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Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#21301 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2023-December-22, 01:30

 Winstonm, on 2023-December-21, 23:52, said:

I did not brag about superdelegates. I pointed out that the DNC has more control and is therefore less democratic.

I actually disagree that superdelegates are less democratic, at least when used correctly. American primaries are generally voted on by the most extreme elements within a party's caucus. If left unchecked this produces bad candidates that appeal only to the base but not to the country as a whole. I tend to associate this with the Left, as in the UK it is the Labour Party that have had issues over the years of unelectable candidates whereas the Conservatives tend to be more pragmatic and choose the candidates that have the best chance of winning. The idea of having a check on those extreme elements that essentially represent potential voters that are not represented in the primaries is a good one. When done correctly, it effectively increases the range of voters being represented. Of course American super-delegates do not need to represent this group when casting their votes, which is where the potential loss in democracy comes from. With good SDs who understand what their role should be though, it is generally an improvement in terms of getting the candidates that the voters want, rather than those that a small portion prefer. This is just one example of the complexity of democracy.
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#21302 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2023-December-22, 07:46

potential voters are not part of the democracy of voters. hence, a failing of democracy: voter turnout
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#21303 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2023-December-22, 08:30

 Gilithin, on 2023-December-22, 01:30, said:

I actually disagree that superdelegates are less democratic, at least when used correctly. American primaries are generally voted on by the most extreme elements within a party's caucus. If left unchecked this produces bad candidates that appeal only to the base but not to the country as a whole. I tend to associate this with the Left, as in the UK it is the Labour Party that have had issues over the years of unelectable candidates whereas the Conservatives tend to be more pragmatic and choose the candidates that have the best chance of winning. The idea of having a check on those extreme elements that essentially represent potential voters that are not represented in the primaries is a good one. When done correctly, it effectively increases the range of voters being represented. Of course American super-delegates do not need to represent this group when casting their votes, which is where the potential loss in democracy comes from. With good SDs who understand what their role should be though, it is generally an improvement in terms of getting the candidates that the voters want, rather than those that a small portion prefer. This is just one example of the complexity of democracy.


My understanding of superdelegates, how they came into being and exactly how they work, is weak. But I agree with your view.

It would be good to have a Democratic candidate who would be at least reasonably satisfactory to many of the people who usually vote Republican and a Republican candidate who would be at least reasonably satisfactory to many of the people who usually vote Democratic. The nomination process would go like this: Let's assume that the other party will nominate a reasonable cahdidte. Then we must choose a candidate that reflects our beliefs but has a reasonable shot at winning against this decent candidate the other party will nominate.

Shyam's post 21291 describes an example of where we now are:

Quote

While I realise that opinion polls aren't worth much, I must point out that:

* In a hypothetical contest between Nikki Haley and Joe Biden, Ms Haley is projected to win very comfortably (a 17-pt lead according to WSJ)
* If Trump were facing off Biden, his lead is narrower; between 2-pts and 6-pts (different surveys yield different results)

Are the Dems sure they want Trump eliminated from the contest?



The idea being that maybe Dems should hope Trump gets the nomination (as he probably will) so that even a Dem like Biden can maybe win the election. If Nikki Haley wins the nomination then good grief, the Dems might have to come up with a better candidate.

I don't know if what I say exactly aligns with what you are saying but I think your general idea is that somehow we have reached a point where we nominate to please the base of one party instead of dominating to get a candidate who would get wide support from the entire population.

And this approach is not going well for any of us. Superdels could help with this problem and maybe they sorta do a bit. More would be nice.
Ken
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#21304 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2023-December-22, 12:55

 kenberg, on 2023-December-22, 08:30, said:

I don't know if what I say exactly aligns with what you are saying

You understood perfectly and as usual were able to rewrite it in a form 10000% better than the original.
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#21305 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2023-December-22, 14:00

KenB

What you describe is what used to happen in smoke filled rooms when party bosses controlled the process.

Source: How Democracies Die
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#21306 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2023-December-22, 14:40

 Winstonm, on 2023-December-22, 14:00, said:

KenB

What you describe is what used to happen in smoke filled rooms when party bosses controlled the process.

Source: How Democracies Die




The smoke-filled room approach, whether or not they were filled with smoke, definitely had its issues. Leave that aside for the moment to address current problems.

If we think abstractly about primaries, an obvious potential issue is that since only Ds vote in the D primary and only Rs vte in the R primary, the candidates from each party could be unacceptable to people from the other party. Divisiveness kicks cooperation out the door.
It could be worse than that. The result of primaries could be that a large portion of the population, people with somewhat centrist ideas, might find neither of the candidates all that attractive and so they end up having to vote for the candidate they dislike the least.

Ok, that could theoretically happen. I think it has happened. In 2016 I think many people (me, for example) would have preferred a candidate other than DT or HC, and in 2020 they would have preferred someone other than DT or JB, and it appears that there will be a replay of that next year.

I am not advocating smoke-filled rooms. I am hoping we can find a way to have two candidates such that not only do they both accept the voters' verdict but also many who voted for the losing candidate can say "Well, my choice didn't win, but the country is still in good hands".

That is not where we are now.
Ken
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#21307 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2023-December-22, 14:52

One problem I see is our radicalization if defined as movement away from centrism, both liberal and conservative. Politicians are not persons of integrity but those who are sensitive to the whims of voters and can adopt a stance similar-it is only what voters tolerate that establishes boundaries. No way Mitch McConnell would have pulled his Supreme Court gambit 40 years ago. And it is the same reason Trump could never be removed from office by impeachment.

Modern democracies die from the inside out. We are well on our way. I am no expert but from reading I understand there is at least a correlation between radicalization and increasing wealth gaps if not a genuine cause and effect.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#21308 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2023-December-23, 08:30

 Winstonm, on 2023-December-22, 14:52, said:

One problem I see is our radicalization if defined as movement away from centrism, both liberal and conservative. Politicians are not persons of integrity but those who are sensitive to the whims of voters and can adopt a stance similar-it is only what voters tolerate that establishes boundaries. No way Mitch McConnell would have pulled his Supreme Court gambit 40 years ago. And it is the same reason Trump could never be removed from office by impeachment.

Modern democracies die from the inside out. We are well on our way. I am no expert but from reading I understand there is at least a correlation between radicalization and increasing wealth gaps if not a genuine cause and effect.


Ok, but can anything be done? I'll start with two assumptions:
1. The Democratic leadership would like to have Democrats win more elections.
2. Trump is so God-Awful he should be easy to beat.

So: What happened?

When things go wrong in my life, as they sometimes do, I find it useful to ask myself where I made my mistakes. I suggest that the Democratic leadership try that. Blaming others, even when the blame is deserved, only goes so far. It's tough to change other people. But with some thought, maybe we can cut back on our own errors.
Ken
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#21309 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2023-December-23, 14:55

 Winstonm, on 2023-December-22, 14:52, said:

Modern democracies die from the inside out. We are well on our way.
I am no expert but from reading I understand there is at least a correlation between radicalization and increasing wealth gaps if not a genuine cause and effect.


Sounds plausible, wealth disparities may indeed be a key factor in increased radicalisation.

If this is a known bug in the American way of life, who is responsible for redressing it?
* Is it you the voting-age citizens of the USA?
* Is it the leadership (i.e., the politicians and the bureaucrats)?
* Or is it a natural/automatic rebalancing in a capitalistic marketplace that is overdue to happen?
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#21310 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2023-December-23, 18:33

 shyams, on 2023-December-23, 14:55, said:

Sounds plausible, wealth disparities may indeed be a key factor in increased radicalisation.

If this is a known bug in the American way of life, who is responsible for redressing it?
* Is it you the voting-age citizens of the USA?
* Is it the leadership (i.e., the politicians and the bureaucrats)?
* Or is it a natural/automatic rebalancing in a capitalistic marketplace that is overdue to happen?


Good point. Trouble as I see it is that the ship of state is so large it takes decades to alter course and there may not be time for that to happen.

Separating religious influence entirely from governance would be a sound first step.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#21311 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2023-December-23, 19:09

Here's an interesting paper titled "Why Democracies Collapse: The Reasons for Democratic Failure and Success".
(btw, the presence of a colon in the title is important because it leads to higher citations.)

The authors (Diskin et. al., 2005) contend that:

Quote

ABSTRACT. Most studies of democratic stability are based within either the
socioeconomic or the politico-institutional tradition, but usually not on
both. This article combines the two approaches. In all, 11 variables
associated with democratic stability are divided into four groups
(institutional, societal, mediating, and extraneous) and examined in 30
cases of democratic collapse and 32 cases of stable democracies. Five
variables prove to be the most influential on the fate of democracies.
When a country scores negatively on four of these five variables it is
almost doomed to collapse. Some of the variables prove to be correlated
in an opposite way to that which has been suggested in the literature.



The variables of importance that they land on are:
Federalism = bad
Presidentialism = bad
Proportionality = bad
Constitutional instability = bad


The authors try to assert that the USA is in less danger because it has high constitutional stability (Trump proves this wrong) and low proportionality (with less electoral fragmentation).
Given that every conceivable position of regulation appears to be elected I find the low proportionality argument dubious.


Non legit hoc
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#21312 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2023-December-23, 23:58

 pilowsky, on 2023-December-23, 19:09, said:

The authors try to assert that the USA is in less danger because it has high constitutional stability (Trump proves this wrong) and low proportionality (with less electoral fragmentation).

Given that every conceivable position of regulation appears to be elected I find the low proportionality argument dubious.

I think "proportionality" refers to any election system of proportional representation (PR). A few European countries have a PR method of voting plus the elections to the EU Parliament use a type of proportional representation (D'Hondt method). Many countries (incl. the US & the UK) use a "first-past-the-post" system for most or all elections.

As to your point about constitutional stability and how Trump upended it, he was incapable of changing a single thing in the US constitution.
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#21313 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2023-December-24, 00:20

 shyams, on 2023-December-23, 23:58, said:

I think "proportionality" refers to any election system of proportional representation (PR). A few European countries have a PR method of voting plus the elections to the EU Parliament use a type of proportional representation (D'Hondt method). Many countries (incl. the US & the UK) use a "first-past-the-post" system for most or all elections.

As to your point about constitutional stability and how Trump upended it, he was incapable of changing a single thing in the US constitution.


Yes, proportionality does refer to the system in places (eg Germany) where seats in parliament are allocated in proportion to the number of seats in an electorate.
My point is that because there are so many elections in the USA, with such a high population and with such frequent turnover (in the HoR) the two systems tend to converge as the population gets larger.
Special interest groups can then get elected members and in a split parliament have a disproportionate influence.
Our Senate has the same problem.

The problem the authors highlight in proportional representation is that there is fragmentation of groups.
In the USA where 'party discipline' is an oxymoron, fragmentation is enormous as evidenced by the Speaker of the House election, and the approval of military appointments fiasco.

Regarding stability of the constitution, the system in the USA where the constitution can be whimsically reinterpreted depending on the composition of SCOTUS means that Trump didn't need to change the words in the Constitution.
Non legit hoc
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#21314 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2023-December-24, 02:20

 pilowsky, on 2023-December-24, 00:20, said:

Yes, proportionality does refer to the system in places (eg Germany) where seats in parliament are allocated in proportion to the number of seats in an electorate.
My point is that because there are so many elections in the USA, with such a high population and with such frequent turnover (in the HoR) the two systems tend to converge as the population gets larger.
Special interest groups can then get elected members and in a split parliament have a disproportionate influence.
Our Senate has the same problem.

The problem the authors highlight in proportional representation is that there is fragmentation of groups.
In the USA where 'party discipline' is an oxymoron, fragmentation is enormous as evidenced by the Speaker of the House election, and the approval of military appointments fiasco.

Regarding stability of the constitution, the system in the USA where the constitution can be whimsically reinterpreted depending on the composition of SCOTUS means that Trump didn't need to change the words in the Constitution.

Germany has an important additional element rather than using pure proportionality, the 5% hurdle. Simply put, if a party does not get 5% of the votes, they do not get included in the proportional division of the remaining seats. This helps greatly in avoiding the fragmentation that happens in purely proportional systems, with Italy being the poster-child for that often held up as the only possible alternative model by FPTP enthusiasts. The result is that Germany has a system that is both stable and scores very highly in terms of democratic fairness.
The US HoR though does not converge to proportionality due to seat boundaries, which have a massive effect on the value of an individual vote. With the right boundaries in place, you can comfortably retain a completely safe HoR majority with under 40% of the votes (in a 2 party system) and considerably less if meaningful 3rd party candidates are involved. This happens to some extent in the UK as well (and indeed is an inevitable feature of FPTP seat divisions) but since boundaries are drawn via a commission there and not by partisan politicians, the overall effect is considerably reduced. This effect is why FPTP electoral systems tend to score extremely poorly in terms of demoocratic fairness, with the truth of the matter being that most FPTP elections are decided by a very small portion of the electorate with every other vote being more or less meaningless.
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#21315 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2023-December-24, 11:50

 Gilithin, on 2023-December-24, 02:20, said:

Germany has an important additional element rather than using pure proportionality, the 5% hurdle. Simply put, if a party does not get 5% of the votes, they do not get included in the proportional division of the remaining seats. This helps greatly in avoiding the fragmentation that happens in purely proportional systems, with Italy being the poster-child for that often held up as the only possible alternative model by FPTP enthusiasts.


Italy has not had a purely proportional system or no hurdle for decades now. The ruling coalition tends to tweak the system to increase chances of reelection, but the proportional element retains a hurdle which oscillates between 5% and 4%.
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#21316 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2023-December-24, 18:09

 pilowsky, on 2023-December-24, 00:20, said:

Yes, proportionality does refer to the system in places (eg Germany) where seats in parliament are allocated in proportion to the number of seats in an electorate.
My point is that because there are so many elections in the USA, with such a high population and with such frequent turnover (in the HoR) the two systems tend to converge as the population gets larger.
Special interest groups can then get elected members and in a split parliament have a disproportionate influence.
Our Senate has the same problem.

The problem the authors highlight in proportional representation is that there is fragmentation of groups.
In the USA where 'party discipline' is an oxymoron, fragmentation is enormous as evidenced by the Speaker of the House election, and the approval of military appointments fiasco.

Regarding stability of the constitution, the system in the USA where the constitution can be whimsically reinterpreted depending on the composition of SCOTUS means that Trump didn't need to change the words in the Constitution.


The Constitutional aspects are overrated concerning the USA. As Ziblatt and Levitsky pointed out in their 2018 book the US Constitutional government relies on norms that are not enshrined in law. Someone like Trump who will do what he wsnts until physically prevented overwhelms those norms. Trump and Bannon and that coalition are acutely aware that the SCOTUS has no army to enforce its rulings-without enforcement the constitution is only wishful thinking.
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#21317 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2023-December-31, 12:03

 Winstonm, on 2023-December-24, 18:09, said:

The Constitutional aspects are overrated concerning the USA. As Ziblatt and Levitsky pointed out in their 2018 book the US Constitutional government relies on norms that are not enshrined in law. Someone like Trump who will do what he wsnts until physically prevented overwhelms those norms. Trump and Bannon and that coalition are acutely aware that the SCOTUS has no army to enforce its rulings-without enforcement the constitution is only wishful thinking.

Bill Maher liked to call this the "Gus" problem. This refers to the movie where a donkey became a kicker on an NFL team because there was nothing in the league rules that prohibited it. The rulemakers never thought it was necessary to say that the players must be human, and the team owner jumped through this loophole.

#21318 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2023-December-31, 12:08

 shyams, on 2023-December-20, 07:20, said:

I believe that the disqualification is (at least for now) limited to the GOP Primaries in Colorado. If so, I find it interesting that ...

  • The US courts had ruled (some years ago) that the DNC is a private corporation & that courts do not have a right to intervene in how DNC decides on its nominee (incl. how it runs its primaries).
  • The courts now seem to have ruled that it does have the right to intervene in how the RNC decides on its nominee by interfering in the GOP primaries.


Different states have different rules about primaries. Colorado's constitution says that the primary ballot may only consist of "qualfied candidates". OTOH, Massachusetts has no such provision, so Trump will be on our GOP primary ballot even if he's not eligible to be POTUS.

I don't think this contradicts the above ruling, since the Colorado RNC probably isn't even required to hold a primary to select their candidate (a number of states don't have primaries). But if they hold a primary, it's run by the state, which has to qualify the ballot they provide.

#21319 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2023-December-31, 20:37

 barmar, on 2023-December-31, 12:03, said:

Bill Maher liked to call this the "Gus" problem. This refers to the movie where a donkey became a kicker on an NFL team because there was nothing in the league rules that prohibited it. The rulemakers never thought it was necessary to say that the players must be human, and the team owner jumped through this loophole.

This sounds like a bit of a nod to Tom Dempsey, who still holds the NFL record for kicking a field goal from his own team's 37 yard line.
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#21320 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2023-December-31, 21:47

 Gilithin, on 2023-December-31, 20:37, said:

This sounds like a bit of a nod to Tom Dempsey, who still holds the NFL record for kicking a field goal from his own team's 37 yard line.


I think it was from the 47 yard line (total distance was 63 yards). I also believe the record has since been broken at least a couple of times.
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