Breaking Up the United States

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eran_rathan
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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby eran_rathan » Tue May 09, 2017 11:51 am UTC

Thesh wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:I hate this idea, for the very reason Jose is illustrating. Its such a monumentally terrible idea, it is "winner take all" amplified to the Nth degree. The only people it helps are those who are already entrenched in power.

The President is a winner-take-all position, so that's completely unavoidable. All you can do is change the relative power of the voters, in which popular vote should be the default unless you can find a very good reason not to give every voter equal power.

I also don't see how it helps the people in power, it would have resulted in a completely different President!


I have a longer response to you, but I am working in the field and won't be able to post it until this afternoon/evening. Suffice it to say, a national popular vote makes it so that candidates and national parties can virtually ignore all of the country except the few swing areas; urban areas will have disproportionate power compared to rural areas; and I am strongly in favour of indirect voting as long as we can remove political parties from the equation, as they ought to be banned under RICO.
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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Liri » Tue May 09, 2017 12:06 pm UTC

eran_rathan wrote:
Thesh wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:I hate this idea, for the very reason Jose is illustrating. Its such a monumentally terrible idea, it is "winner take all" amplified to the Nth degree. The only people it helps are those who are already entrenched in power.

The President is a winner-take-all position, so that's completely unavoidable. All you can do is change the relative power of the voters, in which popular vote should be the default unless you can find a very good reason not to give every voter equal power.

I also don't see how it helps the people in power, it would have resulted in a completely different President!


I have a longer response to you, but I am working in the field and won't be able to post it until this afternoon/evening. Suffice it to say, a national popular vote makes it so that candidates and national parties can virtually ignore all of the country except the few swing areas; urban areas will have disproportionate power compared to rural areas; and I am strongly in favour of indirect voting as long as we can remove political parties from the equation, as they ought to be banned under RICO.

As has been said, the rural areas are already ignored with the EC. How many times did you see Clinton campaigning in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas? The EC makes it so the minority voices in those states are completely voiceless because they're viewed to be safe and have a relatively small number of votes. Republican voters in rural states are the ones who gain disproportionate power, not urban liberals, who pack themselves into tiny districts without a proportionate increase in EC votes (thanks to the minimum 2 votes for each senator).
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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Zohar » Tue May 09, 2017 6:25 pm UTC

ucim wrote:Do you change the rules to this before entering the society?

Again, nice story, but doesn't relate to the situation we're facing.

morriswalters wrote:How many elections since the founding have resulted in outcomes where the popular vote wasn't the net result in any case? And the Voting Rights Act of 1965 suggests that power has never been equal when the majority doesn't want it to be.

Three times. The first time was in the 19th century, I think, the latter two times are last year and Gore vs. Bush.
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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby ucim » Tue May 09, 2017 7:25 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Again, nice story, but doesn't relate to the situation we're facing.
What is this "situation we're facing"? I'm claiming the issue of the Electoral College is a smokescreen - the wrong answer to the wrong question. The argument about the electoral college presumes a certain mindset about the will of the people; I am questioning the validity of that mindset.

The mere fact that there are no takers to the questions I've posed tells me that nobody wants to consider the idea that they are choosing the system that gives them the answer they want (this time), rather than choosing a system that gives the answer that best reflects the will of the people.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby jello34543 » Tue May 09, 2017 9:10 pm UTC

ucim wrote:Do you change the rules to this before entering the society?


Yes, I do. Specifically, I'm rejecting the binary nature of your scenario.

Using a multiple winner electoral system for the house would allow more than two parties to exist and be taken seriously. Voices at the thin ends of the bell curve can be represented here, in proportion to their actual support levels. Our current system gives too much power to extremists via the primaries.

Using a Condorcet method for the senate and presidency (both are single winner) would ensure that moderate voices were more likely to win rather than extreme voices (which is what we have today). Moderates would not be held hostage to extremist threats via the primaries.

I firmly believe that moderates working with other moderates, when not under primary threat by extremists, can find solutions that will satisfy far more than your scenarios 52% of the population. You'll never reach 100%, but even those who don't like the law will be happier with a moderate solution than the extreme solution.

It wasn't that long ago that the two parties could work together. Legislation should be written to the middle of the spectrum. Trying to pull as far as possible in one direction or the other, when your party has sufficient power to get away with it, is not in the best interests of the United States as a whole. (and both parties do it)

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby ucim » Tue May 09, 2017 9:44 pm UTC

jello34543 wrote:Yes, I do. Specifically, I'm rejecting the binary nature of your scenario.
Then you're missing the point.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby ObsessoMom » Wed May 10, 2017 4:47 am UTC

Liri wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:
Thesh wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:I hate this idea, for the very reason Jose is illustrating. Its such a monumentally terrible idea, it is "winner take all" amplified to the Nth degree. The only people it helps are those who are already entrenched in power.

The President is a winner-take-all position, so that's completely unavoidable. All you can do is change the relative power of the voters, in which popular vote should be the default unless you can find a very good reason not to give every voter equal power.

I also don't see how it helps the people in power, it would have resulted in a completely different President!


I have a longer response to you, but I am working in the field and won't be able to post it until this afternoon/evening. Suffice it to say, a national popular vote makes it so that candidates and national parties can virtually ignore all of the country except the few swing areas; urban areas will have disproportionate power compared to rural areas; and I am strongly in favour of indirect voting as long as we can remove political parties from the equation, as they ought to be banned under RICO.

As has been said, the rural areas are already ignored with the EC. How many times did you see Clinton campaigning in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas? The EC makes it so the minority voices in those states are completely voiceless because they're viewed to be safe and have a relatively small number of votes. Republican voters in rural states are the ones who gain disproportionate power, not urban liberals, who pack themselves into tiny districts without a proportionate increase in EC votes (thanks to the minimum 2 votes for each senator).


I agree with Liri, except that presidential campaigns CURRENTLY ignore all areas--WHETHER RURAL OR URBAN--that are not in swing states.

Please, please read this, and look at the map. Sobering.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby morriswalters » Wed May 10, 2017 10:29 am UTC

After looking it up myself, apparently the electoral college and the popular vote have disagreed 5 times, including three times in the 1800's. Which evidently contains one case where the house settled it.

In terms of elections ignoring one group or the other, the reality is that there are 50 states, with each containing some number of county seats. In my case 120. It is impossible for a Presidential candidate to campaign in all 50 states and in every one of those county seats, given that any candidate is human and has a limited amount of both money and time. Eliminating the electoral college wouldn't change that. Campaign events are dog and pony shows. A leftover from the era before big media. And even in that era, large areas of the country would have been ignored.

Also rural and urban have been thrown around and I have yet to see anyone take a shot at defining exactly what those terms really mean.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Chen » Wed May 10, 2017 11:45 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:Also rural and urban have been thrown around and I have yet to see anyone take a shot at defining exactly what those terms really mean.


https://www.census.gov/geo/reference/urban-rural.html

The Census Bureau’s urban-rural classification is fundamentally a delineation of geographical areas, identifying both individual urban areas and the rural areas of the nation. The Census Bureau’s urban areas represent densely developed territory, and encompass residential, commercial, and other non-residential urban land uses. The Census Bureau delineates urban areas after each decennial census by applying specified criteria to decennial census and other data.

The Census Bureau identifies two types of urban areas:

Urbanized Areas (UAs) of 50,000 or more people;
Urban Clusters (UCs) of at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 people.
“Rural” encompasses all population, housing, and territory not included within an urban area.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby morriswalters » Wed May 10, 2017 12:38 pm UTC

Yes. Urban clusters is the one to pay attention to. That would be small town America. This would seem to explain why rural makes up only 15 percent of the country. Included in the definition of urban but with a more rural bent.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Mutex » Wed May 10, 2017 2:05 pm UTC

eran_rathan wrote:I have a longer response to you, but I am working in the field and won't be able to post it until this afternoon/evening. Suffice it to say, a national popular vote makes it so that candidates and national parties can virtually ignore all of the country except the few swing areas; urban areas will have disproportionate power compared to rural areas; and I am strongly in favour of indirect voting as long as we can remove political parties from the equation, as they ought to be banned under RICO.

Regarding the bolded part: What definition of "disproportionate" are you using here? To me, an area having disproportionate power means the share of the power it has is larger than its share of the population. Which means that currently the rural areas have disproportionate power, and using the popular vote would make the power each area has proportionate.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Ranbot » Wed May 10, 2017 6:55 pm UTC

Mutex wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:...a national popular vote makes it so that candidates and national parties can virtually ignore all of the country except the few swing areas; urban areas will have disproportionate power compared to rural areas; and I am strongly in favour of indirect voting as long as we can remove political parties from the equation, as they ought to be banned under RICO.

Regarding the bolded part: What definition of "disproportionate" are you using here? To me, an area having disproportionate power means the share of the power it has is larger than its share of the population. Which means that currently the rural areas have disproportionate power, and using the popular vote would make the power each area has proportionate.

That's the fundamental flaw of the EC that it's supporters justify with mental gymnastics and double-think. Mutex pointed out the emperor has no clothes.
Spoiler:
I could say more, but I felt like the statement above was more powerful on it's own. There's no logical way to justify in a democracy systematically pulling power from one one group of people to give it to another group of people. The tyranny of the majority "problem" rings hollow to me, because US history also shows plenty of majority tyranny has occurred, which begs the questions.... What are we really guarding against? [Nothing.] Is the system actually working? [No.] Is it worth the trouble of systematically depriving people of power in a manner fundamentally at odds with the concept of democracy? [No.]

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Mutex » Wed May 10, 2017 7:16 pm UTC

Well I mean, is there a difference between these two statements I'm missing?

1. "Each person in <small rural state>'s vote should count more than each person in <large urban area>'s vote because there's fewer of them"

2. "Each black person's vote should count more than each white person's vote because there's fewer of them"

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby ucim » Wed May 10, 2017 7:43 pm UTC

Ranbot wrote:There's no logical way to justify in a democracy systematically pulling power from one one group of people to give it to another group of people.
Yes, there is, and that's what I am attempting to illustrate. Tyranny of the majority is a real thing; it's the basis behind (for example) affirmative action.

Perhaps a slightly broader view of what "democracy" is is warranted, or perhaps a different word to encompass proportional support of ideologies would be useful, but it amounts to the same thing: identifying the "will of the people" when such will is not unanimous, and where the same groups get their way a disproportionate amount of the time.

Ranbot wrote:What are we really guarding against? [Nothing.]
You might see nothing to guard against, but I don't. See above. And your reasoning that "US history also shows plenty of majority tyranny has occurred" makes it ok, is not ok.

Ranbot wrote: Is it worth the trouble of systematically depriving people of power in a manner fundamentally at odds with the concept of democracy? [No.]
What I am saying we should consider is not at odds with the concept of democracy at all. I'll go further - strict democracy itself is at odds with the concept of democracy, for reasons I have stated, and illustrated with "ideal" cases.

I'm not arguing for or against the EC - I'm arguing that the wrong reasoning is being applied to the EC; the goal seems to be to eliminate the EC rather than to make voting more representative of the will of the majority. That's the cart before the horse. That's begging the question.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Thesh » Wed May 10, 2017 7:45 pm UTC

So you are arguing if 10% of the country is Nazis, we should have a Nazi government 10% of the time just to be fair?
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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby ucim » Wed May 10, 2017 7:50 pm UTC

No, I'm arguing that if 10% of the country is Nazi, then the will of the people is in some sense 10% Nazi, and that needs to be reflected in the results of elections and referenda. Whether I align with (or am repulsed by) the Nazis is irrelevant; the point is to reflect the will of the people, not my (enlightened, of course) views of what is Good and Right.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Thesh » Wed May 10, 2017 7:52 pm UTC

So you are arguing against first past the post?
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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Chen » Wed May 10, 2017 7:56 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:So you are arguing if 10% of the country is Nazis, we should have a Nazi government 10% of the time just to be fair?


Well you'd expect 10 Nazi senators and ~40 Nazi house members if things were really proportional.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby ucim » Wed May 10, 2017 8:16 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:So you are arguing against first past the post?
FPTP is a method. I am not arguing for or against a method. I am trying to open the discussion to include the goal, which would be the result of the application of a method. Only then does it make sense to discuss method. EC is a method, as is FPTP and Condorcet and co-habitation (France, 10? years ago).

In the present system, a small majority (or a sufficient minority) can completely dominate politics, despite the presence of a sizable opposition. Never mind how we got there, or how we can get "elsewhere"; is there an elsewhere that might be better? For that I presented a few idealized cases, where the choices are pretty clearly demarcated. Is there a clear "best" choice? Is there reasonable disagreement about the merits of each choice? Are there choices that are clearly to be rejected?

Only when we know where we want to go can we reasonably figure out how to get there.

The country is clearly quite divided politically. It's not clear however whether people's actual opinions are as polarized as the politics would indicate; politics feeds from the extremes. Personally I think that's a Bad Thing; it certainly fails at reflecting the will of the people. One reason for this is that it takes too much money and connectedness to even get nominated to office; that acts as a filter, ensuring that candidates are beholden to those with money and connectedness. (There's a TEDx talk somewhere that expands on this idea.) In any case, we have only one president; no matter how chosen, the result is binary. There's much discussion as to what voting system is best, but the thing to realize is that they all give different interpretations of what "the will of the people" is. For example, what's best: the president "most people want", or the president "the fewest people hate"? That question has to be answered before we can decide whether Condorcet, Plurality, IRV, STV, FPTP, or any other voting system is "the best", because each is "the best" at something different. We need to decide what it is that we want it to be "the best" at.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Thesh » Wed May 10, 2017 8:31 pm UTC

Can you give actual examples of real things in which there is a problem you think democracy doesn't fix?

You obviously have some point that you want to make that you are trying to steer the conversation to it, so just make it already. You are obviously concerned that there is a problem with tyranny in the United States caused by the majority in a way that the constitution doesn't prevent. So what is it? Tell us the problem that you actually have and maybe we can have an actual discussion about it.
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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Ranbot » Wed May 10, 2017 9:15 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Ranbot wrote:There's no logical way to justify in a democracy systematically pulling power from one one group of people to give it to another group of people.
Yes, there is, and that's what I am attempting to illustrate. Tyranny of the majority is a real thing; it's the basis behind (for example) affirmative action.

While I agree with you that affirmative action is related to the concept of tyranny of the majority, Affirmative Actoin is red herring in the debate over the electoral college, because it's not the sort of tyranny of the majority the EC is helping to fix. Heck, if anything affirmative action is stymied by the over-representation of rural voters who generally resist progressive civil reforms.

ucim wrote:Perhaps a slightly broader view of what "democracy" is is warranted, or perhaps a different word to encompass proportional support of ideologies would be useful, but it amounts to the same thing: identifying the "will of the people" when such will is not unanimous, and where the same groups get their way a disproportionate amount of the time.

That's more mental gymnastics. Good luck explaining that to people whose political power is systematically reduced to benefit someone else.

ucim wrote:
Ranbot wrote:What are we really guarding against? [Nothing.]
You might see nothing to guard against, but I don't. See above. And your reasoning that "US history also shows plenty of majority tyranny has occurred" makes it ok, is not ok.

You are inferring things I did not say. I don't at all condone the many terrible things majorities have done to minorities in the US. What I am saying is there is little to no evidence in history that the EC protects vulnerable minorities from majorities as it's purports to. And the questionable protection of the EC has created it's own separate set of problems, many of which we have discussed above.

ucim wrote:
Ranbot wrote: Is it worth the trouble of systematically depriving people of power in a manner fundamentally at odds with the concept of democracy? [No.]
What I am saying we should consider is not at odds with the concept of democracy at all. I'll go further - strict democracy itself is at odds with the concept of democracy, for reasons I have stated, and illustrated with "ideal" cases.

Yes, I'm aware of the philosophical argument about democracy being at odds with itself and conflicts of individual freedom vs governance, but it's not very relevant to the US Electoral College, because the US won't have "strict democracy" regardless of whether the EC is reformed.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby morriswalters » Wed May 10, 2017 10:49 pm UTC

Ranbot wrote:What I am saying is there is little to no evidence in history that the EC protects vulnerable minorities from majorities as it's purports to.
When the EC was written into the Constitution vulnerable minorities weren't an issue, if anyone had cared. It was a way for little states to avoid being dominated by bigger states. Like that stupid 3/5 law it was a mechanism to put together a union among people who had different takes on what they wanted the US to be.

In the long view getting rid of the Electoral College probably wouldn't make a difference. There is no way to be sure though. All the great ideas are just that great ideas until you put together a plan and try them out in practice. The proof is in the pudding.

However I'm interested in how everybody keeps talking about uneven distributions of power. Yet it appears that people are conveniently using definitions that fit their bias. No one has suggested any metric that describes that inequality. Taking aim at country bumpkins is convenient but not descriptive.

And no matter how you apportion power, certain things will be true. Whites make up a certain majority, under threat they could choose to exercise that majority by block voting. Much as blacks have been encouraged to do. That would be the tyranny of the majority. It worked for a number of years.

In addition, a significant number of people choose not to participate in elections. Which makes phrases like will of the people a nonsense phrase. Effectively what we are talking about is the will of the interested. If everyone in urban areas participated is there any reason to believe that they couldn't outvote any other block? They have the raw numbers.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Thesh » Wed May 10, 2017 11:09 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:However I'm interested in how everybody keeps talking about uneven distributions of power. Yet it appears that people are conveniently using definitions that fit their bias. No one has suggested any metric that describes that inequality. Taking aim at country bumpkins is convenient but not descriptive.


Since we are talking about government and not the economy, equal power means every person has equal influence on legislation.

morriswalters wrote:And no matter how you apportion power, certain things will be true. Whites make up a certain majority, under threat they could choose to exercise that majority by block voting. Much as blacks have been encouraged to do. That would be the tyranny of the majority. It worked for a number of years.


That's what the constitution is for. The idea that a democracy needs to be able to solve situations where one group is actively hostile to another is complete bullshit. We as a society need to stop telling people how to live their lives and give everyone as much power to control their own lives as possible, while forcing people to accept and accommodate others and shaming people into keeping their mouths shut when they want to say bigoted shit until the bigotry dies off.
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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby morriswalters » Thu May 11, 2017 2:37 am UTC

Thesh wrote:Since we are talking about government and not the economy, equal power means every person has equal influence on legislation.
Have you really thought that through? There are 300 million people in the US. We don't use representative government because we want to, we use it because we have to. There are too many of us to do otherwise. And once you put somebody into the process with the power write law you have destroyed equal access. If for no other reason than because he will always have more power than the people he represents.
Thesh wrote: We as a society need to stop telling people how to live their lives and give everyone as much power to control their own lives as possible, while forcing people to accept and accommodate others and shaming people into keeping their mouths shut when they want to say bigoted shit until the bigotry dies off.
I'm not sure what this means.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Thesh » Thu May 11, 2017 3:10 am UTC

100% perfectly equal? No, but you work towards it. If your representatives are going to have more power than averages citizens, they should have equal power to each other and be as representative of the population as possible. The more representatives you have, the more democratic your government is, and the more equal the wealth within the society, the more equal the people's influence on legislation will be.

morriswalters wrote:
Thesh wrote: We as a society need to stop telling people how to live their lives and give everyone as much power to control their own lives as possible, while forcing people to accept and accommodate others and shaming people into keeping their mouths shut when they want to say bigoted shit until the bigotry dies off.
I'm not sure what this means.


The point is that if you think there is a conflict in government for most things in our life, you are doing it wrong. If you want to fix our social problems, we need to do it by treating people better and learning to live with each other.

Spoiler:
We as a society need to stop telling people how to live their lives


Telling people how to dress, who they should be allowed to marry, what they can do with their own bodies, etc. is stupid. Stop trying to do it, and it goes away as an issue entirely and there is no need for determining the rules democratically in the first place.

give everyone as much power to control their own lives as possible


Corporations are using their massively disproportional power to is try to control your computer, your devices, your social life, your products. Fewer and fewer people own the businesses in their communities, meaning they just live and work there, they have no real say in anything, leaving them dependent on outsiders who tend to force them into wage slavery. Give people direct democratic control over the businesses they interact with and the products they use, and they will be in as much control of their lives as possible given the shared spaces.

while forcing people to accept and accommodate others


Businesses should not be able to turn people away because of race, gender, etc. and must accommodate their needs as much as is reasonably possible. This gives everyone much more freedom to do the things they want to do and go the places they want to go.

shaming people into keeping their mouths shut when they want to say bigoted shit until the bigotry dies off


Peer pressure works.
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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Ranbot » Thu May 11, 2017 1:44 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:...a significant number of people choose not to participate in elections. Which makes phrases like will of the people a nonsense phrase. Effectively what we are talking about is the will of the interested. If everyone in urban areas participated is there any reason to believe that they couldn't outvote any other block? They have the raw numbers.

Agreed. However, I personally think the Electoral College system is a contributing factor [of many] to people's disengagement from politics. There's an effect that goes beyond the raw statistics of voting, because when you systematically move political power from one group to another it hits the social fabric of political engagement and democracy. Add it to the laundry list of complications the EC adds to US politics, while not solving the tyranny of the majority problem the EC purports to do.



Beyond the political theories for and against the Electoral College, the founding fathers had a practical reason for the EC. In the 1700's it's essentially impossible to do a nation-wide popular vote. Communication and travel by horse or ship was slow, national results would take too long to tally, news wouldn't reach voters so they know what candidates stand for, most Americans didn't know how to read or write to complete a ballot... god forbid if a recount was needed! So, delegating power to the EC to elect the president was a practical necessity in 1776 and throughout the 1800's until the industrial revolution brought us modern communications and travel. The EC practice changed and become more democratic than it was originally, but it didn't go far enough [in my opinion]. Furthermore, the EC today is also not functioning at all as the founding fathers intended*, so constitutional originalist arguments fall flat.

*There's even an argument that the current EC is actually opposite of the founding father's intentions. One of the founding father's reasons for the EC was because they feared a charismatic leader could incite a mob to vote them into office who would destroy the fragile fledgling government from the inside. They had good reason for that fear based on similar political unrest in Europe (particularly in France) at the time. The EC delegates were a hedge against potential mob rule. The EC doesn't offer that protection in it's current practice today though... and could even make it easier for a charismatic leader to get into office when they don't need 50% of the popular vote to get there.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby ucim » Thu May 11, 2017 4:51 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:Can you give actual examples of real things in which there is a problem you think democracy doesn't fix?
Just about every club, committee, or community group in which I've been a governing member has had in-groups that pretty much run the show. Democracy doesn't "fix" the problem, it is the problem; the problem being that it's the same in-group making every decision, so every decision goes the same way despite there being a significant minority wanting to go in a different direction. That significant minority becomes irrelevant and those people tend to drop out and get replaced by new (and irrelevant) blood while the (small) majority stays on, as they are getting everything they want. I won't specify the groups themselves, but I've seen it play again and again. Most recently I described what happened in a prior group I was in when this group was moving in that direction; I was assured it would never happen, and then within three months it played out exactly the same way.

Thesh wrote:You obviously have some point that you want to make that you are trying to steer the conversation to it, so just make it already.
I said it several times. We're talking about solutions when we haven't agreed on the problem. Specifically, the role of the EC in US presidential elections is not the problem. The problem is that we don't agree on how to choose, we only know the (partisan) outcome we want. That's a poor way to reform an electoral process.

Further, we don't seem to want to agree, or even discuss it, in any abstract sense. Instead of discussing green vs yellow (nobody has a preference), we end up discussing red vs blue (everyone knows which is better).

Ranbot wrote:Good luck explaining that to people whose political power is systematically reduced to benefit someone else.
This is always the case. But I'm not even taking as stand here; this is why I'm addressing green vs yellow. If you don't know which side you'd be on, what's the best (most representative) outcome? That disarms the "power being reduced" aspect of the discussion.

Ranbot wrote:...no evidence in history that the EC protects vulnerable minorities from majorities as it's purports to.
That's not why it was created; that's why the Senate was created. The EC was created so "wise people who could be entrusted with the awesome task of choosing" could select our president; we'd select the wise people. As it turns out, the Founding Fathers weren't all that smart; almost instantly the set of "wise people" became a smoke filled room. The EC was also created because we are a nation of States, not a nation of People. You can legitimately argue that it shouldn't be that way, but that's a question that needs a bigger context. As to the argument that the EC marginalizes "safe" areas, that would be true in every concievable election system. You don't preach to the converted, unless you want a mob. (Yes, arguably that's what happened.)

Thesh wrote:...[representatives] should have equal power to each other and be as representative of the population as possible. The more representatives you have, the more democratic your government is...
The second part is only true if the representatives are chosen... er... representatively. What I'm arguing is that democracy does not ensure this, and in fact can easily make it worse. What is "worse"? That is what I'm asking, but in an abstract sense, not in a partisan one. What's best: the president most people love, or the president fewest people hate? The answer to this question has a lot of bearing on how we should select one.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Zohar » Thu May 11, 2017 5:02 pm UTC

Can you explain how come people of color and women have a vote in the US, if the small majority always rules in its own interests?
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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby ucim » Thu May 11, 2017 5:12 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Can you explain how come people of color and women have a vote in the US, if the small majority always rules in its own interests?
Yes... cows aren't spherical. But it wasn't easy was it? Many people were killed in the struggle, and even now it's back in the gunsights. How influential are women in Congress?

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Thesh » Thu May 11, 2017 5:17 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Thesh wrote:Can you give actual examples of real things in which there is a problem you think democracy doesn't fix?
Just about every club, committee, or community group in which I've been a governing member has had in-groups that pretty much run the show. Democracy doesn't "fix" the problem, it is the problem; the problem being that it's the same in-group making every decision, so every decision goes the same way despite there being a significant minority wanting to go in a different direction. That significant minority becomes irrelevant and those people tend to drop out and get replaced by new (and irrelevant) blood while the (small) majority stays on, as they are getting everything they want. I won't specify the groups themselves, but I've seen it play again and again. Most recently I described what happened in a prior group I was in when this group was moving in that direction; I was assured it would never happen, and then within three months it played out exactly the same way.


So your entire problem is that democracies give specific officials disproportionate power, instead of being ran like a direct democracy where everyone has equal power? I've already addressed that: run it like a direct democracy. If the organization has two groups completely at odds, how do you expect them to function in the first place, anyway? What is the point of the organization if members are completely at odds with each other?
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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Zohar » Thu May 11, 2017 5:33 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Zohar wrote:Can you explain how come people of color and women have a vote in the US, if the small majority always rules in its own interests?
Yes... cows aren't spherical. But it wasn't easy was it? Many people were killed in the struggle, and even now it's back in the gunsights. How influential are women in Congress?

Jose

Then, I'm sorry, but if your original theory, of a tyrannical majority, doesn't stand the simplest test (which has been repeated in many countries around the world), then I'm not sure how it's useful.
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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby ucim » Thu May 11, 2017 5:50 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:So your entire problem is that democracies give specific officials disproportionate power
No, the same thing can occur through referenda. All it takes is that the members of the groups are sufficiently homogeneous.
Thesh wrote:What is the point of the organization if members are completely at odds with each other?
And so we come back to the OP. There is value and strength in unity despite differences. There is value in unity against bigger, badder fish. And in any governing system, we have to live with the result. If I don't want to pay for defense and my neighbor does, the incoming missiles aren't going to hit my house instead of his. Direct democracy (like communism) works on a small scale. Scaled up it needs to be modified. That's why we hire people to govern us.

I'm not asking who we should hire - that depends on each of our personal political views. I'm not even asking how to select who we should hire; rather, I'm asking what kind of result best matches who we should hire. For that, I've presented a few idealized cases, but there are no takers.

This tells me that nobody is interested in the idealized case, they only want to promote their partisan agenda. But that's the wrong way to evaluate an election system.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Zohar » Thu May 11, 2017 5:56 pm UTC

ucim wrote:This tells me that nobody is interested in the idealized case, they only want to promote their partisan agenda. But that's the wrong way to evaluate an election system.

Yeah, of course, if everyone disagrees with you, the obvious conclusion is we're all petty.
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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby ucim » Thu May 11, 2017 6:05 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Yeah, of course, if everyone disagrees with you, the obvious conclusion is we're all petty.
It's Tyranny of the Majority, I tell you! Help! Help! I'm being oppressed! :)

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Ranbot » Thu May 11, 2017 6:10 pm UTC

ucim wrote:....The problem is that we don't agree on how to choose, we only know the (partisan) outcome we want. That's a poor way to reform an electoral process.

Further, we don't seem to want to agree, or even discuss it, in any abstract sense. Instead of discussing green vs yellow (nobody has a preference), we end up discussing red vs blue (everyone knows which is better).
...If you don't know which side you'd be on, what's the best (most representative) outcome?

You keep inserting things into my statements that that I do not say. I'll talk for myself, thank you. If you think I'm inferring or hiding something just ask, I'm happy to respond honestly.

That said, I honestly don't want to reform the EC because I want "my side" to win... I'm actually fairly moderate politically, I'm "purple" if you want to use colors. Before 2000 and 2016 elections I realized the EC was undemocratic and no longer doing the job it was intended for. Recent red vs blue politics have not changed that.

ucim wrote:I said it several times. We're talking about solutions when we haven't agreed on the problem. Specifically, the role of the EC in US presidential elections is not the problem. The problem is that we don't agree on how to choose, we only know the (partisan) outcome we want. That's a poor way to reform an electoral process.

Further, we don't seem to want to agree, or even discuss it, in any abstract sense.

Yeah, I've seen you try to take the discussion down that path, but I think that's a cop-out to avoid addressing a specific issue. It's a classic debate tactic to talk about larger socio-political or philosophic issues of the whole to move the goalposts and avoid talking about a specific issue at hand. It's the equivalent of sending an issue to a committee to die. Therefore I do not feel any need to engage you [or others] in that sort of debate. It's a distraction, it's avoidance, and I'm not supporting it by engaging. I will go as far as agreeing that complicated political systems like the US's are difficult and dangerous to overhaul (I am inferring from discussions above that you would agree, but feel free to correct me), but I believe history shows the whole system can be made better [or worse] by making small changes to the parts. Further, in regards to electoral college specifically I feel there's plenty of evidence to act on reforming/improving this relatively small part of the system, despite flaws in the whole system.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby morriswalters » Thu May 11, 2017 7:04 pm UTC

Can you explain how come people of color and women have a vote in the US, if the small majority always rules in its own interests?
Not everybody wants to put down any minority. But the majority will sometimes act out of fear and ignorance. The best example is Prop 8 in California. The majority would have written opposition to gay marriage into the state Constitution. It took the Courts to beat it back.
Ranbot wrote:Further, in regards to electoral college specifically I feel there's plenty of evidence to act on reforming/improving this relatively small part of the system, despite flaws in the whole system.
Then state that evidence. But we've managed 200 plus years with it and ended up where we are, which I believe is way better than where we were at the founding.

ObsessoMom posted a link to an idea that is floating around out there where the states would promise to commit their electors to the winner of the popular vote. It has the advantage of being easy to implement by passing up the process of amending the Constitution. This would serve the purpose of of making the EC reflect the will of the voting public. Which seems to be the point of this discussion currently. I can tell you that if I lived in Montana I might not like the idea. However I don't live there.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Zohar » Thu May 11, 2017 7:09 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Can you explain how come people of color and women have a vote in the US, if the small majority always rules in its own interests?
Not everybody wants to put down any minority. But the majority will sometimes act out of fear and ignorance. The best example is Prop 8 in California. The majority would have written opposition to gay marriage into the state Constitution. It took the Courts to beat it back.

Well yeah, that was my point...
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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby morriswalters » Thu May 11, 2017 8:09 pm UTC

Your point is that tyrannical majorities aren't to be feared because the court bailed out LGBT advocates in one instance?

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Zohar » Thu May 11, 2017 8:21 pm UTC

It isn't, and you know it isn't.
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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby Ranbot » Thu May 11, 2017 9:27 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Ranbot wrote:Further, in regards to electoral college specifically I feel there's plenty of evidence to act on reforming/improving this relatively small part of the system, despite flaws in the whole system.
Then state that evidence.

The evidence was stated in the discussions above where you will find details of:
- EC is inherently undemocratic, arbitrarily moving political power from one group to another.
- EC distorts where politicians campaign and what issues they campaign on.
- EC fosters our polarized two-party system and all the nasty things that come with it... entrenched partisan politics, politics that swing between extremes without pausing in the moderate middle where most Americans are, stonewalling, flow of money, gerrymandering, etc.
- EC is a huge barrier to having viable third parties
- The above points all foster feelings of hopelessness and political disengagement among voters, further degrading our democracy. EDIT: The feelings of hopelessness in the political system is even pushing some to seriously consider the title of this forum discussion: "Breaking up the United States"
- History clearly shows that the EC does not protect against the tyranny of the majority problem as some claim it's intended to.
- "Rural" states already have extra protections from more populous "urban" states by the existence of the US Senate.
- The historical constitutional reasons for the EC no longer exist (i.e. modern communication/travel make a true popular vote feasible; and EC delegates are no longer a check against possible mob rule).
- IN MY OPINION, the unintended consequences and potential harm removing or reforming the EC won't be any worse than the harm it's already doing, and there's a reasonable hope for improvement, even if just incremental. The devil we know is not necessarily better than devil we don't know.
- There is a fully constitutional alternative to reform the EC, which is currently in use by two US states: The Congressional District Method.

That's as much as I'm going to repeat myself from previous discussions in this thread.

morriswalters wrote:But we've managed 200 plus years with it and ended up where we are, which I believe is way better than where we were at the founding.

Agreed, we are better than at the founding, but that's not reason to stop improving and defeatist logic. The Civil War ended slavery, should we all just say "I believe [it] is way better than where we were at the founding" and leave it at that? That's a hyperbolic example but it's to make a point.


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