Thom's Pseudo Democracy

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Quote ulTRAX:And IRV still gives the two major parties the advantage and may in fact perpetuate them in place.
IRV may encourage the creation of other viable third and fourth parties. But the problem with IRV is that those who vote for these parties are surely to lose and therefore their second choice vote is probably just going to be the lesser of the evils. So without ever winning elections there's little advantage to joining these parties and they are unlikely to grow to the point they could break through to get a plurality. This may have the unintended consequence of perpetuating the grip on power by the original two parties similar to how they now take for granted Progressives who routinely hold their nose and vote for Dems. Unless there could be SO many parties, a 3ed party could break through and win that plurality.

In contrast with proportional representation there are less obstacles to 3ed parties. If a Progressive 3ed party earned 20% of the vote, they'd get 20% of the seats. People can vote their conscience and be sure to get some REAL representation for their beliefs. With IRV the winner knows s/he won only with the half-hearted support of a 3ed party who held their nose.

While IRV can prevent the so-called spoiler effect, it's unlikely to change the dynamics of our system or its underlying defects.

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This is what caused a glitch. I ended up posting it on the two-party system thread so maybe a moderator might want to delete one in favor of the other to avoid redundancy.

______________________________________________

My comment relates to the shortcomings in Constitution, but goes off in another direction. The three-branch government is intended to provide a balance of power and checks on any possible consolidation of power by any one branch. The problem is that two of those branches, the Executive and Legislative are elected by the people, in theory. The third branch, the Judicial, is nominated by the Executive and rejected or approved by the Legislative.

Suppose this increasing corporate/fascist/money control and influence over politics results in a corrupt Executive, something like the Bush/Cheney 2000 results. Along with this is a corporate/fascist dominated Legislative branch powered by Citizens United and other demonstrably bad legal precedents such as corporations are persons decision of the last century. And then tragically we have a Pelican Brief scenario, where liberal SCOTUS judges are taken out. So now the only judges left on the Supreme Court are fascist corporatists. We have several vacancies that need filling. The corrupt Executive nominates corrupt judges, the corrupt Legislative approves, bingo, all three branches are brought under corrupt/corporate/fascist control. The public will never have the opportunity to even vote on this. Once all three branches are under control of the corporate fascists, then any crime can be committed without fear of legal reprisals. Hmm, sounds a little too familiar already.

The Supremes should be voted on by the people just as the other two branches are.

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So what is a real way to work towards a proportional representation? Aside from talking about it I mean.

Are those in power going to roll over and die, and 3 billionish (doing a guesstimate of world media exposure) brainwashed by billions of dollars people suddenly going to forget their training?

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Quote makuck:So what is a real way to work towards a proportional representation? Aside from talking about it I mean. Are those in power going to roll over and die, and 3 billionish (doing a guesstimate of world media exposure) brainwashed by billions of dollars people suddenly going to forget their training?
I provided you some links to what I think should be the strategy… clarifying values, and working first to reform state governments. One last piece which I wrote somewhere is to actually provoke a constitutional crisis like to have a large state threaten succession and bring up the issues I raised. But I still think you're still trying to get Thom off the hook by making me the issue. Thom's seeming inability to see his own contradiction is the issue. He constantly claims to value democracy yet is supporting an antidemocratic system which is the antithesis to a healthy democracy.

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While I disagree with your take on Thom, asking you to clarify the steps to an alternative wasn't meant as a defense of him.

Of course it is easier to create change at the state level though, that isn't really new information or a new way to accomplish something that hasn't been done before. Large states have threatened to secede, like Texas. State governors could band together and threaten secession.. and most likely they will be governors in the pockets of corporations, for example to repeal health care, which was talked about by actual governors. Small states with veto power also happen to be the states most in the pocket of corporations and republicans. The midwest is red, the coasts are blue. In Nebraska, our democratic senator got around 30% of the vote. They aren't going to change their stripes overnight. They know who writes their paychecks.

Quotes from you on your links

Any direct assaults on the reforming the federal government are probably doomed. One strategy I think might stand a better chance is to reform the amendment process itself. That would make other reforms easier.

But I also believe that the fight for democracy should start on the state level. It's easier to pick off one state at a time then to tackle the entire federal government. It's a process that can slowly introduce citizens to the value of democratic reforms. Neighboring states will pick up on the debate. Other states will get whiffs of the debate on the news... especially in presidential election years.

Such state reforms might take decades. Reforming the Constitution even longer. Given the obstacles this might take 50 years. That proverbial journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step. I'd like to think that groups like DU have the most potential to realize we need a long term strategy and would begin to place a bigger emphasis on implementing democratic values.

That was basically all I was saying... it seems like we essentially agree? That's my only problem, it seems like the only way to move forward is something that will spur people, like a complete collapse.. because just a decade long recession leaves people apathetic and susceptible to negative media manipulation as they ever were... and what happens in those 50 years if both republican and democratic leaders are buying into the same old story, and using their power/media to pass the story onto the masses?

This issue isn't the only one that needs to be addressed in isolation. If it is, it will fail. In order to get any message out at all that is in opposition to the current message requires campaign finance reform, a repeal of citizens united, a restoration of the fairness doctrine, and more... and those are three things Thom is working on.. and that is meant as a defense of him. Those are 3 steps that have to be taken to even begin what you are talking about in my opinion. You aren't going to get any message out if you have no access, repressed access, or underfunded access to mass media.

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Quote makuck:While I disagree with your take on Thom,
So you keep saying yet I'm still waiting for you to present ANY evidence that Thom actually support serious reforms that would turn the US into a modern multi-party democracy. I've never seen it... and no one in this thread has presented any either. It's not in his latest book. As far as I am aware, he never mentions it on the radio. He never asked Bernie Sanders how the Senate can be truly reformed.

And that's fine... Thom can believe what he wants. What I'm suggesting he then has NO right to do is claim he values the concept of democracy when he supports a system that undermines it. And if he is against real democratic reforms... is he just falling into the same political spectrum as all Democratic Liberals? Again, this has NOTHING to do with his economics... which I believe are outside the Liberal wing of the Democratic Party.

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Quote makuck:In order to get any message out at all that is in opposition to the current message requires campaign finance reform, a repeal of citizens united, a restoration of the fairness doctrine, and more... and those are three things Thom is working on.. and that is meant as a defense of him. Those are 3 steps that have to be taken to even begin what you are talking about in my opinion.
You just don't get it. We can have 100% public financing, 100% voting age participation, 100% vote count accuracy and a candidate rejected by the People can still be imposed on the people against their will. While important, all those reforms and others like IRV are BAND AIDS! They do not reform the system… they give it a bit more respectability while the inexorable demographic clock is ticking making the entire system more and more antidemocratic and therefore more and more reform proof. And by that demographic clock I mean the interaction between the state based formulas in the Constitution and the growing population differences between our large and small states. I hope my math is right. I did this spread sheet back in 06. Just looking at the Senate: using 2006 population estimates, States with:

11.2% OF POPULATION CAN MAINTAIN A FILIBUSTER

16.2% OF POPULATION GET 50% OF SENATE SEATS

17.6% OF THE POPULATION HAVE A MAJORITY IN THE SENATE

24% OF THE POPULATION CAN OVERRIDE A FILIBUSTER

29.7% OF THE POPULATION CAN RATIFY TREATIES

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UTRAX, we still have the problem of strategy and tactics because your analysis seems to be that doing anything with the present system is useless and diverts us from the big agenda.

How do you explain the hour with Hedges? Hard to get more big picture or less committed to the present system. But Hedges himself is only arguing that we need to not believe in the illusion while we do what we can with the lousy system. He is not saying not to vote, he is just saying don't vote in the blind faith or empty hope that the system will work and we will win without taking down the empire by other means.

I find myself agreeing with you about the gravity of the problem but not with what that means about responding to it. My embrace of a both/and strategy of inside work for what we can get while our outside perspective does not lead us into believing in the system. I am for saving lives with Obamacare while screaming about paying the corporate privateers for the privilege of a domesticated screwing. Now they want to have sex without the violence and call it consensual instead of rape. My butt still hurts.

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Quote DRC:ulTRAX, we still have the problem of strategy and tactics because your analysis seems to be that doing anything with the present system is useless and diverts us from the big agenda.
Actually that's not the case. I've suggested it might take 50-100 years to reform the US… and maybe might never happen, even with a constitutional crisis. It has to start with a vision… something Progressives in the US seem to lack. Where do we want to take this nation in 20-50 years? We need an understanding of the obstacles so strategies can be developed to overcome each. There's no way to just directly try to reform the Constitution. Dysfunctional as it is, it's protected by a Gordian Knot of interwoven ideological and legal obstacles. The only piece of the strategy I can see now is working within the system to set democratic examples by reforming state governments first. This may take years of citizen initiative petitions to change state constitutions. In some ways the Progressives and Libertarians have some common cause here since they are both shut out. Reforming state governments will provide examples of functioning alternatives to our current system and help prepare the public to think about the defects in our federal system.

What I am opposed to is getting trapped… and that's what I fear most about wanting to cozy up to the Democratic Party. They sold their soul and can't be trusted. They are devoid of any real understanding of democracy and are probably hostile to it. Of course that doesn't stop them from expropriating the term. The Democrats are the party from which real democratic reforms SHOULD come from but never do. Then there are the dynamics of our political system which are insidious. Our system actually punishes many citizens for voting their conscience by throwing elections to so-called spoilers. These dynamics will do us what they've done to countless other movements… keep dragging us back into the lesser of the evils trap. We must NEVER lose sight of the REAL big picture... which is changing a dysfunctional federal political and electoral systems from which I'd argue most of our other problems arise.

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Trax,your "rope a dope" thread made Thom an issue,and the real issue is "ECONOMICS" and you have offer "nothing" solid in improving our politics or economics.Get involve,"Show some Responsiblity",Thom has already shown his!

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Quote tayl44:Trax,your "rope a dope" thread made Thom an issue, and the real issue is "ECONOMICS"
I have no idea what you're babbling about. I started this thread to discuss THOM'S apparent internal contradictions of claiming to value democracy yet supporting an antidemocratic system. You knew that when you started reading the posts. If you want to discuss some aspect of economics, feel free to start your own thread. Problem solved.

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"Our system is a true Gordian knot held together by misplaced Framer Worship, American Exceptionalism, an acceptance of anti-democratic outcomes, citizen apathy, dysfunctional electoral systems, a braindead political debate, a lack of a democratic vocabulary, an Orwellian Right trying to "restore" the Constitution etc." ulTRAX

Well, that, and the classic example that schooled ignorance is more powerful and dangerous than unschooled stupidity.

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LOL. True, so true.

Ultrax, just how much of our social/political structure isn't about economics in one form or another? Even religions, at their core, are economic policy ordained by a god or gods. - from the Divine Right of Kings in Christianity and the tenents of Matthew 25 to the caste system of Hinduism.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

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Quote polycarp2:Ultrax, just what part of our social/political structure isn't about economics in one form or another? Even religions, at their core, are economic policy ordained by a god or gods...
And Framers. The Senate was designed to protect the minority of the opulent and the Constitution is full of other economic arrangements set in cement. So given that fact, what's the relevant issue to this thread? The resulting economic structures or the cement that helps perpetuate them?

For purposes of this discussion it's Thom's views on democracy. Which is not to say that this doesn't tie into economics. I wrote somewhere in this thread that I believed the economic system we have… where corporate power is running amok… is a product of our political system. Not to understand that means we'll forever be stomping out the brushfires created by that dysfunctional system. I'd argue that Thom has a good understanding of our economic problems but he's not making the connection to the political system which he seems determined not to hold responsible. My read is he seems to think the system's fine, it's just been hijacked and needs band aids.

I'm against the band aid approach… but looking for reforming an intractable system that's already proven dangerous abroad and at home… and demographics are making it more and more antidemocratic and reform proof. I understand for US Liberals, such heresy against the Constitution falls into the range of impermissible thought. But if not us who? And given it might take 50-100 years, if not now when?

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Quote ulTRAX:17.6% OF THE POPULATION HAVE A MAJORITY IN THE SENATE

What's the closest we've ever actually come to that percentage? Just curious.

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The fact that neither corporate party ever institutes or even introduces a bill for IRV shows they know it would break the stranglehold they have on politics. I don't agree with ultrax that a third party couldn't win. People from both sides are fed up with the entrenched repubs and dems.

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Quote Garrett78:
Quote ulTRAX:17.6% OF THE POPULATION HAVE A MAJORITY IN THE SENATE
What's the closest we've ever actually come to that percentage? Just curious.
You mean if the stars lined up right, did one party ever have a majority in the Senate with senators representing states with only 17.6% of the population? Probably not. The numbers I presented were based on real census estimates, but were just to illustrate how bizarre and antidemocratic the Constitution's state-based formulas could be in what has to be the most antidemocratic representative body on the planet. Whenever there are vote weighting schemes, there's a possibility for minority rule. For example back around 2004, Democratic Senators got some 3-5 million more votes than the GOPers... in ALL the past 3 elections, yet the GOP had around a 10 seat majority. I'll track down the numbers if you want.

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Quote ulTRAX:But the problem with IRV is that those who vote for these parties are surely to lose and therefore their second choice vote is probably just going to be the lesser of the evils. So without ever winning elections there's little advantage to joining these parties and they are unlikely to grow to the point they could break through to get a plurality.

I don't know about that. I'm sure there are a lot of folks who would gladly vote for, say, a Green Party candidate if they didn't have to worry about it essentially being a vote for the Republican candidate (I have relatives who continue to vote for Democrats largely for that reason). [I vote for the Green Party candidate anyway, but that's just me.] If we suddenly had 3rd party candidates getting 10-20% of the vote (and potentially a lot more), those parties would garner a lot of attention...that could snowball. If nothing else, those other parties would be part of the debate and potentially force the Dems and Repubs to alter their message.

Of course, the message matters not. How they govern is what matters, and that won't change as long as we remain a plutocracy, which is why I've concluded that public financing of elections (along with eliminating election fraud) is so incredibly important.

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Quote Choco:The fact that neither corporate party ever institutes or even introduces a bill for IRV shows they know it would break the stranglehold they have on politics. I don't agree with ultrax that a third party couldn't win. People from both sides are fed up with the entrenched repubs and dems.
LOL Where did I say a third party could not win? I said IRV is only useful in certain elections... executive positions to prevent the spoiler effect, not representative elections. I also said that IRV still gave a built-in advantage for the two main parties. IRV as a cure all is a pipe dream.

The REAL reform is proportional representation. Why aren't you talking about that?

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Quote ulTRAX:

Quote Garrett78:
Quote ulTRAX:17.6% OF THE POPULATION HAVE A MAJORITY IN THE SENATE
What's the closest we've ever actually come to that percentage? Just curious.
You mean if the stars lined up right, did one party ever have a majority in the Senate with senators representing states with only 17.6% of the population? Probably not.

I'm sure it's never happened. It would require the 26 least populous states (from Wyoming to Louisiana) to each have both Senators be from the same party, while the 24 other states (the 24 most populous) each have both Senators be from the other party.

If the Senate was set up like the House where the number of seats is proportional to the population, would there be any point to having 2 houses of Congress? Isn't the Senate set up the way it is to check the House and prevent tyranny of the majority?

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Quote ulTRAX:

Quote Choco:The fact that neither corporate party ever institutes or even introduces a bill for IRV shows they know it would break the stranglehold they have on politics. I don't agree with ultrax that a third party couldn't win. People from both sides are fed up with the entrenched repubs and dems.
LOL Where did I say a third party could not win? I said IRV is only useful in certain elections... executive positions to prevent the spoiler effect, not representative elections. I also said that IRV still gave a built-in advantage for the two main parties. IRV as a cure all is a pipe dream.

The REAL reform is proportional representation. Why aren't you talking about that?

In the post of yours I just quoted regarding IRV, you seem to be saying that 3rd party candidates would "surely" lose.

I guess I don't understand why IRV wouldn't be useful in elections for Congressional candidates, or maybe that isn't what you're saying.

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Quote Garrett78:In the post of yours I just quoted regarding IRV, you seem to be saying that 3rd party candidates would "surely" lose.
Yes, IRV creates a breakthrough problem. Say the Greens rise to challenge the Dems. They get 15% of the vote for years, and helps the Dem at 45% win all the elections. But the Greens never really has much to show to its members but preventing the bad guys from winning. It can't break through to win seats. This is a limitation IRV places on the growth of 3ed parties. BTW I never said a third party could not win under IRV only that it was unlikely. I also wrote this in that same post:
Quote ulTRAX:Unless there could be SO many parties, a 3ed party could break through and win that plurality.
Once they have the plurality, then the Dem's voter's second choice might be the Greens.

Quote Garrett78:I guess I don't understand why IRV wouldn't be useful in elections for Congressional candidates, or maybe that isn't what you're saying.
I am. Say in all the districts in a state the Greens get 20% of the vote. They get no seats but all their votes are credited as a second choice to the Dems who only got 40% of the votes but now win all the elections. See how this IRV still favors the two parties? With proportional representation the Greens would get 20% of the seats. With IRV they get nothing but a hope they can influence those Dems. IRV is only helpful solving the so-called spoiler effect... not as a game changer that would break the back of the 2 main parties.

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Quote Garrett78:If the Senate was set up like the House where the number of seats is proportional to the population, would there be any point to having 2 houses of Congress? Isn't the Senate set up the way it is to check the House and prevent tyranny of the majority?

There's a perverse logic to the Constitution that states are not people who live there, but entities that deserve their own vote. It's called state suffrage and is at the root of ALL the antidemocratic feature of the Constitution. If all one ever hears is the logic used to sell the Constitution back in 1787, it sounds logical. But if we look at how any given citizen is represented in Washington, we see the truth. No one citizen in California is represented by ALL the state's delegation. But since California and Wyoming both get 2 senators, the citizen in Wyoming actually gets about 40x the influence in the Senate than any citizen in California.

There are democratic ways to deal with the tyranny of the majority without risking the tyranny of the minority. Our constitution fails in this regard. It does permit minority rule. Election 2000 is proof of that.

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Quote ulTRAX:

Quote Garrett78:In the post of yours I just quoted regarding IRV, you seem to be saying that 3rd party candidates would "surely" lose.
Yes, IRV creates a breakthrough problem. Say a third party rises to challenge the Dems. It gets 15% of the vote for years, and helps the Dem at 45% win. But this third party never really has much to show to its members but preventing the bad guys from winning. It can't break through to win seats.

And I disagree, because I don't think that 15% would be static. Getting 15% would garner a lot of attention and get that party on the national stage. That 15% might become 30% in the next election, and so on. I don't think there would need to be multiple "3rd" parties getting a sizeable chunk of the vote, though it would help.

Quote ulTRAX:I am. Say in all the districts in a state the Greens get 20% of the vote. They get no seats but all their votes are credited as a second choice to the Dems who only got 40% of the votes but now win all the elections. See how this IRV still favors the two parties? With proportional representation the Greens would get 20% of the seats. With IRV they get nothing but a hope they can influence those Dems.

I think proportional representation for parties is a good idea, but that's a separate issue. If every district and every state had IRV, there are places where a 3rd party could become viable and eventually (or even immediately) win. Oregon, for instance, could potentially have Oregon State House of Rep. candidates, State Senate candidates and US House of Rep. candidates from the Green Party (particularly from districts around Multnomah and Lane counties).

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DRC wrote:
ulTRAX, we still have the problem of strategy and tactics because your analysis seems to be that doing anything with the present system is useless and diverts us from the big agenda.

uLTRAX wrote:
Actually that's not the case. I've suggested it might take 50-100 years to reform the US… and maybe might never happen, even with a constitutional crisis. It has to start with a vision…

So a vision a handful of people share on the internet is going to do more than campaign finance reform, reversing citizens united, and restoring the fairness doctrine? A shared vision in a few small corners of the internet will do more to spread a multi-party democracy than opening actual mass-media methods to spread that vision? I strongly disagree. Mass media like TV, radio, newspaper is always going to be powerful. No matter how great your vision may be it wont get anywhere if no one can see it or hear it. The only reason any of us are even here talking about this is we all heard Thom on the radio. You are right, I really don't get how you plan on spreading this vision so it actually effects something if all sources of mass media have been plugged from us.

I understand a multi-party democracy is good, I get that, and I would love it, but how do you plan about doing it if all paths to the destination are currently barricaded? How are you going to market the vision?

In 50-100 years is TV, radio, newspaper, and internet are all owned by corporate billionaires and there is no mediating factor or regulation on their control of mass media, we wont have a chance in hell. I think you're thinking extremely wishfully if you think a handful of informed people who have to keep their day jobs can stand against hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of corporate shills who get paid to be full time spokespeople for corporate dominance. It's like if I paid $50 to pay for a multi-party system ad in my local newspaper, I'd turn on the TV to see a trillion dollar industry blast my ad into nothingness. Do you think the internet is going to be the only medium of the future and somehow become a bastion for liberals and progressives?

An actual path to get a multi-party democracy to start getting talked about it to put the idea forward in a mass media market, that's what gets more people demanding it, that's what helps get a shared vision. What do you think has created the shared vision of our current "democracy"? What do you think is constantly reinforcing it? Where do most Americans get most of their news from? The fairness doctrine could force an idea like multi-party democracies to be talked about any time a 2 party system is mentioned. Campaign finance reform could allow a candidate running on a multi-party democracy platform to actually be elected because they could have equal financing as the corporate shills, so people would be voting more on the ideas than how much a certain campaign was financed. Repealing citizens united, and going a step beyond that to get any money out of politics is essentially the same concept as campaign finance reform and would lead to candidates being voted on based more on their ideas, ideas which could then be much more likely to include multi-party democracies.

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Should California secede? About 10 years ago I began to believe such a crisis was the only way to force the US to deal with our anti-democratic and reform-proof system. It was not until a few years ago when I picked up the 1996 book The Frozen Republic by Daniel Lazare that I realized he proposed the same scenario. He proposed to do what the Constitutional Convention did in 1787 when faced with the restrictions in the Articles of Confederation which said any changes to the Articles must be unanimous. Since this was an impossible demand… the Constitutional Convention just negated it and created its own rules for ratifying a new Constitution. It seems the Constitutional Convention didn't learn all the lessons from the Articles it could have. While the bar to amending the Constitution is a bit lower… the bar to reforming the Senate is still unanimous consent of the states.

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Quote makuck:I understand a multi-party democracy is good, I get that, and I would love it, but how do you plan about doing it if all paths to the destination are currently barricaded? How are you going to market the vision?
How did the radical Right change the political system? How did they overcome their barriers? It took 40 years and they had a overall strategy... create a debt crisis to undermine social programs, train new rightwing judges, pack the courts, create think tanks and a media empire, perpetuate a mystique about American Exceptionalism, destroy unions and other activists.

They did this to PRESERVE a political system they believe works in their favor... and they are correct.

I really tire of debating this with you. I find it bizarre that you are so opposed to Progressives also developing a long term strategy to reform the system the radical Right is so determined to preserve. This is NOT rocket science. If you can't see ANY hope of doing this… perhaps you should find a cave to crawl into.

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Quote Garrett78:And I disagree, because I don't think that 15% would be static. Getting 15% would garner a lot of attention and get that party on the national stage. That 15% might become 30% in the next election, and so on. I don't think there would need to be multiple "3rd" parties getting a sizeable chunk of the vote, though it would help.

Leaving aside the "breakthrough" problem... multiple 3ed parties only makes it easier for one minority party to get a plurality. Say there are 5 parties, 4 with 19% and one with 24%. The BEST IRV can do is create a winner where only 24% of the voters really approved and 76% did not... though two of the 19% parties threw their second choice to the 24% party giving it 52%. In this case IRV makes a mockery of the election process.

If every district and every state had IRV, there are places where a 3rd party could become viable and eventually (or even immediately) win.
Unless the finally overall result gives ALL those who voted for 3ed parties some power based on their numbers, then a few victories here and there doesn't mean much. IRV will NOT solve our problems. The way to deal with legislative seats is to either vote statewide for a party, or to preserve some local representation… create multi-district elections… where say there would be 5 seats with 10 people running and the top 5 vote getters would win. There are still problems with this approach say if the top vote getter might be at 55% and the lowest at 15%. Should they both have equal power in a legislature?

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Obviously you're misunderstanding me. I never said I was opposed to a long term strategy. That's what I was trying to get at, a long term strategy. I never said I saw no hope. Sorry for pushing you, I was trying to open up other aspects of a long term strategy. I guess we just think it should be done a different way to get to the same place. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Maybe you do, I don't know.

But telling someone who is agreeing that a multi-party system is good to go into a cave somewhere, probably isn't the best way to get more people on board.

Personally, I'm coming from my personal experience in Nebraska, where in most elections, republicans run completely unopposed and people like it that way. And I don't see that changing if Fox news is literally the only station on TV and Rush Limbaugh is on 10 different AM stations and I just barely receive Thom out of a Colorado station. To me, media control is a huge issue if this state is to get any change towards a multi-party system. Maybe that helps you understand my stance better.

What might work in a state like California, that has a large liberal media force, won't work in Nebraska.

As a side issue to the multi-party argument you mentioned California seceding in order to achieve balanced senate seats based on population. If California threatens that, why wouldn't smaller states do the same to preserve their own unbalanced power? That's how they achieved it to begin with. Smaller states are always fighting for state rights. Secession seems like one of the more messy ways to balance power of states, I'm not sure if many would agree with that, even Californians. State rights would be a way to balance states power. Give certain rights back to the states in exchange for population-based senate for example. Give California the right to ban concealed weapons, and the mid-west the right to have assault rifles.

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makuck
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Quote makuck: As a side issue to the multi-party argument you mentioned California seceding in order to achieve balanced senate seats based on population. If California threatens that, why wouldn't smaller states do the same to preserve their own unbalanced power? That's how they achieved it to begin with.
The small states achieved what they did because the US of 1787 lived in a hostile world and their new system under the Articles of Confederation was falling apart. Shays Rebellion in Massachusetts pushed the debate over the edge. The rebels were soldiers who fought in the war, were owed money for their service, weren't getting it… and banks were foreclosing on their farms. They started out trying to shut down the court system in 1786 to prevent such rulings. They organized and attacked the federal armory in Springfield MA in early 1787.

If a large state like Cal pulls out of the union other large states who feel they are getting a raw deal under the current system may do so too. It's the small states that have been riding the gravy train who stand to lose the most. All one has to do is look at federal spending maps to see that they get much more in federal spending then they pay in taxes. In 2005 the Sarah Palin's welfare state of Alaska got $1.84 for every dollar they sent to Washington. California got back .78cents. http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/266.html If this were a map instead of a chart the results might be startling. So many GOP red states are on the dole. Is this comparison strictly fair? No. But neither are the Right's rants opposing redistribution of wealth. Sparsely populated rural states just don't have the resources to develop. Could Montana ever have hoped to build its section of the interstate highway system on its own?

Now I'm not advocating secession but the threat of it might be useful. California is a good example because it could make it on its own especially if it were not sending so much money to Washington and not getting back some 22 cents on the dollar. Like in 1787 when the Framers were faced with the Articles of Confederation that were clearly failing... reform could be held hostage because it required unanimous consent. Some way had to be taken to get around the obstacle. Madison wrote in Federalist 40 that it was absurd "subjecting the fate of twelve States to the perverseness or corruption of a thirteenth" which is why the new Constitution didn't require unanimous ratification but only from 9 of the 13 states. Madison also makes the argument that the fate of the nation should not be held hostage by some tiny fraction of the population. Yet this is again the system we again have where states with a mere 4% of the population can block any amendment… and no state can be deprived of its representation in the Senate without its consent… even if it has just 1000 people living in it.

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Quote makuck:But telling someone who is agreeing that a multi-party system is good to go into a cave somewhere, probably isn't the best way to get more people on board.
Sorry for getting so impatient. My problem with our conversation is that I can't really read your values or intent while mine are clear and on the table. You start off giving Thom a pass for NOT proposing any structural reforms to get us to what claim you value such as a multi-party democracy. Then give me a hard time for doing so. I detect some cognitive dissonance. Maybe what I'm proposing is too radical and I doing it too fast.

And isn't that the first step… clarifying one's ideas first? Thom seems clear, regardless of what he says he values in other nations… he has NO intent of pushing for those structural reforms here. And because he doesn't, he doesn't address how Progressives can work to take over the Democratic Party and NOT get mired down in the "lesser of the evils" trap our dysfunctional system creates. No, IRV can't solve these problems, nor can public financing of elections, reversing Citizens United, or ANY of Thom's other suggestions in his latest book.

For whatever reason Thom's giving up the fight for major structural change before it starts. Maybe he thinks the obstacles are too great. Maybe he likes our system and just thinks it needs bandaids. I think it's the latter, but WE DON’T KNOW what Thom really thinks. All we know from his writings is that he's taken some approaches off the table… including pushing for major structural reforms to make the US a multiparty democracy. And if that's the case Thom's approach becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy… and he needs to be called out on it, especially since he keeps pretending to value democracy.

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I know that I am coming to the conversation late, and I have not read all the posts in complete detail, but the subject does interest me because to certain degree I feel like there may be some common ground here with my libertarian leaning tendencies. I like the idea of democracy, but at the same time I share some of Paleo-Con’s sentiment in the wolves and sheep narrative of democracy. The problem as I see it is that democracy generally works well in localities where issues are going to be common to most people, but it doesn’t necessarily work well on the Federal level. An example that I brought up in another thread in regards to high speed rail, was “what incentive is there for rural middle-Americans to support high speed rail that is going to serve primarily the east coast metropolitan areas?”

ulTRAX is correct in assuming that years from now we will be even less democratic given projected demographics, but at the same time I don’t see any structural changes to our system being changed. However, I believe that most decisions should not come from Washington’s duopoly of power, but rather the state and local government. I am not advocating that the federal government be destroyed or limited to such a degree that we end up with 50 nations in loose alliance to each other, but I do think that there are areas by which the federal government would be best served if it didn’t serve at all. Naturally the federal government should ensure everyone’s rights so that minorities are not unfairly treated, but I think democracy would be best served if the federal government were making fewer financial decisions for the nation, and left that portion to the state or local governments. This leads me to a final question, “Does the idea of democracy go hand in hand with the idea of a small federal government?” And if so is there common ground for the progressives and libertarian types like myself to push for a reduced federal government in specific areas?

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tmoney13
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Quote ulTRAX:

Quote Choco:The fact that neither corporate party ever institutes or even introduces a bill for IRV shows they know it would break the stranglehold they have on politics. I don't agree with ultrax that a third party couldn't win. People from both sides are fed up with the entrenched repubs and dems.
LOL Where did I say a third party could not win?

Surely to lose and could not win is just about the same thing.

Quote ulTRAX:But the problem with IRV is that those who vote for these parties are surely to lose and therefore their second choice vote is probably just going to be the lesser of the evils. So without ever winning elections there's little advantage to joining these parties and they are unlikely to grow to the point they could break through to get a plurality.

You seem to want people to accept your EC premis and I think we do, more or less, but you demean IRV as a pipe dream and laughable and is not a cure all. No kidding.

Your EC strategy has one major flaw, it puts the cart before the horse. We would have to have a legitimate govt in place first before ever hoping to change the Electoral College problem. Therefore, it would seem prudent to work on getting candidates into office that are more receptive to your EC issue, that is, not corporate owned and controlled candidates. One way toward this is IRV. Another is campaign finance reform. Another is reversing Citizens United and many other corporate loop holes in our swiss cheese democracy. If you want to hear what you sound like, your EC as a cure all is laughable and is a pipe dream. But I support it as one of many important measures. We don't ridicule it so don't ridicule other measures.

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With Leonard Cohen singing in the background, for "democracy" to be "coming to the USA" we have to get people to be interested in the idea of having it. That means learning that they don't have the illusion they have believed in without going away but getting pissed and passionate about having it. The idea that democracy is not really practical begs the old question of what is? Empires do not practice democracy even if they like to pretend that they are the leaders of the "free world."

IRV is a positive step. I think UTRAX is too pessimistic about the benefit to the duopoly. Being able to raise outside the beltway alternatives or to push for truly Green public policy is a fine way for local voters to let DC know that they do not define our thinking. There is no center between the two cheeks of Corporate. Independents are somewhere else on some other map than the linear spectrum.

Proportional representation is something that only a public movement can achieve. It will never be voted on by Congress. And that is another plus for IRV as an electoral tactic in building the constituency.

My problem with the 50-100 year projection is that I don't think the Empire has anywhere near that long to live. It will kill America first if it does not die quickly. As we work under that shadow of Imperial Collapse, the organizing task is more than how to create a democracy. It is how to dodge the falling power towers and to survive the chaos. We have to do both, and I do not disparage the reforms that save lives and preserve some stability for us to use to organize and prepare. It is not faith in this system that makes doing the reforms meaningful. Building a new country in the wreckage of the old includes adaptive reuse as well as a new creation.

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Quote Choco:Surely to lose and could not win is just about the same thing.
Look... I LIKE IRV but unlike you I seem to understand its limitations. You really haven't responded to those scenarios I provided. IRV's primary utility is with executive positions not legislative ones, and I think you underestimate the "breakthrough" problems that face third parties who more than likely will end up casting their votes for one of the main parties. Reseach shows that the IRV results are little different from plurality elections ... IRV is called AV in Canada:
AV had little impact on proportionality and voter turnout, but did contribute to significantly higher rates of ballot rejection. AV was associated with an increase in the number of parties competing in elections, but this is more likely due to a changing social structure than electoral system change. AV facilitated coalitions where incentives to cooperate already existed, as in British Columbia, but it did little to encourage or induce coalitions in Alberta and Manitoba. On balance, it differed little from the single member plurality system.

IRV still has the defects of plurality elections because it's still a form of plurality elections. It still disenfranchises up to 49% of the voters who get no representation for their beliefs... and even those who's second choice puts the main party over the top aren't fully getting true representation for their beliefs. The ONLY voters who get full representation for their beliefs are those whose first choice was the final winner.

More later.

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A few random comments regarding recent posts:

I agree with those who say true democracy can't work on a large scale. In a small community, yes. In a country of more than 300 million, no.

If the number of Senators in each state was based on population, what's to keep a state like Wyoming from getting completely ignored? What's to keep California from deciding the portion of Wyoming that includes Yellowstone is now part of California? An extreme example, I suppose, but I'm just wanting to play devil's advocate.

I don't like the idea of simply voting for a party, and then relying on party leaders to choose the representatives. First of all, a vote for a party is not a vote for any member of that party. Secondly, it boils down to my lack of faith in party politics. I don't lose much sleep over the fact that the Senate isn't based on proportional representation (and not just because the House is and legislation must pass both houses), because the US is a plutocracy/corporatocracy regardless of which party is in power. And *that* is what needs to change. We needn't tweak the system. We need to overhaul it.

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Garrett78
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Quote Garrett78:If the number of Senators in each state was based on population, what's to keep a state like Wyoming from getting completely ignored?
You're stuck in the mindset of 1787 politics. What if we just think of how any given CITIZEN is represented instead of "states" which for all intents and purposes ARE the citizens who live there. There is no abstract entity called the state voting for a state's senators. If there is no civic equality where each citizen's vote weighs the same then it makes a mockery of democracy. Vote weighting is ILLEGAL on every other level of government. There are better DEMOCRATIC ways to protect legitimate rights of small states than to resort to antidemocratic solutions because they always risk minority government... and election 2000 is just another example. The Bill of Rights proves rights can be protected WITHOUT giving at risk populations bigger votes… and it's not as if the bigger vote always works. They can still be outvoted.

I don't like the idea of simply voting for a party, and then relying on party leaders to choose the representatives.
Single member district elections are what gave rise to the two party system. It simply can't measure minorities that might make up a sizeable percentage of the population but can't muster a win in any district. They are forever disenfranchised. One way around this it to hold multi-district elections using PR so the people elected are known locally. The problem with this is some might win with 55% of the vote and the person at the bottom of the list with 15%. The results are also not as proportional as if it we voted for a party.

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Quote DRC:IRV is a positive step. I think UTRAX is too pessimistic about the benefit to the duopoly. Being able to raise outside the beltway alternatives or to push for truly Green public policy is a fine way for local voters to let DC know that they do not define our thinking.
Not sure what you mean by " pessimistic about the benefit to the duopoly"… you mean its ability to endure?
As you might recall while I believe the ultimate goal is to reform the Constitution, I think all the band aid reforms have their place. IRV is just one. It might send a message to the main parties party that benefit from the votes of third parties but that's not guaranteed any more than it is if Progressives now hold their noses and vote for Dems. I hate to be cynical but the two major parties know how to play the game of getting these votes and offering little if anything in return. Where else are they going to go! is the old refrain. Rahm Emanuel was only the latest to say it. Are they really going to throw the election to the bad guys? Since IRV is still a form of plurality voting, I think it might not.

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Quote ulTRAX:There are better DEMOCRATIC ways to protect legitimate rights of small states than to resort to antidemocratic solutions because they always risk minority government... and election 2000 is just another example.

Every election is an example. I'm all for doing away with the electoral college, but we'd still have a winner-take-all system. If you win the popular vote, you win the office. If a presidential candidate gets 51% of the vote, should we have him/her hold office for 51% of the term? If you won 44%, you hold office for 44% of the term. If you won 3%, you hold office for 3% of the term.

I don't disagree with the first part of your statement that I quoted above, but I'm curious about what exactly you propose (for local, state and federal elections). Should we have 2 legislative bodies? Only 1? More than 2? How many members in each? How are those members determined? And so on and so forth. In other words, if you were starting the country from scratch, what would you do? Perhaps "Establish a Country" should be its own thread.

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Quote Garrett78:I'm all for doing away with the electoral college, but we'd still have a winner-take-all system. If you win the popular vote, you win the office. If a presidential candidate gets 51% of the vote, should we have him/her hold office for 51% of the term? If you won 44%, you hold office for 44% of the term. If you won 3%, you hold office for 3% of the term.
This is a problem inherent in having single executive positions. IRV can help in these cases... if nothing else to prevent a minority candidate taking office with the majority voting against them. Election 2000 again is the example. If push came to shove, I'm sure most of the Nader voters would have Gore as their second choice. Of course this could be minimized if the chief executive is elected by the PR elected legislature.

...I'm curious about what exactly you propose (for local, state and federal elections
I'm really not proposing anything TOO radical. I, too, like the idea of checks & balances, and local representation, and an executive branch. So say here in Mass, where we have two houses... I'd like to see the state senate be based on a statewide party vote so if the Greens got 15% of the statewide vote, they'd get 15% of the seats.

The problem with providing local representation for local issues... a useful check on an ideological second body, is that single member district elections result in non-proportional results... and is the root of the two party system. See Duverger's law for more on this dynamic. Multi-member districts might alleviate some of this. Say if a district had 5 seats instead of one, voters could use PR or a variant of IRV to pick their representatives. At this point I don't believe there's any constitutional objection for a state to do this even for congressional elections. But with all state based attempts to reform their tiny bit of EC or House, it can throw off the balance of power. For example Mass typically had an completely Democratic congressional delegation to Washington. If Mass suddenly reformed its system allowing some GOPers to get elected, the national party would have a shit fit. Parties don't care about democracy. They care about power.

Starting a nation from scratch? One quick note... I'd be wary of federalism. It's useful in create a nation of divergent interest groups, but if one is not careful, it can also perpetuate those divisions as our Constitution does. Here is its some 220 years later and most of us STILL justify our government through the eyes of 1787 politics.

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Quote Choco:You seem to want people to accept your EC premise and I think we do, more or less, but you demean IRV as a pipe dream and laughable and is not a cure all. No kidding.

Look YOU didn't even admit that the antidemocratic aspects of the Constitution were a problem. You started proposing IRV as a way to get rid of the two party system but that's far from suggesting reforms to make the Constitution a democratic system. You're moving the goal post. In another post you mentioned something about the shortcomings in the Constitution but didn't flesh them out except something about voting for USSC Justices. So I was responding to your claims that it was almost self-evident that IRV could break the two party system. While I'm for limited IRV, it's a dubious claim that it's a game changer even for your original narrow goal.

If our problem is that we have an antidemocratic and virtually reform proof political system, thinking IRV or any other band aid can fix our BIGGER problems is a pipedream. I'm not going to pull back from that. Should we fight for those band aids… YES. They may be helpful in fighting the bigger fight. But what I first heard you suggesting up until your last post was NO recognition of what you might agree with me on what those constitutional; "defects" were.

Your EC strategy has one major flaw, it puts the cart before the horse.
First of all I have no "EC Strategy". I favor the elimination of ALL aspect of State Suffrage from our federal government.
We would have to have a legitimate govt in place first before ever hoping to change the Electoral College problem.
Uh? I clearly said I thought it was foolhardy to try and reform the federal system first. That the battle to change the political debate needed to start by reforming state governments. While IRV with its limitations should be considered for executive positions like a governorship, Proportional Presentation is what's needed for legislative positions unless there's a move to multi-district elections. IRV then has a different set of problems.

If you want to hear what you sound like, your EC as a cure all is laughable and is a pipe dream. But I support it as one of many important measures. We don't ridicule it so don't ridicule other measures.

ROTF... Look, my original statement of the problem was never as narrow as your "getting rid of two party system" and my "solution" was never naïve as was your proposal IRV would fix your smaller problem. I'm well aware that reforming the Constitution may NEVER happen... no matter how dysfunctional and antidemocratic it gets. I stated that over and over. But then if you don't try… and that's implicit in Thom's band aid approach, then the effort is doomed before it starts.
The problem with band aids is they cover-up deeper problems. Want to fix corporate behavior? You can slap all the band aids on them as you want but as long as the underlying imperatives remain, there will be problems. You have to reform corporate charters. Same with our dysfunctional political system. Aside from not really addressing the cause of problems, band aids can be a double edged sword. They could pave the way for bigger reforms, or actually steal away support from those larger reforms. But NOTHING you proposed to date will actually fix the deeper problems of our federal system which is it's antidemocratic and permits minority rule.

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Quote ulTRAX:Thom, like most political Liberals in the US, wears democracy on his sleeve as the Right does the Flag. Yet like most political Liberals in the US Thom does not dare define democracy because to do so forces the issue, which is a heresy in the US..., calling into question the moral legitimacy of the Constitution. Yet not to do so is to implicitly support a pseudo-democracy.
I just learned Thom has another book on the topic of reforming the US... We The People. I have not read it, but if my theory about Thom is correct... that he really does NOT support democratic values, then we'd not see in this older book any proposals to reform the antidemocratic features of our Constitution any more than we do in his latest book. So did anyone read it? I'm looking for reviews. From this intro at http://www.we-the-people-book.com/ it seems Thom believes there's nothing wrong with the Constitution... it's just been hijacked and we have to restore the Framers original vision. Thom seems oblivious to the fact that it's antidemocratic which is why he just can't blame it for giving us Bush2.

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I have personally heard Thom support many "democratic values." Generalizing like that is not going to win your case much support. Am I missing something, is there only one democratic value we should be concerned with?

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Vote weighting/dilution schemes like the Constitution are ILLEGAL on the state and local level. In this 1964 Reynolds v Sims ruling the USSC made the case why such schemes are immoral in a democracy. Needless to say the Constitution was exempt from this ruling:

Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests. As long as ours is a representative form of government, and our legislatures are those instruments of government elected directly by and directly representative of the people, the right to elect legislators in a free and unimpaired fashion is a bedrock of our political system. It could hardly be gainsaid that a constitutional claim had been asserted by an allegation that certain otherwise qualified voters had been entirely prohibited from voting for members of their state legislature. And, if a State should provide that the votes of citizens in one part of the State should be given two times, or five times, or 10 times the weight of votes of citizens in another part of the State, it could hardly be contended that the right to vote of those residing in the disfavored areas had not been effectively diluted. It would appear extraordinary to suggest that a State could be constitutionally permitted to enact a law providing that certain of the State's voters could vote two, five, or 10 times for their legislative representatives, while voters living elsewhere could vote only once. And it is inconceivable that a state law to the effect that, in counting votes for legislators, the votes of citizens in one part of the State would be multiplied by two, five, or 10, while the votes of persons in another area would be counted only at face value, could be constitutionally sustainable. Of course, the effect of state legislative districting schemes which give the same number of representatives to unequal numbers of constituents is identical. Overweighting and overvaluation of the votes of those living here has the certain effect of dilution and undervaluation of the votes of those living there. The resulting discrimination against those individual voters living in disfavored areas is easily demonstrable mathematically. Their right to vote is simply not the same right to vote as that of those living in a favored part of the State. Two, five, or 10 of them must vote before the effect of their voting is equivalent to that of their favored neighbor. Weighting the votes of citizens differently, by any method or means, merely because of where they happen to reside, hardly seems justifiable. One must be ever aware that the Constitution forbids "sophisticated as well as simple-minded modes of discrimination." Lane v. Wilson, Gomillion v. Lightfoot, As we stated in Wesberry v. Sanders, supra:

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Quote Choco:I have personally heard Thom support many "democratic values." Generalizing like that is not going to win your case much support. Am I missing something, is there only one democratic value we should be concerned with?
ROTF… who's doing the generalization? I've heard him too. So what.

I haven't generalized anything about Thom. Yes he CLAIMS to value democracy... but it's NOT in the sense Jefferson himself described in the Declaration of Independence... We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed..." Democracy is the theory of morally legitimate government.

In 1787 we never got that democratic system any more than we got "all men were created equal". Instead we have a system where through a series of vote weighting/dilution schemes the MINORITY can govern... and election 2000 is just one of the latest examples. I've never heard Thom blame the EC which he a few months ago said he found some aspects of he liked. That's also the LIBERAL position. Either the USSC or Nader are to blame. A few voices called for the abolishment of the EC but that died out because there was hope Kerry could win the same way.

So where's the moral legitimacy in a government when the minority can govern? The un- and antidemocratic aspects of this system are mathematically verifiable and I presented some numbers just on the Senate and the amendment process. To date I've never heard Thom call for reform of this antidemocratic system nor does he call for it in his latest book. The intro to that older book sums up best what I suspect are Thom's REAL feelings about democracy… that it's a SECONDARY concern to his belief that the Constitution provides morally legitimate government. If so it's just the logic used to sell the Constitution to a wary public... that somehow states deserve suffrage. Thom's critique always seems to be we've been hijacked by corporate interests… which is true. But everything on Thom's or your wish list will NOT reverse that. It would NOT prevent another election 2000, or that 18% of the population getting 52% of the Senate seats, or that 4% of the population being able to block any amendment… etc. In fact I think it's the weaknesses and antidemocratic nature of our system that permitted this corporate takeover to begin with... something Thom doesn't seem to consider.
Thom's view of democracy is almost Orwellian as it is with most US liberals who wear it on their sleeves. They want to put "democratic" band aids to cover-up a deeply defective antidemocratic system and call that democracy. But feel free to paper over Thom's cognitive dissonance if you must. I just can't do it.

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Quote ulTRAX:Yet like most political Liberals in the US Thom does not dare define democracy because to do so forces the issue, which is a heresy in the US..., calling into question the moral legitimacy of the Constitution. Yet not to do so is to implicitly support a pseudo-democracy.
Trying to get this thread back on track. Seriously, Thom uses the term democracy all the time. Has anyone ever heard Thom DEFINE it? How can we be "lovers of democracy" and not know what democracy is?

The missing piece is the rest of Thom's customary intro to his show... "the American way". The American way is to define democracy as states, not just people, having suffrage. We are, after all, a "dual suffrage" system. The People have their House and the States have their Senate. It sounds fair... it's all suppose to balance out. But it's a fiction. And anyone who CLAIMS to believe in democracy SHOULD know better than to believe that such vote weighting/dilution schemes that pervade our system can NEVER provide the foundation for a true democracy.

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Quote ulTRAX:Looking at the summary of Thom's latest book at TruthOut, Thom again gives the Constitution a pass proposing a few democratic band-aids rather than real reforms. Thom seems to actually believe Progressives can work within the Democratic party and take it over as the radical Right seems to have done with the GOP. But without some real strategy for constitutional reform, what will happen is Progressives will forever be dragged back into the lesser of the evils trap… and 25-50-100 years from now… when demographic trends make the Constitution even more antidemocratic and more reform-proof… political Liberals like Thom will still be scratching their heads for a solution.

Reforming the Constitution by amendment may take 50-100 years. Real democratic reforms may NEVER happen in this manner.

Yet I have to wonder, would we have had an Election 2000 if people 50-100 years ago had started the process of reforming the Constitution?

What if WE don't act? I say this knowing that constitutional reform isn't even considered permissible thought with Democrats. Yet with demographic trends making the Constitution more anti-democratic and more reform-proof, what constitutional horrors await us 50-100 years down the road? Will we go from 17% of US population getting a majority of seats in the Senate down to 10%? Will states with a mere 4% of the population that can now block any amendment drop to 2%? Will that antidemocratic abomination we call the Electoral College impose more presidents REJECTED by the People on the nation?

Xartlu: aka banned member ulTRAX

Xartlu
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I expect a revolt this coming year. 2012 is too late. And even if there is a country to hold an election in 2012 I think it is entirely possible for a third party candidate to win ditching this archaic two party system. If the people want it they can have just make sure the corporations don't try to prevent it!

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captbebops
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Beware the premature eruption. Fear and anger do not help thinking, and the focus will not be on the real enemies because it takes courage and strategy to face down power while beating up on symbolic evils is as easy as pie.

Be careful with your anger. Do not get lost in despair, as they said in Sarajevo, we must save despair for better times. Your anger is precious fuel for justice, and it has to be focused, not wasted in reactive stupidity.

While I agree that the Stanley Steamer of democracy is not exactly the 21st Century model of choice, what we need is a more profound rethinking of self-governance and how to realize the vision of America expressed in the Pledge of Allegiance. If we agree on the larger vision, figuring out the rules for the game will be much easier than if we try to shape the rules without a common vision. I don't think that "liberty and justice for all" is too radical to be a subject for Americans to discuss.

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Currently Chatting

Why the Web of Life is Dying...

Could you survive with just half of your organs? Think about it. What if you had just half your brain, one kidney, half of your heart, one lung, half a liver and only half of your skin? It would be pretty hard to survive right? Sure, you could survive losing just one kidney or half of your liver, but at some point, losing pieces from all of your organs would be too much and you would die.

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