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World & Current Events > Elections as the orgasm of democracy. Do you feel satisfied?

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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13507 comments In our representative democracies the elections are presented as our biggest/only chance to influence, to elect someone to promote our agenda, to rule our countries. My own personal dissonance with all the projected beauty is that with politicians rarely keeping their election promises and generally falling into the comfort of routine, I don't actually remember when the last time I felt my vote meant anything or there was someone promoting anything of what I'd wanted. But maybe it's just a skeptical me? I never heard any interview with politician who'd say: "Listen, guys, I hadn't done s..t, just received a good salary for years." No, each of them would boast how much s/he'd done for his/her supporters. Each politician/party would stubbornly argue how successful they were, offering a scarce number of success examples and giving perfect explanations for sometimes much more abundant failures.

Do you feel elections really give you a chance to rule your country? How satisfied are you with the incumbents afterwards?


message 2: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2146 comments Polls in the States tend to show that people are extremely unhappy about the job congress is doing, but somehow they're very satisfied with the job their individual congressman does. The problem is not necessarily with the politicians, but with this bizarre disconnect voters have.


message 3: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13507 comments J.J. wrote: "Polls in the States tend to show that people are extremely unhappy about the job congress is doing, but somehow they're very satisfied with the job their individual congressman does. The problem is..."

Interesting. Apparantly their dissatisfaction with the body doesn't spread to their homie, which, if I inderstand correctly, can't do much alone, as s/he doesn't have any individual executive powers and can only initiate or support laws and participate in the work of the Congress, right?


message 4: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9517 comments In my view, elections give us only one option regarding ruling the country - do we turf out the incumbents or deny someone we don't like from getting anywhere? The difficulty is, most people vote according to some wired-in pre-conception, and these tend to be regional. In the US, this is so bad that elections can be determined by just a handful of states, because only these will plausibly swing. In New Zealand, we have MMP, and this problem is avoided, only to have another introduced - to form a government, following the election there are negotiations as to who will be part of it, and in the horse trading, no policy announced prior to the election is sacrosanct, so the people do not actually vote to decide what will be done. My guess is there is no really satisfactory way to govern, and we have to make do with the best we have.


message 5: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13507 comments Ian wrote: "In New Zealand, we have MMP, and this problem is avoided, only to have another introduced - to form a government, following the election there are negotiations as to who will be part of it, and in the horse trading, no policy announced prior to the election is sacrosanct, so the people do not actually vote to decide what will be done. My guess is there is no really satisfactory way to govern, and we have to make do with the best we have. "

Yeah, we have the same system and it's sometimes pathetic to watch how supposedly bitter rivals, having opposite agenda and goals all of a sudden after elections form a government of a national unity, putting aside everything they promised. Something like Hillary offering Donald to become a vice President in her administration after the elections or vice versa.
The unity government is the best way to distribute 'jobs' and ministries and ensure the government survives the full term, but probably - the worst to accomplish anything.
I'm not sure there is no other way to govern. One of the main arguments for the rep. democracy was the lack of practical feasibility to bring issues to everyone's vote, but now with the new techs, where almost everybody has internet access (if not at home then in the internet cafe), electronic signatures, biometric id and so on, I don't see that much of a problem to run votes among the citizens directly and maybe to fire all those politicians that are supposed to represent us, but instead represent themselves to achieve a better chair and sometimes different groups of influence with good lobbies.
Yeah I know that some argue that plebiscites/referenda are criticized for how easily the opinions can be swayed and manipulated and so on, but it's more paternalistic than it really is and, if anything, I'd prefer to do my own mistakes rather than empower someone, who'd do nothing on my behalf ..


message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9517 comments Nik wrote: "Ian wrote: "In New Zealand, we have MMP, and this problem is avoided, only to have another introduced - to form a government, following the election there are negotiations as to who will be part of..."

In my noel "Scaevola's Triumph" I had my Roman transferred to an advanced civilisation, where there was a form of democracy. Because machines did essentially all the work, there had to be something for the population to do, so the answer to that was, be part of the government. Complete democracy. How it worked was that the citizens went to local committees and discussed the items, and when they had 75% agreement, they sent the rest up to be coordinated, and the arguments presented. These would be generally circulated, including to those with opposite views, then everyone would go back for another round, and this continued until the whole population voted 75% in favour of whatever. The problem, of course, was that nothing much ever got done. If you have a civilisation that as worked for goodness knows how long, you don't need to get much done, but the system fails miserably if for some reason you have such a need.

As you say, I doubt there is any great form of government, however we get by now because we have plenty, basically. Once we no longer do, this may change in a not very pleasant way.


message 7: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13507 comments Ian wrote: "Complete democracy. How it worked was that the citizens went to local committees and discussed the items, and when they had 75% agreement, they sent the rest up to be coordinated, and the arguments presented. These would be generally circulated, including to those with opposite views, then everyone would go back for another round, and this continued until the whole population voted 75% in favour of whatever. The problem, of course, was that nothing much ever got done...."

I think it's certainly an interesting concept to explore. There is a live example with Switzerland having a much wider use of direct democracy.
The procedure you describe is cool for engagement of the bored population, but in the reality would be an overkill, so I understand why the things didn't get done -:) Such a large majority of 75% is often required in existing represenative democracies, but usually - for pivotal changes, like those of constitutions and similar. On a regular issue, the simple majority shall suffice.. And another round might be superfluous, unless as you say - it's for involving the population into something meaningful


message 8: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2146 comments Ian wrote: "Nik wrote: "Ian wrote: "In New Zealand, we have MMP, and this problem is avoided, only to have another introduced - to form a government, following the election there are negotiations as to who wil..."

That's exactly what we're seeing here in the States. Our system was established for a clear majority consensus (60% of Senators needed to move legislation forward, 2/3 majority to override Presidential veto), yet because our government moves slowly as it was designed to do, people are frustrated. I think the frustration is as high as it is because of our decreasing attention spans and the culture of instant gratification we seem to be surrounded with.


message 9: by Nik (last edited Nov 26, 2016 02:15AM) (new)

Nik Krasno | 13507 comments Now that the elections are over and emotions died down a bit, how do you feel? -:)


message 10: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin I am still waiting for the sky to fall on my head.


message 11: by Tom (new)

Tom Wood (tom_wood) “[Slitscan's audience] is best visualized as a vicious, lazy, profoundly ignorant, perpetually hungry organism craving the warm god-flesh of the anointed. Personally I like to imagine something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It's covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth, Laney, no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote. Or by voting in presidential elections.”

― William Gibson, Idoru


message 12: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9517 comments Nik wrote: "Now that the elections are over and emotions died down a bit, how do you feel? -:)"

A little dazed, probably due to the pain killers I am having, (but starting to reduce consumption). [For those unaware, the pain killers are for my hip replacement :-) ]


message 13: by Michael (new)

Michael McLellan I'm in wait and see mode. It's not a perfect system, but it's the one we have.


message 14: by Matthew (last edited Nov 26, 2016 02:07PM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) If an election can likened to a sex, then this is one was horribly awkward, ugly, difficult, and one which everyone wanted to just be over with! And when it was, most seemed very disappointed and disheartened by the result.

It was like a drunken one-nighter where the person sobered up partway, realized they made a terrible mistake, but was determined to finish up just so could pretend they got something from it. But they ended up with some kind of terrible VD instead! The only upside is that it might be temporary...


message 15: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin That last U.S. presidential election reminded me of a group drunken challenge I saw in my younger years in the Army: who would pick up the ugliest date.


message 16: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9517 comments So Matthew wants America to start taking massive doses of antibiotics. Big Pharma strikes again!!


message 17: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Ian wrote: "So Matthew wants America to start taking massive doses of antibiotics. Big Pharma strikes again!!"

Yep. America has some serious burning VD. Time to take its medicine :)


message 18: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13507 comments The democracies that many of us supposedly live in boil down to 'elections', it seems. Every once in 4-5 years you get a decent show or maybe - not so much and in the end - you may vote for some dude or a list of dudes for a local or state level. While democracy as we learn about it, implies much more than that - it's the rule of the people through majority decisions. Do, we people, get to rule? Anyone asks us (except for stupid telephone polls sometimes) about education, taxes, foreign policy, defense, anything? Maybe you have a referendum once in a decade. But that's it. Behind a noble word we have very little influence on what happens in a country, moreover learn that lobbying groups, big biz and so on - have much more weight. It's only when people go out on the streets, someone notices them. Those peoples' 'representatives' often represent themselves and their sponsors much more than electorate.. Don't think 'elections' should be the only practical essence of democracy. Now it seems we live more in oligarchies and corporacies.


message 19: by Tom (last edited Nov 27, 2016 06:57AM) (new)

Tom Wood (tom_wood) The single most effective way to actually have a democracy in the US again is to prohibit gerrymandered congressional districts. As it is now, 85-90% of all districts are safe for the incumbent party. The voters in the incumbent party aren't likely to switch, so they can be ignored. The voters in the minority party are ignored anyway. Which means that the representatives from those districts do not have to actually 'represent' anybody except the special interests that give them money.

Since most 'special interests' are multi-national corporations with foreign interests, it seems arguable that all of our so-called 'representatives' are actually treasonous bastards who work for foreign interests instead of true Americans. And that's an insult to legitimate bastards!


message 20: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9517 comments Nik, we don't have democracy, except possibly in some Swiss cantons. Our for of government is that of the Republic, based on the Res Publica, where every year the people would go outside the gates of Rome and vote for the next Consul. Gerrymandering of seats is irrelevant in NZ because the voting system is MMP, in which the overall composition of government is based on the total number of votes across the country The problem here is hat the "make-up" politicians are nominated by the party. In principle, this should lead to quality, but it doesn't feel that way.

My personal favorite is a system that has never been tried because I more or less invented it for novel, but I never got around to writing it, in part because I have yet to be bothered. It goes like this. You have two houses of government, and the Lower House formulates the legislation, etc. Nothing novel here. The Upper House, however, is voted for this way. Everyone gets, say, three votes here (the number is irrelevant, but it must be significantly less than the total, and these are voted for experts in fields selected by the voter. Thus you might decide to vote for Finance, Education and Health. The members of the Upper House have two rights: unrestricted rights to see what government is doing, and unrestricted speaking rights. These guys are the checks and balance. They have the power to block legislation that is demonstrably in opposition to policy announced prior to election, but they must take into consideration changed circumstances, and if the government persists, they have the power to call for a public vote. If a politician loses that vote, he is barred from ever being a politician again. (Recall, he mislead the voters to become one.) There would need to be some further serious thinking about this (another reason I haven't got around to it) but it does seem to me that if a politician lies to get into power, he should be subsequently publicly stripped of it.


message 21: by Joe (new)

Joe Clark | 165 comments Nik wrote: "Now that the elections are over and emotions died down a bit, how do you feel? -:)"

Are you sure they are over? The guy who won claimed that the election was rigged and that he would only accept the result if he was the winner. Now we have had massive protests and a recount is about to take place. The winner, who claimed that the election was rigged, is totally against a recount. Why would that be?
I happen to believe that all the smart people who publicly stated that the was not prepared to take on the job and should be elected were spot on. Now we have a new president with no government experience propelled into office by an angry minority faced with healing a divide that basically goes right down the middle. He's in but can he succeed. I hope he does but I am not optimistic.


message 22: by Matthew (last edited Nov 27, 2016 10:51AM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Joe makes a good point. And let's not forget that his performance just thus far has raised a lot of questions about how a president can be impeached and an election outcome disregarded by the electoral college since it doesn't necessarily accord with the popular vote.

And there's also the growing picture of a man who doesn't want to actually do the job of the president and is prepared to leave all the day-to-day duties to his VP. He said as much during the lead-up to the election when he was shopping around for a VP. Now it seems that his trademark laziness may actually come true.


message 23: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9517 comments Matthew, as I understand it, many presidents have been less than energetic and leave most of the mundane jobs to others, and quite frankly, that is in my opinion how it ought to be. Reagan and Eisenhower come to mind.

And as I have said before, the popular vote is irrelevant when the system disregards the minority in states that always vote the same way. Voters can't be bothered and nobody wastes effort campaigning there.


message 24: by Joe (new)

Joe Clark | 165 comments Ian wrote: "Matthew, as I understand it, many presidents have been less than energetic and leave most of the mundane jobs to others, and quite frankly, that is in my opinion how it ought to be. Reagan and Eise..."
Actually all of the evidence indicates that Trump is a minority president and the problem is how to be as he put it "President for all of the people."


message 25: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9517 comments Yes, but since half the people don't vote, ALL presidents have been minority by that count.


message 26: by Mike (new)

Mike Robbins (mikerobbins) | 264 comments Absolutely true Ian; not so different in Britain and that's how it's going to be until we get electoral systems that make each ballot count, so that people do actually turn out and vote. Meanwhile democracy is starting to look a bit thin.

For what it's worth, I've just expressed these thoughts and others in the following: Such Little Accident: British Democracy and Its Enemies

Such Little Accident British Democracy and Its Enemies by Mike Robbins

As the blurb puts it: “When the people shall have nothing more to eat,” said Rousseau, “they will eat the rich.” But the rich are rather good at getting the poor to eat each other instead. In this provocative novella-length essay, Mike Robbins looks at how the British electoral system, social media, bullying by business, and a growing gap between rich and poor have led to deep fissures in British society. These have been exploited by those with an agenda of their own. As a result, democracy is now fragile. To repair it, we must look hard at the way information cycles through our society, and how our opinions are formed.

Some of what's in this essay applies to the US as well, I think. The point about minority votes is especially important, and neither country has much time left to deal with it.


message 27: by Joe (new)

Joe Clark | 165 comments Mike I'm not going to quote you because there's too much there . But I have explored similar ideas in a blog I recently posted "Decision 2092". On the 600th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in America, Donald Trump ' s grandson is running for president. Not only has all work been turned over to machines, energy is free because fusion technology has been mastered. Raw food is produced mechanically and turned into meals by 3d printers or replicators. Governments around the world provide housing, food and other necessities because no one has a source of income. Tourism including moon, Mars, and Jupiter flyby is the only remaining industry, I believe a lot of people see this as the future in one form or another. I hope I am wrong because in my version humans end up like super intelligent chickens .


message 28: by Matthew (last edited Dec 17, 2016 11:32PM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Ian wrote: "Matthew, as I understand it, many presidents have been less than energetic and leave most of the mundane jobs to others, and quite frankly, that is in my opinion how it ought to be. Reagan and Eise..."

Perhaps, but within that framework, there were some presidents who truly asleep at the wheel. Reagan during his second term is a good example, for which he was called a "lame duck". George W. Bush was notorious for taking long vacations and only working 9 to 5 when he was in the Oval Office.

But Trump takes the cake when it comes to laziness. When he first approached Pence as his pick for VP, he did so with the intent of letting Pence handle the day-to-day job of being president, and his behavior now that he's in office is certainly consistent with that. And when being shown around the White House by Obama, Trump expressed dismay over how much he would be required to do as President.

As for the rest, not sure what you're getting at or how it relates here. How does the current system ignore people who always vote the same way?


message 29: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13507 comments Joe wrote: "in my version humans end up like super intelligent chickens..."

Not sure it's that futuristic, may well be - contemporary and I sometimes have doubts about 'super intelligent' -:)


message 30: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13507 comments Ok, we say here that many do not vote and that's one of the problems. But say, we all turn up and vote, let's extrapolate what's then?
Those who 'lost' shouldn't really have many expectations and should benefit, if the winning candidate does something for the entire country and hope they were wrong in not voting for him/her.
Those who won and their candidate/party/representative made it - hurray, bingo, excellent - now the life would surely turn to the better!
But somehow it doesn't happen. Nobody's interested in common people. They are too big a group to cater. Yeah, maybe we shouldn't expect anything done specifically for us, but in the situation where something is being done towards different groups of interests (for example - for some niche party to get them into coalition, for some industrialist to get their sponsorship and so on), it feels kinda not cool to be left out. And with every indicator growing except for an average salary, it kinda puts a question mark about somebody ever thinking of majority.
Now, usually the winners would try (but not very hard) to realize a couple of their campaign promises. Why? Because it looks good, it's a good PR and they need to do (or pretend doing) something once in the office anyway, so why not what they'd promised.
But their heart doesn't lie there. If a new initiative doesn't meet much resistance - everything's fine, it goes smoothly, but if it does it takes a lot of resolution to overcome it and not many politicians would go that extra mile.
Now who forms their agenda, who do they eat lunch with? Right : with lobbyist, industrialists, foreign dignitaries. Yeah, not with a nurse working in the nearest hospital, not with a plumber or a medium level clerk somewhere, who really form this ephemeral majority. Besides, you are a big boss now, it's kinda small to think of plumbers or teachers and their problems. Maybe if you meet a boss of some big union you can dedicate a minute or two.
I argue we have this opportunity once every 3, 4, 5 years to choose some representatives, who'd rarely represent us (or maybe they would, but not as a very top priority). Yeah, it's more than in authoritarian regime, but too little to really say "hey, it's a democracy - a rule of commoners". Far from that, in my opinion.


message 31: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9517 comments The problem is, while the representatives don't really represent our interests, because once elected their priorities lie elsewhere until the next election looms, what is better? I have had a lot of fun showing all the problems of other systems. (As an aside, our form of government is the republic, not democracy.) The one novel where I had democracy, nothing got done, which was why they had it. It was a society that was very old, and production, etc, was done by machines, so democracy was their way of giving everyone something to do, but the inevitable fact that one half could not agree with the other half meant that nothing got done, which was the objective. If the system had worked admirably for a million years or so, why change it?
The real problem is to find a means to have government that represents the best interests of the people. But how do you deal with the problem that the people may not know what that is? If you look at the general discussions on the recent US election, you can see that true democracy would be a nightmare of squabbling.


message 32: by Joe (last edited Dec 19, 2016 01:22PM) (new)

Joe Clark | 165 comments Nik wrote: "Not sure it's that futuristic, may well be - contemporary and I sometimes have doubts about 'super intelligent' -:)"
Of course, the process is gradual like the tide coming in. Yes many of us are quite domesticated. The "super intelligent" rating is based on chicken IQ standards. We all know a joke about ET' coming to earth looking for intelligent life and leaving disappointed. But thanks for taking the time to consider my rant.


message 33: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2146 comments Joe wrote: "Mike I'm not going to quote you because there's too much there . But I have explored similar ideas in a blog I recently posted "Decision 2092". On the 600th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in Amer..."

His grandson is going to be on the old side. Or maybe I'm just too tired to think about the math. The Buchanons were grandfather/grandson presidents and their elections were a lot closer. It might not be the same kind of comparison, but Eisenhower's grandson married Nixon's daughter.

Then again, it seems we either elect Presidents on the young side of the qualifications, or those who are rather old...and it seems like when we elect old Presidents, we're almost determined to elect one older than any past President...so maybe by the end of the century, we are pushing the boundaries with our Presidents' ages...


message 34: by Joe (new)

Joe Clark | 165 comments J.J. wrote: "His grandson is going to be on the old side. Or maybe I'm just too tired to think about the math. ."
It's just a story to put some ideas out there. I wasn't too careful about the chronology but I thought he would be in his sixties."


message 35: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13507 comments Ian wrote: "The problem is, while the representatives don't really represent our interests, because once elected their priorities lie elsewhere until the next election looms, what is better? I have had a lot o..."

Why not try - direct voting/democracy? Say you have an issue that garnered 100K signatures, why not to put it on voting? Technologies allow making it easy. Won/lost - decision is made, moving on. I'd rather make my own mistakes than appoint someone to supposedly represent me and not even interested in making decisions to my favor...


message 36: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13507 comments Joe wrote: "But thanks for taking the time to consider my rant...."
Actually liked the idea, just made it a little more 'complimentary' for the humankind -:)


message 37: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9517 comments Nik, the problem with direct democracy is the average voter does to connect the issues. They might vote for a tax cut, and then vote for increased spending on social issues. I know the politicians make a hash of things right now, but treacly could be worse. Too many individuals really don't care about the issues, but they will vote for a tax reduction on them.


message 38: by Joe (new)

Joe Clark | 165 comments Nik wrote: "Why not try - direct voting/democracy? Say you have an issue that garnered 100K signatures, why not to put it on voting? Technologies allow making it easy. ..."
I believe that we are going to move in that directions. I don't know how much longer we are going to hold on the Electoral College, which is little more than an irritating formality. My current proposal is for a monster on-line system - like Facebook, e.g. - with a series of run off elections. Each candidate would have to post positions and answer questions. All voting members would cast a ballot in some designated time period. The top vote getters would move on to the next round until a single candidate was selected.


message 39: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13507 comments Ian wrote: "Nik, the problem with direct democracy is the average voter does to connect the issues. They might vote for a tax cut, and then vote for increased spending on social issues. I know the politicians ..."

But that's natural to care for yourself, no? The way it is now, the system serves the super rich and some groups of interests, only crumbles remaining for the majority that it is declared to rule in democracies. A lie.
Now, we can have say 'moderators' who'd be convincing people towards this or that idea, being floated for the vote. I kinda liked how the Queen and London politicians courted the Scots to remain united with Brits -:)
I don't think we should assume that commoners are idiots and gonna 'sink the boat'. Check for example the Swiss referendum on basic income REJECTED by the popular vote: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_r... . And Switzerland, where the direct democracy is much more accessible, boasts very high numbers and places practically on every known indicator.

True - mentalities are different, and in my opinion - is at least worth a try, being much more 'democratic'...


message 40: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13507 comments Joe wrote: "I believe that we are going to move in that directions. I don't know how much longer we are going to hold on the Electoral College, which is little more than an irritating formality...."

Might happen when the 'sponsors' will feel 'comfortable' enough with any new system.. Hope to be wrong, but it looks like - they decide


message 41: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9517 comments I am against any vote where the voters do not understand the issues. I do not know enough about the Swiss situation to comment there, butI do know on referenda we have had here, the phrasing of the issue to be voted on is critical. In many cases, they have been deliberately phrased to get one outcome. In my novel with democracy, the idea was that citizens had to go to committees, which debated, then voted and gave reasons for the vote, this being circulated to the public, and the whole thing continued until debates ceased bringing up new issues, then there was a vote. However, that is simply too cumbersome to get anything done.


message 42: by Joe (new)

Joe Clark | 165 comments Ian wrote: "I am against any vote where the voters do not understand the issues.... In my novel with democracy, the idea was that citizens had to go to committees, which debated, then voted and gave reasons for the vote, this being circulated to the public, and the whole thing continued until debates ceased bringing up new issues, then there was a vote...."
Novels are wonderful things. If you are the author you can make things come out any way you want. Not only is your approach "too cumbersome to get anything done". It probably isn't going to work in a complex society with millions to 100's of millions of voting citizens. Did the people in your novel have any time to go to work and earn a living? Did they have families that needed their time and attention? Did any of them aspire to write a best selling novel? What happened when the less interested citizens got tired of going to meetings and hearing the same old BS over and over again? If you can't get a majority of the citizens to go to the poles with a minimum understanding of the issues once every couple of years, how are you going to get them to show for an endless stream of debates?
In a representative system like we have in the United States, legislators are paid to pay attention to issues at least part time. At the National Level, the president, the senators and the congressmen are full time employees with large staff to research issues, write speeches and send out meaningless responses to interested citizens who take the time to contact them. The citizen has no chance of keeping up with all of the issues and little hope of being fully informed on any of the issues.


message 43: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13507 comments No people won't have time to go to extensive discussions and they aren't necessary. I'm sure tv, experts and so on will provide enough input on issues with keen public interest.
If we take some example at hand:
Have Trump pondered extensively over wall with Mexico before presenting it? ...Maybe, maybe not.
Why can't it go into referendum for example, so people will say - 'yes wall' or 'no wall' and how Congress' or Trump's decision will necessarily be better?


message 44: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9517 comments Joe wrote: "Ian wrote: "I am against any vote where the voters do not understand the issues.... In my novel with democracy, the idea was that citizens had to go to committees, which debated, then voted and gav..."

In this particular society, the civilisation was very old, so they did not need to get things done. Further, since all production, etc, was by machines, democracy was more a way to fill in the day.

However, I disagree with Nik that extensive discussions are not necessary. If you don't get the question right so that everyone understands what it means, and it is phrased in such a way that it does not tend to lead to one outcome, then you will get serious dissatisfaction. The losers will assert that the winners did not understand what was at stake. Just look at what is being shouted after the Trump victory. That was a rather simple issue, but look what happened. What do you say when the vote to reduce taxes automatically means a cut in benefits when that was not specified in the question voted on?

Taking Nik's example, suppose people vote "No illegal immigrants", "No wall", and "Cut expenditure on border security in half". Now what? We have incompatible votes.


message 45: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Ian wrote: "The problem is, while the representatives don't really represent our interests, because once elected their priorities lie elsewhere until the next election looms, what is better? I have had a lot o..."

I would agree with most of that, with one exception. I wouldn't say politicians change their priorities as much as come face to face with the realities of their position and that of the system itself. But in a system like the US - yes, technically not a demcracy, we know! :) - where campaign finance isn't even regulated in any real way, politicians' priorities are set from the beginning. In order to finance an 18-month long campaign, and make it through the election, they are beholden to their party and Super PACS for support. As such, their promises made to the electorate are offset by their promises to political allies and their largest donors. They don't change once they get into office, as much as we come to see them for what they really were.

I think as far as alternatives, we're already seeing it take shape. I think that modern communications and technology are allowing an unprecedented degree of distributed systems of emerge - political, social and economic. It's been predicted for some time that this will lead to an age of "democratic anarchy" or "distributed polities" where things like centralized bureaucracies (and hence, representation) is no longer needed.


message 46: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2146 comments Ian wrote: "Nik, the problem with direct democracy is the average voter does to connect the issues. They might vote for a tax cut, and then vote for increased spending on social issues. I know the politicians ..."

A few years ago when Obama tried to raise taxes on the "rich," the media would run their polls asking people if the rich should pay more in taxes, or more specifically if the 1% should pay more in taxes, and they end up with a vast majority of people who say yes...I kept thinking of course people are going to say yes because the real question the pollsters are asking is "should someone who isn't you pay more in taxes?"

The problem with the majority making decisions is that you often encounter laws and policies that are disastrous to one minority group or another.


message 47: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13507 comments I see that many disqualify ourselves (or rather our countrymen? -:)) from being able to decide for themselves...
But weren't the fears similar when women were not allowed to vote or some groups of people?


message 48: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9517 comments Nik wrote: "I see that many disqualify ourselves (or rather our countrymen? -:)) from being able to decide for themselves...
But weren't the fears similar when women were not allowed to vote or some groups of..."


Giving women the vote is totally different, because it was not changing the system; it was merely altering the question of who selected the representatives. Further, in most cases they had seen the example of NZ, where the roof had not fallen in. Parliament still had, by and large, the same sort of politicians as before. For all its faults, the republic form of government forces a debate on every decision, and who votes what is recorded. News commentators analyse the issue to death before the vote.

Changing the way decisions are reached is entirely different. In democracy, nobody knows what is going to happen until it happens, and nobody knows why. The voters debate nothing, and nobody has direct responsibility for the decision. Look at Brexit. There ems to be a lot of consensus that this was a bad decision, and it was largely taken on misinformation, as a number of enthusiasts came up with all sorts of excuses as to why it was going to be good, but after the vote, people like Farage walked away from the decision, leaving other to clean up the mess. Do you want EVERY decision to be like that?


message 49: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13507 comments If you ask me - yes, definitely. I see how it works in Switzerland and it looks fine! If it were easily accessible and you think brexit is a bad decision- put it on a re-vote after a while. And maybe they will.
I don't trust the representatives to represent me well. Don't trust myself either, but a little more-:) It's our countries, our money, lives, wellbeing. We should decide ourselves rather than delegate to others. It should be a mechanism though - not just voting on every trifle every 5 minutes and protection of minorities from abuse.


message 50: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9517 comments Nik, you either vote on everything, including dog control, or you have someone else making the decisions. And you can't revote. What do you want - best of three? And how do you protect minorities? Who protects?


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