recognize, address and resolve. We must conceive an electoral method that harnesses this tendency and uses it to advance the common interest.
Yes. I see such developments roughly as small steps on the path of the mankind from the laws of jungle to something better. Although the process is slow, we can not say that the society is already as good as it gets, nor can we say that there is no hope in making it better.
Post by Fred Gohlke
Below is a copy of the list of the goals we've discussed so far. Can they be honed and improved? What other concerns must we address?
As already noted, people on this list have different agendas, and reasons for being here, and of course different viewpoints. Probably there will be no "list consensus" on what the goals should be. But the feedback hopefully makes your list of goals more accurate, more balanced, and better in addressing all the viewpoints and comments that potential readers might have. (I gave some quick comments above.)

Juho
Post by Fred Gohlke
Fred
1) Parties must not be allowed to control the nomination of
candidates for public office.
2) The electoral method must not require that candidates spend
vast sums of money to achieve public office.
3) The electoral method must give the people a way to address
and resolve contemporary issues.
4) The electoral method must allow every member of the electorate
to become a candidate and participate in the electoral process
to the full extent of each individual's desire and ability.
5) The electoral method must ensure that all candidates for
public office are carefully examined to determine their
integrity and suitability to serve as advocates for the
people.
6) The electoral method must be repeated frequently (preferably
annually).
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-07 20:18:12 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Juho

re: "To me this (not allowing parties to control the nomination
of candidates for public office) is not an absolute
requirement but one approach worth a try."

Can you describe a circumstance in which letting the leaders of a subset
of the electorate control of the nomination of candidates for public
office will be in the public interest? In a representative democracy,
is it not the right of the people to select those who will represent them?


re: "Not a defence of current systems, just a warning that new
systems can not be trusted either."

Of course not: "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance".


re: In connection with goal (3), 'The electoral method must give
the people a way to address and resolve contemporary issues,'
you asked, "Is the intention to say that people should be
able to react (and influence) when they see some changes in
the society or when the politicians start some new initiatives?"

The peoples' concerns change over time, depending on a multitude of
circumstances. To achieve satisfaction, these changing interests must
be given voice, contemplated and reflected in the results of each
election. Advocates of particular interests must be able to proclaim
their ideas and encourage discussion of their concepts. Some will be
accepted, in whole or in part, as they are shown to be in the common
interest of the community. The electoral method must allow and
encourage special interests to attract supporters to their cause and
elevate their most effective advocates during each electoral cycle to
ensure that all public concerns are thoroughly aired and investigated.


re: With regard to the assertion: ... 'if the people can
determine that people of fame and power can be trusted
with public office, we need not fear them', you said,
"People are able to evaluate their nearby and nearly
similar fellow citizens reasonably well, but I'm less
optimistic with how they evaluate different,
psychologically powerful and well known figures."

That is a valid concern. We must always be alert for Prince
Charming-type individuals that can't be trusted with your lunch pail.
If we are to validate candidates for public office, they must be
examined, face-to-face, by people with a vital interest in ascertaining
their character, and the examiners must have enough time to investigate
their subject thoroughly. Should we add that as another goal?


re: With regard to goal (4) which says, 'The electoral method
must allow every member of the electorate to become a
candidate and participate in the electoral process to the
full extent of each individual's desire and ability', you
said, "Yes except that we may have some limitations to keep
the number of candidates reasonable. We may also try to keep
the quality of the candidates good by setting some conditions
that are not too difficult for good candidates to pass."

In a democracy, it is very difficult (and may be improper) for one
person to set conditions and limitations for others. However, as you
say, the quality of candidates is a critical issue. Instead of trying
to prejudge the matter, wouldn't we be better served to let the
candidate's peers decide their suitability? In the process of deciding
which of our peers are our best advocates, we would be automatically
narrowing the field. If, then, our choices had to compete for selection
with the choices of others, it would not be long before we had a very
manageable field of candidates.


re: With regard to goal (5) which says, 'The electoral method
must ensure that all candidates for public office are
carefully examined to determine their integrity and
suitability to serve as advocates for the people', you said,
"This is quite difficult but of course we should do our best
to support this target. In local elections people know the
canidates better. In "non-local" elections media and other
public sources have an important role."

The ability to examine candidates is a matter of accessibility and time.
To form a valid opinion about a candidate's integrity and suitability
for public office, one must be able to meet the person face-to-face,
discuss contemporary issues in detail, and have enough time to discern
the multitude of verbal and non-verbal cues each of us emit during
discourse.


re: With regard to goal (6) which says, 'The electoral method
must be repeated frequently (preferably annually)', you
raised several points:

a. "There are some benefits also in not having elections
every day. If voters could change their represetatives
any day, the representatives might follow the opinion
surveys too much."

The only reference to frequency was the recommendation that elections be
held annually. Terms of office are already set in most constituencies,
so the elections will be to replace office-holders whose terms are expiring.

b. "I mean that in a _representative_ democracy one may
expect the representatives to make also unpopular
decisions (like raising the taxes when there is a need),
and explain those decisions and build a complete package
of their activities during their term for their
supporters only before the election, so that the voters
can see if the whole package was good or not."

The reason for determining each candidate's integrity and suitability is
to establish, in advance, to the maximum extent possible, that the
candidate can and will make unpopular decisions in the public interest
when circumstances dictate.

c. "(One approach would be to build some hysteresis [Great
Word. I had to look it up. Even though, as a former
pilot, I'm familiar with compass lag, I never knew that's
what it's called!] to the system. If voters feel for few
months that some representative should be changed to
another one, then that change will take place.)

An excellent point. We must include that as a 7th goal for the
electoral method we're devising:

7) The electoral method must include a means for the electorate
to recall an elected official.


re: "There are many kind of people on this list (good) and they
have very different ways to participate in the discussion
(good)."

and

"... people on this list have different agendas, and reasons
for being here, and of course different viewpoints. Probably
there will be no "list consensus" on what the goals should
be. But the feedback hopefully makes your list of goals more
accurate, more balanced, and better in addressing all the
viewpoints and comments that potential readers might have."


I agree, and fervently hope they will contribute to our work.

Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-07-07 21:44:50 UTC
Permalink
Can you describe a circumstance in which letting the leaders of a subset of the electorate control of the nomination of candidates for public office will be in the public interest? In a representative democracy, is it not the right of the people to select those who will represent them?
A party represents some set of political ideals and targets. There may be limitations on how many candidates each party can nominate. This party might be interested in nominating candidates that represent those values as well as possible. They may plan to have candidates from every age group, from every geographical area, from many professions, and both male and female candidates. In order to achieve this, they (party leaders or an election committee) want to decide which individuals will be nominated as their candidates.

Also in this democracy voters are allowed to decide who will represent them. The idea is that the number of parties is not limited. If people want some other type of candidates, that the above mentioned party sets, they are free to form a new party that will represent voters better.
We must always be alert for Prince Charming-type individuals that can't be trusted with your lunch pail. If we are to validate candidates for public office, they must be examined, face-to-face, by people with a vital interest in ascertaining their character, and the examiners must have enough time to investigate their subject thoroughly. Should we add that as another goal?
I'd add that as one possible path - probably not as a requirement that all working political systems must meet.
wouldn't we be better served to let the candidate's peers decide their suitability? In the process of deciding which of our peers are our best advocates, we would be automatically narrowing the field.
There may be limitations in candidate nomiation since democracy might not work well if we had 10000 candidates to choose from. There are many such ways to limit the number of candidates, that do not essentially limit the ability of good candidates with lots of support to get on the list. One could e.g. require a candidate to collect the names of N supporters. Also peer evaluation, as you have proposed it, could be one approach.
The only reference to frequency was the recommendation that elections be held annually. Terms of office are already set in most constituencies, so the elections will be to replace office-holders whose terms are expiring.
Ok, having overlapping terms is a good trick that reminds the representatives (that are safe this time) that also they might be replaced one day.
The reason for determining each candidate's integrity and suitability is to establish, in advance, to the maximum extent possible, that the candidate can and will make unpopular decisions in the public interest when circumstances dictate.
I just note that politicians generally have also the opposote interest - to make decisions that many people (that may have shorter term desires than the politicians) want.


One more thing. If you plan to finetune your list, I think you should decide if the list is a list of criteria that all decent methods should meet, or if the list describes one useful approach, or if the list describes "the ideal method". (I don't believe the third case is doable since I believe there are different solutions for different needs. But the first two approaches are easier (the second one is easier than the first).)

Juho





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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-09 19:45:16 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Juho

re: "A party represents some set of political ideals and targets.
There may be limitations on how many candidates each party
can nominate. This party might be interested in nominating
candidates that represent those values as well as possible.
They may plan to have candidates from every age group, from
every geographical area, from many professions, and both
male and female candidates. In order to achieve this, they
(party leaders or an election committee) want to decide
which individuals will be nominated as their candidates."

"Also in this democracy voters are allowed to decide who will
represent them. The idea is that the number of parties is
not limited. If people want some other type of candidates,
that the above mentioned party sets, they are free to form a
new party that will represent voters better."

You described why parties want to control the selection of candidates
for public office, but you have not explained why allowing them to
control the selection process is in the public interest.

You say non-partisans are free to form a new party, but that ignores the
fact the non-partisans are not organized along party lines. They do not
seek the ascendance of one group of citizens over another, they seek
good government. In conceiving a democratic electoral process, ought we
not make sure that all people, including those who do not adhere to
party lines, can participate in the selection of candidates for public
office?


re: With regard to the question of whether or not "we should
set a goal requiring that candidates for public office must
be examined, face-to-face, by people with a vital interest
in ascertaining their character, and the examiners must have
enough time to investigate their subject thoroughly", you
said you'd "add that as one possible path - probably not as
a requirement that all working political systems must meet."

I'm not sure why you want to leave this open. We have broad experience
with the duplicity of politicians selected by political parties. Should
we not learn from our experience and protect ourselves from this evil
when we conceive a democratic electoral method?


re: "There may be limitations in candidate nomiation since
democracy might not work well if we had 10000 candidates
to choose from."

Why should there be a limitation. Democracies can consist of millions
of people, some of whom are the best advocates of the common interest at
any given time. To exclude these people by setting arbitrary
limitations is self-defeating. We don't want to exclude these people -
we want to find them and elevate them to public office. If we are to
find them, we must conceive a search mechanism. So far, I've been
unable to come up with a better mechanism than peer evaluation but I'll
welcome the outline of a better method.


re: "If you plan to finetune your list, I think you should decide
if the list is a list of criteria that all decent methods
should meet, or if the list describes one useful approach,
or if the list describes 'the ideal method'."

Alas, Juho, that you should disassociate yourself from our noble effort.
Your posts would be more meaningful if you could bring yourself to
refer to "our" list - thereby including all those who choose to participate.

Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-07-09 21:46:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
Good Afternoon, Juho
re: "A party represents some set of political ideals and targets.
There may be limitations on how many candidates each party
can nominate. This party might be interested in nominating
candidates that represent those values as well as possible.
They may plan to have candidates from every age group, from
every geographical area, from many professions, and both
male and female candidates. In order to achieve this, they
(party leaders or an election committee) want to decide
which individuals will be nominated as their candidates."
"Also in this democracy voters are allowed to decide who will
represent them. The idea is that the number of parties is
not limited. If people want some other type of candidates,
that the above mentioned party sets, they are free to form a
new party that will represent voters better."
You described why parties want to control the selection of candidates for public office, but you have not explained why allowing them to control the selection process is in the public interest.
There may be also negative arguments against party control, but aren't those given reasons rational reasons that aim at creating the best possible and representative list of candidates that drive the party values forward?
Post by Fred Gohlke
You say non-partisans are free to form a new party, but that ignores the fact the non-partisans are not organized along party lines. They do not seek the ascendance of one group of citizens over another, they seek good government. In conceiving a democratic electoral process, ought we not make sure that all people, including those who do not adhere to party lines, can participate in the selection of candidates for public office?
I think I didn't refer to non-partisans. I meant that some regular voters may become activists and form a new party if thy are not happy with the existing parties. Most similar minded voters would just vote for the new party and not become active members (note that I don't assume U.S. style registration of all voters as supporters of some party).

I assumed that in this system voters support some ideology or targets for the society, and vote for the party that is closest to those targets. They are free to aim at forming the best possible government, from those components / parties that are available, and from those new parties that they or others might establish.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: With regard to the question of whether or not "we should
set a goal requiring that candidates for public office must
be examined, face-to-face, by people with a vital interest
in ascertaining their character, and the examiners must have
enough time to investigate their subject thoroughly", you
said you'd "add that as one possible path - probably not as
a requirement that all working political systems must meet."
I'm not sure why you want to leave this open. We have broad experience with the duplicity of politicians selected by political parties. Should we not learn from our experience and protect ourselves from this evil when we conceive a democratic electoral method?
I'm happy to leave this point open since I see multiple viable approaches that could be used by the various societies of the world. Face-to-face approach offers some benefits but it has also its problems, like long distance between the huge number of individual voters and only a handful of politicians that will make the central decisions. DIfferent needs anddifferent history may lead to different systems.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "There may be limitations in candidate nomiation since
democracy might not work well if we had 10000 candidates
to choose from."
Why should there be a limitation.
The reason is that I have only time to evaluate max 100 candidates. (Maybe you indirectly refer to the hierarchical approach that you have proposed earlier and that reduces the number of candidates than one voter has to evaliuate.)
Post by Fred Gohlke
Democracies can consist of millions of people, some of whom are the best advocates of the common interest at any given time. To exclude these people by setting arbitrary limitations is self-defeating.
Why were they arbitrary? Why not possible rational and balanced limitations that might be used to keep the number of candidates manageable?
Post by Fred Gohlke
We don't want to exclude these people - we want to find them and elevate them to public office.
All potential candidates should be given a fair chance to become candidates. That doesn't mean that we should allow all interested people to becme candidates (because the list might become too long). (Again I note that your earlier hierarchical proposals could allow all people to be candidates. But that's only one possible solution to the problem.)
Post by Fred Gohlke
If we are to find them, we must conceive a search mechanism. So far, I've been unable to come up with a better mechanism than peer evaluation but I'll welcome the outline of a better method.
re: "If you plan to finetune your list, I think you should decide
if the list is a list of criteria that all decent methods
should meet, or if the list describes one useful approach,
or if the list describes 'the ideal method'."
Alas, Juho, that you should disassociate yourself from our noble effort. Your posts would be more meaningful if you could bring yourself to refer to "our" list - thereby including all those who choose to participate.
Note that I'm working all the time with you to allow this initiative to move forward. It is difficult to make such lists of requirements that all EM members would be happy to sign. I have my own viewpoints that usually are not exactly the same as those of others. Therefore I want to leave space for you to make either a list that you like yourself, or a list that you expect many EM members to agree with. But that process does not require me to sign the paper. My best guess based on your earlier proposals is that there are people on this list that are quite close to your viewpoints, and you might get strongest support from them (instead of me and my weird ideas of allowing even the option of party influence on candidate selection in some societies ;-) ).

I promote this kind of carefully constructed lists in general. I'm also happy to promote generation of lists that are not an exact match with my own thoughts. My first guess is that whatever way this work makes progress, the end result is likely not to reflect my thoughts one-to-one, but is more likely to represent the viewpoints of the original author, or the viewpoints of the community that wants to write the declaration together.

I'm also quite strict with what I say and sign. If I'd start calling the list "our" list (with the intention to keep it that way), I'd have to be much stricter and not allow you to put in any words that I don't fully support. That might kill the process right from the start (if we would start e.g. debating whether party influence in candidate selection should be avoided altogether or not). Better to allow teh work to progress first and then see what the outcome is.

I think it is better if someone takes the lead in this kind of work, and tries to either make the list as good as he can, or as acceptable to all as he can, or following the opinions of the group members as well as possible. The probability that I'll support generation of such a list is high. The probability of me signing such list as my permanent opinion or as my primary targets is quite low.

Usually you can get the best end results if the core of the proposal is made and kept in good shape by one person or a small team of similar minded people. If the outcome is good, also others might be happy to sign, or sign with comments, or write some (mainly positive) comments about the end result.

Juho
Post by Fred Gohlke
Fred
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-11 16:18:41 UTC
Permalink
Good Morning, Juho

re: "There may be also negative arguments against party control,
but aren't those given reasons rational reasons that aim at
creating the best possible and representative list of
candidates that drive the party values forward?"

Ya got me! I'd like to respond, but don't understand what you said.

In attempting to conceive a democratic electoral process, we seek an
electoral method that vests the power in the people. That's why we call
it democratic. Candidates "that drive the party values forward" empower
the party, not the people.


re: "I think I didn't refer to non-partisans. I meant that some
regular voters may become activists and form a new party if
thy are not happy with the existing parties."

That's quibbling. If they do not support the existing parties, they are
non-partisan, and non-partisans, as a group, "do not seek the ascendance
of one group of citizens over another". Why should they be denied a
right to representation in the government just because they do not
support a party that seeks to advance its own interest at the expense of
those who don't share its views?


re: "I'm happy to leave this point open since I see multiple
viable approaches that could be used by the various
societies of the world."

Really? And which of them will benefit the people when they do not give
the people a way to identify and avoid duplicitous politicians?


re: "Face-to-face approach offers some benefits but it has also
its problems, like long distance between the huge number of
individual voters ..."

Which says we must conceive an electoral method that lets the people
narrow the field, so fewer candidates must travel. Given the
availability of modern modes of travel, arranging face-to-face meetings
is trivial.


re: "Different needs and different history may lead to different
systems."

That's stating the obvious, since it already has. More pertinent is the
fact that the vast majority of different systems are not truly
democratic. They do not let the people seek their best advocates from
among themselves. They interpose parties between the people and their
government.


re: (with regard to why there should be a limitation on
candidate nominations), "The reason is that I have
only time to evaluate max 100 candidates."

As you point out, there are practical ways to reduce the number of
candidates while assuring each member of the electorate the right to
participate in the process. Can you propose a better alternative, one
that empowers each and every one of us without forcing us to support
unknown, self-interested politicians incapable of suppressing greed and
avoiding war? Should not the goal of a conception of a democratic
political process be to allow every member of the electorate to
participate to the full extent of their desire and ability?


re: (with regard to the statement that, "To exclude these people
by setting arbitrary limitations is self-defeating."), you
asked, "Why were they arbitrary?"

They are arbitrary because those who impose the limitations arrogate to
themselves the right to deny some members of the electorate the right to
compete for election to public office, thus gutting the essence of
democracy.


re: "Why not possible rational and balanced limitations that
might be used to keep the number of candidates manageable?"

"Rational and balanced limitations" in whose eyes? Certainly not the
eyes of those who are excluded. In what way does any person or group of
people gain the right to decide who shall be allowed to participate in
the political process and who shall not?

Keeping the number of candidates manageable is straightforward. The
first step is to let those who don't want to compete drop out and the
second is to let their peers decide which candidates are worthy of
public office.


re: "All potential candidates should be given a fair chance to
become candidates. That doesn't mean that we should allow
all interested people to becme candidates (because the list
might become too long)."

That is self-contradictory.


re: "(Again I note that your earlier hierarchical proposals
could allow all people to be candidates. But that's only
one possible solution to the problem.)

I, too, think there must be other solutions. Since you're sure the
hierarchical proposal is "only one possible solution to the problem", it
would be very helpful if you'd suggest others. We're looking for a
conception. We can't form one until ideas are outlined in sufficient
detail so they can be evaluated.


re: "Usually you can get the best end results if the core of the
proposal is made and kept in good shape by one person or a
small team of similar minded people."

I appreciate the effort you have devoted to this discussion and your
comments on "the list". While I'm not shy about stating my views on the
matter of a democratic political system, those views in and of
themselves are worthless. They'll pass with me.

The views that have value are hidden, in bits and pieces, among all of
us. Although I've written several goals, that was merely an attempt to
seed fallow ground. It is much more akin to the 'common' of years past
than to a private lot of my own. I've no wish for others to stand in
awe of the beauty of my fruit. I don't want to deny our peers the pride
and satisfaction one gets from seeing the fruits of their own labor. I
want them to bend their own backs. I want them to seed, water,
fertilize, cultivate and prune the plants so the entire community can
feast on their wisdom.

Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-07-11 20:46:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "There may be also negative arguments against party control,
but aren't those given reasons rational reasons that aim at
creating the best possible and representative list of
candidates that drive the party values forward?"
Ya got me! I'd like to respond, but don't understand what you said.
In attempting to conceive a democratic electoral process, we seek an electoral method that vests the power in the people. That's why we call it democratic. Candidates "that drive the party values forward" empower the party, not the people.
You seem to assume that "party values" are always bad. What I wanted to say is that although parties may often have a negative impact on candidate selection, there are also aspects that may speak in favour of some control in the creation of the candidate list.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "I think I didn't refer to non-partisans. I meant that some
regular voters may become activists and form a new party if
thy are not happy with the existing parties."
That's quibbling. If they do not support the existing parties, they are non-partisan, and non-partisans, as a group, "do not seek the ascendance of one group of citizens over another". Why should they be denied a right to representation in the government just because they do not support a party that seeks to advance its own interest at the expense of those who don't share its views?
I don't want to deny a right to representation from anyone. Those people that formed the new party could have been either members or supporters of current parties or not.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "I'm happy to leave this point open since I see multiple
viable approaches that could be used by the various
societies of the world."
Really? And which of them will benefit the people when they do not give the people a way to identify and avoid duplicitous politicians?
I'm in favour of allowing the voters to replace any duplicitous politicians. (In my exmple system old parties can be thrown away if people don't like them.)
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "Face-to-face approach offers some benefits but it has also
its problems, like long distance between the huge number of
individual voters ..."
Which says we must conceive an electoral method that lets the people narrow the field, so fewer candidates must travel. Given the availability of modern modes of travel, arranging face-to-face meetings is trivial.
Yes. We must just avoid the situation where 100 representatives must meet 1000 000 voters. Also a situation where a voter meets a person who meetss another person etc. until someone meets one of the 100 representatives may be problematic.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "Different needs and different history may lead to different
systems."
That's stating the obvious, since it already has. More pertinent is the fact that the vast majority of different systems are not truly democratic. They do not let the people seek their best advocates from among themselves. They interpose parties between the people and their government.
We have currently many systems. Even if we would find some ingenious new system, I hope that all would not use it but there would still be alternative approaches for comparison and to seek further improvements.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: (with regard to why there should be a limitation on
candidate nominations), "The reason is that I have
only time to evaluate max 100 candidates."
As you point out, there are practical ways to reduce the number of candidates while assuring each member of the electorate the right to participate in the process. Can you propose a better alternative, one that empowers each and every one of us without forcing us to support unknown, self-interested politicians incapable of suppressing greed and avoiding war? Should not the goal of a conception of a democratic political process be to allow every member of the electorate to participate to the full extent of their desire and ability?
I'm not sure what kind of alternative system you requested me to propose.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: (with regard to the statement that, "To exclude these people
by setting arbitrary limitations is self-defeating."), you
asked, "Why were they arbitrary?"
They are arbitrary because those who impose the limitations arrogate to themselves the right to deny some members of the electorate the right to compete for election to public office, thus gutting the essence of democracy.
I think we can't get fully rid of our represenattives making decisions for us in a representative democracy. We must trust some people to make the decisions. In elections we can determine who those people are. Also party officials are elected in some related (more or less democratic) way.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "Why not possible rational and balanced limitations that
might be used to keep the number of candidates manageable?"
"Rational and balanced limitations" in whose eyes? Certainly not the eyes of those who are excluded. In what way does any person or group of people gain the right to decide who shall be allowed to participate in the political process and who shall not?
Keeping the number of candidates manageable is straightforward. The first step is to let those who don't want to compete drop out and the second is to let their peers decide which candidates are worthy of public office.
Depending on the used election system and society, there might or might not be a need to limit the number of candidates so that some potential candidates are either discoureged or not allowed to run. One can easily make the system such that any potential and able candiate that really wants to run can also do so (e.g. by collecting the names of 1000 supporters).

(Here's btw one possible approach that allows anyone to run. There will be a primary elecion at every municipality or other small area (common to all voters of that area). Anyone can nominate himself as a candiate. The winners will be candidates at the next election of a wider area. And the winners of those electons will be candiates of the final national election. Voters are the same at all levels, just grouped into smaller or larger groups. There will be few weeks time between the different level elections to reserve time for the voters to learn the candidates and their opinions.)
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "All potential candidates should be given a fair chance to
become candidates. That doesn't mean that we should allow
all interested people to becme candidates (because the list
might become too long)."
That is self-contradictory.
Fair chance could mean, if they have enough support from other people, or, if they work enough to earn their candidature (e.g. collect names).
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "(Again I note that your earlier hierarchical proposals
could allow all people to be candidates. But that's only
one possible solution to the problem.)
I, too, think there must be other solutions. Since you're sure the hierarchical proposal is "only one possible solution to the problem", it would be very helpful if you'd suggest others. We're looking for a conception. We can't form one until ideas are outlined in sufficient detail so they can be evaluated.
I find many different kind of systems useful and potential good solutions for some societies. I'm not quite sure what level of optimality you'd like the proposals to have. If we think about systems that would improve the current state of affairs in some countries, I might accept and recommend e.g. some typical proportional methods with improved proportionality at national level (often it is not very accurate) with some support of proportionality also within parties. That'd be an improvement for many countries.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "Usually you can get the best end results if the core of the
proposal is made and kept in good shape by one person or a
small team of similar minded people."
I appreciate the effort you have devoted to this discussion and your comments on "the list". While I'm not shy about stating my views on the matter of a democratic political system, those views in and of themselves are worthless. They'll pass with me.
The views that have value are hidden, in bits and pieces, among all of us. Although I've written several goals, that was merely an attempt to seed fallow ground. It is much more akin to the 'common' of years past than to a private lot of my own. I've no wish for others to stand in awe of the beauty of my fruit. I don't want to deny our peers the pride and satisfaction one gets from seeing the fruits of their own labor. I want them to bend their own backs. I want them to seed, water, fertilize, cultivate and prune the plants so the entire community can feast on their wisdom.
In addition to that, co-operation and criticism are also good tools.

Juho




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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-13 15:35:08 UTC
Permalink
Good Morning, Juho

re: "You seem to assume that "party values" are always bad."

I've explained this. Partisanship is an essential part of society.
However, we must prevent parties from inflicting their views on the
electorate. Their role must always be to persuade, never to impose.
Therein lies the difficulty of conceiving a democratic electoral method;
we must devise a method that welcomes parties but prevents their control
of government.


re: "... although parties may often have a negative impact on
candidate selection, there are also aspects that may speak
in favour of some control in the creation of the candidate
list."

To the extent you mean the party leaders have a right to control the
choice of candidates, I disagree.


re: "Even if we would find some ingenious new system, I hope that
all would not use it but there would still be alternative
approaches for comparison and to seek further improvements."

The development of democracy is an evolutionary process. It happens in
fits and starts and none of them are final.


re: "I think we can't get fully rid of our represenattives making
decisions for us in a representative democracy. We must trust
some people to make the decisions."

Of course! That's why we elect them. The problem we are addressing is
that we are only allowed to vote for people who are committed to make
decisions for the benefit of their party rather than the benefit of the
people. That's wrong.


re: "(Here's btw one possible approach that allows anyone to run.
There will be a primary elecion at every municipality or
other small area (common to all voters of that area). Anyone
can nominate himself as a candiate. The winners will be
candidates at the next election of a wider area. And the
winners of those electons will be candiates of the final
national election. Voters are the same at all levels, just
grouped into smaller or larger groups. There will be few
weeks time between the different level elections to reserve
time for the voters to learn the candidates and their
opinions.)

The voters can only learn what the candidates tell them, they have no
means of independent verification. They cannot examine each of the
candidates carefully to determine their integrity and suitability for
public office. However, if the candidates, advancing as you describe,
must seek election by persuading the other candidates to elect them, we
can be sure each of them will do two things:

1) They'll make sure no-one can challenge their integrity. and

2) they'll examine the other candidates, their competitors,
carefully, looking for ways to "shoot-'em-down". They will
not be easily deceived.


re: "I find many different kind of systems useful and potential
good solutions for some societies."

How about sticking with the leading societies, the ones that have, so
far, set the pace for democracy (however imperfectly)?

Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-07-13 18:31:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "(Here's btw one possible approach that allows anyone to run.
There will be a primary elecion at every municipality or
other small area (common to all voters of that area). Anyone
can nominate himself as a candiate. The winners will be
candidates at the next election of a wider area. And the
winners of those electons will be candiates of the final
national election. Voters are the same at all levels, just
grouped into smaller or larger groups. There will be few
weeks time between the different level elections to reserve
time for the voters to learn the candidates and their
opinions.)
1) They'll make sure no-one can challenge their integrity. and
2) they'll examine the other candidates, their competitors,
carefully, looking for ways to "shoot-'em-down". They will
not be easily deceived.
In typical national elections the number of representatives is much smaller than the number of voters you will have the problem that candidates are distant to the voters, one way or another. It may be that the voters have to vote for candidates that they have never met, or maybe they are allowed to elect only representatives that later elect some higher level representatives, and again, they will never meet the candidates that will be the top level representatives.

Note that in the model that I presented in all elections the voters were the bottom level voters, i.e. never the candidates.

If we want each candidate to be forced to answer to some key questions that their fellow candidates might ask them (good idea), one solution would be to simply force them to do so. I mean that other candidates (maybe from second level up) (and maybe also media) would be entitled to ask some questions from them, and all candidates would have to present written answers to these questions publicly. (We may have to limit the number of questions, but that's another story.) Voters would still be the bottom level voters. I kept that approach in the described approach to keep the link between the bottom level voters and the top level representatives direct (and to provide an alternative to the chained hierarchical evaluation model (where the elected elect the next level etc.)). My target was to em
power the bottom level voters as much as possible.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "I find many different kind of systems useful and potential
good solutions for some societies."
How about sticking with the leading societies, the ones that have, so far, set the pace for democracy (however imperfectly)?
Also here I think no two countries are alike. This means that what is a credible proposal and an accepted way forward for one, may not be the same for any other country. In long term countries could have more similarity in their goals, but the steps will very probably be different.

Juho





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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-15 22:17:59 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Juho

re: "In typical national elections the number of representatives
is much smaller than the number of voters you will have the
problem that candidates are distant to the voters, one way
or another."

Only if you assume present practices are cast in concrete. Once you
open your mind to the idea that we can each choose, from among those we
know, a person we can trust to make choices for us, and that person gets
ample time to examine his competitors for office, we will no longer be
required to vote for people whose ability and integrity we have no way
to validate.


re: "... or maybe they are allowed to elect only representatives
that later elect some higher level representatives, and
again, they will never meet the candidates that will be the
top level representatives."

You're correct. They will not have met them, but each of them are part
of a direct line of individuals that culminates in the people who are
make the later selections. Depending on the way the process is
implemented, they can influence those who make the later choices by
expressing their position and providing whatever evidence they may have,
good or bad, to those who are making the later choices. If the
capability is implemented, they will also have the ability to institute
a recall. Each of them is a link in the electoral chain and have reason
to trust those who make the final selections because they were part of
the process of selecting them.


re: "If we want each candidate to be forced to answer to some key
questions that their fellow candidates might ask them (good
idea), one solution would be to simply force them to do so."

It may not be simple. I'm not sure you can 'force' someone to answer a
question - honestly. Words are cheap. What someone says is much less
revealing than their demeanor when they say it. That's why face-to-face
interaction is so important.

We would also need to decide who will formulate the question(s) or what
the question(s) will be. I haven't thoroughly considered this idea, but
perhaps others can help examine it.


re: "I mean that other candidates (maybe from second level up)
(and maybe also media) would be entitled to ask some
questions from them, and all candidates would have to
present written answers to these questions publicly. (We may
have to limit the number of questions, but that's another
story.) Voters would still be the bottom level voters. I
kept that approach in the described approach to keep the
link between the bottom level voters and the top level
representatives direct (and to provide an alternative to the
chained hierarchical evaluation model (where the elected
elect the next level etc.)). My target was to empower the
bottom level voters as much as possible."

I'm sorry, Juho. I seem to have missed one of your posts. You say, "I
kept that approach in the described approach", but I haven't seen the
approach you described.


re: "... I think no two countries are alike."

No, but people are pretty much the same all over the world. We all love
and hope and dream and fear pretty much the same way. Genius and
repugnance are distributed throughout the human race. Our various
cultures develop at different rates, but our Attilas and our Napoleons
pop-up here and there throughout our existence. If we can conceive a
democratic electoral process, any community can use it when their local
circumstances allow.

Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-07-16 07:32:44 UTC
Permalink
They will not have met them, but each of them are part of a direct line of individuals that culminates in the people who are make the later selections. Depending on the way the process is implemented, they can influence those who make the later choices by expressing their position and providing whatever evidence they may have, good or bad, to those who are making the later choices. If the capability is implemented, they will also have the ability to institute a recall. Each of them is a link in the electoral chain and have reason to trust those who make the final selections because they were part of the process of selecting them.
Yes, being able to influence through the chain of electors offers a useful communication / influence channel between the bottom level voters and their representatives. Of course that chain may also introduce some additional problems (due to the legth of the chain). We should have some practical experiments with different rules and in different societies to see how people feel about this kind of indirect representation.
re: "If we want each candidate to be forced to answer to some key
questions that their fellow candidates might ask them (good
idea), one solution would be to simply force them to do so."
It may not be simple. I'm not sure you can 'force' someone to answer a question - honestly. Words are cheap. What someone says is much less revealing than their demeanor when they say it. That's why face-to-face interaction is so important.
We would also need to decide who will formulate the question(s) or what the question(s) will be. I haven't thoroughly considered this idea, but perhaps others can help examine it.
Face-to-face is important when you have to evaluate the overall trustworthy of a person. If you want to get commitments to stable policies, then written answers are good. Written public answers can avoid some problems like different (maybe conflicting) vague unrecorded pitches and promises to different people and interest groups.

It is not easy to pick the best limited set of questions. One quite technical approach would be to arrange a separate proportional election (maybe among representatives, media and other experts) on which questions to present. Maybe one would present 100 questions in a proportional order, so that all candidates must answer properly at least to some of the most critical questions at the top of the list. It would be appropriate also to allow media, other candidates and voters to comment the answers, so that evading or misleadng answers will be revealed.

One possible simpler model would be to allow different interest groups (groups of current representatives, parties, media, assocoations) each set one or two questions (or question candidates).

One problem with questions is that people would certainly disagree with how some questions should be presented (hopefully in a neutral way) and how many questions there should be on each area. Some proportionality in setting up the questions would help here.
You say, "I kept that approach in the described approach", but I haven't seen the approach you described.
I referred just to the approach of voters electing first some candidates (that they know well) locally, then same voters electing regionally some of the locally elected candidates, and finally same voters electing some of the regionally elected candidates as their national representatives. That approach is an interesting reference point since voters are able to nominate the candidates of national elections, and they can still vote directly also at national level.
re: "... I think no two countries are alike."
No, but people are pretty much the same all over the world. We all love and hope and dream and fear pretty much the same way. Genius and repugnance are distributed throughout the human race. Our various cultures develop at different rates, but our Attilas and our Napoleons pop-up here and there throughout our existence. If we can conceive a democratic electoral process, any community can use it when their local circumstances allow.
Yes, general targets may have lots of similarity, although current regional problems and practices may be quite different.

Juho




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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-17 20:05:23 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Juho

re: "... being able to influence through the chain of electors
offers a useful communication / influence channel between
the bottom level voters and their representatives."

It also gives the people meaningful participation in the political
process, way beyond voting for candidates controlled by political parties.


re: "We should have some practical experiments with different
rules and in different societies to see how people feel
about this kind of indirect representation."

My guess is that the best way to test the process will come when a small
community adopts it. One of my sons suggested the Little League - a
league for children's baseball in communities throughout the U. S. -
would be an excellent proving ground.

Little League organizations are a hotbed of political intrigue. Parents
fight hard for their children, trying to influence the choice of team
managers, which children will play and for how long in each game, which
children will get to play in the All-Star games, and so forth. In
addition, there's no shortage of potential for chicanery in the disposal
of funds. Frankly, I think it would be a great test; the relationships
are up-close, personal and intense.


re: "One quite technical approach would be to arrange a separate
proportional election ... on which questions to present."

This makes an excellent point: In my June 23rd post, I pointed out,
"Voting for choices defined by political parties creates an illusion of
power but is a sign of great weakness." The hallmark of democracy is
the ability to decide what issues are important to our community -
whether as you describe here or in some other manner.


re: "One possible simpler model would be to allow different
interest groups each set one or two questions."

What would you think of letting interest groups (or parties) select
their most effective advocates to compete with other candidates for
public office? The party candidates can proclaim their ideas and
encourage discussion of their concepts. Some of their ideas will be
accepted, in whole or in part, as they are shown to be in the common
interest of the community.

Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-07-17 21:16:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "... being able to influence through the chain of electors
offers a useful communication / influence channel between
the bottom level voters and their representatives."
It also gives the people meaningful participation in the political process, way beyond voting for candidates controlled by political parties.
Yes, voters could be interested in participating this way. But I note that quite similar chains of influence could be used in more party controlled systems too.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "We should have some practical experiments with different
rules and in different societies to see how people feel
about this kind of indirect representation."
My guess is that the best way to test the process will come when a small community adopts it. One of my sons suggested the Little League - a league for children's baseball in communities throughout the U. S. - would be an excellent proving ground.
Little League organizations are a hotbed of political intrigue. Parents fight hard for their children, trying to influence the choice of team managers, which children will play and for how long in each game, which children will get to play in the All-Star games, and so forth. In addition, there's no shortage of potential for chicanery in the disposal of funds. Frankly, I think it would be a great test; the relationships are up-close, personal and intense.
Maybe this is a community where the opinions do not follow the borderlines of the current political parties, and therefore people don't want to act and present themselves as members of the current political parties. If so, some completely different approach might be welcome.
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "One possible simpler model would be to allow different
interest groups each set one or two questions."
What would you think of letting interest groups (or parties) select their most effective advocates to compete with other candidates for public office? The party candidates can proclaim their ideas and encourage discussion of their concepts. Some of their ideas will be accepted, in whole or in part, as they are shown to be in the common interest of the community.
I'm not sure if I got the full picture, i.e. how the system would work. But I think new technical means could well be used to find out which formulations of the ideas are best (e.g. using some good single winner methods). And one could use experts that are good at formulating ideas, and then let some larger group decide which formulations are good (instead of allowing the closed club to do the horse-trading and present others just one solution that alrady has the horse-trading results embedded in it).

Juho



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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-19 16:43:46 UTC
Permalink
Good Morning, Juho

Juho: "... being able to influence through the chain of electors
offers a useful communication / influence channel between
the bottom level voters and their representatives."

Fred: "It also gives the people meaningful participation in the
political process, way beyond voting for candidates
controlled by political parties."

Juho: "Yes, voters could be interested in participating this way.
But I note that quite similar chains of influence could be
used in more party controlled systems too."

That's incorrect. As a matter of fact, it's a contradiction. As
Michael Allan pointed out, parties do not allow party members to change
their leaders' dictates. That's why he's seeking a 'public' party,
where the leaders cannot control the members.

When raising funds, parties commit to enact laws sought by the 'donors'
who underwrite the party's operation. Party leadership cannot let the
members invalidate those commitments. Hence, control is mandatory and
meaningful participation by the party members is impossible.


re: "I'm not sure if I got the full picture, i.e. how the system
would work."

I'm not sure if I can give you a picture you'll understand, but let's
try this: Imagine three candidates with these sets of convictions (and
effective persuasiveness) on ten issues:

(M m M C c C m M L L) (C M m c l C M l l C) (M L c l C c L c L l)
------------------- ------------------- -------------------
Where:
C = strongly conservative
c = moderately conservative

L = strongly liberal
l = moderately liberal

M = strongly moderate
m = moderately moderate

and where, for estimating the candidate's bias, a value of 1 is assigned
to the lower case letters and a value of 2 is assigned to the capital
letters.

The first candidate: MmMCcCmMLL
a conservative rating of 5 on 3 issues
a liberal rating of 4 on 2 issues
a moderate rating of 8 on 5 issues
--
17 Intensity rating

The second candidate: CMmclCMllC
a conservative rating of 7 on 4 issues
a liberal rating of 3 on 3 issues
a moderate rating of 5 on 3 issues
--
15 Intensity rating

The third candidate: MLclCcLcLl
a conservative rating of 5 on 4 issues
a liberal rating of 8 on 5 issues
a moderate rating of 2 on 1 issues
--
15 Intensity rating

As a group, the attitude bias is slightly conservative
Conservative 5 + 7 + 5 = 17
Liberal 4 + 3 + 8 = 15
Moderate 8 + 5 + 2 = 15

and the first candidate is slightly more intense (persuasive) than the
other two, who are approximately equal: 17 to 15 and 15

If these three individuals were to compete with each other to select one
of the three as a representative of the group, and given an extended
period of time to familiarize themselves with each other and their
points of view, each of them will modify (however slightly) their views
on some issues, depending on the force of the arguments presented by
their peers (that's called 'learning').

For example (and with absolutely no justification except as an
illustration), in the course of examining the issues, it is possible the
soundness of some or all of the third candidate's position on the second
issue (where the first candidate is moderately moderate, the second
candidate is strongly moderate and the third candidate is strongly
liberal), will cause the first candidate's attitude to change from
modestly moderate to modestly liberal - in spite of the slight
conservative bias of the group.

In other words, the candidates (whether party candidates, or not) will
proclaim their ideas and encourage discussion of their concepts. Some
of their ideas will be accepted, in whole or in part, as they are shown
to be in the common interest of the community.

Note that we cannot predict, from the information given, which candidate
will be chosen by the group. Although we rated the first person as
slightly more persuasive than the other two, we don't know what defects
the others may find in that individual during an extended period of
face-to-face interaction.

Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-07-19 21:40:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
Good Morning, Juho
Juho: "... being able to influence through the chain of electors
offers a useful communication / influence channel between
the bottom level voters and their representatives."
Fred: "It also gives the people meaningful participation in the
political process, way beyond voting for candidates
controlled by political parties."
Juho: "Yes, voters could be interested in participating this way.
But I note that quite similar chains of influence could be
used in more party controlled systems too."
That's incorrect. As a matter of fact, it's a contradiction. As Michael Allan pointed out, parties do not allow party members to change their leaders' dictates. That's why he's seeking a 'public' party, where the leaders cannot control the members.
Maybe party leadership would be forced to change party opinions if there was such a direct channel (that could e.g. cancel support to politicians that do not react to the wishes of the voters).
Post by Fred Gohlke
When raising funds, parties commit to enact laws sought by the 'donors' who underwrite the party's operation. Party leadership cannot let the members invalidate those commitments. Hence, control is mandatory and meaningful participation by the party members is impossible.
Donation driven politics is another possible style that might or might not be part of the system (with the influence channel).
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "I'm not sure if I got the full picture, i.e. how the system
would work."
I'm not sure if I can give you a picture you'll understand, but let's try this: ... ...
Ok, maybe your question "What would you think of letting interest groups (or parties) select their most effective advocates to compete with other candidates for public office?" refers to the triad approach, but using candidates that have been nominated by a party.

Those people might not be negotiation ortiented but winning and strategy oriented. The negotiation process might be for them just negotiation tactics without any intention to change opinions or learn from others. Maybe triads work best when the participants are not political persons.

If we start from low/local level and parties set the candidates, I might try giving the decision power on who will go to the next levels to the regular voters, and not to the candidates that may already be professional politicians. One could thus separate the decision makers from the candidates, but still keep both rather local.

Juho




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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-22 21:22:22 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Juho

re: "Maybe party leadership would be forced to change party
opinions if there was such a direct channel (that could
e.g. cancel support to politicians that do not react to
the wishes of the voters)."

That's true. That's the way it works now. Parties cannot anticipate or
forestall public problems, they can only react when those problems
become such a burden on their members they can no longer be ignored. By
the time parties change their focus (if they do), the problems have
usually become insurmountable, like the crushing debt now plaguing much
of Europe (and, soon, the United States).

The fact that parties are, and can only be, reactive is one of the
reasons they are ruinous. Another reason, of course, is that they are
conduits for corruption.


re: "... but using candidates that have been nominated by
a party ... Those people might not be negotiation ortiented
but winning and strategy oriented. The negotiation process
might be for them just negotiation tactics without any
intention to change opinions or learn from others."

You describe the reason party candidates do not serve the public: They
don't care about solving public problems, they only care about winning.
Let me point out that, when they must compete with other candidates
who have a deeper concern for the people, candidates who are only
winning- and strategy-oriented will have difficulty advancing.


re: "Maybe triads work best when the participants are not
political persons."

They do not have to be politicians whose stock-in-trade is deceit and
obfuscation, but they do have to interact well with their peers in order
to advance. In that sense, they might be called political persons.


re: "If we start from low/local level and parties set the
candidates, I might try giving the decision power on who
will go to the next levels to the regular voters, and not to
the candidates that may already be professional politicians."

That is certainly a possibility, although I think it unwise for several
reasons:

* as described in an earlier post, those at the lower levels can
influence those at the higher levels. Each candidate achieves
selection by a known list of electors, so communication between
the electors and the candidate is straightforward. That
capability is more important than voting; it lets the electors
influence, not only the choice of candidates, but the public
issues on which the candidates will be legislating.

* the 'regular voters' do not have the time, or a practical way,
to verify a candidates' bona fides.

* at every level, the candidates have the time, the opportunity,
and the vital interest to examine their competitors carefully.
After all, they, too, are seeking to advance their candidacy.
They have reason to protect their integrity, and will seek out
any information that shows their competitors to be less fit
than themselves. The 'regular voters' do not have that kind
of incentive to be thorough.

* the 'regular voters' can be too easily swayed by the media.
Media frenzies tend to be emotional. Deliberation on issues
and examination of candidates, because they require time and
effort, tend to be intellectual.

Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-07-22 21:55:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "If we start from low/local level and parties set the
candidates, I might try giving the decision power on who
will go to the next levels to the regular voters, and not to
the candidates that may already be professional politicians."
* as described in an earlier post, those at the lower levels can
influence those at the higher levels. Each candidate achieves
selection by a known list of electors, so communication between
the electors and the candidate is straightforward. That
capability is more important than voting; it lets the electors
influence, not only the choice of candidates, but the public
issues on which the candidates will be legislating.
In the quoted text I assumed that your question "What would you think of letting interest groups (or parties) select their most effective advocates to compete with other candidates for public office?" referred to candidates that are not set by the electors (starting from the most local level) but by the parties. In that case I felt that there maybe was a need to allow the regular voters to decide instead of letting the party nominated candidates make the decisions. But maybe that was not your intended scenario.

Juho



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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-25 16:35:35 UTC
Permalink
Good Morning, Juho

re: "In the quoted text I assumed that your question "What would
you think of letting interest groups (or parties) select
their most effective advocates to compete with other
candidates for public office?" referred to candidates that
are not set by the electors (starting from the most local
level) but by the parties. In that case I felt that there
maybe was a need to allow the regular voters to decide
instead of letting the party nominated candidates make the
decisions. But maybe that was not your intended scenario."

Thanks, Juho. I didn't realize you were speaking of nominees set by the
parties. Now, after thinking about it in the way you intended, I still
favor the idea of having the nominees compete with each other to decide
which ones will be actual candidates for public office.

I'm not speaking of vacuous televised debates where, in a couple of
hours, fawning interrogators toss softball questions with inadequate
follow-up, and where nominees try to outdo each other by making phony
promises in an appeal for public favor. I'm talking about a real
competition conducted in open sessions spanning several weeks, where the
various party nominees can be challenged, not only by each other, but by
the public and the media; where nominees are pressed when they give
misleading or obfuscating responses, and where the election occurs on
the day after the nominees make their final choice of candidates.

In a competition like this, each nominee must try to persuade the other
nominees to select him or her as the most able candidate. If they want
to be chosen, 'Party nominated candidates' will have to commit
themselves to put the public interest above their party's interest in
instances where those interests clash, while the competing party
nominees will miss no opportunity to show how their partisan bias is a
disservice to the public.

This is not the best solution to the political problems we face, but it
would be an improvement. At the very least, it would reduce the deceit
and obfuscation that characterize political campaigns. In terms of
goals for a democratic electoral method, it does not address goals 4, 6
or 7. It meets goals 2, 3, 5, 8 and 9, and although it does not meet
goal 1, it improves on present practice.

1) Parties must not be allowed to control the nomination of
candidates for public office.

2) The electoral method must not require that candidates spend
vast sums of money to achieve public office.

3) The electoral method must give the people a way to address
and resolve contemporary issues.

4) The electoral method must allow every member of the electorate
to become a candidate and participate in the electoral process
to the full extent of each individual's desire and ability.

5) The electoral method must ensure that all candidates for
public office are carefully examined to determine their
integrity and suitability to serve as advocates for the
people.

6) The electoral method must be repeated frequently (preferably
annually).

7) The electoral method must include a means for the electorate
to recall an elected official.

8) The electoral method must ensure that candidates for public
office are examined, face-to-face, by people with a vital
interest in ascertaining their character, and the examiners
must have enough time to investigate their subject thoroughly.

9) The electoral method must accommodate the fact that parties,
interest groups, factions and enclaves are a vital part of
society.

Fred
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Juho Laatu
2012-07-25 19:31:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
Good Morning, Juho
re: "In the quoted text I assumed that your question "What would
you think of letting interest groups (or parties) select
their most effective advocates to compete with other
candidates for public office?" referred to candidates that
are not set by the electors (starting from the most local
level) but by the parties. In that case I felt that there
maybe was a need to allow the regular voters to decide
instead of letting the party nominated candidates make the
decisions. But maybe that was not your intended scenario."
Thanks, Juho. I didn't realize you were speaking of nominees set by the parties. Now, after thinking about it in the way you intended, I still favor the idea of having the nominees compete with each other to decide which ones will be actual candidates for public office.
Ok, two phases then. One to elect the party candidates (by voters, by party members, or by nominees?) and then the final election.

The proportions may be manageable if there are e.g. 1,000,000 voters, 10 parties, 1000 nominees per party, that elect 10 candidates per party. I wonder if you want some proportionality (e.g. betwee two wings of a party) or not. That would influence also the first phase.
Post by Fred Gohlke
I'm not speaking of vacuous televised debates where, in a couple of hours, fawning interrogators toss softball questions with inadequate follow-up, and where nominees try to outdo each other by making phony promises in an appeal for public favor. I'm talking about a real competition conducted in open sessions spanning several weeks, where the various party nominees can be challenged, not only by each other, but by the public and the media; where nominees are pressed when they give misleading or obfuscating responses, and where the election occurs on the day after the nominees make their final choice of candidates.
In a competition like this, each nominee must try to persuade the other nominees to select him or her as the most able candidate. If they want to be chosen, 'Party nominated candidates' will have to commit themselves to put the public interest above their party's interest in instances where those interests clash, while the competing party nominees will miss no opportunity to show how their partisan bias is a disservice to the public.
This is not the best solution to the political problems we face, but it would be an improvement. At the very least, it would reduce the deceit and obfuscation that characterize political campaigns. In terms of goals for a democratic electoral method, it does not address goals 4, 6 or 7. It meets goals 2, 3, 5, 8 and 9, and although it does not meet goal 1, it improves on present practice.
1) Parties must not be allowed to control the nomination of
candidates for public office.
2) The electoral method must not require that candidates spend
vast sums of money to achieve public office.
If the second phase is a traditional election, traditional financing practices may apply.

Juho
Post by Fred Gohlke
3) The electoral method must give the people a way to address
and resolve contemporary issues.
4) The electoral method must allow every member of the electorate
to become a candidate and participate in the electoral process
to the full extent of each individual's desire and ability.
5) The electoral method must ensure that all candidates for
public office are carefully examined to determine their
integrity and suitability to serve as advocates for the
people.
6) The electoral method must be repeated frequently (preferably
annually).
7) The electoral method must include a means for the electorate
to recall an elected official.
8) The electoral method must ensure that candidates for public
office are examined, face-to-face, by people with a vital
interest in ascertaining their character, and the examiners
must have enough time to investigate their subject thoroughly.
9) The electoral method must accommodate the fact that parties,
interest groups, factions and enclaves are a vital part of
society.
Fred
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-27 20:52:26 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Juho

re: "Ok, two phases then. One to elect the party candidates (by
voters, by party members, or by nominees?) and then the
final election."

Although we've approached this idea from a party perspective, there's no
reason we can't have nominees who don't identify with any of the
existing parties. They will form a separate group. In terms of phases,
we may have:

1) Nominations.

2) A filtering period of some length so the nominees can decide
which of their number are the best able to proclaim the
group's position and the best able to engage the other groups
during the candidate selection phase. In short, those the
nominees think the best advocates for their groups.

3) An open competition between the advocates of the various
groups spanning several weeks during which the nominees for
the groups advance their perspective and respond to challenges
from the public, the media, and the other groups, while
contending with each other for selection as candidates for
specific public offices.

4) The public election.


re: "The proportions may be manageable if there are e.g.
1,000,000 voters, 10 parties, 1000 nominees per party, that
elect 10 candidates per party. I wonder if you want some
proportionality (e.g. betwee two wings of a party) or not.
That would influence also the first phase."

The number of parties and the number of nominees will depend on the
public sentiment at the time of the election and the rules (if any) set
by those who implement the process. Proportionality will occur
naturally, depending on each party's ability to attract supporters,
nominees, and, ultimately, candidates.

The decision to form 'wings' rather than separate parties depends on the
dynamics perceived by those who share the separate view. If they feel
they can be more effective trying to influence the party, they'll form a
wing; if they think they'll be more effective trying to influence the
public, they'll form a party.


re: "If the second phase is a traditional election, traditional
financing practices may apply."

That is one of several reasons for having the election on the day after
the candidates are announced - it will limit the deception and
obfuscations of campaigning.

The concept we are discussing assumes a public election in which the
people vote for their choices among the candidates. The competition
between the nominees will give the people the most accurate information
possible about each of the candidates because it is developed by their
adversaries. On the day following the selection of candidates, the
information is fresh in the public's mind. The people gain nothing if
the election is delayed to allow the candidates to campaign.

The parties may campaign during the competition phase, primarily for
platform issues because the candidates are not yet known, but possibly
in an effort to influence the choice of candidates, too. If so, their
efforts will be less fruitful than at present because the party's
adversaries can refute the campaign rhetoric during the open
competition, when the public is most apt to be attentive.

Fred
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-26 12:02:51 UTC
Permalink
Good Morning, Juho

I failed to describe a critical aspect of an extended open competition
between party nominees: It is the only practical way to ensure a
complete examination of the various perspectives of the competing
parties - before the election. Proponents of the various points of view
will be subjected to hostile scrutiny and, to avoid ridicule, will have
to offer rational justification for their positions. Mind-numbing
catch-phrases will not suffice.

Fred
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-26 12:22:44 UTC
Permalink
Hi, Juho

I still don't have it right!

An open competition is the only way the so-called minor parties can
describe and justify their beliefs in a public forum on an equal footing
with the other parties.

Fred
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Michael Ossipoff
2012-06-28 04:36:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
All ideologies, whether of the right or the left, differ from Communism
and National Socialism only in the extent to which their > partisans are
able to impose their biases on the public.

Sorry, but that's nonsense.

Referring to the old Eastern-Bloc, and to Nazism, Fred is referring to two
specific systems which weren't democracies, even in pretense.

To say that all ideologies differ from them only to the extent that they
succeed in having influence or (even publicly supported) power is
ridiculous. Your ideology can be a democratic one, you know. Are ideologies
that include democracy really like Hitler or Stalin? And please don't use
our current system here as an example to embarrass democracy. Not everyone
agrees that it's a democracy.

If you don't like parties, then most or all democracies, actual and
proposed, will let you vote for an independent. But perhaps you want to
take away others' freedom of association.

Typically,more than one person agree about some policy proposals, and if
they agree on enough of them, they can publish a common platform. But
you're free to not vote for them, and to, instead, vote for an
independent. Hopefully your independent, too, publislhes his policy
proposals.

It sounds more than a little undemocratic, to ask how we can prevent
parties from gaining office. But, if that's your goal, then I would offer
to you this suggestion: Vote for independents.

Most, nearly all, of Continental Europe uses party-list PR. They seem to
have done pretty well,democracy-wise, during the time that they've had
that electoral system. Have you heard about the open-list PR systems used
in some European countries? The voters determine the order in which
candidates will fill any seats won by a party.

I suggest that your villainization is misplaced.

But don't get me wrong. I have nothing against independents, provided that
they publish a policy platform.

But I suggest that some ballot-simplification is gained, by having a few
distinct policy platforms on the ballot, and preferably some way in which
the people who like their platform can select their candidates.

Mike Ossipoff
Fred Gohlke
2012-06-29 16:27:38 UTC
Permalink
Good Morning, Mike Ossipoff

It appears I've inadvertently confused you. The message I posted at
09:30 on June 28th was in response to a post by Michael Allan. At the
time, I hadn't read your post.

I used the personal form of address to Michael because I've known him
for some years and know him to be a thoughtful student of electoral
methods. If you are interested in his work, you can study it at
http://zelea.com/.

You may think me a bit tardy in responding to your post. If so, I must
apologize, but I think - and write - quite slowly. I try to avoid quick
responses because the political malaise engulfing us is much too serious
for emotional outbursts or thoughtless comments. I'll respond to your
post now, as well as I can.


You began by categorizing my assertion that ...

"All ideologies, whether of the right or the left, differ from
Communism and National Socialism only in the extent to which
their partisans are able to impose their biases on the public."

... as nonsense and justified your opinion by saying ...

"Referring to the old Eastern-Bloc, and to Nazism, Fred is
referring to two specific systems which weren't democracies,
even in pretense."

My comment was not referring to democracies, it was referring to parties
- and it is accurate. Whether Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or
Republican, Whig or Tory, Communist or Nazi, all seek power - for the
purpose of imposing their views on those who don't share them. The
entire point of joining a party is to empower the party supported - to
impose one's will. The excesses of the -isms are a natural extension of
that purpose. It is dangerous not to recognize this fundamental reality.


re: "To say that all ideologies differ from them only to the
extent that they succeed in having influence or (even
publicly supported) power is ridiculous. Your ideology can
be a democratic one, you know. Are ideologies that include
democracy really like Hitler or Stalin? And please don't use
our current system here as an example to embarrass
democracy. Not everyone agrees that it's a democracy."

I find this difficult to comment on, so I'll select one sentence and
respond to that:

"Your ideology can be a democratic one, you know."

Mine is! I do, indeed, seek to empower the people. I believe we can
find a way to achieve government "by the people" through a
representative democracy. My purpose is to find an electoral method
that seeks out our best advocates of the common interest and raises them
to public office. It is clear that this cannot be accomplished by a
system that pits self-interest against self-interest as epitomized by
party-based systems. However, given our natural tendency for
partisanship, the question is: How can we empower the people without
vesting power in oligarchical political parties? That is the question I
address.


re: "If you don't like parties, then most or all democracies,
actual and proposed, will let you vote for an independent."

Which is, under present circumstances, the height of futility.


re: "But perhaps you want to take away others' freedom of
association."

Has anything I've written given you a valid basis for such a statement?


I won't respond to your second post to me under this subject because I
think it would just add to the confusion. If you wish to comment on my
assertions in this post, I will respond as best I can.

Fred
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Michael Ossipoff
2012-06-30 05:29:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
Good Morning, Mike Ossipoff
It appears I've inadvertently confused you.
No, you just inadvertently didn't specify which Michael you were replying
to. No big deal. Don't worry about it. Since you didn't yet know that the
posting from Michael Ossipoff was a reply to you, you can't be blamed for
not specifying which Michael you were replying to.

You said:

You began by categorizing my assertion that ...
Post by Fred Gohlke
"All ideologies, whether of the right or the left, differ from
Communism and National Socialism only in the extent to which
their partisans are able to impose their biases on the public."
... as nonsense and justified your opinion by saying ...
"Referring to the old Eastern-Bloc, and to Nazism, Fred is
referring to two specific systems which weren't democracies,
even in pretense."
My comment was not referring to democracies, it was referring to parties
[endquote]

...including ones whose proposals and procedures are democratic. ...but
which you feel are somehow like Stalin and Hitler.
Post by Fred Gohlke
- and it is accurate. Whether Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or
Republican, Whig or Tory, Communist or Nazi, all seek power - for the
purpose of imposing their views on those who don't share them.
[endquote]

Ok, here's a different suggestion then: Let's say that all of a country's
laws can be ignored by anyone who doesn't agree with them :-)

Sorry, but I've never heard of any country that doesn't impose its "views",
in the form of laws, on people who don't share those views about what they
should and shouldn't do.

But feel free to advocate such a system.

When a party platform, or an independent's policy platform, specifies that
there shall be certain laws, it's understood that the laws referred to
apply even to those who don't "share those views" on which the laws are
based.

You need to understand that even independents, propose laws of that type.
It isn't something peculiar to parties.


You continued:

The entire point of joining a party is to empower the party supported - to
impose one's will.

[endquote]

That's what government does. Government is coercive. I won't criticize you
if you're an anarchist, but you need to understand and admit that what you
really are opposed to is government itself.

If the govt is a dictatorship, then it _is_ one person's will that is
imposed. But if it's a democracy, a genuine one, then it's the collective
majority will of the public that is imposed on individuals who would
violate that majority's agreed-upon wishes, in the form of specified
requirements.


The excesses of the -isms are a natural extension of that purpose.

[endquote]

Which are you you referring to: pacifism or humanitarianism?

You said:

It is dangerous not to recognize this fundamental reality.

[endquote]

You need to be a lot more specific about exactly what reality you're
asserting. And you need to support your claims.


I'd said:

"Your ideology can be a democratic one, you know."
Post by Fred Gohlke
Mine is! I do, indeed, seek to empower the people.
Yeah, that's what the Democrats say too :-) And the Republicans too.
Post by Fred Gohlke
I believe we can find a way to achieve government "by the people" through
a representative democracy.
[endquote]


Government by the people is what democracy is.
Post by Fred Gohlke
My purpose is to find an electoral method that seeks out our best advocates
It isn't the job of the electoral method to choose who will run, or to seek
out candidates. We ourselves, the public, the voters, should be the ones to
decide who our best advocates are. How do you decide that? Ask yourself
which candidate, actual or potential, speaks for you the best, and
advocates the policies that you prefer. Encourage him/her to run for
office. Support that candidacy. Even ("gasp!") if it requires contacting
and working with other people who agree with your views and proposals (a
party).

And then your next job is to support him/her when you mark your ballot in
the election.

That is how we seek out out best advocates.

You continued:

of the common interest and raises them to public office.

[endquote]

That's pretty much the purpose of the voting systems proposed here at EM.

You said:

It is clear that this cannot be accomplished by a system that pits
self-interest against self-interest as epitomized by party-based systems.

[endquote]

Self-interests often are already contrary to and opposed to eachother, and
don't need to be "pitted" against eachother. So now parties are also
responsible for the instances in which self-interests oppose eachother? :-)

Check the platform proposals of an independent candidate some time. Find
out if s/he proposes policies that oppose someone else's self-interest. I
suspect that you'll find that s/he does.

You said:

However, given our natural tendency for partisanship, the question is: How
can we empower the people without vesting power in oligarchical political
parties?

[endquote]

By not supporting any candidate who belongs to, supports, endorses, or
mentions an oligarchical party.

I already said that. (Oh that's right, that was one of the things that you
said that you aren't answering).


You keep referring to empowering the people. Of course the Democrats and
Republicans say that they want to do that too. Just as you say it. What is
different about your saying that, as opposed to their saying it?

You said:

re: "If you don't like parties, then most or all democracies,
Post by Fred Gohlke
actual and proposed, will let you vote for an independent."
Which is, under present circumstances, the height of futility.
[endquote]

Fine. If you don't want to support an independent, then support a party
candidate, or no one at all.

But, speaking of the futility of voting for what you actually prefer--That
futility is actually a property and artifact of Plurality. That's why we
all, here, want a better voting system.

You see, with Approval, supporting, on your ballot, someone whom you prefer
would no longer be the height of futility. And yes, that could be an
independent candidate unaffiliated with any party.

But, even with Plurality, you know what "the height of futility" really is?
It's voting for someone you don't like because you think that the
candidates chosen by two unliked parties are the only ones who are
"viable". Voting for a "lesser-evil".

Someone said that insanity is expecting to get a different result by doing
the same thing.

We keep voting for the same two parties, and expecting things to get
better.

I'll give the two quotes that I often post:

If you vote for a lesser-of-2-evils, you get an evil.

It's better to vote for what you want and not get it, than to vote for what
you don't want and get it.

So why don't you just vote for someone you like, or someone whose policy
proposals you like, instead of whining about parties.

And yes, that person you vote for can be an independent. And no, voting for
what you like isn't futile, as is voting for a lesser-evil.

if, just once, everyone voted for what they like, then we'd find out which
candidate-categories have support and are "viable". But I admit that, with
Plurality, it would still be difficult to organize which candidate of the
winnable category should be the one that the preferrers of that category
combine their votes on.

But honest voting would be a start, wouldn't it. Try it. You might like it.

So, I seem to have provided the answer that you were looking for
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "But perhaps you want to take away others' freedom of
association."
Has anything I've written given you a valid basis for such a statement?
Yes. A party is a voluntary association of people who agree about some
policy proposals, and work together to publicize those proposals and
campaign for candidates who would work to enact those proposals. You seem
to be implying that you want to get rid of those voluntary associations, to
ban them.

My suggestion was: So just don't vote for them. If a party's candidates
don't get votes, then that party won't be able to impose its sinister
agenda upon you.

Mike Ossipoff
Fred Gohlke
2012-07-01 13:38:21 UTC
Permalink
Mike Ossipoff:

re: "...including ones whose proposals and procedures are
democratic." (posted in response to: "My comment was not
referring to democracies, it was referring to parties")

Parties are not democratic, either in relation to the entire electorate
or in relation to their own membership. In terms of the entire
electorate, they are but a subset of the people, organized to impose
their will on the majority. In terms of their membership, they are
oligarchic. They exhibit The Iron Rule of Oligarchy as described by
Robert Michels. You can find his fascinating study of the issue,
Political Parties, at:

http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/econ/ugcm/3ll3/michels/polipart.pdf

This brief excerpt may excite your interest:

"It is indisputable that the oligarchical and bureaucratic
tendency of party organization is a matter of technical and
practical necessity. It is the inevitable product of the very
principle of organization ... Its only result is, in fact, to
strengthen the rule of the leaders, for it serves to conceal
from the mass a danger which really threatens democracy."
Political Parties, pp 27-28


re: "It isn't the job of the electoral method to choose who will
run, or to seek out candidates. We ourselves, the public,
the voters, should be the ones to decide who our best
advocates are."

You are correct when you say, "We ourselves, the public, the voters,
should be the ones to decide who our best advocates are." You are wrong
when you say it is not the job of the electoral method to ensure that
happens. The electoral method must ensure that each and every one of us
is able to participate in the electoral process, including the selection
of candidates, to the full extent of our desire and ability. When the
electoral method lets the parties pick the candidates the people will be
allowed to choose from, it is not only undemocratic, it's dangerous.


re: "...but which you feel are somehow like Stalin and Hitler."
and
"you need to understand and admit that what you really are
opposed to is is government itself."
and
"Yeah, that's what the Democrats say too :-) And the
Republicans too."
and
the various and sundry similar slurs strewn throughout
your post.

These slurs are tiresome, and the deliberate misconstructions of my
comments are tedious. Until you demonstrate that you have the
intellectual ability necessary to contribute and the common courtesy
necessary to participate in 'Conceiving a Democratic Electoral Process',
I shan't waste my time responding to your posts.

Fred
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Michael Ossipoff
2012-07-01 19:15:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Fred Gohlke
re: "...including ones whose proposals and procedures are
democratic." (posted in response to: "My comment was not
referring to democracies, it was referring to parties")
Parties are not democratic, either in relation to the entire electorate
[endquote]

It's ridiculous to suggest that a political party should represent the
entire electorate. A political party is a collection of people who share
some particular set or system of policy proposals. A party represents the
views of its members. If the party is genuinely democratic among its
membership (some are), and if its members care about the well being of the
entire population, then that concern will be reflected in the party's
platform. ...just as it is in the platform of an independent candidate who
cares about the well being of the entire population.

You continued:

or in relation to their own membership.

[endquote]

A sloppy, overbroad generalization. Some parties choose their convention
delegates by a democratic vote, and write their platforms via a democratic
procedure at their convention, among their elected delegates. They likewise
choose their candidates by democratic voting among their delegates.

You continued:

In terms of the entire electorate, they are but a subset of the people,
organized to impose their will on the majority.

[endquote]

You don't listen very well, do you, Fred.

Recommendation: More listening, less repetition of already-answered
statements.

Every independent candidate, and every party, has a set of policy
proposals, usually referred to as a "platform". Those proposals specify or
imply certain laws, or certain kinds of laws, or laws that will achieve
some specified effect. A law is an imposition of the public's collective
will upon all individuals. In a dictatorship,an oligarchy, a plutocracy,
etc., those laws might not represent the public will in a meaningful sense.
But in a democracy they do. It's a matter of how we make the laws, or how
we choose the people who make the laws, that determines whether or not we
have a democracy.

You called it a "slur", when I said that what you really oppose is
government itself. No, it isn't a slur; it's just a fact. You keep ranting
about imposition of some people's will upon others. That's what government
does. It's called "laws". If you don't like that, you're an anarchist. I
don't criticize you for being an anarchist. But at least have enough
honesty to say so.

You quote some author, probably the one from whom you got your ideas.
Sorry, but the fact that someone said it in a book doesn't make it so.
Quoting the author whom you're repeating doesn't help toward justifying
what you're saying.

You said:

In terms of their membership, they are oligarchic. They exhibit The Iron
Rule of Oligarchy as described by Robert Michels. You can find his
fascinating study of the issue, Political Parties

[endquote]


Any set of people fully have a right to meet, and find out if they have the
same policy goals. And, if they do, then they have a right to work together
to publicize their proposals, and to iron out the differences among their
individual policy details, by compromising, &/or by discussing which policy
details are best.They do that so that they can work together, combining
their resources and voices. So that they can show the rest of the public
that there is a large set of people who agree on certain policies, as
specified in their platform. That isn't bad, Fred.





re: "It isn't the job of the electoral method to choose who will
Post by Fred Gohlke
run, or to seek out candidates. We ourselves, the public,
the voters, should be the ones to decide who our best
advocates are."
You are correct when you say, "We ourselves, the public, the voters,
should be the ones to decide who our best advocates are." You are wrong
when you say it is not the job of the electoral method to ensure that
happens. The electoral method must ensure that each and every one of us is
able to participate in the electoral process, including the selection of
candidates, to the full extent of our desire and ability.
No one is preventing you from choosing for yourself which candidate(s) you
like best. Well, of course maybe the media make that difficult for you if
they systematically promote one policy system and exclude mention of
anything else. Media distortion and deception are detrimental to your
ability to make good choices. That's why I've suggested that it would be
better if, in some way, media availability were in proportion to public
support, so that the various policy positions would gradually reach their
rightful equilibrium media share.

But, as for the electoral system itself, its job is to give you a fair
chance to express what you like &/or want, and fairly take it into account
in the social choices that it makes. If it does that well, then it will
also show you what others like &/or want. But, other than that, its job is
not to help you make your choices about what you prefer. That part is up to
you.

You could, and probably will, dither forever about "How can we find a
system that will ensure that we choose well?". That's ok. You can post
anything here.

You said:

When the electoral method lets the parties pick the candidates the people
will be allowed to choose from, it is not only undemocratic, it's dangerous.

[endquote]

You're expressing an anti-democratic, totalitarian, sentiment.

You want the electoral system to forbid a group of people from assembling,
to choose what candidate(s) they, as a group, will support and campaign
for. You have a very strange notion of what democracy is.

A party does _NOT_ pick the candidates the people will be allowed to choose
from. (But our media of course try to do that). A group of people
comprising a party merely pick which candidates they, as a group, choose to
endorse, support, and campaign for. Most people would agree that that is
their right. You're in the minority there.

What you keep missing, though I've explained it to you two or three times
now, is that _NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO VOTE FOR THE CANDIDATES OF ANY
PARTY._ Did you get that? Need I say it again?

If you hate parties, then I recommend that you vote for independents. No,
that isn't "the height of futility". ...unless you're the only one who
likes your independent. If that's the case, then don't try to blame your
independent's lack of popularity on parties. Maybe you should blame it on
your choice of independents.

You quoted me:


re: "...but which you feel are somehow like Stalin and Hitler."
and
Post by Fred Gohlke
"you need to understand and admit that what you really are
opposed to is is government itself."
and
"Yeah, that's what the Democrats say too :-) And the
Republicans too."
and
the various and sundry similar slurs strewn throughout
your post.
These slurs are tiresome, and the deliberate misconstructions of my
comments are tedious.
I didn't misconstrue what you said. I've already explained my statement
that you're opposed to government itself. And my other statement is
obviously true too: You say that you want to "empower the people". The
Democrats and Republicans say that too. So what makes you different from
them when you say it?

Sorry, but I can't help you with your obsession about parties. I've helped
you all I can in this discussion.

Mike Ossipoff
⸘Ŭalabio‽
2012-07-09 07:45:57 UTC
Permalink
Whether or not 'rule by the best' can work depends in large part on how well the electoral method integrates the reality that the common good is dynamic.
All of this time, I thought that you meant political dynasties like the Bushes. I know that English is not your first language, so I do not blame you for the mistake, but you use the wrong word:

Aristocracy means ruling families in English.

Meritocracy is the best rising to rule, even if they are born in obscure poverty, such as being born in a logcabin on the edge of the frontier in poverty to illiterate parents like Lincoln was.

If you mean rule by the best, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, you mean meritocracy.
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Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2012-07-09 11:31:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by ⸘Ŭalabio‽
Post by Fred Gohlke
Whether or not 'rule by the best' can work depends in large part on
how well the electoral method integrates the reality that the
common good is dynamic.
All of this time, I thought that you meant political dynasties like
the Bushes. I know that English is not your first language, so I do
Aristocracy means ruling families in English.
Meritocracy is the best rising to rule, even if they are born in
obscure poverty, such as being born in a logcabin on the edge of the
frontier in poverty to illiterate parents like Lincoln was.
If you mean rule by the best, regardless of the circumstances of
their birth, you mean meritocracy.
When I used the word "aristocracy" in my own post, I referred to
Aristotle, who used it in the sense of "rule by the best". There,
aristocracy is a compound word of aristoi and kratia, the first of which
is derived from aristos ("the best"), and the second which is derived
from kratos ("rule", also possibly "might").

Furthermore, dictionary.com's definition of the English word
"aristocracy" includes:

3. government by those considered to be the best or most able people in
the state.
4. a governing body composed of those considered to be the best or most
able people in the state.

So I don't think Fred was wrong.

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⸘Ŭalabio‽
2012-07-09 14:26:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by ⸘Ŭalabio‽
Whether or not 'rule by the best' can work depends in large part on how well the electoral method integrates the reality that the common good is dynamic.
Aristocracy means ruling families in English.
If you mean rule by the best, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, you mean meritocracy.
When I used the word "aristocracy" in my own post, I referred to Aristotle, who used it in the sense of "rule by the best". There, aristocracy is a compound word of aristoi and kratia, the first of which is derived from aristos ("the best"), and the second which is derived from kratos ("rule", also possibly "might").
3. government by those considered to be the best or most able people in the state.
4. a governing body composed of those considered to be the best or most able people in the state.
So I don't think Fred was wrong.
You are right about the origin of the word aristocracy, but families with money consider themselves aristocracy. Certainly, the ancestor who was smart, hard-working, lucky, ambitious, et cetera who earned the right to be called aristocratic, while also earning the family-fortune, but much of the current “aristocracy” are idle rich, owing their fortunes to accidents of birth.

Since most of the aristocratic families are no longer aristocratic, we coined the term meritocracy. In order to be a meritocrat, one must have earned it through merit.
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-10 19:50:24 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, alabio

I, too, bridled at 'aristocracy' when I first read it. But, as I read
the rest of Kristofer's message, his meaning was clear. I see he has
already answered you, so I'll leave it there.

Can you help us achieve a meritocracy? What are some of the elements we
must consider in trying to make our government more democratic?

Fred
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Don Hoffard
2012-07-10 00:51:40 UTC
Permalink
Assume you have 100 voters with all different political views (1-100).

(1 being very liberal, 100 being very conservative and 50 middle of the
road).



L Party members are 1 to 37 in political views.

C Party members are 63 to 100 in political views.

The M's (no partisan/independents) have 38 to 62 in political views.



The L Party members select a candidate with political view of 25.

The C Party members select a candidate with political view of 73

An independent candidate also runs for the office with 52 political views.



Assume that each voter votes for the candidate with views closest to theirs.

The vote is in: L Party candidate = 37 votes, M candidate = 24 votes, and C
Party candidate = 39 votes.

With a winner-take-all election the C Party candidate wins with only 39% of
the votes.

If you assume there are no Parties and we have the same people running for
office you get the same results.

A two party system is a natural result of a winner-take-all type election.

That is why we have congressman and congresswoman with political views of
around 25 and 75.

"Duverger's law is an idea in political science which says that
constituencies that use first-past-the-post systems will become two-party
systems, given enough time."

THE PLOBLEM IS NOT THE PARTIES BUT THE VOTING SYSTEM.



If we had a Condorcet election system in the above election then we have M>L
63/37 and M>C 61/39.

Thus M is the Condorcet winner.

You may end up with more parties (with less political power) and get less
extreme office holders (more 50's).



NOTE: With a TOP-TWO type system we still would have L versus C in the
general election with C winning.

If we assume we have an L 10, an L 40, an M 50, and a C 80 we could have the
top-two as L 10 versus the C 80.

Not only that problem, but given enough time the "Party officials" will end
up choosing the L (or C) candidate and not the "Party members" to avoid
splitting the votes.

It is still a Plurality type voting system (i.e. two-past-the-post) and can
tend to favor the more extreme.

I have no problem with a general election of the top-two Condorcet primary
winners.

In the above election we would have M (M>L 63/37 and M>C 61/39) versus L
(L>C (51/49) with M winning the general election.

And in the other example we would have L 40 versus M 50 (and not L 10 and C
80) with M winning in the general election.



Don Hoffard
Fred Gohlke
2012-07-10 19:54:24 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Mr. Hoffard

Your post does not seem to address the issue of non-partisans, yet they
are, by far, the majority of the electorate (whether or not they
actually vote). Is the implication that they should only be allowed to
vote for a candidate sponsored by a party a correct interpretation of
your view?

re: "If you assume there are no Parties and we have the same
people running for office you get the same results."

I don't understand why, if there are no parties, it is proper to assume
'we have the same people running for office'. Although I don't advocate
elimination of parties, it they are removed from the scene the dynamics
of the process change dramatically and the likelihood of having the same
candidates is slim.

Fred
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Don Hoffard
2012-07-11 22:43:07 UTC
Permalink
Good afternoon Fred:

You are championing a very important subject and I certainly enjoy your
posts.



Gohlke: Your post does not seem to address the issue of non-partisans, yet
they

are, by far, the majority of the electorate (whether or not they

actually vote).



I think you missed the point of the post. If you note that the M (the
non-partisans candidate) wins in every one of my examples (with a different
voting method). If you change the voting method parties will be weaker and
non-partisan candidates will be stronger.

I don't believe that non-partisans are a majority of the register votes, and
even a smaller percent of the voters. A Gallup poll in 2010 said that 38% of
Americans identified themselves as independents. There is a big difference
between an independent and a non-partisan. A large number of those saying
they are independent are registered in one of the major parties. If you have
a Republican dominated state and you are not a registered Republican you
can't vote in the primary and you have no influence on the election, which I
think is one of your (and my) major gripes. If you are Democrat in a
Republican state you also have no influence on the election.



Hoffard: "If you assume there are no Parties and we have the same

people running for office you get the same results."



Gohlke: I don't understand why, if there are no parties, it is proper to
assume

'we have the same people running for office'.



I said "Assume we have the same people running" and we change the voting
method we get a different result, the M (non-partisan) wins the election.
Of course if we do not have any parties we may get different candidates.
But the point is by changing the voting method and ever with a Liberal (L)
and a Conservative (C) candidate running we could still have a moderate (M)
candidate winning. Also ever without parties under a first-past-the-pole
system (with an L, M, and a C) the L or the C would win the election.



Don Hoffard
Fred Gohlke
2012-07-12 20:51:33 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Don

I'm glad you're enjoying the discussion and decided to pitch in.

re: "I think you missed the point of the post."

You're right. I did miss the point of your post. I went back and read
it again and now have a clearer understanding. In addition, I agree
with your conclusion. If we change the electoral method as you
describe, one of the results will be to weaken the strongest parties and
may (I have to think more about this one) make the result more moderate.

[If you wonder why I have to think more about the result, please
consider this: If, in the days of the "Southern Democrats", a radical
third party had formed, I think it's effect would have moved the result
closer to an extreme. I've no wish to examine this possibility in
greater detail because I consider it a digression. I mention it merely
to suggest that the results of political change can be indeterminate.]


re: "If you note that the M (the non-partisans candidate) wins in
every one of my examples (with a different voting method)."

In your original post, you equated M to non-partisan/independent and
thereafter spoke of the M (or Moderate) candidate in a way that suggests
there is a party of moderates or independents.

I tend to think that those who join a party (even of moderates or
independents) are no longer non-partisan. Please don't consider this a
quibble, it's an important point.

In terms of party politics, I tend to think of non-partisans as people
who do not belong to (support?) a party. This raises an issue we may
need to resolve. As you'll see below, I, too, classify Independents as
non-partisans in a way which you may not approve. How important is this
question?


re: "If you change the voting method parties will be weaker and
non-partisan candidates will be stronger."

May we change this to: "If you change the voting method the major
parties will be weaker and non-major party candidates will be
stronger."? If so, I agree.


re: "I don't believe that non-partisans are a majority of the
register votes, and even a smaller percent of the voters.

I agree that non-partisans are not a majority of the registered voters.
As to the percentage of non-partisans among the voters, I disagree.
I'm not an actuary or even a good researcher, but here's how I arrived
at my estimate. I started, not with the number of voters, but with the
number of potential voters:

From the U. S. Census:
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0397.pdf

Voting Age Population, 2010: 234,564,000

Percentage of voting age population casting votes for U. S.
Representatives in the last 6 elections (in 1,000s)

Voting Votes
Age Cast for U. S.
Year Population Representatives
2000 209,787 98,800
2002 214,755 74,707
2004 219,553 113,192
2006 224,583 80,976
2008 229,945 122,586
2010 234,564 86,785
--------- -------
1,333,187 577,046

577,046 / 1,333,187 = .432832003312 = 43.3%

Using an average of 43.3% (which is higher than the actual report of 37%
for 2010) of the voting age population as the number of voters and 56.7%
as the number of non-voters, 132,997,788 people did not vote. We don't
know whether they failed to vote because they thought their vote
wouldn't matter or for some other reason, but we do know they did not
support any party's candidates and may properly be called non-partisan.

The percentage of partisans (32% Democrats and 24% Republicans) voting
in the 2010 election was taken from Pew Research:

http://pewresearch.org/

These values leave 44% Independents, which is a bit higher than the
Gallup estimate of 38% you cited. I treated the Independents as
non-partisans because they supported neither of the major (viable)
parties. In addition to this, Pew estimates that 75% of the party
counts are registered party members and the other 25% are 'leaners".
Leaners are people who are not party members but vote with the party.
They are forced to lean toward one of the parties because they have no
better options.

Using Pew's values, about 24.4 million voters were registered Democrats
and 18.3 were registered Republicans. Since these two parties fielded
the only (viable) candidates, about 42.7 million people chose the only
candidates a nation of 234.5 million people could vote for. That is my
rationale for believing non-partisans greatly outnumber the partisans.
An electoral system that excludes over 80% of its people from the
process of selecting their elected representatives cannot be called a
democracy.

With regard to the question of classifying Independents and
non-partisans, my usage here inflates the number of non-partisans in a
way that may not be proper. My problem is that I can't figure out how
to classify the 'leaners". I don't believe they have input into the
selection process and have no viable way of influencing their
government, except by voting for one of the choices controlled by the
parties.


re: "... without parties under a first-past-the-pole system (with
an L, M, and a C) the L or the C would win the election."

I'm not an advocate of the "first-past-the-pole system". I think we
need to conceive an entirely new way of selecting the people who
represent us in our government. I think the most fundamental failure in
our political system is that it denies the people the opportunity to
search among themselves for their best advocates.

Fred
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Kathy Dopp
2012-07-13 12:11:45 UTC
Permalink
Subject: Re: [EM] Conceiving a Democratic Electoral Process
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
re: "I don't believe that non-partisans are a majority of the
register votes, and even a smaller percent of the voters.
I agree that non-partisans are not a majority of the registered voters.
As to the percentage of non-partisans among the voters, I disagree.
I'm not an actuary or even a good researcher, but here's how I arrived
at my estimate. I started, not with the number of voters, but with the
Re the relative number of partisans and non-partisans, the proportion
of partisans/nonpartisans depends entirely on the state. In some
states like MA, the vast majority of voters are registered as
non-partisans. In others, the majority of registered voters register
for a party. I think in part it must depend on the type of primary,
open or closed, each state has. In some states, such as OH, there is
no partisanship recorded at all, one way or the other, in the voter
registration rolls, so it's difficult to tell. In Florida many
registered Dems tend to vote for Republicans in statewide and federal
elections, registration vestiges from the old South Lincoln days.

Some political scientists have undoubtedly done research to try to
determine the fundamental partisanship levels, but so much of opinion
and exit poll survey research work is questionably scientific due to
the blatant adjustment of samples to match unaudited, unverified prior
election results that are today counted in secret with ample
opportunities for vote manipulation in the vast majority of states.
Plus it is known that voters often inflate the rate at which they
voted for the successful prior candidate.


Kathy Dopp
http://electionmathematics.org
Town of Colonie, NY 12304
"One of the best ways to keep any conversation civil is to support the
discussion with true facts."
"Renewable energy is homeland security."

Fundamentals of Verifiable Elections
http://kathydopp.com/wordpress/?p=174

View some of my research on my SSRN Author page:
http://ssrn.com/author=1451051
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Fred Gohlke
2012-07-15 22:19:45 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Kathy

Re: "... the proportion of partisans/nonpartisans depends
entirely on the state. In some states like MA, the vast
majority of voters are registered as non-partisans. In
others, the majority of registered voters register for a
party. I think in part it must depend on the type of
primary, open or closed, each state has. In some states,
such as OH, there is no partisanship recorded at all, one
way or the other, in the voter registration rolls, so it's
difficult to tell. In Florida many registered Dems tend to
vote for Republicans in statewide and federal elections,
registration vestiges from the old South Lincoln days.

Thank you, very much. One thing's clear: I have been using the term
'non-partisan' improperly. The best word I can think of to express my
meaning may be 'unrepresented' by which I means those who have no
representation, regardless of which major party wins an election.


re: "Some political scientists have undoubtedly done research to
try to determine the fundamental partisanship levels, but so
much of opinion and exit poll survey research work is
questionably scientific due to the blatant adjustment of
samples to match unaudited, unverified prior election
results that are today counted in secret with ample
opportunities for vote manipulation in the vast majority of
states. Plus it is known that voters often inflate the rate
at which they voted for the successful prior candidate."

That's fascinating stuff. It's not a field I follow, so I've only heard
a smattering of the circumstances you describe. I suppose the best idea
is to work one's way backward from the Census Bureau figures and the
reported results from elections.

Fred

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Don Hoffard
2012-07-14 06:41:14 UTC
Permalink
Good evening Fred



Gohlke: . (If) a radical third party had formed, I think it's effect

would have moved the result closer to an extreme.



Gohlke: May we change this to: "If you change the voting method

the major parties will be weaker and non-major party

candidates will be stronger."? If so, I agree



[assuming a Condorcet voting system]. It is true that more extreme parties
would increase in numbers and first round votes. Why because they can
always have a second choice, the L or C candidates, or the M the
moderate/non-partisan as their third choice which would win most of the
elections.

The non-major parties would increase in numbers (stronger in numbers yes,
but even less likely to be elected) and at the expense of the two major
parties but still the moderate (non-partisan) would have a greater chance of
winning.



Gohlke: In your original post, you equated M to non-partisan/independent and
thereafter

spoke of the M (or Moderate) candidate in a way that suggests there
is a party

of moderates or independents.



Most candidates running as an independent are "non-partisan". Although
there are "Independent Parties" that purport to be middle of the road (M).
All I'm saying is that a moderate non-partisan candidate has a greater
chance to be elected with a Condorcet election system. In
first-past-the-post voting system the middle tends to be squeezed out and
results in a two party dominated system.



Gohlke: I tend to think that those who join a party (even of moderates or

independents) are no longer non-partisan.



You are right if you join a party, by definition, you are no longer
non-partisan. However there are a lot of moderates and independents who are
non-partisan.



Gohlke: . (comments) referring to the "Definition of non-partisan"



There are different classifications of people:

1) Total population (which is not relevant to the discussion).

2) Total voting age population

3) Registered voters

4) Voters



Now, technically all those in the voting age population that are not
registered to vote are "non-partisan" (i.e. not in a party). But this is
not the normal definition of "non-partisan"

Generally when you register you must decide to be partisan or non-partisan
(although in some states you don't have to choose). Most people (standard
definition) would use this definition of non-partisan.

Using the standard definition the non-partisan's then they are NOT in the
majority. Also in a General Election the non-partisan's are even a smaller
percent of those that vote.

However in the General election a registered partisan voter can vote for a
non-partisan candidate or even vote for the other major party candidate,
thus in effect all voters in the General Election are
non-partisan/independent.

The partisan/non-partisan definition only has relevant in the primaries.



Gohlke: An electoral system that excludes over 80% of its people from the
process of selecting their

elected representatives cannot be called a democracy.



(Wikipedia) "Democracy is a political system based upon the concept of
"rule by the people .who have . the right to hold some form of political
power".

A county where the voting age population have the right to vote is
considered a democracy.

However I agree with you that it would be a much better democracy if more
people voted.



Don Hoffard
Fred Gohlke
2012-07-15 22:26:41 UTC
Permalink
Good Afternoon, Don

re: "[assuming a Condorcet voting system]. It is true that more
extreme parties would increase in numbers and first round
votes. Why because they can always have a second choice,
the L or C candidates, or the M the moderate/non-partisan
as their third choice which would win most of the elections.

The non-major parties would increase in numbers (stronger
in numbers yes, but even less likely to be elected) and at
the expense of the two major parties but still the moderate
(non-partisan) would have a greater chance of winning.

Oh, Oh! You've broached a subject beyond my competence. It's true I've
followed this site for quite a few years, but I've never made any
attempt to follow the intricacies of the various party-based electoral
methods discussed, because (in my opinion) they all give us more of the
poison that's killing us.


re: "Generally when you register you must decide to be partisan
or non-partisan (although in some states you don't have to
choose). Most people (standard definition) would use this
definition of non-partisan."

Thank you. That's a good explanation of the standard definition. From
my perspective, the standard definition only acknowledges the existence
of the portion of the electorate that votes, which, over the six most
recent elections, has averaged 43.3% of the voting age population.
Presumably, by this definition, the other 56.7% have no right to
influence our government. I'd like to conceive an electoral method that
gives every member of the voting age population the ability to influence
the electoral process to the full extent of their desire and ability.


re: "(Wikipedia) "Democracy is a political system based upon the
concept of 'rule by the people who have the right to hold
some form of political power'."

That's an interesting definition, but it fails to identify which people
"have the right to hold some form of political power". Personally, I
prefer Lincoln's definition, "Government of the people, by the people,
for the people", although I admit to assuming he meant 'all the people',
not just the subsets represented by parties.


re: "... I agree with you that it would be a much better
democracy if more people voted."

I will, for now, avoid commenting on the term 'vote' because that's a
topic worthy of in-depth examination. However, would you agree that
more people would participate in the political process if their
participation were meaningful?

Fred
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Michael Allan
2012-07-29 20:33:20 UTC
Permalink
If it is not too early, then I have some questions about the practical
problem of actually implementing a reformed electoral process.
re [Juho]: "If the second phase is a traditional election,
traditional financing practices may apply."
That is one of several reasons for having the [official] election on
the day after the [selected] candidates are announced - it will
limit the deception and obfuscations of campaigning.
I guess we can safely assume that reforms (whatever they are) will not
begin with the official electoral process. It is too difficult to
change and too easy to circumvent. What matters is the selection of
candidates, namely the primary electoral process. Right? *

Assume that primary reform is at least possible. Consider a point in
the future at which there are five main primary processes in operation
at varying levels of turnout, with at least two being reformed
processes (your choice which).

Process Turnout
------- -------
P 20 %
Q 15 (at least two are
R 5 reformed processes)
S 2
T 1

Is this expectation more-or-less reasonable? Anyone?

When you speak (Fred) of controlling the time at which "candidates are
announced", do you mean only for the process that you and Juho are
mooting, say one of P-T? Or all processes P-T? Your purpose would
seem to require control of all the major primaries.


* Primary electoral reforms accompanied the historical rise of the
modern party system. Selection of candidates used to be in local
hands, but it was centralized it in the latter 1800s. The most
important reform for this purpose was the secret ballot. It was
promoted for laudible reasons (ending corruption) and less laudable
(disenfranchising the negro), but the real motivation behind it was
the concentration of power in political parties, which were then
gearing up for a newly enfranchised mass electorate. The secret
ballot helped them because it eliminated the local hustings in
which candidates were openly nominated and affirmed (in Britain),
and eroded the power of the local political machines such as
Tammany Hall (US). Political power turns out to be based on
control of primary elections and little else. So it happened that
the parties (as we know them) rose to power.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528
http://zelea.com/
Good Afternoon, Juho
re: "Ok, two phases then. One to elect the party candidates (by
voters, by party members, or by nominees?) and then the
final election."
Although we've approached this idea from a party perspective, there's no
reason we can't have nominees who don't identify with any of the
existing parties. They will form a separate group. In terms of phases,
1) Nominations.
2) A filtering period of some length so the nominees can decide
which of their number are the best able to proclaim the
group's position and the best able to engage the other groups
during the candidate selection phase. In short, those the
nominees think the best advocates for their groups.
3) An open competition between the advocates of the various
groups spanning several weeks during which the nominees for
the groups advance their perspective and respond to challenges
from the public, the media, and the other groups, while
contending with each other for selection as candidates for
specific public offices.
4) The public election.
re: "The proportions may be manageable if there are e.g.
1,000,000 voters, 10 parties, 1000 nominees per party, that
elect 10 candidates per party. I wonder if you want some
proportionality (e.g. betwee two wings of a party) or not.
That would influence also the first phase."
The number of parties and the number of nominees will depend on the
public sentiment at the time of the election and the rules (if any) set
by those who implement the process. Proportionality will occur
naturally, depending on each party's ability to attract supporters,
nominees, and, ultimately, candidates.
The decision to form 'wings' rather than separate parties depends on the
dynamics perceived by those who share the separate view. If they feel
they can be more effective trying to influence the party, they'll form a
wing; if they think they'll be more effective trying to influence the
public, they'll form a party.
re: "If the second phase is a traditional election, traditional
financing practices may apply."
That is one of several reasons for having the election on the day after
the candidates are announced - it will limit the deception and
obfuscations of campaigning.
The concept we are discussing assumes a public election in which the
people vote for their choices among the candidates. The competition
between the nominees will give the people the most accurate information
possible about each of the candidates because it is developed by their
adversaries. On the day following the selection of candidates, the
information is fresh in the public's mind. The people gain nothing if
the election is delayed to allow the candidates to campaign.
The parties may campaign during the competition phase, primarily for
platform issues because the candidates are not yet known, but possibly
in an effort to influence the choice of candidates, too. If so, their
efforts will be less fruitful than at present because the party's
adversaries can refute the campaign rhetoric during the open
competition, when the public is most apt to be attentive.
Fred
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