[EM] Utilitarianism and Perfectionism.

David L Wetzell wetzelld at gmail.com
Thu Feb 9 07:21:25 PST 2012

> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Juho Laatu <juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk>
> To: EM list <election-methods at lists.electorama.com>
> Cc:
> Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2012 22:29:02 +0200
> Subject: Re: [EM] Utilitarianism and Perfectionism.
> On 8.2.2012, at 16.18, David L Wetzell wrote:
> ...
> dlw:At any rate, this is why I've argued that ascertaining the best
> single-winner election rule is nowhere near as important as pitching the
> importance of mixing the use of single-winner and multi-winner election
> rules, with the latter replacing the former more so in "more local"
> elections that are not competitive often in single-winner elections.
> JL:I think I agree when I say that the first decision (in the USA) is
> whether to make the current two-party system work better or whether to aim
> at a multi-party system.

dlw: I think the power of $peech in the US has made that choice for us.
 But I'd argue that to make our two-party system work better, we need to
provide a constructive role for 3rd parties in it.  This wd be accomplished
by the use of 3-seat LR Hare in state reps elections.  If the Hare quota is
used in the "more local" election and the Droop quota is used in the "less
local" election, like the US congressional elections then we'll keep a
two-party system.   An analogous case could be made for the use of Hare
quotas in aldermen elections and Droop quotas in city council member
elections.  But without giving third parties a constructive role to play,
we're never going to be able to enforce regulations of $peech.

The kicker needs to be to separate the advocacy for such from a
perfectionist approach that presumes we need an EU-style multi-party system
ASAP.  When those are connected, too many people say it's not possible and
down-grade it's short-run importance as an issue.

> JL: After that has been agreed, it is easier to pick the used election
> methods.

dlw:I think the best way to build consensus is to take inspiration from our
practical difficulties.  Our difficulty is that to get reform, we need to
get support from leaders of the two parties that dominate our two-party
system.  This should make that agreement a lot easier.

JL: Now, in addition to technical problems one has also a mixture of
political higher level targets injected in the discussion, and that does
not make it any easier.

dlw: That is part of what holds up electoral reform: we get caught up in
reaching the political higher level targets and don't reach for the
low-hanging fruit that will have a significant "trickle-up effect".

> JL: At the top level there is the presidential system that is tailored for
> the two-party approach. If one would give up the two-party approach at that
> level one might move also e.g. away from the single-party government
> approach towards multi-party govennments.

dlw: I think Ralph Nader has shown the barrenness of focusing on the prez
system.  Anything that requires a US constitutional amendment should be
ruled off the table, IMO.

> JL: At the lower levels one might consider also two-party oriented methods
> that are allow also third parties to take part in the competition. I mean
> that if one wants to stay in the two-party model, one may not need full
> multi-winner methods at the lower levels. It would be enough to e.g.
> guarantee that also third parties can survive and get their candidates
> elected, and that some third party may also one day replace one of the
> major parties as one of the two leading parties in some states, and maybe
> at national level too. I think this more lmited approac to multiple parties
> is quite different from typical multi-party requirements that typically
> include requirements like proportional represnetation.

dlw: But a "less-is-more" PR cd help such come about, as it arguably did
with IL and NY historically.

> Of course one may also adopt different models in the two layers, two-party
> system for the rop level and proportonal representation for some state
> level representative bodies. Above I also made the assumption that the
> strict tw-party approach where there are two fixed parties and that's it,
> is not considered acceptable / sufficient.

dlw:I agree that the only good two-party system is one that is
meritocratic, whereby which 2 parties are at the top and dominate can
change or where one of them can be forced to merge with a successful 3rd
party, like with the Democratic Farm-Labor party in MN.

> JL: The message I'm trying to carry with this, is simply that after one
> names the targets, it is much easier to discuss what the best methods to
> implement those targets would be. Is it a two-party system, a flexible
> two-party system, or a proportional system, and are the targets different
> at different levels and in different bodies.

dlw:I agree, would you agree that if we were to target a flexible 2-party
system that a modified form of IRV would be more acceptable for
single-winner elections than in an EU-style multi-party system?


> Juho
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Jameson Quinn <jameson.quinn at gmail.com>
> To: EM <election-methods at lists.electorama.com>, electionsciencefoundation
> <electionscience at googlegroups.com>
> Cc:
> Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2012 07:33:27 -0600
> Subject: Re: [EM] NYT/Richie voting reform "debate" next Sunday; write in.
> Here's the first draft of my letter to the NYT. I welcome comments (or
> copycats). I'd be even happier if something like this could be signed by
> several of us, and I'd happily cede considerable editorial control  I'll
> send it around midday Friday to give them time to include it before Sunday.
> Here's a google doc<https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-rf1rr7FoxcLrCsMMDrOzSzRrsBCD_DP3NfDqV-kYmY/edit?pli=1&hl=en_US>of my letter, if anyone wants to help edit it or sign on; but I'll also try
> to incorporate any comments made here on the list.
> -----------
> *Since the 1950s, we've known that it's no coincidence that our voting
> system leads to a two-party monopoly; it's the inevitable result under
> Duverger's Law. Imagine if we had such a monopoly for cars: for instance,
> only Ford Focuses and Chrysler Minivans were allowed. Worse, if you tried
> to order, say, a Chevy Volt, you'd get the Minivan, the permitted model you
> liked least. Ford and Chrysler would happily charge whatever price that
> captive market would bear, innovation would suffer, and they'd triangulate
> towards the "swing buyer" to further erode buyer's free choices. Indeed,
> I'm very happy that in the real world Ford and Chrysler win their
> popularity honestly, not by a guaranteed monopoly.*
>  * Just as in the analogy, much of our broken politics isn't even the
> voters' fault. Voters left and right are incensed by corruption, and yet we
> too-often have no real choices. As Mr. Richie points out, a better voting
> system could give better results, and there's no shortage of better
> options. At BanSingleMarkBallots.com, there's a statement which discusses
> the problem and offers several solutions, which has been signed by a number
> of voting system experts. We may have some friendly disagreements with Mr.
> Richie – for instance, we support simpler, robust systems like approval
> voting, while I know Mr. Richie favors instant runoffs – but we commend him
> for bringing much-deserved attention to this issue.*
> -----------

dlw: Rather than pillory the 2-party system, let's say the only way it
could "work" is if 3rd parties are given a constructive role in it, for to
trust the two major parties to regulate $peech is like to trust the foxes
to guard the hen-house.  We must adapt American exceptional-ism to give 3rd
parties access to power so they can hold us accountable for the protection
of the rights of ethnic, economic and ideological minority groups in the
USA.  For we have been dismal, not exceptional, in our treatment of many
such groups in the USA.  To do this, we need to emphasize changes to the
use of proportional (the term richie used) in "more local" elections.
 These seemingly unimportant elections could be very important for
handicapping the cut-throat competition in our country between our top two
parties.  For if no party can dominate then their incentive becomes to work
together more than to attack each other or to game the system to get and
stay into power.

All of what Rob Richie wrote and more would help in this regard, but the
strategic use of PR(once again using richie's term), within a two-party
dominated system, needs to be emphasized as extra important to help make
critical changes in the US's political culture in the near future.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/attachments/20120209/8b996950/attachment-0004.htm>

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list