Nash Equilibrium in American politics

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guenther
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Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby guenther » Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:27 pm UTC

I have a theory that our two party system is approaching a Nash Equilibrium in politics. Or rather, this is my hypothesis, and I'd love to get my ideas onto firmer ground, be it by either building support or finding flaws. Maybe my understanding falls short on what the Nash Equilibrium actually is, or conversely maybe there's more support for this beyond my conjecture. So that's my agenda, building a solid case either for this or against it, rather than just debating whether the idea sounds right.

Here's my idea: Our parties have gotten better and better at motivating and aligning their constituents into a cohesive narrative and worldview by using the powerful lever of social media and filter bubbles. Our politics may seem dysfunctional, but the teams are actually highly functional within the rules of the game. We are approaching a Nash Equilibrium, which means that each side is getting closer and closer to an optimal strategy that checks the other side's ability to maneuver. Thus we have gridlock with little room for compromise.

I consistently hear complaints about tribalism, and how it's the source of many problems. But if I'm right, then our high levels of tribalism is just a tool that's been deployed to help win elections. It's a symptom, not a cause.

What this means: In a nutshell, I am painting our two-party system as the villain. If we are truly approaching a Nash Equilibrium based on the rules of the game, then the fix should be to change the rules. I'm sure there are lots of clever ways to fix this, but one I've latched onto is Approval Voting that would open up the field to third parties.

I rarely see people discuss our division past simply blaming polarization and tribalism. I rarely see people beat the drum of how our two-party system is the problem. So I want to know if I'm highlighting the right issue, or if I'm missing something and barking up the wrong tree. Is there a better explanation for why the country is so divided? Are there examples of how removing a two-party duopoly has helped relieve some of the pressure?

Support:
* Democratic voters are increasingly likely to call their views liberal
First is the well-documented case of our increasing division. This already happened on the right with the GOP and the Tea Party. Now there's reason to believe that Democrats are becoming more hardline and less willing to compromise. This is what the polling data shows, and the recent shutdown seems to be this in action.

* Unstable Majorities: Correcting Misconceptions Of The American Electorate
But this book makes the case that our apparent polarization is actually just a very efficient sorting by party. Polarization would be when people's positions on issues move away from the middle toward extremes, but, according to this, when you ask people outside of the political context, it reveals that many people still occupy the wide space of middle ground. It's the parties, not the people, that are hollowing out the center. (I haven't read the book; I'm getting this from listening to an interview here.)

* Politics Is More Partisan Now, But It’s Not More Divisive
This article points out that deep divisions and animosity in politics aren't new. But having this so well focused along party lines is. In the past these divisions often happened within a party, and political expediency would help smooth over the rifts so the team could come together and beat the other side. But our party sorting has become so efficient nowadays that our politics is actually intensifying division. We have personal, cultural, moral reasons to be divided, and now it's politically useful to make this even deeper.

* Filter bubbles:
I don't have a link here, but it's a well established concept. My idea is that this is what is giving the sides the powerful lever to spin their narratives and align the worldview. We are fractured into worlds of different facts, where the spotlight can be shone on only the most outrageous targets where it's easy to build a compelling story of how wrong the other side is. But this causes people to yell past each other rather than to sort out what the differences really are. (My Crossing Divides post was aimed at this.)

* "If you know someone's view on climate change, then you can reliably guess their position on gun control."
I got this from Sam Harris, and it's more of a salient example than actual support. There's no reason why these should be so well correlated, and it gives credence to idea that our party is shaping our outlook rather than the reverse.

* Duverger's law
Our voting system is set up to favor two parties since voting for a third party is not much different than not voting. This is why people consistently grouse about having to choose the lessor of two evils. In this duopoly, the party doesn't have to win our hearts and minds, they just need to be less bad than the other side. Or even better, they just need to be less bad than how they paint the other side to be.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ranbot » Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:33 pm UTC

I agree our two-party system exacerbates our political divisions. In another discussion ( viewtopic.php?f=8&t=122108&start=40 )I tried to make a case that reforming the Electoral College would give third parties a fighting chance in elections to break the party duopoly and other benefits. Some disagreed with me, which is fine. I said a lot in that discussion that I don't feel like repeating and fighting about again here.


I've also wondered if Congress should have closed-door sessions without the news cameras running. Let representatives talk to each other and negotiate with less worry that some out of context line will be exploited by the 24/7 info-tainment news media or special interest groups and haunt them for the rest of their careers. Turning off the cameras may also discourage the representatives who abuse their Congressional time by making campaign speeches and social media sound bytes instead of good faith negotiating with others. Senators Ted Cruz (R) and Elizabeth Warren (D), come to my mind as examples of politicians who in my opinion employ this tactic. It wouldn't reduce the duopoly issue, but it might help them get a long with each other a little better. People would predictably rant about secret governing from smoke-filled rooms, but there are situations where people can't be trusted to respond rationally to information. It's not unprecedented in US politics either... the Supreme Court has never allowed cameras and has indicated no intention of allowing them, the President obviously does a lot of stuff privately, and it's arguably how the US Congress operated for at least 2 centuries before modern "fast-breaking" news reporting became possible with modern technology.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby elasto » Sat Jan 27, 2018 11:34 am UTC

I definitely view European politics such as in Germany to be much more respectful and grown up. When every government is a coalition, politicians have to be somewhat respectful to one another. Even if A would never get in bed with C, A would with B and B would with C so some sort of transitive politeness results...

Parties in a two-party system are, in reality, coalitions anyway, with, I dunno, libertarians in bed with religious fundamentalists on the right and free-market socialists in bed with radical green activists on the left; Why not formally separate out all those groups into something akin to single-issue parties and then we can see with much more granularity what it is that people actually care about? Right now it's all too easy to paint anyone voting for Trump as being a secret (or overt) misogynist racist when actually the truth is far more nuanced.

With a multi-party system people could actually vote for a party that they positively approve of rather than having to pinch their nose and vote for the lesser of two evils.

And, hey, with more than one party seriously in the running, people might actually take the time to think through what they most care about rather than reflexively voting for the same party just because they (and their parents) always have...

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby bantler » Sat Jan 27, 2018 6:47 pm UTC

Third parties are nothing more than fractions of Liberals or Conservatives. They just split the votes and hand the opposing plank the election. It would behoove Republicans to funnel funds into the Green Party.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Pfhorrest » Sat Jan 27, 2018 8:17 pm UTC

Once again Bantler you demonstrate an astonishing inability to grasp the nuances of the conversation.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Sun Jan 28, 2018 1:59 pm UTC

bantler wrote:Third parties are nothing more than fractions of Liberals or Conservatives. They just split the votes and hand the opposing plank the election. It would behoove Republicans to funnel funds into the Green Party.

Third parties can have just about any political ideologies/platforms they wanna and are not merely: "Fractions of Liberals or Conservatives." I think you should heavily rethink your stance on politics if you gonna declare ALL third parties different versions of the same two-party system we have, when, like they were designed to be different than Liberals or Conservatives. They may have some L or C policies yet overall I'd say third parties bring their own fresh take to politics and I wish... someone would vote for them in massive quantities and not... the same old Donkeys and/or Elephants we end up getting....
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby bantler » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:45 pm UTC

Only donkey and elephant are on the menu. Order a green salad if you like but you'll just ensure everyone will be eating elephant for another election cycle. And elephant is terribly unhealthy.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby elasto » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:57 pm UTC

bantler: Are you trolling? I'll give you the benefit of the doubt for this one post.

Since it seems to be unclear to you, the following represents the topic of this thread (albeit dumbed-down):

"Under the current voting system, only two parties are possible. But under a different voting system, more than two parties would be possible. This would be better for reasons X and Y.

Discuss."

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby bantler » Sun Jan 28, 2018 6:40 pm UTC

Transition to a different voting system is such a slow and painful process it isn't worth the effort. Decades of lost elections wreck havoc on humanity. The Green Party single handedly lost Florida and the 2000 election to George Bush, leading to his response to 911, middle east eruption, deregulation of banks and the 2008 housing crash. These are global catastrophes that are the result of naive liberals voting Green to make some kind of point.
I fully support liberals of every stripe banding together to form progressive planks for their candidates, but jumping ship is suicide.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:46 am UTC

guenther wrote:* Duverger's law
Our voting system is set up to favor two parties since voting for a third party is not much different than not voting. This is why people consistently grouse about having to choose the lessor of two evils. In this duopoly, the party doesn't have to win our hearts and minds, they just need to be less bad than the other side. Or even better, they just need to be less bad than how they paint the other side to be.

I think the point I quote is a major, big problem in our current political system. Politicians know that Ls or Cs are our only choices so they shamelessly exploit it and paint the other party as bad and evil, third parties as ineffective, and even when peoples vote for third parties it don't matter 'cause everyone else is voting for Liberals and Conservatives? A way to change that maybe: Increase education about other political parties, even fringe ones that people don't normally care for? If you increase the information available in an honest and straightforward way--that means not painting things you disagree with as fundamentally wrong and bad for our country, politicians, then: It might open people up to voting more for other options? I find that even figuring out what a politician is running for can be slowed down by: Bad websites designs, overuse of political jargon, double talk, mud slinging and other factors... so I think more honesty, less speeches pandering to their favored demographics, and increase education about all the options in a political race might just solve some of the 'force to choose lesser of two evils' things?
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby guenther » Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:34 am UTC

elasto wrote:"Under the current voting system, only two parties are possible. But under a different voting system, more than two parties would be possible. This would be better for reasons X and Y.

This is related to my point, but I'm not here just to chime in with support for third parties. Rather, I am putting forth the idea of a Nash Equilibrium. This is beyond simply touting that opening the voting system would have benefits. It is saying that with our current two-party system, the sides are getting better and better at causing gridlock with collateral damage of our fractured worlds of facts and our inability to dialog across the sharp divide. This is meant to amp up the concern of a two-party system, highlighting it as THE problem to fix to alleviate our fractured political society.

So that's all my hypothesis, but I'd like to discuss how well founded that idea is. How could we figure out whether we are actually near the political Nash Equilibrium? Are there game theory methods for analyzing this? I don't know much about it beyond the definition, which seems like it would fit: Both sides have an optimal strategy to keep the other side in check. This sounds like gridlock to me.

The vote system discussion is actually just my idea of remediation. The premise is based on the idea that if there are more parties, this optimal strategy of dividing the people wouldn't be as effective. Plus there's the concept of free market of ideas where the parties have to compete with each other for our hearts and minds; they couldn't just get away with being the lessor evil.

Ranbot wrote:I agree our two-party system exacerbates our political divisions. In another discussion ( viewtopic.php?f=8&t=122108&start=40 )I tried to make a case that reforming the Electoral College would give third parties a fighting chance in elections to break the party duopoly and other benefits. Some disagreed with me, which is fine. I said a lot in that discussion that I don't feel like repeating and fighting about again here.

I'm personally fine with the idea of an electoral college change even though I don't completely understand the logic behind how it helps here. But regardless of how effective it would be, I think the bigger issue is that it will cause people to fracture along party lines because it will benefit the sides unequally. We'll be stoking the very tribalistic urges that we're aiming to fix.

This is why I like approval voting. It's a simple change that's easy to explain. And it should help everyone across the board... except the two parties themselves. But any effort to weaken the duopoly will have to overcome this hurdle.

Ginger wrote:so I think more honesty, less speeches pandering to their favored demographics, and increase education about all the options in a political race might just solve some of the 'force to choose lesser of two evils' things?

What if the aim to have more reasoned and civil discussions doesn't line up with the goal to win elections? That's what I'm afraid of, that there is incentive to actually disrupt civil discussion in favor of frenzied tribalism. It's easier to highlight and defeat the absolute worst arguments of the other side than to have to take an honest look at their best arguments. I agree that your suggestions would be great to have in play, but how do we convince people to do it if the cost is to be less effective in the voting booth?

My hope is that these incentives will change with more parties in the mix. I'm a board game player, and one thing I've noticed is that in a two player game, hurting the other person is the same thing as helping yourself. But in a multi-player game, it's harder to dump on all other people, and it's often more important to just build yourself up.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:31 am UTC

I would be kind of sad if frenzied tribalism was the only way to win elections... however... if honesty and straightforwardness isn't as effective, we can still have some elements of a traditional political race I guess? Like: Politicians are allowed to campaign about issues they feel deeply about they just now have more accountability because being more honest is now pressured on them by... new laws or the public? Anyways, as to how to convince peoples to leave their tribes and think outside of their party lines a bit? I encourage heavily the usage of "safe spaces" for contentious political discussions. It was use a lot re: feminists I use to know... and... I enjoy them, the non-judging and non-shaming, validating, peer groups I experience via safe spaces help me discuss contentious issues bunches. That's just a basic suggestion for starting discussions on voting for other parties... another one might be: Exposing friends and relatives to your alternative views in a non-aggressive/non-confrontational way. Or even: Showing them a funny website of your fav third parties politician talking about their issues? Just some suggests I'm throwing out. :)
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby elasto » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:02 am UTC

This is related to my point, but I'm not here just to chime in with support for third parties. Rather, I am putting forth the idea of a Nash Equilibrium. This is beyond simply touting that opening the voting system would have benefits. It is saying that with our current two-party system, the sides are getting better and better at causing gridlock with collateral damage of our fractured worlds of facts and our inability to dialog across the sharp divide. This is meant to amp up the concern of a two-party system, highlighting it as THE problem to fix to alleviate our fractured political society.

So that's all my hypothesis, but I'd like to discuss how well founded that idea is. How could we figure out whether we are actually near the political Nash Equilibrium? Are there game theory methods for analyzing this? I don't know much about it beyond the definition, which seems like it would fit: Both sides have an optimal strategy to keep the other side in check. This sounds like gridlock to me.

I don't know. But, as you say, in a system with only two parties, it's as effective if not more so to simply negatively campaign and dump on the opposition party as to try to emphasise your positive qualities. Will voters grow tired of negative campaigning? Doesn't seem hopeful, but then again Obama won on basically a positive message, and Sanders did pretty well on a basically positive message too.

I would say though that there is another factor as well as the voting system that keeps the system two-party: The length and expense of your campaigns.

If we contrast with the UK which also has a pretty strong fptp system, the UK has five mainstream parties - and more if you count Northern Ireland: As well as the 'big beasts' of Labour and Conservative, you have a centre party that did well enough to partner in a coalition government, a party with enough support to dominate Scottish politics for a decade, and a right-wing party that got so many millions of votes that it ended up achieving its aim of Brexit. In addition we have some more minor parties such as the Greens who none-the-less have decent support in local elections.

A big reason we have such diversity is that no party spends much on electioneering. The main parties in the UK spent around £20m on campaigning; It's small enough here that a single donor can transform the political landscape, such as happened with UKIP. Contrast with the US where the main parties spent literally billions...

Inertia plays a huge role in politics everywhere, but the deck is particularly stacked in the US.
Last edited by elasto on Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:09 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Leovan » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:07 am UTC

In a Nash Equilibrium, neither side changes their strategy. I'm not quite sure if that applies here because every couple of years the power balances shift, and that makes the parties change their strategy. The underlying strategy (make the others seem worse than me) doesn't change much, but the detailed strategy changes depending on whether the Reps or Dems control House, Senate, or Executive. In each branch you have slightly different strategies going on. Senate at the moment is more or less balanced, with the Reps catering to Dems or at least the center a little bit, trying to give them just enough to get the 51 (or 60) votes. In the House, the Reps are pretty much running the show and don't give a damn what center/left thinks. The President is doing his own thing as a wildcard at this point, messing up everyone's plans and trying to stay relevant and deflect blame. This November, the power balances may shift again and Dems might go from opposition to constructive politics further left while the Reps are forced to move to the center again.
That both parties focus more on hate-mongering than constructive politics I wouldn't so much consider a strategy as a general direction, and I I'm not sure if the Nash Equilibrium applies.
And considering the vitriol spewed in my own country (Switzerland) with 7 or so major parties, I'm not sure if a third or xth party will solve the problem. Our whole politics is a bit more subdued, but that's more cultural than system based, and sadly it's changing in the same way as yours. I think the problem is big data and media, and all the echo chambers being built to cater. While safe spaces are great for personal problems and testing grounds for ideas, they exasperate the problem when it comes to political discussion.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Sizik » Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:06 pm UTC

elasto wrote:I would say though that there is another factor as well as the voting system that keeps the system two-party: The length and expense of your campaigns.

If we contrast with the UK which also has a pretty strong fptp system, the UK has five mainstream parties - and more if you count Northern Ireland: As well as the 'big beasts' of Labour and Conservative, you have a centre party that did well enough to partner in a coalition government, a party with enough support to dominate Scottish politics for a decade, and a right-wing party that got so many millions of votes that it ended up achieving its aim of Brexit. In addition we have some more minor parties such as the Greens who none-the-less have decent support in local elections.

A big reason we have such diversity is that no party spends much on electioneering. The main parties in the UK spent around £20m on campaigning; It's small enough here that a single donor can transform the political landscape, such as happened with UKIP. Contrast with the US where the main parties spent literally billions...

Inertia plays a huge role in politics everywhere, but the deck is particularly stacked in the US.


I think the reason why the US parties put so much into elections is that the political makeup of one third of the US government is decided upon with a single winner-takes-all vote. Hence, the parties put a lot of resources into getting the Presidency, compared to the UK where the Prime Minister is determined by whichever party has the majority.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Nuvector » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:03 pm UTC

guenther wrote:I have a theory that our two party system is approaching a Nash Equilibrium in politics. Or rather, this is my hypothesis, and I'd love to get my ideas onto firmer ground, be it by either building support or finding flaws. Maybe my understanding falls short on what the Nash Equilibrium actually is, or conversely maybe there's more support for this beyond my conjecture. So that's my agenda, building a solid case either for this or against it, rather than just debating whether the idea sounds right..

I don't see this myself. While I think it is objectively true that American politics right now is very polarized, what I'm seeing is that the spectrum of that polarization is more indicative of what amounts to parliamentarian schisms in our congress.

The Tea Party revolution that currently has hamstrung the GOP by elevating ideology over governance is an indication that where the two parties have gone astray is in not being able to unify their own voting blocks. Yes, filter bubbles and social media contribute (strongly IMHO) to this but the concept is nothing new. For decades, candidate stump speeches have been tailored to local politics and campaigners routinely hold forth on contradictory policies depending on what the locals want to hear. They rely on the media to not highlight the hypocrisy involved -- just "politics as usual" and not "news."

Today, candidates know better than to tell the electorate things they don't want to hear. This is, essentially, the same as a filter bubble. People only hear what they expect to hear and are conditioned not to think critically about the issues of the day. Having a third party doesn't change this, it just results in further balkanization of the electorate, a process that ultimately leads more toward parliamentary politics than it does any kind of equilibrium.

It's not a matter of both parties becoming more extremist, it's more both sides pandering to fringes they used to ignore for the sake of the mainstream. Essentially, they have undermined mainstream politics by pandering to minority positions within their parties.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby guenther » Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:03 pm UTC

These are great responses and exactly what I'm looking for. If my idea is to stand up, these are the sorts of things I need to be able to answer.

(Mostly in response to elasto and Leovan):
Are strategies stagnant when approaching NE (Nash Equilibrium) in a game?
I agree that when both sides are at the NE, there's no reason to change strategy because (1) you're already at NE, and (2) you can't gain anything because your opponent is at NE. But if the sides are only approaching NE, without knowing exactly how close either one is, would the game be stagnant?

Suppose I have a good strategy that has brought me many wins, but you figure out a counter. This will cause me to search around for a new angle, or maybe a counter to you. If we're each approaching NE, then we'll both be groping around for new strategies, but our gains would keep getting diminished because we're learning to counter each other so well. So this seems like quite an active game on both sides, but with more and more gridlock and less getting accomplished.

What would NNE (near Nash Equilibrium) look like in American politics?
Let me first mention that winning in politics is about shaping policy, not winning elections. This means that checking the other side isn't only about winning elections; the strategy has to be more broadly focused on all ways to stop opposing policy. Given this, let me discuss what I imagine NNE would like like in three different areas: Elections, Legislature, and Executive.

First, would you not have changing tides in elections with NNE? There's no cat's game in elections, so someone will win. I suppose the balance point could be such that it's always the same side, but since neither side has reached perfect NE, this balance point will shift. In fact, there's probably a good reason why it shifts back and forth. Much of the rules are written out and codified, but there are also unwritten, nebulous rules that have to do with public perception and our particular point in culture and economics. Obama was a reaction to the Bush years, and Trump was a lurch back the other way. The strategy has to take this shifting ground into account, watching for what the public is fed up with and what they want more of. I suspect this means there will never be perfect NE, but I don't see anything here that is inconsistent with NNE.

Second, in my model, the Legislature is where the meat of the gridlock strategy plays out. This is where team loyalty comes into play, where there's value in vilifying compromise, and why it's important to hollow out the center. Congress is a complicated place, and getting someone approved by both houses and the President is a hard task. It's easier to yell back and forth, posture, grandstand, and get nothing done. Congress' approval rating seems to demonstrate a dysfunctional body based on what was intended, but my thought is that this is actually expert levels of function, not dysfunction.

Third, there's not a whole lot the opposing side can do to check the President. And I bet this is why we've been seeing creeping executive power. Conservatives say that Obama was the bigger threat to our liberties because of his expansive use of executive orders. But rather than this being a concern of autocracy, I think it's rather that Obama and team simply had no other way to actually accomplish anything. But now we're seeing this undone just as easily. I don't think the rules allow NNE much room to check this other than to call in the courts and perhaps to turn public opinion against it. But this still leaves lots of room for policy to lurch back and forth.

This isn't about hate-mongering.
Negative campaigning is merely a tactic, not a strategy, one that ebbs and flows with the public's taste for it. The strategy is about dividing us up into teams. Teams with a sharp divide will naturally be hostile to each other, and I'm sure much of that is encouraged. But it's a bigger picture than that. The sides can develop their own worldview and facts, and they'll punish disloyalty. This drive to irrationality and tribalism is what I believe the strategy is. (As I mention below, this gives room to pander to the base.)

Why is big data and social media such a problem?
We all seem to be on the same page that social media and echo chambers are causing trouble, but why? Why are we creating our filter bubbles the way we do? Is it driven purely by interest? We know that the internet model is about harvesting attention, and we know that outrage is a great motivator for action. This is such a great lever for the parties to pull, and we know they are actively yanking on it every chance they get. So I agree that social media is a problem, but what I'm adding is the linkage between the incentive to win at the game and this mechanism for action.

Is my theory consistent with what's going on it other countries (e.g. UK and Switzerland)?
I knew my theory couldn't simply ignore other countries, but prior to this it felt daunting to go and learn about all other countries' governments and election structures. So, I didn't do much work here. :) But now that you've provided me two specific cases, I'll try to understand those in more detail.

But before I do, let me recklessly speculate a little. :) In line with the idea of a stacked deck, the US is larger, has access to more billionaires, and has a larger influence on the world in terms of policy. So there is a larger incentive to win at this game, and there is a larger pool of resources and money to find a winning strategy. So even if the systems in the UK, Switzerland, and the US were the same, the US could simply get here first. This would mean that other places would follow. But of course there could be other structural reasons for the differences as well (like the suggestion that the Prime Minister is picked very differently than the president). I will have to do more research here.

Ginger wrote:... Just some suggests I'm throwing out. :)

I am all for building a culture of better discourse and debate. That's what my other thread of Crossing Divides is about. But I've become more skeptical on how far this can take us. The idea that tribalism is a great strategy doesn't mean people are bad. It's a statement on the structure of the game and how people respond to incentives. This is why I'm focusing on changing the incentives.

I'm dubious of safe spaces as a way to get people to tackle areas of sharp disagreement (not opposed, just skeptical). And I'm even more dubious of the government coming in and regulating how we can interact (here I am opposed unless there's some very compelling reason). But any effort to build a better culture that brings people together across divides (not just united in opposition to the divide), I will label as good work.

Nuvector wrote:It's not a matter of both parties becoming more extremist, it's more both sides pandering to fringes they used to ignore for the sake of the mainstream. Essentially, they have undermined mainstream politics by pandering to minority positions within their parties.

But how do the parties get away with pandering to their fringe? How about because there are only two games in town? The more the parties build the case of how bad and evil the other side is, and the more they build a sense of identity and punish disloyalty, the less likely people are to defect to the other side. This gives them more room to pander to the minority of big donors and activists. And I'm not saying any of these tactics are new, but that our modern world gives tools to make this more effective than ever.

I don't really know that opening to third parties will help, but I don't see how it hurts. With something like approval voting you can keep voting for whoever you would have otherwise, but you can also vote for the person that better aligns with your positions. My thought is that you can't smear everyone, and boundary lines get blurrier if a new person comes on the stage that is 80% like that other guy. This makes pitting sides against each other harder, and the ability to pander to the minority weaker. At least it does in the simulation inside my head. :)
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:13 pm UTC

Life should not be a game to politicians running our country. Life is not a game with rules. And colleges have safe spaces and they are not collapsing. Sometimes a parents' hands are needed to guide the little children living in the USA. The hateful, bigoted... and at the same time: Nice, charitable... children that live here, and tell them what to do re: politics. And I am only referring to... people that refuse to let go of their parties' ideologies and divides and work together to help our country. Sometimes the governments of countries have the rights to step in and tell them to behave.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby guenther » Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:32 pm UTC

Countries certainly have the right. They could even trample on the Bill of Rights if there were a concentrated effort to rewrite the Constitution. My hesitation isn't about rights, but about wisdom. I'm not sure that the government is the wise parent when these same partisan children are at the steering wheel. But I'm not aiming to debate the general wisdom of government intervention. I am open to hearing any specific ideas you might have.

And it's not that life is a game, but that life has rules, incentives, and ways to come out ahead of other people. So people will play it like a game no matter how much we want them not to.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:43 pm UTC

Well, I think... we could start by paying people to vote? Or does that ever happen? Paying people for jury duties and other public services? That would hella incentivize anyone.

Idea two: Step up awareness about current events. When anyone sees something in their face they are passionate about and it relates to politics it will translate to votes and actions.

Idea three: Increase visibility of things that increase rights, like, The Bill of Rights? The Constitution? I mean, I'd even take Martin Luther King Junior's advice re: racial divides and tell peoples, and they might apply that liberal thought to politics?
Last edited by Ginger on Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:11 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby bantler » Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:10 am UTC

To be honest, I don't want everyone to vote unless my side is the majority.
I don't want a fair and equitable system if it mean progressives lose elections.
Winning elections is more important (and easier) than winning hearts and minds.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby freezeblade » Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:02 am UTC

bantler wrote:To be honest, I don't want everyone to vote unless my side is the majority.
I don't want a fair and equitable system if it mean progressives lose elections.
Winning elections is more important (and easier) than winning hearts and minds.


Underlined for emphasis. This statement makes me sick to my stomach.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:21 am UTC

It does seem like an understandable sentiment to me. Democracy is not a panacea; sometimes the majority can be wrong. This is why it's vitally important that the majority's rule be checked by the minority's rights.

Imagine for a moment that you are a Jew living in a majority-Nazi country. No Final Solution has been passed yet, but it's dangerously close. You'd certainly prefer that most of the Nazis stayed home instead of coming out to vote for your death, wouldn't you?
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:39 am UTC

My fourth ideas for fixing american poltics re: reforming Nazis. Yes, even Hitler himself deserves redeeming in my views. So, even if you get oppress, you got to have mercy when... in overwhelming odds. Mercy and compassion in lawmaking and policy making is my number 4 idea to help usa politics scandals.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Nuvector » Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:57 am UTC

guenther wrote:Let me first mention that winning in politics is about shaping policy, not winning elections. This means that checking the other side isn't only about winning elections; the strategy has to be more broadly focused on all ways to stop opposing policy.

This isn't internally consistent. If your objective is to block opposing policy, you can't shape policy. Preventing your opponent from winning is not winning.

If winning is about shaping policy, then you must compromise (cooperate) to effect your policy of choice and you no longer have a Nash Equilibrium at that point.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Nuvector » Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:18 am UTC

guenther wrote:Why is big data and social media such a problem?
We all seem to be on the same page that social media and echo chambers are causing trouble, but why? Why are we creating our filter bubbles the way we do?

Social media filter bubbles are created by deep learning machines that learn your preferences, your particular personality or profile if you wish, and curate news and ads to fit the model they build. They do this because reinforcing your preferences increases interactivity and presence.

In terms of political action, social media makes it easier for demagogues to identify and reach people receptive to their message. Where they once might be pushed to the sidelines, they can now find whole online communities where their message can be amplified instead of muted by the mainstream.

We know that the internet model is about harvesting attention, and we know that outrage is a great motivator for action. This is such a great lever for the parties to pull, and we know they are actively yanking on it every chance they get. So I agree that social media is a problem, but what I'm adding is the linkage between the incentive to win at the game and this mechanism for action.

It's not so much the parties that are leveraging social media. It would appear that the largest group leveraging social media in American politics today is a sovereign actor (yes, I'm talking about Russia) looking to incent division among both parties. Presumably, their goal is to disrupt normal political processes that would lead to consensus, compromise and actual action (any action is hostile to the goals of a adversarial foreign power.)

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby elasto » Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:06 am UTC

Sizik wrote:I think the reason why the US parties put so much into elections is that the political makeup of one third of the US government is decided upon with a single winner-takes-all vote. Hence, the parties put a lot of resources into getting the Presidency, compared to the UK where the Prime Minister is determined by whichever party has the majority.

I don't think there's a meaningful difference. In the US, people vote for Electoral College members who elect the President. In the UK, people vote for MPs who elect the Prime Minister.

If anything, because we only have one single vote every five years it should matter more than in the US where there are separate elections for Congress, Senate and President.

Sadly I can't see anything but our politics moving in your direction though.

Ginger wrote:Well, I think... we could start by paying people to vote? Or does that ever happen? Paying people for jury duties and other public services? That would hella incentivize anyone.

You have to be really careful, actually. Although studies disagree on this, some have shown that paying people small amounts to do something they currently volunteer to do can actually disincentivise such behaviour.

The theory is that you deny people the buzz they'd get from purely altruistic behaviour, and switches them into a 'cost-benefit mode' where they think things like 'you only value my time at $X/hr? Screw that.'

In addition, as others have said, even if it did increase voter turnout, it might not increase the proportion of people voting in an informed way. Might dilute out such people in fact.

Better just to concentrate on education: Teach kids about primary sources, how to discern when they are being manipulated, how to identify fake news etc.

Democracy is the least worst system of government, but in a world with fragmented media it does rely on a self-motivated and informed electorate to succeed.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:14 am UTC

elasto wrote:You have to be really careful, actually. Although studies disagree on this, some have shown that paying people small amounts to do something they currently volunteer to do can actually disincentivise such behaviour.

The theory is that you deny people the buzz they'd get from purely altruistic behaviour, and it switches them into a 'cost-benefit mode' where they think things like 'you only value my time at $X/hr? Screw that.'

In addition, as others have said, even if it did increase voter turnout, it might not increase the proportion of people voting in an informed way. Might dilute out such people in fact.

Better just to concentrate on education: Teach kids about primary sources, how to discern when they are being manipulated, how to identify fake news etc.

Democracy is the least worst system of government, but in a world with fragmented media it does rely on a self-motivated and informed electorate to succeed.

While I don't disagree with you on principle, and I think democracy IS the least worstest forms of governments. I'm gonna have to ask for: [Citations Needed] re: "Paying ppls for public services does not incentivize them," pleasey-pleasey? Thank you. Anyways, I agree that in today's political climate education to identify manipulations and fake news stories is best. And there are a lot of pitfalls re: critical thinking about politics to fall into, partly because, our two-party system--in my opinions--exists because of a fallacy. I dunno if it's an official one, but, like: Fallacy I'm thinking of specifically is, like, you THINK and believe you only have two choices in a bad situation so you act and behave as if you only have two choices when really there are more. I'm going to stop myself before I continue chattering femininely about nothing however.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby elasto » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:30 pm UTC

It should be noted that studies are contradictory. Here's one:

To test this claim we carry out a field experiment with three different treatments. In the first treatment subjects are given the opportunity to become blood donors without any compensation. In the second treatment subjects receive a payment of $7 for becoming blood donors, and in the third treatment subjects can choose between a $7 payment and donating $7 to charity.

The results differ markedly between men and women.

For men the supply of blood donors is not significantly different among the three experimental groups. For women the supply of blood donors decreases by almost half when a monetary payment is introduced. There is also a significant effect of allowing individuals to donate the payment to charity, and this effect fully counteracts the crowding out effect.


So it's not necessarily a bad idea but depending on how it's implemented it could have a positive or negative effect.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:37 pm UTC

I see thanks for the cites. <3s for you everyone of you in the debate. LOLs women bomb out when they get monies?
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ranbot » Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:24 pm UTC

guenther wrote:
Ranbot wrote:I agree our two-party system exacerbates our political divisions. In another discussion ( viewtopic.php?f=8&t=122108&start=40 )I tried to make a case that reforming the Electoral College would give third parties a fighting chance in elections to break the party duopoly...

I'm personally fine with the idea of an electoral college change even though I don't completely understand the logic behind how it helps here.

US voters don't vote for third parties because they have such a disadvantage in the presidential electoral college. For example, in 1992 Ross Perot won 19% of the national popular vote, and up 30% in some states, but he didn't get a single electoral college vote. Voters tend to vote down the line with who ever they choose for president, which puts third parties at a disadvantage in all elections when they can't complete for president on even ground. Third party votes are typically viewed as being a protest, spoiler, or throwing one's vote away.

Also, when people experience multiple elections where the President enters the office without winning the popular vote it makes people feel hopeless, they feel the system is rigged, and disengage. That's very bad for democracy.

The US's first to the pole voting system also takes blame here for entrenching the two-parties, but I think reforming the electoral college is a far easier change to implement now than a system of multiple run-off elections.

Ginger wrote:Well, I think... we could start by paying people to vote? Or does that ever happen? Paying people for jury duties and other public services? That would hella incentivize anyone.

As much as I agree logically, paying for voting is too much of a mental leap for most Americans. The possibilities for political troll memes are already boggling my mind.....

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby bantler » Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:59 pm UTC

Ranbot wrote:The US's first to the pole voting system also takes blame here for entrenching the two-parties, but I think reforming the electoral college is a far easier change to implement now than a system of multiple run-off elections.


The Electoral College managed to elect Obama and Trump back-to-back. The system is fine.

Liberals only want reform when they are winning the popular-vote and losing elections. I assure you if popular-vote mattered the Conservatives would find ways to abuse it. I'm comfortable with Texas having exactly as much representation as their populace deserves.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby elasto » Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:30 pm UTC

bantler wrote:
Ranbot wrote:The US's first to the pole voting system also takes blame here for entrenching the two-parties, but I think reforming the electoral college is a far easier change to implement now than a system of multiple run-off elections.


The Electoral College managed to elect Obama and Trump back-to-back. The system is fine.


The system is fine if you're happy with only two parties existing. Many people are not happy with that, both on the left and the right. Hence this thread.

Liberals only want reform when they are winning the popular-vote and losing elections.


2) Why are you assuming Ranbot is a Liberal? I've seen posts here advocating changes to the US electoral system going back years.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby freezeblade » Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:34 pm UTC

bantler wrote:Liberals only want reform when they are winning the popular-vote and losing elections.


Yeah, ok there buddy. It doesn't help that the only times in the last 100 years that the president has been chosen by electoral college without winning the popular vote has been conservatives. Personally, as well as nearly every person I know who wants to reform the the voting system voting system, is more about the "one person, one vote" argument. Someone who votes from Wyoming has their vote counted as 3.6 times more than mine from California.

I may even be ok with keeping the electoral system, if we had the votes distributed proportionally within each state according to each states popular vote, as opposed to winner takes all. This would actually be worse for the democratic party in California, but I think better overall as you don't end up with stupid situations like Florida where only a few votes decided if all the electoral votes go to one party or the other, as opposed to splitting them down the middle (being much more representative of the voting populace).
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby bantler » Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:28 pm UTC

elasto wrote:2) Why are you assuming Ranbot is a Liberal? I've seen posts here advocating changes to the US electoral system going back years.


I'm not categorizing Ranbot; I have no idea of his politics.
But I assure there aren't any Conservative promoting popular-vote because "Hilary Should've Won!".

freezeblade wrote:
bantler wrote:Liberals only want reform when they are winning the popular-vote and losing elections.


Yeah, ok there buddy. It doesn't help that the only times in the last 100 years that the president has been chosen by electoral college without winning the popular vote has been conservatives. Personally, as well as nearly every person I know who wants to reform the the voting system voting system, is more about the "one person, one vote" argument. Someone who votes from Wyoming has their vote counted as 3.6 times more than mine from California.

I may even be ok with keeping the electoral system, if we had the votes distributed proportionally within each state according to each states popular vote, as opposed to winner takes all. This would actually be worse for the democratic party in California, but I think better overall as you don't end up with stupid situations like Florida where only a few votes decided if all the electoral votes go to one party or the other, as opposed to splitting them down the middle (being much more representative of the voting populace).


Wyoming's extra clout is a math trick. Every state gets the minimum 2 Senators and 2 Electoral votes for fair Representation.
I suppose the fairness of equal representation is debatable.

After that Wyoming gets their 1 vote to California's 53 based on population.

If you dice the Electoral College fine enough you're back to popular vote..

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ranbot » Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:31 pm UTC

bantler wrote:
Ranbot wrote:The US's first to the pole voting system also takes blame here for entrenching the two-parties, but I think reforming the electoral college is a far easier change to implement now than a system of multiple run-off elections.


The Electoral College managed to elect Obama and Trump back-to-back. The system is fine.

Liberals only want reform when they are winning the popular-vote and losing elections. I assure you if popular-vote mattered the Conservatives would find ways to abuse it. I'm comfortable with Texas having exactly as much representation as their populace deserves.

It was sometime in the 1990s when I was a teenager that I realized the electoral college was undemocratic and an impediment to our democracy. The 2000 and 2016 elections only solidified the view.

I am mostly liberal on social issues, and a pro-business/conservative on economic issues, with a libertarian streak. Neither US party represents me well. I have not officially joined a political party. I tend to vote more for Democrats, but I've voted for Republicans and third parties too. So, don't make me into your strawman.

What I REALLY want is for our government officials to talk to each other, to compromise, and actually pass some fucking legislation* without ramming it through on purely party lines. Government is a built on compromises that build on each other and change with society. It can be small legislative agreements instead of grand visionary legislative acts, but do something other than bicker and stagnate like Congress has for the last 10 [or more] years!

To that end I think creating conditions that allow for viable third party can only bring good things for government compromise and democracy. For the reasons I stated in a post above, I think electoral college reforms would be a good step towards that end, but it doesn't have to be the only step. It's not about my side winning or losing because I don't have a party now that reflects my views; it's about government better reflecting moderate America.

* -
Spoiler:
This might be going off-topic, but I believe Congress' decade of stagnation the main reason we are having issues with Presidential overreach with executive orders [by Obama and Trump] and policies of their appointed cabinets. Congress void of leadership on many issues and inability to adapt laws to modern times has forced [or allowed] Obama, Trump, and cabinet appointees to fill the leadership void and unilaterally direct the country. For example, Congress could have acted on bipartisan changes to net-neutrality, DACA, and federal marijuana regulations that a majority of Americans would agree with, but they didn't do anything. Time and society continues on and without Congress' direction the executive branch has interpreted or changed those laws/policies instead. In my opinion it's not specifically a failure of one party or administration, it's a failure of Congress to lead and pass laws that reflect modern society.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Thesh » Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:44 pm UTC

The biggest impediment to compromise, and the biggest problem with American democracy, is a lack of quality discourse. Within the media, ratings are more important than informing the people. Within the parties, winning elections is more important than anything. When it comes to partisan issues, I'm of the opinion that neither right-wing media nor the Republican party are acting in good faith, and I feel that pretty much kills any ability to compromise - with today's Congress, the compromises seem to be along the lines of Republicans saying "You don't want anything to change, we want changes that are going to be harmful, therefore we should compromise and settle on changes that are not quite as harmful as we want."
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:50 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:When it comes to partisan issues, I'm of the opinion that neither right-wing media nor the Republican party are acting in good faith, and I feel that pretty much kills any ability to compromise - with today's Congress, the compromises seem to be along the lines of Republicans saying "You don't want anything to change, we want changes that are going to be harmful, therefore we should compromise and settle on changes that are not quite as harmful as we want."

I don't usually "defend conservatives" so... forgive me and... sincerely. I'm not sure they actively are harming us with their policies. If they knew then we shouldn't cut them any leeway yet if they don't know then... I forgive them at least. My only point to all that was: I think conservatives are capable of changing their platforms to be non-harmful to our country. How to effect change? Well, I think it's simple: Treat both sides like adults, give them both equal times to express their political feels and let neutral mods sort out the rest. Amen.
Last edited by Ginger on Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:11 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Thesh » Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:59 pm UTC

As an example, when it comes to the tax bill Republicans were primarily concerned about getting money to their donors rather than helping the economy, and they actively lied to the public about the effects of the policies telling them it would result in massive growth and pay for itself, when they know it won't. They may or may not be aware that giving massive amounts of money to the richest people is just going to result in more small businesses being swallowed by large businesses, and that will make their constituents worse off in the long run, but I don't think they care. What they are aware of is that if they were honest about what they believe the real, short, medium, and long term effects of the bill would be, a majority of their voters would not even have supported it.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby guenther » Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:29 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
Ginger wrote:Well, I think... we could start by paying people to vote? Or does that ever happen? Paying people for jury duties and other public services? That would hella incentivize anyone.

You have to be really careful, actually. Although studies disagree on this, some have shown that paying people small amounts to do something they currently volunteer to do can actually disincentivise such behaviour.

To flip the problem around, instead of building incentives to get people to vote, maybe we could just make it easier, perhaps by doing nationwide mail-in voting or something. I got this from the whole behavioral economics idea of nudging where they say it's better to remove the restraining forces than to increase the driving forces. Plus this would preserve the sense of civic responsibility in voting.

Pfhorrest wrote:Imagine for a moment that you are a Jew living in a majority-Nazi country. No Final Solution has been passed yet, but it's dangerously close. You'd certainly prefer that most of the Nazis stayed home instead of coming out to vote for your death, wouldn't you?

You can justify almost anything by saying, "What about Nazis?" But are we in greater danger of Nazis or of people stoking the fear of Nazis to push an agenda? During the 2016 election, there was a paper called "The Flight 93 Election" that made the case that Hillary and the liberal agenda posed such a danger that we needed to accept any alternative no matter how bad. This is how the bar of acceptable behavior gets lowered to the floor and where even letting people democratically express their opinion is risky. It's not that this risk isn't there, but I think there's a bigger risk in overselling it.

Nuvector wrote:If winning is about shaping policy, then you must compromise (cooperate) to effect your policy of choice and you no longer have a Nash Equilibrium at that point.

I was a bit too quick in my statement on winning. My point was that the strategy doesn't stop on the day after elections, but continues in the halls of law making. But I wasn't trying to box in precisely what winning is in terms of policy. It could be pushing through some agenda, but it could also be thwarting the side in power. Both of those are about controlling the shape of policy. My observation is that the aim seems to be to only allow passage of laws that meet a narrow agenda and to block anything else. Are you saying that this idea is not in line with a Nash Equilibrium?

Nuvector wrote:It's not so much the parties that are leveraging social media. It would appear that the largest group leveraging social media in American politics today is a sovereign actor (yes, I'm talking about Russia) looking to incent division among both parties. Presumably, their goal is to disrupt normal political processes that would lead to consensus, compromise and actual action (any action is hostile to the goals of a adversarial foreign power.)

If Russia can do this, why would the parties just sit this one out? And where do you get the numbers to know that the parties are in fact sitting out? I don't have numbers, but my personal experience is whole sections of Facebook and the web aimed at generating weaponized memes attacking the weakest targets of the enemy and providing properly spun narratives for their teammates. This is the lever I'm talking about. Is this not something you see happening?

Ranbot wrote:Also, when people experience multiple elections where the President enters the office without winning the popular vote it makes people feel hopeless, they feel the system is rigged, and disengage. That's very bad for democracy.

You mean the people who lost feel hopeless. That's my problem with this fix, it will send a wedge right down that same party line.

You are highlighting two different problems. Perot still wouldn't have won with a popular vote. This is Duverger's law; there are tactical reasons to want to cast your vote for a strong candidate, and a concern that voting your conscious is a waste. Run-off elections would fix this, but so would approval voting, which would have the exact same structure we have now, but you can vote for multiple people.

The second problem you highlighted is the winner-take-all state system. This is something I hadn't thought through while promoting approval voting. If the electoral college (EC) system were left the same and we adopted approval voting, we would still have the spoiling problem in the EC and we'd having Congress choosing more Presidents. But I bet there's a way to craft an approval voting system that preserved the EC (enhanced rural voting and encouragement for candidates to campaign nationwide). The simplest form would be something like the Nationwide Popular Vote deal, but structured around approval voting.

This makes it more complicated, and I'd only support that because I'm concerned that aiming to remove the EC would just push people back into their tribes rather than getting people to unite against the duopoly. But if there were a wave rising up to remove the EC, I'd be happy to jump on that as well.

Thesh wrote:The biggest impediment to compromise, and the biggest problem with American democracy, is a lack of quality discourse. Within the media, ratings are more important than informing the people. Within the parties, winning elections is more important than anything. When it comes to partisan issues, I'm of the opinion that neither right-wing media nor the Republican party are acting in good faith, and I feel that pretty much kills any ability to compromise - with today's Congress, the compromises seem to be along the lines of Republicans saying "You don't want anything to change, we want changes that are going to be harmful, therefore we should compromise and settle on changes that are not quite as harmful as we want."

Isn't this the argument in a nutshell for hollowing out the middle? It's built on the idea that the other side is doing bad things. Conservatives say the same thing about liberals on why they don't want to compromise. I don't want to get into who is right and wrong in this thread, but I do want to point out that Democrats are shifting to the strategy of hardline as well, and I think you see this in the latest immigration debate where they don't want to compromise over DACA.

My question for the thread is why are the sides doing this? Why are the parties shifting to the political edges and leaving little room for discourse, let alone compromise? My proposed answer is the Nash Equilibrium. But more importantly I just want people to think past blaming each other or blaming tribalism. If both sides are adopting this strategy, it makes sense to me that there must be some lure within the system of the game.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.


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