[EM] Sociological issues of elections
fredgohlke at verizon.net
Mon Sep 2 14:34:45 PDT 2013
Good Afternoon, Vidar Wahlberg
I'm happy to see that Kristofer Munsterhjelm responded to your post.
You probably are already familiar with him, but I've always found him
the most thoughtful contributor on this site. He rarely agrees with me,
but he describes his point of view with so much clarity it is impossible
not to learn from him.
As Kristofer says, it is difficult to address the sociological issues
because they are fuzzy. They're fuzzy because they are a manifestation
of the entire community, and no one person, or organization, can provide
a prescription for the ills of the entire community. Only the people,
themselves, can do that.
So far, we've failed to give them the means.
We can not wait for a champion to do it for us because none will come
forth. True democracy offers no rewards for vested interests, so there
is no incentive. Instead, if we are to conceive a way for the people to
govern themselves, those of us who envision a better future for society
will have to go through the slow process of identifying the flaws in the
present system, agreeing on the principles of a truly democratic
process, and building a practical electoral process on that platform.
re: "Until I've read more up on the subject I can't add the
most valuable input"
That may be your most valuable asset. You've demonstrated insight into
the breadth of the problems we face, enough interest to wonder about
them, and a recognition that they are fundamental issues that can't be
resolved by the way we count votes. Just your reasoning power, alone,
is enough to add valuable input.
May I recommend a couple of papers that might interest you? One is the
Report of the Commission on Candidate Selection by Peter Riddell. The
Commission is made up of 5 of England's political parties and examines
the issue of candidate selection in Great Britain. It makes some very
important points, and is compelling because it is an examination
conducted by the parties themselves. It used to be available on-line,
but has disappeared, so I've asked my grandson to host it for me. You
can download it from:
I'd also like to recommend two papers by Jane Mansbridge. Dr.
Mansbridge is the Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic
Values at Harvard University, and is the current president of the
American Political Science Association. The first paper is, The Fallacy
of Tightening the Reins. This was her keynote address at the Austrian
Political Science Association 2004 meeting in Vienna. You'll find it at:
This paper contains such jewels as:
"I have reviewed the many flaws in the electoral
connection - among others, that it is a blunt
instrument, encourages distorted information,
undermines legislators' concern for the long term,
selects against many who would bring primarily a
concern for the public good into office, and
supplants intrinsic with extrinsic motivation."
and this quote from John Dewey:
"The old saying that the cure for the ills of
democracy is more democracy is not apt if it
means that the evils may be remedied by introducing
more machinery of the same kind as that which
already exists, or by refining and perfecting
that machinery" (Dewey  1994, 144).
The other is Dr. Mansbridge's working paper entitled, "A 'Selection
Model' of Political Representation", which is available at:
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