[EM] Sociological issues of elections

Fred Gohlke fredgohlke at verizon.net
Thu Sep 5 18:30:33 PDT 2013

re: "Arguments against direct democracy usually go that
      the public is too short-sighted or that it doesn't
      have enough specialized knowledge."

My personal opposition to direct democracy is the susceptibility of the 
public to the influence of behavioral psychology, a tool used in 
partisan politics to persuade the people to favor one point of view or 
another.  It is much too easy to concoct fictions, particularly to 
frighten the people.  To reduce the force of the manipulations that 
engulf us, the people need an an electoral process that allows and 
encourages them to deliberate.  That would occur during the election 
stage of the hybrid process.

re: "Then the argument against the "average person" is really
      a claim by those whose opinions are more to the left on
      that line that the public can't govern on its own."

I'm not sure where my views may appear on that line because I rarely 
think in those terms.  A friend recently suggested my approach leaned 
toward 'virtue ethics', in contrast to an approach which emphasizes 
duties or rules (deontology) or which emphasizes the consequences of 
actions (consequentialism).  I've no idea whether that would be leftish 
or rightish.  To be absolutely frank, my lack of an academic background 
hinders me in this regard.  I'd never heard the term 'virtue ethics' 
before and had to look it up.  From what I read, it seems an excellent 
evaluation of my belief about electoral systems.

re: "But all things equal, we'd prefer something to the right,
      because we know that concentrated unaccountable rule can
      become corrupt ..."

Whether right or left, wouldn't the hybrid approach eliminate 
'concentrated unaccountability' because of the inflow of fresh faces 
after each election cycle?  Although I may be alone in this, it seems to 
me party-based systems are the most susceptible to becoming 
oligarchical.  They wind up both concentrated and unaccountable.

re: "One possible way would be that parties would reorganize
      as advisory organizations surrounding the legislators.
      If a party had drawn up a plan like the above, the members
      would try to convince the members of the legislature to
      go with it, and the members might or might not decide to
      do so."

Considering alternatives to the status quo and integrating them to the 
extent they are appropriate is vital for a vibrant, evolving society. 
Using random selection makes it difficult to include the best proponents 
of non-standard points of view.  That is a major drawback, to the hybrid 
approach.  Having parties function as advisory organizations might work, 
but it might be more effective if their best advocates participated in 
the election phase.

re: "... any given representative will most likely only serve
      one term, therefore he won't feel accountable. Thus he
      would, either consciously or subconsciously, favor his
      own particular interests. So the system might lead to what
      one might call 'random pork'."

To do so, the rogue needs the support of a majority of the legislature 
to enact the 'pork' law.  Since the 'pork' is for the benefit of the 
rogue, such support would be difficult to enlist.  Time works against 
such an enterprise.  Corruption takes time.  Blatant announcement of 
roguish intent will alienate more people than it attracts.  In the 
present system, incumbents tend to be re-elected (at least, in the 
United States).  They have multiple terms to corrupt and be corrupted. 
That is unlikely in the hybrid system.  In addition, in partisan 
systems, legislators are subject to pressure from the party 'whip'.  If 
there is no party, there is no whip.

Fred Gohlke

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