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Well, I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree. Our rules suck. The only people that think they're fine are the ones not getting screwed by them.

And don't presume to tell me what the intent of my posts are.



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Shadow1980 said:
Well, I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree. Our rules suck. The only people that think they're fine are the ones not getting screwed by them.

And don't presume to tell me what the intent of my posts are.

I was fine with the first sentence and wasn't going to reply, but reading the rest of your post made me want to clarify two things, if not for you, for anybody else reading: 

1. I already agreed that "Our rules suck." That you seem to have taken from the post I wrote (which it seems you might not have read?) that I was saying they don't suck is truly amazing considering that I said, "I don't disagree that the current election rules suck."

2. I never "presume[d] to tell [you] what the intent of [your] posts are." Where the hell did that come from? 

So while I am fine "to agree to disagree" I don't think you even understand what we are disagreeing about in the first place. It certainly isn't "that the rules suck" which we do indeed have agreement on. 



sc94597 said:

I was fine with the first sentence and wasn't going to reply, but reading the rest of your post made me want to clarify two things, if not for you, for anybody else reading: 

1. I already agreed that "Our rules suck." That you seem to have taken from the post I wrote (which it seems you might not have read?) that I was saying they don't suck is truly amazing considering that I said, "I don't disagree that the current election rules suck."

2. I never "presume[d] to tell [you] what the intent of [your] posts are." Where the hell did that come from? 

So while I am fine "to agree to disagree" I don't think you even understand what we are disagreeing about in the first place. It certainly isn't "that the rules suck" which we do indeed have agreement on. 

And I quote:

"Your point was that elections where a party holds or forms a coalition that constitutes a majority happens far less commonly in Canada and the U.K."

No. No. No. A thousand times no. You were putting words in my mouth again, just like you were claiming I was "hyperfocused" on majorities when I didn't even mention them. I don't give a damn about coalitions, either. I never even used the word "coalition." Twice you put words in my mouth. Twice!

Let me spell it out to you as clearly as I can: When it comes to legislative elections, I care about one thing and one thing only: REPRESENTATION THAT IS AS ACCURATE AS POSSIBLE!. If the vote split is 40 blue/40 red/20 orange, the seats shouldn't be 55 blue/35 red/10 orange or some other out of whack result. FPTP rules consistently result in disproportional results in legislative elections. For example, the current composition of the Canadian House of Commons is 157 seats for the Liberals, 121 for the Conservatives, 32 for BQ, 24 for NDP, and 3 for the Greens. Based on the national vote, it should be something closer to 112 Lib./116 Con./26 BQ/54 NDP/22 Greens/6 PPC, with two to spare.

In the U.S., with just two major parties, we can still end up with unrepresentative results. At the national level, in 2012, the Democrats got more votes nationwide than the Republicans for House election, yet the GOP ended up with an absolute majority of 234 seats, or ~53.4% of the total? At the state level, we have results like those here in my home state of South Carolina, where Democrats got 44.37% of the statewide vote but only 2 out of 7 seats instead of 3 (in 2016, they won only 1 out of 7 seats despite getting just shy of 40% of the statewide vote). In neighboring North Carolina, the Democrats have only managed to win a quarter of all U.S. House seats in the past several elections despite the statewide results being a whole hell of a lot closer than 25%/75% (it was a mere two-point gap in 2018 in the GOP's favor, and that's with one Republican candidate running unopposed; take him out of the equation and the Democrats won the most votes statewide). How is that representative? How is that fair?

And if you agree that the rules suck, then why are you defending them so adamantly? Because there's more than two major parties in Canada and the UK despite them? That they have so many parties holding seats in the legislature is not in and of itself proof that FPTP works, or that it doesn't produce vote splitting and spoilers. The unrepresentative results is evidence that just because it can support three or more parties doesn't mean that it does so in a fair and proper manner.

FPTP creates vote splitting/spoilers.

FPTP creates unrepresentative results in legislative elections.

FPTP is vulnerable to gerrymandering.

FPTP is a garbage system and needs to go. Hardly any advanced nation uses it anymore aside from the U.S., UK, & Canada, and all three of those nations consistently fall prey to the drawbacks of that system. We need ranked-choice voting. We need proportional representation.



Shadow1980 said:

And I quote:

"Your point was that elections where a party holds or forms a coalition that constitutes a majority happens far less commonly in Canada and the U.K."

No. No. No. A thousand times no. You were putting words in my mouth again, just like you were claiming I was "hyperfocused" on majorities when I didn't even mention them. I don't give a damn about coalitions, either. I never even used the word "coalition." Twice you put words in my mouth. Twice!

Let me spell it out to you as clearly as I can: When it comes to legislative elections, I care about one thing and one thing only: REPRESENTATION THAT IS AS ACCURATE AS POSSIBLE!. If the vote split is 40 blue/40 red/20 orange, the seats shouldn't be 55 blue/35 red/10 orange or some other out of whack result. FPTP rules consistently result in disproportional results in legislative elections. For example, the current composition of the Canadian House of Commons is 157 seats for the Liberals, 121 for the Conservatives, 32 for BQ, 24 for NDP, and 3 for the Greens. Based on the national vote, it should be something closer to 112 Lib./116 Con./26 BQ/54 NDP/22 Greens/6 PPC, with two to spare.

In the U.S., with just two major parties, we can still end up with unrepresentative results. At the national level, in 2012, the Democrats got more votes nationwide than the Republicans for House election, yet the GOP ended up with an absolute majority of 234 seats, or ~53.4% of the total? At the state level, we have results like those here in my home state of South Carolina, where Democrats got 44.37% of the statewide vote but only 2 out of 7 seats instead of 3 (in 2016, they won only 1 out of 7 seats despite getting just shy of 40% of the statewide vote). In neighboring North Carolina, the Democrats have only managed to win a quarter of all U.S. House seats in the past several elections despite the statewide results being a whole hell of a lot closer than 25%/75% (it was a mere two-point gap in 2018 in the GOP's favor, and that's with one Republican candidate running unopposed; take him out of the equation and the Democrats won the most votes statewide). How is that representative? How is that fair?

And if you agree that the rules suck, then why are you defending them so adamantly? Because there's more than two major parties in Canada and the UK despite them? That they have so many parties holding seats in the legislature is not in and of itself proof that FPTP works, or that it doesn't produce vote splitting and spoilers. The unrepresentative results is evidence that just because it can support three or more parties doesn't mean that it does so in a fair and proper manner.

FPTP creates vote splitting/spoilers.

FPTP creates unrepresentative results in legislative elections.

FPTP is vulnerable to gerrymandering.

FPTP is a garbage system and needs to go. Hardly any advanced nation uses it anymore aside from the U.S., UK, & Canada, and all three of those nations consistently fall prey to the drawbacks of that system. We need ranked-choice voting. We need proportional representation.

Misunderstanding your position and "presuming your intent" are two very different things. I might have done the first, but I certainly didn't do the latter. Anyway, when you said this, 

"Elections in the UK and Canada are a horrible mess because of the existence of more than two major parties. They make our elections look neat and tidy by comparison, and ours are already unrepresentative enough. FPTP rules are not the norm for lower house elections in most of the world, and it's easy to see why."

What exactly did you mean? For example, when you say "ours are already unrepresentative enough" and you precede that by "they make our elections look neat and tidy by comparison" does it not follow that you think Canada's and Britain's elections are more unrepresentative than the American elections? And since all of that was preceded by your concern that the party in charge ruled with a minority government that had a plurality, I (maybe wrongly) gathered that you were suggesting that the American legislature is more representative because majorities (or larger pluralities, near majorities) control it. Hence my response about how only looking at the party representation and not the representation of policy positions in the legislature as a whole is what I'd consider the wrong way to measure how representative a legislature is. I'd argue that if 80% of people support something like Medicare For All, 80% of a legislature (or as close as possible to that) should support Medicare For All. Likewise, with any other policy. 


I wasn't defending the rules. I was defending voting third party in certain circumstances, given that the rules are what they are and aren't likely to change soon enough for the 2022 and 2024 elections. If I had my way we'd switch to a Mixed-Member Proportional system, like what exists in Germany. Where did I ever defend first past the post? 



sc94597 said:

Misunderstanding your position and "presuming your intent" are two very different things. I might have done the first, but I certainly didn't do the latter.

Anyway, when you said this, 

"Elections in the UK and Canada are a horrible mess because of the existence of more than two major parties. They make our elections look neat and tidy by comparison, and ours are already unrepresentative enough. FPTP rules are not the norm for lower house elections in most of the world, and it's easy to see why."

What exactly did you mean? For example, when you say "ours are already unrepresentative enough" and you precede that by "they make our elections look neat and tidy by comparison" does it not follow that you think Canada's and Britain's elections are more unrepresentative than the American elections? And since all of that was preceded by your concern that the party in charge ruled with a minority government that had a plurality, I (maybe wrongly) gathered that you were suggesting that the American legislature is more representative because majorities (or larger pluralities, near majorities) control it. Hence my response about how only looking at the party representation and not the representation of policy positions in the legislature as a whole is what I'd consider the wrong way to measure how representative a legislature is. I'd argue that if 80% of people support something like Medicare For All, 80% of a legislature (or as close as possible to that) should support Medicare For All. Likewise, with any other policy.

I know I'm not the most articulate person on the planet despite my verbosity, but I guess sometimes I really do suck at explaining what I mean.

I meant it in the context of how elections operate in those countries. Having several different major parties isn't a problem in countries with proportional representation like Germany, Ireland, or New Zealand, because their electoral systems are by design intended to yield results consistent with the overall partisan makeup of the electorate in a given election. But in FPTP systems it results in that "mess" I was talking about, meaning unrepresentative results. When you increase the number of major parties to three or more, it exacerbates the issues present in FPTP.

sc94597 said:


I wasn't defending the rules. I was defending voting third party in certain circumstances, given that the rules are what they are and aren't likely to change soon enough for the 2022 and 2024 elections.

Voting third-party in U.S. elections is only excusable if it happens in places where the one voting third-party can be absolutely certain it won't affect the outcome of the election. In other words, safe states like California or South Carolina in presidential elections, or safe congressional contests where there's no chance of a House or Senate seat flipping. But in any remotely competitive contest, it's too risky. Progressives voted Nader instead of Gore in sufficient quantities to flip Florida, for example. Evidence suggests they were enough to flip Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan red in 2016.

To do so in a competitive election just to punish Democrats (meaning primary voters, not the party leadership) for not giving them their ideal progressive candidate is counterproductive in the extreme. That's what has me so worried for November. I still see so many "Never Biden" progressives out there even after everything Trump has said and done. When I think of the possibility that they are willing to cost Biden in November, I also see the possibility of four more years of a continued lack of leadership from an incompetent authoritarian who seeks to undermine our norms and our democracy solely for the sake of his own ego. I see Ruth Bader Ginsburg possibly a death's door, and beyond her demise the possibility of a 6-3 conservative supermajority in the Supreme Court. This frightens me. I have never seen a political figure in America as existentially terrifying as Trump. That fear does not seem to exist in some progressives. It's almost like some of them fear the prospect of a moderate Democrat in office more than they fear continued "governance" from a party led by people like Trump and Mitch McConnell, whose base takes their cues from propagandists like Rush Limbaugh and Tucker Carlson, and who think that "global warming is a communist hoax" and "QAnon is on to something" are perfectly rational, reasonable, and logical ways of viewing the world.

I'd be all for voting third-party anywhere at any time if it weren't for our current rules. Hell, I might be inclined to vote for a progressive-left party myself if we had ranked-choice voting for president and other electoral reforms. But until then, I will continue to vote straight-ticket Democrat as a matter of principle, just as I've done for the past 20 years. Beating Republicans is more important than getting my way in the primaries. Even Bernie Sanders gets that, even if some of his followers don't.

sc94597 said:

If I had my way we'd switch to a Mixed-Member Proportional system, like what exists in Germany. Where did I ever defend first past the post? 

With the way you were criticizing my criticisms of FPTP, it seems liked you were defending that system. Was this really all just a big misunderstanding or something? If so, I apologize.

As for my preferred PR system, I think I like the idea of the single transferable vote method. I like that it's ranked-choice, which is something I think we need for presidential, Senate, and gubernatorial elections as well. Since it uses multi-member districts instead of single-member districts, that makes it extremely difficult to gerrymander; though MMP can and may compensate for it, it still has single-member districts that can potentially be subjected to gerrymandering. Also, STV doesn't bake political parties into the process, and can function even in an officially nonpartisan election, whereas MMP necessarily has political parties as part of its process. Also, while I do think the House needs more seats (it's been frozen at 438 by law for over 90 years), STV obviates the immediate logistical concerns of potentially having to increase the size of the House, and having to reapportion representatives and redraw maps. It could be a matter as simple as fusing existing districts together until the next reapportionment.



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Shadow1980 said:

I know I'm not the most articulate person on the planet despite my verbosity, but I guess sometimes I really do suck at explaining what I mean.

I meant it in the context of how elections operate in those countries. Having several different major parties isn't a problem in countries with proportional representation like Germany, Ireland, or New Zealand, because their electoral systems are by design intended to yield results consistent with the overall partisan makeup of the electorate in a given election. But in FPTP systems it results in that "mess" I was talking about, meaning unrepresentative results. When you increase the number of major parties to three or more, it exacerbates the issues present in FPTP.

I accept the fact that Canada and the U.K have less representative elections than Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, etc. But I think in order to measure representation one shouldn't just look at party representation, but also how often popular policies get enacted into law. For example, there is a well-known study that has been circulating the internet for years now about how the U.S is an oligarchy because there is such a low correlation between public policy preferences and the laws that are passed, while there is a high correlation between elite policy preference and the laws that are passed. I'd argue that even if the parties represented public preference (given the limited choices offered) perfectly (Democrats get the same proportion of seats to their vote, Republicans ...) , if this still persisted, the U.S would still not have a representative democracy, because the parties that exist are not representing the population in their platforms and actions. My argument is that by having more parties Canadian and U.K legislatures better represent their constituents in this sense because it forces the parties to conform to popular opinion in order to win. In other-words, "safe districts" are fewer because there is always some sort of competitor, and because safe-districts are fewer the public has more influence over elections. So while the U.K and Canada are less representative than Germany, Ireland, and New Zealand, they are more representative than the U.S -- and that is because in part they have more parties and therefore more competitive elections. 

Shadow1980 said:

Voting third-party in U.S. elections is only excusable if it happens in places where the one voting third-party can be absolutely certain it won't affect the outcome of the election. In other words, safe states like California or South Carolina in presidential elections, or safe congressional contests where there's no chance of a House or Senate seat flipping. But in any remotely competitive contest, it's too risky. Progressives voted Nader instead of Gore in sufficient quantities to flip Florida, for example. Evidence suggests they were enough to flip Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan red in 2016.

To do so in a competitive election just to punish Democrats (meaning primary voters, not the party leadership) for not giving them their ideal progressive candidate is counterproductive in the extreme. That's what has me so worried for November. I still see so many "Never Biden" progressives out there even after everything Trump has said and done. When I think of the possibility that they are willing to cost Biden in November, I also see the possibility of four more years of a continued lack of leadership from an incompetent authoritarian who seeks to undermine our norms and our democracy solely for the sake of his own ego. I see Ruth Bader Ginsburg possibly a death's door, and beyond her demise the possibility of a 6-3 conservative supermajority in the Supreme Court. This frightens me. I have never seen a political figure in America as existentially terrifying as Trump. That fear does not seem to exist in some progressives. It's almost like some of them fear the prospect of a moderate Democrat in office more than they fear continued "governance" from a party led by people like Trump and Mitch McConnell, whose base takes their cues from propagandists like Rush Limbaugh and Tucker Carlson, and who think that "global warming is a communist hoax" and "QAnon is on to something" are perfectly rational, reasonable, and logical ways of viewing the world.

I'd be all for voting third-party anywhere at any time if it weren't for our current rules. Hell, I might be inclined to vote for a progressive-left party myself if we had ranked-choice voting for president and other electoral reforms. But until then, I will continue to vote straight-ticket Democrat as a matter of principle, just as I've done for the past 20 years. Beating Republicans is more important than getting my way in the primaries. Even Bernie Sanders gets that, even if some of his followers don't.

Your first point is precisely what I've been saying. There are roughly 90 House of Representative seats where Republicans get 30% or fewer votes in a regular election. This means that unless there is an exceptionally strong Republican national atmosphere, the top two parties (assuming there are three) in these districts won't have a Republican. There is no reason why these seats should remain safe. A party to the left should run against Democrats in so much as they fill such seats, which should have left-wing representatives because the populations are left-wing, with centrist and center-right candidates. That is where the People's Party should start and focus until there is electoral reform. Even if we assume that these two parties only got 35% of the vote respectively (meaning their votes split down the middle) Republicans can't win, because they'd only have at max 30% of the vote and therefore would be a third party. Over a few elections the center party (likely Democrats) would likely split in two with the People's party getting a majority of Democratic votes and the moderate portion of the former Democratic Party splitting and moderating the Republicans who run. That'd mean that in these districts the whole political scene would have shifted leftward. Not only would there be a viable and strong left-wing dominant party in the district, but there would also be a more moderated Republican party to represent centrist and center-right voters. 

The point of voting for a left-wing third party isn't to "punish" Democratic primary voters (although I'd ask why should left-wing independents and non-Democrats care about Democratic primaries that we can't even participate in without becoming Democrats?) but to get better representation. Democratic primaries aren't perfectly small "d" democratic processes. They are skewed by money, establishment connections, etc. Again, I bring up the scenario of Pelosi now pushing Kennedy rather than the progressive incumbent Ed Markey because Kennedy was able to bring donors in to support Democrats. Massachusetts is progressive enough that Markey should be in his own party to the left of establishment Democrats, and if that means the sort of moderate Republicans that exist in Massachusetts sometimes win state-wide elections (as they already do now) that's okay. The goal should be to shift all of American politics leftward so that the whole ecosystem of politics are no longer skewed so far right to the point of being unrepresentative. 

Sanders is an Independent, and while he might understand that no third party is going to win the presidency, he still runs for Senate as an Independent. So I think he is quite in line with a position (I think you and I see close to) about running third party and independent candidates in highly progressive districts/states. If you lived in Vermont and a Democrat was running against Sanders -- Independent that he is, would you vote down the ticket Democratic, even if you agreed with Sanders more? What if Sanders started a political party called the Vermont People's Party and campaigned for people to vote for this party in House of Representative, Senate, and Gubernatorial elections, but Democratic in presidential elections? 

Shadow1980 said:
sc94597 said:

If I had my way we'd switch to a Mixed-Member Proportional system, like what exists in Germany. Where did I ever defend first past the post? 

With the way you were criticizing my criticisms of FPTP, it seems liked you were defending that system. Was this really all just a big misunderstanding or something? If so, I apologize.

As for my preferred PR system, I think I like the idea of the single transferable vote method. I like that it's ranked-choice, which is something I think we need for presidential, Senate, and gubernatorial elections as well. Since it uses multi-member districts instead of single-member districts, that makes it extremely difficult to gerrymander; though MMP can and may compensate for it, it still has single-member districts that can potentially be subjected to gerrymandering. Also, STV doesn't bake political parties into the process, and can function even in an officially nonpartisan election, whereas MMP necessarily has political parties as part of its process. Also, while I do think the House needs more seats (it's been frozen at 438 by law for over 90 years), STV obviates the immediate logistical concerns of potentially having to increase the size of the House, and having to reapportion representatives and redraw maps. It could be a matter as simple as fusing existing districts together until the next reapportionment.

Yes, I think we both were talking past each-other a little. A few posts ago I shared a video about how we could shift to Ranked-Choice (or any other non-plurality) voting system without doing so through the parties via citizen's initiative and referenda. I support electoral reform, but I also think that within certain districts and regions it makes sense to vote for a non-Democratic, non-Republican option, because those districts/regions are essentially one-party districts/regions as it is. 

I like STV, and think it works great in Ireland. My preference for MMP mostly resides in the fact that Germany has quite a broad Overton Window and part of that is because of how it explicitly instantiates parties in to the system. Party-list would also do this, but I don't think Americans would tolerate party-list systems as there is still some connection to districts and home-rule. So a mixed-system seems like a decent compromise. 

But really, I'd imagine that committing to non-plurality voting on a state-by-state basis, with each state choosing its own system would make it much harder for any organized coalition to game the system in a systematic manner. If one-fourths of the states have single-membered ranked-choice voting, another quarter have MMP, another STV, etc it is going to be hard to create a national coalition to game the system. Similar to how while it is theoretically possible to gerrymander with an MMP system, functionally it is harder to do when there are three to seven parties determining the map because nobody has an actual majority. 


Honestly, I think the only area we disagree is in whether or not the Democratic Party is moving leftward. If you asked me last year, I would've agreed, but everything that has happened in the last year has shown an attempt to "triangulate" to the right. 

Last edited by sc94597 - on 25 August 2020

I think we do need a serious third-party in America with a lot of momentum. I don't want us having over a dozen powerful parties all at each other's throats. But we could use 3-5 parties in state and federal legislatures. I hope this movement goes somewhere.



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Wman1996 said:
I think we do need a serious third-party in America with a lot of momentum. I don't want us having over a dozen powerful parties all at each other's throats. But we could use 3-5 parties in state and federal legislatures. I hope this movement goes somewhere.

Yeah. I think people are too fast tothink only about presidency. But in actuality in many countries third-parties have their place on a smaller scale, more locally. State legislature would probably be better off with more competition and even a few third-party people in congress should be fine.



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