[EM] Conceiving a Democratic Electoral Process
fredgohlke at verizon.net
Sat Jul 7 13:18:12 PDT 2012
Good Afternoon, Juho
re: "To me this (not allowing parties to control the nomination
of candidates for public office) is not an absolute
requirement but one approach worth a try."
Can you describe a circumstance in which letting the leaders of a subset
of the electorate control of the nomination of candidates for public
office will be in the public interest? In a representative democracy,
is it not the right of the people to select those who will represent them?
re: "Not a defence of current systems, just a warning that new
systems can not be trusted either."
Of course not: "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance".
re: In connection with goal (3), 'The electoral method must give
the people a way to address and resolve contemporary issues,'
you asked, "Is the intention to say that people should be
able to react (and influence) when they see some changes in
the society or when the politicians start some new initiatives?"
The peoples' concerns change over time, depending on a multitude of
circumstances. To achieve satisfaction, these changing interests must
be given voice, contemplated and reflected in the results of each
election. Advocates of particular interests must be able to proclaim
their ideas and encourage discussion of their concepts. Some will be
accepted, in whole or in part, as they are shown to be in the common
interest of the community. The electoral method must allow and
encourage special interests to attract supporters to their cause and
elevate their most effective advocates during each electoral cycle to
ensure that all public concerns are thoroughly aired and investigated.
re: With regard to the assertion: ... 'if the people can
determine that people of fame and power can be trusted
with public office, we need not fear them', you said,
"People are able to evaluate their nearby and nearly
similar fellow citizens reasonably well, but I'm less
optimistic with how they evaluate different,
psychologically powerful and well known figures."
That is a valid concern. We must always be alert for Prince
Charming-type individuals that can't be trusted with your lunch pail.
If we are to validate candidates for public office, they must be
examined, face-to-face, by people with a vital interest in ascertaining
their character, and the examiners must have enough time to investigate
their subject thoroughly. Should we add that as another goal?
re: With regard to goal (4) which says, 'The electoral method
must allow every member of the electorate to become a
candidate and participate in the electoral process to the
full extent of each individual's desire and ability', you
said, "Yes except that we may have some limitations to keep
the number of candidates reasonable. We may also try to keep
the quality of the candidates good by setting some conditions
that are not too difficult for good candidates to pass."
In a democracy, it is very difficult (and may be improper) for one
person to set conditions and limitations for others. However, as you
say, the quality of candidates is a critical issue. Instead of trying
to prejudge the matter, wouldn't we be better served to let the
candidate's peers decide their suitability? In the process of deciding
which of our peers are our best advocates, we would be automatically
narrowing the field. If, then, our choices had to compete for selection
with the choices of others, it would not be long before we had a very
manageable field of candidates.
re: With regard to goal (5) which says, 'The electoral method
must ensure that all candidates for public office are
carefully examined to determine their integrity and
suitability to serve as advocates for the people', you said,
"This is quite difficult but of course we should do our best
to support this target. In local elections people know the
canidates better. In "non-local" elections media and other
public sources have an important role."
The ability to examine candidates is a matter of accessibility and time.
To form a valid opinion about a candidate's integrity and suitability
for public office, one must be able to meet the person face-to-face,
discuss contemporary issues in detail, and have enough time to discern
the multitude of verbal and non-verbal cues each of us emit during
re: With regard to goal (6) which says, 'The electoral method
must be repeated frequently (preferably annually)', you
raised several points:
a. "There are some benefits also in not having elections
every day. If voters could change their represetatives
any day, the representatives might follow the opinion
surveys too much."
The only reference to frequency was the recommendation that elections be
held annually. Terms of office are already set in most constituencies,
so the elections will be to replace office-holders whose terms are expiring.
b. "I mean that in a _representative_ democracy one may
expect the representatives to make also unpopular
decisions (like raising the taxes when there is a need),
and explain those decisions and build a complete package
of their activities during their term for their
supporters only before the election, so that the voters
can see if the whole package was good or not."
The reason for determining each candidate's integrity and suitability is
to establish, in advance, to the maximum extent possible, that the
candidate can and will make unpopular decisions in the public interest
when circumstances dictate.
c. "(One approach would be to build some hysteresis [Great
Word. I had to look it up. Even though, as a former
pilot, I'm familiar with compass lag, I never knew that's
what it's called!] to the system. If voters feel for few
months that some representative should be changed to
another one, then that change will take place.)
An excellent point. We must include that as a 7th goal for the
electoral method we're devising:
7) The electoral method must include a means for the electorate
to recall an elected official.
re: "There are many kind of people on this list (good) and they
have very different ways to participate in the discussion
"... people on this list have different agendas, and reasons
for being here, and of course different viewpoints. Probably
there will be no "list consensus" on what the goals should
be. But the feedback hopefully makes your list of goals more
accurate, more balanced, and better in addressing all the
viewpoints and comments that potential readers might have."
I agree, and fervently hope they will contribute to our work.
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