[EM] Democracy

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km-elmet at broadpark.no
Mon Mar 16 05:14:43 PDT 2009

Don & Cathy Hoffard wrote:

> You could change the Triad method to say that the final 9 would decide 
> who would get the job and not require that you select only from the 
> final 9.  In this way our three citizens could have a chance to be part 
> of the final 9.  It does not make the method consistent with our 
> democratic principles but it is closer.

This brings to mind another possible variant, where the council 
democracy/triad method is used as a party-independent primary. Say that 
the process terminates when there are 9 candidates left. Then there's a 
publication period where the candidates try to gain voter's support. 
After that period, a traditional voting system is used to find the winner.

In that variant, the problem you mention (that those who don't want to 
be city managers/councilmembers themselves have no choice in the further 
levels) is ameliorated because, after the primary, the whole people can 
now decide. Would that be democratic by your definition?

There are other problems with this idea, however. One of the points of 
the triad system was that instead of campaigning (which is free to 
exploit flaws in reasoning, like any other form of advertising), there 
would only be the mutual examination of small groups. Having a primary 
opens up this option for the second "round", the election itself. 
Parties or other "patron groups" could tell each candidate "move towards 
my position, and we'll back you up with the considerable might of our 
marketing apparatus".

> Another problem with the Triad method is that the best person (the one 
> that would be selected by all of the citizens) for the job may be 
> eliminated on the first round by two men who don’t like the third 
> persons looks or they thinks she is too liberal (or too conservative).  
> Also the best person could also be eliminated because someone on her 
> Triad didn’t show up.

That is true. Larger groups would help, but they also make the group 
more impersonal. Elsewhere, I have suggested a variant with a larger 
group (7 or 9 or so) and a supermajority decision to select a smaller 
group (3 or 4 out of 7) to the next level. The group is still small 
enough that faction-building doesn't appear, yet losses of a single 
member don't impact it as greatly. The supermajority criterion also 
imparts some aspect of proportional representation.

> Most cities (and government entities) allow anyone seeking a political 
> office to get X number of signatures and get on the ballot.  If the 
> person can’t get the required number of signatures then they are, in all 
> likely hood not the best person (determined by the voters) for the job 
> any why.

One could craft a pro-triad argument by comparing the "gauntlet" of the 
other candidates to that of gathering signatures. If the others are 
reasonably good at picking the best of three, then if you only advance a 
few levels, you might not have been a good candidate in the first place. 
The lower levels act as a filter, just like the signature limit does 
(though of somewhat different nature). To counter, one would have to 
show that the lower levels are worse filters than simple signature 
limitations, and one way to do that would be to emphasize the 
fluctuation problem you referred to previously.

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