Breaking Up the United States

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby ucim » Thu May 11, 2017 11:35 pm UTC

Ranbot wrote:- EC is inherently undemocratic, arbitrarily moving political power from one group to another.
This is not true. Democracies come in many forms, layered democracies are necessary where the population is too big, and while the EC (one form of a layered democracy) is not necessary, it is not antithetical either. Also the US is not a democracy, it's a republic. There are some differences.

Ranbot wrote:- EC distorts where politicians campaign and what issues they campaign on.
This is not true. It certainly affects where politicians campaign, but absent the EC, other things would affect where politicians campaign. Calling it "distortion" implies, incorrectly, that there is some ideal method for politicians' campaigns.

Ranbot wrote:- EC fosters our polarized two-party system and all the nasty things that come with it.
This is not true. What fosters the two-party system is the existence of primaries, which appeal more to extreme views than centrist ones, and feed the main election with extremist candidates. Further exacerbating this is the FPTP election system (which rewards the most-liked over the least-hated candidate). It is also the nature of FPTP systems that ganging up against the leader is effective; taken to the end this leaves two parties: the winner, and the almost-winner.

Ranbot wrote:- EC is a huge barrier to having viable third parties
Perhaps. But the bigger thing is what I mentioned above. And money.

Ranbot wrote:- The historical constitutional reasons for the EC no longer exist
True. However, remember that the nation was (and still is) a union of States and the EC reflects this fact; that the election was considered to be an election by the states, not by the people directly. Whether it should be is a valid question, but that question is independent of the EC itself. Using the EC's shortcomings to upend the idea of election by states is invalid reasoning.

Ranbot wrote:- There is a fully constitutional alternative to reform the EC, which is currently in use by two US states: The Congressional District Method.
Interestingly, that very website says "However, if expanded to all 50 states, the Congressional District Method would make the presidential election even less competitive, and it would increase the likelihood of a candidate winning the election without winning a majority of the national popular vote." Be careful what you wish for.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby morriswalters » Thu May 11, 2017 11:39 pm UTC

It isn't, and you know it isn't.
No, I don't. I'm trying to understand the distinction your making. But I won't waste anymore time with it.
Ranbot wrote: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.
That is an interesting take on things. If I knew someone who thought that way it might be meaningful.

My rebuttal would be that you have a higher burden than I do, if I took the position that that the EC shouldn't be changed. You accept that it is working to some degree or the other. The mismatch between the popular vote and the EC has only happened five times since the founding, three times in the 1800's. Certainly the country had a chance to repudiate Bush in the modern era, yet he won in his second term.

Ranbot wrote:EC is inherently undemocratic, arbitrarily moving political power from one group to another.
We do these types of transfers all of the time. Set asides of one type or another(affirmative action) would be one example. I presume what you are actually talking about is the supposed transfer of power from urban areas to rural areas.
Ranbot wrote:EC distorts where politicians campaign and what issues they campaign on.
Well maybe. Certainly all the states that got attention in the last election were all populous states. I didn't see a lot of campaigning in the farm belt. So you would need to convince me that it would have been different had the popular vote counted instead of the EC. Not the outcome but where they campaigned. Given that it is impossible for a candidate to campaign everywhere, economics dictates that they campaign where people are.
Ranbot wrote: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.
You're on a very thin limb and a squirrel is trying to cut it off. In order. Partisan politics happens everywhere and gets really ugly. Come on down to Kentucky. We elect everybody by popular vote. The political landscape moves because the minds of the people do, those that can be bothered to participate at all. Expecting it to be static is wishful thinking. If you can provide an example that would show otherwise I would love to hear about it. Gerrymandering is a problem unrelated to Presidential politics at all. I don't really understand how you think that moving to direct elections would change that.
Ranbot wrote:EC is a huge barrier to having viable third parties
How many states have a robust third party. In so far as I know they all elect by popular vote.
Ranbot wrote:"Rural" states already have extra protections from more populous "urban" states by the existence of the US Senate.
Such as? I hear this tossed around, a lot. It would seem to be more true that urban areas have structural advantages that less populated areas can't hope to match. More jobs, more heath care, more money, more pretty much of everything. I would continue but...

Anyway I'm tired and don't really have anything else relevant to add at this point.

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Re: Breaking Up the United States

Postby P13808 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 5:33 pm UTC

Ranbot wrote: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.

Not actually having a problem in mind when discussing solutions just makes for a useless going in circles. Whether we want the best governors or more representative or some other thing will determine what sorts of voting systems make sense.

If having a discussion about the goal is just a distraction, then you should have no problem with the argument that the best voting method is to just let me decide. I.e. only I get a vote. You might respond by wheeling out some alternative you prefer that aims at a different goal, and we can talk past each other, but until you address the goal (in this case, my goal would be maximizing my personal power) we're going nowhere.

Pretty much any line of reasoning on the question of voting systems will go

1. We should try to achieve set of goals G. (G may be a singleton.)
2. Method M is the best way to achieve G.
3. Therefore, use M.

Note that if we have two different sets of goals G1 and G2 we may well agree M1 is the best way to get G1 and M2 G2. You probably agree giving me the only vote is the best way to bring about the maximization of my personal power. The disagreement, then, is on whether that's a good goal.

In the EC versus popular vote argument, most items falling under 2 are known. EC focuses on state power, increases the relative voting power of people in unpopulated states, etc. Popular vote would encourage candidates to give more attention to dense areas. Trying to skip to 3 citing these reasons is pointless when the real disagreement is in 1.

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