[EM] Sociological issues of elections

Fred Gohlke 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 [1926] 1994, 144).

The other is Dr. Mansbridge's working paper entitled, "A 'Selection 
Model' of Political Representation", which is available at:


Fred Gohlke

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