[EM] critical theory - election methods as a remedy

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Tue Mar 17 00:20:38 PDT 2009

Fred Gohlke wrote:
> Good Morning, Michael
> re: "... you might consider that a strict implementation of your
>      method is unnecessary ... "
> I outlined a concept, implementation is a separate step.  It is, I think, 
> inevitable that the implementors will modify the method to suit the 
> circumstances they deem important.  I may have an opinion about the 
> efficacy of those modifications, but whether or not the implementors heed 
> my views is beyond my control.

I understand, you're not a technologist.  My offer of free software is
not much help, because you cannot modify it yourself.  But you may
find someone who can.

> re: "... there is much to be said for these particular freedoms.
>      They include:
>   i) Triad size unbounded, not limited to 3
> [The smaller the group size, the less impediment there is to the expression 
> of ideas.  The larger the group size, the greater the tendency for members 
> to 'follow the leader'.  A group size of 3 is not cast in concrete, but it 
> offers advantages worthy of note.]

The voters may note it, too.  Their judgement may suffice.  Or, for
your part, you may impose a limit on group size.  We could then
experiment.  (The system isn't centrally administered, so individual
towns and regions can easily do their own thing.)

>  ii) Voter chooses her own triad, and may migrate to another, at
>      any time
> [If one's goal is to enable multiple parties, this may be a good 
> suggestion, but it is not supportive of a non-partisan approach to 
> democracy.  Random assignment to small groups reduces the influence of 
> parties.  It also ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity to 
> participate in, and learn from, the process because the dynamics that 
> affect each participant vary from election to election.]

Maybe the method is strong enough to handle this without forcing
sortition?  We could argue that a tension between partisan and
non-partisan motives - between the particular and the general - is not
an accident of politics, but the essense of it.  And if we expose the
voters to this essential tension, then maybe the method's
hierarchical, tree structure will provide the means to express it and
resolve it.  I imagine it would be resolved, bit by bit, through
trial-and-error vote shifting.

Crucially the tree structure allows the resolution to occur at the
level of single votes.  A single vote may simultaneously express both
assent and dissent for a candidate.  It expresses a general
willingness, on the one hand, to bend toward consensus (rootward),
while being in tension with a particular interest, on the other hand,
that is more-or-less dissenting (leafward).  The deliberate and
sustained casting of the vote is the crucial act that holds the
structure together.  So it is very strong.  (Structural strength is
needed, because the method is not only for elections, but also for
direct legislative voting.)

> iii) Voter may withdraw her vote, or shift it to another
>      candidate, without restriction"
> [That is a fundamental tenet of Practical Democracy, as proposed.]

I missed your specification of vote shifting.  In which post was it?

Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521

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