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 Post subject: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:54 am 
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(EDIT: Split from So it's finally 2017. -CWS)

The Phiend wrote:
CWS wrote:
But that being the case, I'm also fairly indifferent about the whole matter, since I have no reason to defend anyone involved.
I dunno...I kinda feel you and I are victims of rigged party primaries here, to a much greater degree than any given New Zealander, and we're being blamed for it despite our best efforts to support candidates with merit instead of the two mutants. Seems an inappropriate to do to us (the victimizing and the blaming).


I'm not so much blaming you and Corey for all this, but the American people as a whole.

Here's my take on things. In a democracy, the people are the boss, the leader. The Prime Minister is our voice on the world stage, our MPs are our representatives locally, but WE ARE THE BOSS. WE are the leader. And when you are the leader, everything is your fault. For example, we currently have a housing and child poverty crisis in New Zealand, not to mention a lot of our rivers and streams are now badly contaminated with run-off from dairy farming. Yeah, my country isn't perfect, there's plenty of things wrong with it too. But it's our fault. So far, we haven't been doing enough to meet these problems, that's on us. We aren't leaning hard enough on our MPs to make them act. They should be acting anyway, of course, since our taxes pay their wages, but we don't live in a perfect world. A democracy is hard work. Everyone needs to be involved, or it falls apart.

I look at the US and I see an oligarchy in all but name. You have a deeply corrupt government apparatus that heeds the call of the super-rich, not the people as a whole. You still allow gerrymandering, the only Western nation other than France that does so. You even have that ridiculous Electoral College that chooses your President for you. Seriously, what the fuck even is that shit?! Nobody else has anything like it because it's retarded! It's like going to McDonald's and ordering a Big Mac combo, but then you have a chaperone step in and say "No, give him a Happy Meal," even though you paid for a Big Mac, you are a grown adult who shouldn't have to be treated like a child, but then you just shrug and go along with it. Are the American people made up entirely of children? :?

But what I find inexcusable is that the American people have allowed themselves to be caught in that trap. You've allowed your politicians to abuse you, turning back the clock on all the gains you've made over the last 100 years. And how have you allowed that? By not challenging them on their bullshit. By allowing them to redraw their electoral districts without oversight. By not showing up during elections; seriously, your voter turnout is pathetic.

Then you give me the argument "America is a republic, not a democracy." Yeah. I can see that perfectly clearly. You're no leader of the "Free World." You're a fake. And you're making excuses for yourselves. Because as I said, a democracy is hard work. And from what I see, Americans don't have the interest to do any hard work. Much easier to say you're just a republic and leave everything to some faceless suits in Washington whose names you've never bothered to memorise.


Last edited by CWS on Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2017 6:48 am 
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What I said in my previous post was harsh, but I stand by what I said. I do actually care what happens in the US, otherwise I wouldn't have written a mini essay back there. America is in desperate need of a bitch-slap so it can wake up and smell the house burning before it's too late.

I care about all this because I also care about the future of my country. I might not like to admit it, but alot of Kiwis look up to the US, and a lot of our culture is deeply influenced by it. Australia is perhaps even more influenced as unlike New Zealand, they've remained steadfast allies over the last 30 years. I look at the current state of the US and dread what effect it will have on my country. If somewhere, we have our own Trump or Farage ready to come out of the shadows and start wrecking havoc. Or that our right wing begins taking cues from your Republican Party. Or that a highly nationalistic, aggressive America starts throwing its weight around even more and forces us into aiding it with its endless wars, or into a confrontation with China.


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 Post subject: Re: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2017 6:51 pm 
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snowman1989 wrote:
Here's my take on things. In a democracy, the people are the boss, the leader. The Prime Minister is our voice on the world stage, our MPs are our representatives locally, but WE ARE THE BOSS. WE are the leader. And when you are the leader, everything is your fault. For example, we currently have a housing and child poverty crisis in New Zealand, not to mention a lot of our rivers and streams are now badly contaminated with run-off from dairy farming. Yeah, my country isn't perfect, there's plenty of things wrong with it too. But it's our fault. So far, we haven't been doing enough to meet these problems, that's on us. We aren't leaning hard enough on our MPs to make them act. They should be acting anyway, of course, since our taxes pay their wages, but we don't live in a perfect world. A democracy is hard work. Everyone needs to be involved, or it falls apart.

I look at the US and I see an oligarchy in all but name. You have a deeply corrupt government apparatus that heeds the call of the super-rich, not the people as a whole. You still allow gerrymandering, the only Western nation other than France that does so. You even have that ridiculous Electoral College that chooses your President for you. Seriously, what the fuck even is that shit?! Nobody else has anything like it because it's retarded! It's like going to McDonald's and ordering a Big Mac combo, but then you have a chaperone step in and say "No, give him a Happy Meal," even though you paid for a Big Mac, you are a grown adult who shouldn't have to be treated like a child, but then you just shrug and go along with it. Are the American people made up entirely of children? :?

But what I find inexcusable is that the American people have allowed themselves to be caught in that trap. You've allowed your politicians to abuse you, turning back the clock on all the gains you've made over the last 100 years. And how have you allowed that? By not challenging them on their bullshit. By allowing them to redraw their electoral districts without oversight. By not showing up during elections; seriously, your voter turnout is pathetic.

Then you give me the argument "America is a republic, not a democracy." Yeah. I can see that perfectly clearly. You're no leader of the "Free World." You're a fake. And you're making excuses for yourselves. Because as I said, a democracy is hard work. And from what I see, Americans don't have the interest to do any hard work. Much easier to say you're just a republic and leave everything to some faceless suits in Washington whose names you've never bothered to memorise.
While I could easily choose to take offense at what certainly looks like a gross mischaracterization of my own position at the end, there, the truth is that I actually agree with a lot of this in principle, to one degree or another. The US government is deeply corrupt, and has been for a very long time, but has truly descended to new and unprecedented depths in recent years. The people have allowed the government and politicians to abuse, harass, and steadily erode our liberties, insinuating themselves more and more into our day-to-day lives, all while assuring us it was "for our own good". This has all been facilitated by the efforts of an equally corrupt, ideologically-driven and complicit news media, which has in turn served to further alienate the citizenry from the political process and suppress voter turnout, which as you've correctly noted, is already appallingly low. These are all things I've talked about, and tried to inform others about (often to their annoyance, I'm sure), throughout most of my life; both here, FB and on various blogs, as well as on other past forums, in newspapers, etc.

Of course, there are a couple of fundamental points on which I do sharply differ. That the USA is a republic, and not a democracy, is not an "excuse", it's a crucially important distinction and something that was very carefully and deliberately crafted; it didn't just happen. The Electoral College is an important feature of that, and one that was designed just as carefully and deliberately, as evidenced by (among other things) the inability of many poorly-educated YouTube commentators to comprehend its purpose and function. If you truly do want to understand it, a couple of particularly good explanations can be found here and here.

If you can't be bothered to read those (though I strongly recommend that you do), here's a visual summary:

Image

Just like the 17th Amendment, which implemented the direct election of state senators (which, as we've discussed previously, were originally appointed by the state legislatures), abolishing the Electoral College in favor of a national popular vote would actually result in much less equality of representation, not more. It would probably also make massive voting fraud even easier and more prevalent than it already is. The people who are pushing this the hardest are well aware of that, which is why they're doing it.

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 Post subject: Re: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:51 pm 
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Hm. This is a tough one. My experience comes from New Zealand being a unitary state. The central government is supreme in all matters, there are no smaller states within the state to challenge it. We aren't a federation like the US. Maybe you could take a look at other federations like Germany or Canada, see how they do things. A lot of New Zealand's recent political reforms came from emulating Germany, like MMP.

MMP does give me an idea to bounce off of you. Why not have states form into coalitions? That cartoon you gave me says California, New York, Texas and Florida would dominate, and they most certainly would in a pure winner-take all-system. But what if you changed it into an MMP style system? That way, these big states would have to curry favour with the smaller states in order to gain a majority, since the Big Four wouldn't be able to dominate on their own and wouldn't be able to overpower each other with sheer weight of population.


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 Post subject: Re: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:05 pm 
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snowman1989 wrote:
Here's my take on things. In a democracy, the people are the boss, the leader. The Prime Minister is our voice on the world stage, our MPs are our representatives locally, but WE ARE THE BOSS. WE are the leader. And when you are the leader, everything is your fault. For example, we currently have a housing and child poverty crisis in New Zealand, not to mention a lot of our rivers and streams are now badly contaminated with run-off from dairy farming. Yeah, my country isn't perfect, there's plenty of things wrong with it too. But it's our fault. So far, we haven't been doing enough to meet these problems, that's on us. We aren't leaning hard enough on our MPs to make them act. They should be acting anyway, of course, since our taxes pay their wages, but we don't live in a perfect world. A democracy is hard work. Everyone needs to be involved, or it falls apart.
Direct democracy has strengths and weaknesses, like any other aggregate system. And like any such system, applying it in a way that magnifies its weaknesses makes it "hard work" at best and untenable at worst.

Direct democracy's biggest strength, of course, is that it treats all people as perfectly equal. Its greatest weakness, is that doing so whitewashes everything that makes people individuals. Focused application can mitigate this almost entirely; for instance farmers voting about farming issues can do quite well, because they've all got similar motivations on the matters they'll be voting on. Similarly, a city's urbanites voting about the city's mass transit is likely to go fine, because they're all from the same city and will have a similar sense on what the city has and needs.

Problems crop up when you try to combine disparate groups together in the same system. Are farmers necessarily going to know a lot about a city's mass transit system? Are a city's urbanites necessarily going to know a lot about farming? The problem is sharply exacerbated in the this case, by the nature of the areas: a city is going to have a much higher population density than farms, so if the urbanites think they know about farming (or know what costs them more money, or are compelled to vote regardless of how little they know) the farmers are going to get the short end of the stick.

Differences like this can crop up in many contexts: To use Brexit as a recent example, the one region of England that opposed Brexit, by more than 10 percentage points difference than the next highest support for it, was London...whose population density is over ten times that of any other region of England. Culture, lifestyle, profession, history, breadth of life experience...these are all things that are really hard to guess at with quantitative data, and direct democracy doesn't even attempt take them into account.


Also, direct democracy's aggregation can serve to insulate individuals from the consequences of their actions. It's rather interesting, how often members of groups will use their own names when they want credit and refer to the group when they'd rather avoid accountability. Clerks saying "the management" is responsible for unpopular policies, directors saying "the board" is responsible for unpopular decisions, senators saying "Congress" is responsible for unpopular laws...all the way down to you saying you mean "Americans" rather than Cylor and I, even though Cylor and I are Americans to the same extent as any other native of this country. See, it's appealing even in the absence of culpability or intent...so it remains highly effective when culpability or intent are being denied.


snowman1989 wrote:
You still allow gerrymandering, the only Western nation other than France that does so.
It's fascinating, really: In the 1960s, the Supreme Court ruled that congressional districts in a state need to be as equal as possible. As a result, redistricting is pretty much mandatory after the census in any state that has multiple districts; and state laws vary on what state-level districts have to do.

So the push for most equality is what leads provides such a strong base for gerrymandering.

snowman1989 wrote:
You even have that ridiculous Electoral College that chooses your President for you. Seriously, what the fuck even is that shit?! Nobody else has anything like it because it's retarded!
Somewhat related to the far above, different states can have wildly different values...and as the caricature/cartogram Cylor provided hints at; the ultra-urban-metropolis-bearing states of California, Texas, New York, and Florida account for a third of the population all by themselves. Add in the still very populous Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia and Michigan; and you've got over half the population in just nine of the fifty states. The federal government is supposed to represent all the states, and forty-one of them can be easily marginalized in a simple popular vote.

Incidentally, the President is the only country-scoped position we directly elect: senators, representatives, governors, etc. are all scoped to the state or a sub-division thereof; and those are popular vote. Actually, the electoral college doesn't constitutionally require a popular vote, each state decides for itself how it determines its electors...it's just that every state has decided that a statewide popular vote is the way it wants to go.


Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has enshrined the bully mentality of allowing the five countries with nuclear weapons to say "Nuh-uh!" and shut everyone else down.

snowman1989 wrote:
By not showing up during elections; seriously, your voter turnout is pathetic.
Frankly....Given the "choices" presented, can you really blame people for not showing up to vote? With "Shoot yourself in the foot" vs "shoot yourself in the other foot", choosing neither is an entirely valid choice. (I wrote in Ted Cruz for president last year, my first protest vote ever).


snowman1989 wrote:
Then you give me the argument "America is a republic, not a democracy." Yeah. I can see that perfectly clearly.
Yes. The United States is a republic, because the sheer differences between the fifty states makes it horribly unsuited for a direct democracy...which I'm sure is a great deal of the reason why the federal attempts to treat it as a democracy are so prone to corruption in the guise of inefficiency.


snowman1989 wrote:
MMP does give me an idea to bounce off of you. Why not have states form into coalitions? That cartoon you gave me says California, New York, Texas and Florida would dominate, and they most certainly would in a pure winner-take all-system. But what if you changed it into an MMP style system? That way, these big states would have to curry favour with the smaller states in order to gain a majority, since the Big Four wouldn't be able to dominate on their own and wouldn't be able to overpower each other with sheer weight of population.
Oddly enough, that sounds pretty close to how it is now: The Republican and Democratic parties are the coalitions, and the too-close-to-call "swing states" are where they try to curry favor to snag the support of that state's electoral votes for their presidential candidate.

The House of Representatives is proportional by population (the 435 representative seats are proportioned among the states according to the state's portion of the nation's population, with a minimum of one seat for smaller states), and the Senate is proportional by state (flat 2 per state); so in the absence of partisan histrionics or total single-party dominance in House/Senate/President (which we don't have for 2017, since there isn't a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate), some degree of cooperation is required to get things done legislatively.

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 Post subject: Re: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:47 pm 
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Considering the electoral college assigns votes BASED ON FUCKING POPULATION, the map is the exact same either way. Except now it has the benefit of ignoring up to 49% of the vote in any given state. Take the college away and every single person's vote would count exactly the same as every other person's, no matter where they live.

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 Post subject: Re: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:14 pm 
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Zanth wrote:
Considering the electoral college assigns votes BASED ON FUCKING POPULATION, the map is the exact same either way.
If you ignore the two electoral college votes each state gets in addition to its population apportionment, and the minimum of three electoral college votes a state gets regardless of its population, maybe. Wyoming having 0.18% of the population vs 0.55% of the electoral votes, and California having 12.17% of the population vs 10.22% of the electoral votes, seems like it'd produce a different map.

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 Post subject: Re: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:27 pm 
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The Phiend wrote:
Zanth wrote:
Considering the electoral college assigns votes BASED ON FUCKING POPULATION, the map is the exact same either way.
If you ignore the two electoral college votes each state gets in addition to its population apportionment, and the minimum of three electoral college votes a state gets regardless of its population, maybe. Wyoming having 0.18% of the population vs 0.55% of the electoral votes, and California having 12.17% of the population vs 10.22% of the electoral votes, seems like it'd produce a different map.


Close enough. The bulk of the power is still in the states with the largest population. The fact of the matter is that the system is flawed. I'd rather see every citizen get a vote that actually matters, than nullifying the votes of so many people with the current system. I mean, ND is red as red can be, so I don't even want to vote in the presidentials, because my vote doesn't fucking count.

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 Post subject: Re: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:40 pm 
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Zanth wrote:
The fact of the matter is that the system is flawed. I'd rather see every citizen get a vote that actually matters, than nullifying the votes of so many people with the current system. I mean, ND is red as red can be, so I don't even want to vote in the presidentials, because my vote doesn't fucking count.
I agree with you there: Something like Maine and Nebraska do, where each population-derived electoral vote is decided by the popular vote in the corresponding congressional district instead of a single winner taking all the state's electoral votes, would be a lot more fair. (Though they each assign both "hey I'm a state" votes to the statewide popular vote winner; I'd rather do something based on the Sainte-Laguë method that uses those two electoral college votes to balance out the state-wide votes biased towards smaller parties, so even votes past the magic 50% mark in a district get reflected). The vote for Representative and the vote for President are even on the same ballot (in Oregon at least), so this wouldn't even need alterations in how ballots are aggregated.

And since I just thought of this...I'm not a big fan of how DC gets freebie electoral votes (it's not even a state!), so I'm going to throw in suggesting those instead get used in a similar method to reflect the nationwide popular votes that might not be accounted for in the states.

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 Post subject: Re: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:19 pm 
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I honestly feel ever individual's vote should count the same. It's not even giving any state more power, really, it's giving the power to each individual citizen. Not everyone in California feels the same way, much like every one in Nebraska doesn't. It just seems right.

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 Post subject: Re: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:12 am 
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Zanth wrote:
I honestly feel ever individual's vote should count the same. It's not even giving any state more power, really, it's giving the power to each individual citizen. Not everyone in California feels the same way, much like every one in Nebraska doesn't. It just seems right.


That's because it is right. States aren't people. And people in a country as vast as the US are not monolithic. I believe the Democratic and Republican parties are masking just how politically diverse the country is in reality. Again, I'm not entirely sure how you'd solve this state vs federal problem, all I can do is give you my own experiences from a unitary state. And in my experience, you must always listen to what the people are saying.

Our MMP system over here gives every person two votes instead of just one. One vote is for the person we want to run as Prime Minister, the other is for the candidate we want as our local MP. Just because we like someone from a certain party doesn't mean we support the party he/she is part of. We aren't a very partisan culture, we're looking for the candidates we believe will get the job done. It means we get coalitions made up of different parties in power who have to compromise and negotiate with each other if things are going to work. A far cry from the current state of the US where nothing gets done and both parties see each other as non-persons.


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 Post subject: Re: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:35 pm 
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Zanth wrote:
I honestly feel ever individual's vote should count the same. It's not even giving any state more power, really, it's giving the power to each individual citizen. Not everyone in California feels the same way, much like every one in Nebraska doesn't. It just seems right.
Well...among other issues that can/will be argued (and maybe are being argued?), there's the detail that there's a single president. If you don't like the feeling that your vote doesn't count once 325,000 thousand people in North Dakota decide the other way; how's it going to feel when 160 million people nationwide decide the other way?

I understand what I think you mean, though. I live in a rather consistently right-leaning Congressional district, but out of Oregon's 4 million people, 2.4 million of them live in the heavily-left-leaning Portland area; so while this district has a Republican representative in Congress, the state-wide Senate seats and electoral votes are nearly always the opposite. And it's not just ideological or partisan stuff, either; I've seen many ballot measures that amount to "we want this program/building to serve part of Portland, let's tax the entire state for it", and "let's tax this thing that's insignificant in metropolitan areas compared to rural areas", and many of these pass. I know exactly how it feels to be invited to a party but not be allowed to do anything but pay the cover charge.

So I know that it seems right, but I also see firsthand why it isn't right: There's far too many people who are happy to do things more for themselves than for me, using my money more than their own. Whether this is because they don't understand how it affects me all the way out here, which seems much more likely than actual malicious intent, doesn't really make it right in the end. All because they have the force of numbers, and because their population density lets the same geographic scope hit a lot more people.

The electoral college is a crude bandage in this situation, I will admit, but it is a bandage: It keeps the states without major metropolises from being dominated as easily by those states that do have them. Any time the electoral votes and the popular vote disagree, a bully mentality has no chance to take hold.


I'm all for thinking about alternate solutions that could be better; but "every individual's vote counts the same" looks like taking the state-level unfairness I see now multiplied eighty-fold.


snowman1989 wrote:
Our MMP system over here gives every person two votes instead of just one. One vote is for the person we want to run as Prime Minister, the other is for the candidate we want as our local MP.
We have four positions we vote for on the federal level: The President, two Senators (who represent and are voted on by the whole state), and a state Representative (who represents and is voted on by the Congressional district we live in. Districts are mapped by the state population apportionment; North Dakota has one such representative for the whole state, Oregon has five, and the monstrous California has 53).

snowman1989 wrote:
Just because we like someone from a certain party doesn't mean we support the party he/she is part of.
This is kind of a digression, but one of my middle school teachers talked about the mentality behind this sort of thing...after Democrat Woodrow Wilson won big time after the Republican vote was split by the Progressive Party in 1912, and Republican Richard Nixon won big after the Democratic vote was split by the American Independent Party in 1968; both major parties got fierce about keeping third parties down. Chief among the methods was that when another party started picking up steam over a central issue neither the Republicans nor Democrats had a stance on, the Republicans and Democrats would go and adopt stances on that issue before a third party gained enough popularity to split up their vote again.

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 Post subject: Re: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:41 pm 
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Since this has turned into a pretty in-depth discussion on a specific subject unrelated to the change of the calendar year, a topic split seemed a good idea.
snowman1989 wrote:
Hm. This is a tough one. My experience comes from New Zealand being a unitary state. The central government is supreme in all matters, there are no smaller states within the state to challenge it. We aren't a federation like the US. Maybe you could take a look at other federations like Germany or Canada, see how they do things. A lot of New Zealand's recent political reforms came from emulating Germany, like MMP.

MMP does give me an idea to bounce off of you. Why not have states form into coalitions? That cartoon you gave me says California, New York, Texas and Florida would dominate, and they most certainly would in a pure winner-take all-system. But what if you changed it into an MMP style system? That way, these big states would have to curry favour with the smaller states in order to gain a majority, since the Big Four wouldn't be able to dominate on their own and wouldn't be able to overpower each other with sheer weight of population.
I must confess I'm really not familiar with the MMP system at all, but what you've described does sound somewhat intriguing.

At this point I couldn't add very much to the Electoral College discussion that hasn't already been better articulated by others, but your winner-take-all comment gives me an excuse to go on a slight tangent. The gist of it is, I think the primary election system may be in greater need of reform than the EC, because it has been quirks and flaws in the primary system which have left us with such appallingly bad candidates in recent years, which in turn is what has resulted in these disparities between the EC and popular votes.

This is getting into the weeds a bit, but the Republican primary system in particular is an absolute mess, and has been going back at least as far as 2000, probably much further in all honesty. The whole thing is far too complicated to really dig into here, and I'm far from an expert on the topic. But for just one example, some states have a "winner take all" policy in which whoever wins a majority of primary votes will "win" all of the pledged delegates for that entire state...but not every state follows that system, so that's just one of the many elements contributing at least somewhat to the chaos in the process.

The reason I bring that up is because, were it not for that selective winner-take-all factor in the primaries, Donald Trump would not be taking up residence in the White House eight days from now. Trump only broke the 50% threshold in 17 out of 50 states, and just barely in several of those. Overall, only about 40% of Republican primary voters actually voted for him, which means 60% voted for someone other than him. The fact that there were so many damn candidates on the field -- 17, at the start! -- actually worked in Trump's favor. The vote ended up being split in over a dozen directions throughout much of the race, with the more traditionally conservative voters being divided mostly between Cruz and Rubio, ultimately allowing Trump to sail through on his comparatively smaller, but fanatical, base of followers.

On the Democrats' side, meanwhile, they actually had the opposite problem. Their "race" this year, if you could even call it that, served as little more than a coronation for Clinton, with a small handful of other, forgettable candidates tossed up on stage next to her for the sake of appearances (yes, including Sanders), but with the party leadership knowing from the beginning that she was going to be the final pick.

Anyway, that's how we ended up having to choose between two people about whom the majority of Americans were not only unenthused, but were actively disgusted by. And that is how we end up with the popular vote and the Electoral College tally being at odds with one another, because the overwhelming majority of Presidents have had no problem winning over both. It's only when voters are forced into a choice where they feel ambivalent about both options that we run into these disparities (Bush v. Gore in 2000, and now Clinton v. Trump in 2016), without which we probably wouldn't even be having this conversation. (But it is an interesting one, so I'm not complaining. ;) )

In fact, in hindsight I think most people (myself included) expected this race to turn out as almost exactly the reverse of what actually happened. It was expected by most commentators and pundits that Trump might possibly win the popular vote, but it was always assumed that Clinton had the Electoral College locked up from the start. The thing that nearly everyone failed to predict was that Clinton's campaign would be even more spectacularly incompetent than anyone could have imagined, yet Trump still managed to lose the popular vote to her, and by a truly unprecedented margin.

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 Post subject: Re: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:12 pm 
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CWS wrote:
I must confess I'm really not familiar with the MMP system at all, but what you've described does sound somewhat intriguing.
To summarize to the best of my understanding...under a mixed-member proportional system, you vote for both a local representative and a political party. The winners of each local race gain a seat, and each party gets a number of seats proportional to how much of the party votes they received. (New Zealand's method for determining the number of party seats by votes is very similar to how the number of state seats in the US House of Representatives are determined by population, except without a minimum of one for each party....at one point US apportionment uses a mathematically identical model except for the minimum of 1, but the current usage of the Huntington-Hill method has been in place for several decades).

If a party earned more seats than they have representatives elected locally already, the party leadership chooses representatives to make up the difference. If the party has more representatives locally elected than their party is entitled to, the extras are "overhang seats" which can be handled in multiple ways; in New Zealand, the size of their unicameral parliament is simply expanded to account for them.

CWS wrote:
This is getting into the weeds a bit, but the Republican primary system in particular is an absolute mess, and has been going back at least as far as 2000, probably much further in all honesty. The whole thing is far too complicated to really dig into here, and I'm far from an expert on the topic. But for just one example, some states have a "winner take all" policy in which whoever wins a majority of primary votes will "win" all of the pledged delegates for that entire state...but not every state follows that system, so that's just one of the many elements contributing at least somewhat to the chaos in the process.
Open primaries, where anyone can vote for a party candidate they expect to lose against their preferred candidate in another party, probably contributes to chaos as well.

CWS wrote:
On the Democrats' side, meanwhile, they actually had the opposite problem. Their "race" this year, if you could even call it that, served as little more than a coronation for Clinton, with a small handful of other, forgettable candidates tossed up on stage next to her for the sake of appearances (yes, including Sanders), but with the party leadership knowing from the beginning that she was going to be the final pick.
That's not quite how I saw it....Most of them didn't even try, like you said, but Sanders tried hard. Sanders, of course, was wildly popular in comparison to Clinton; so things ensued that ranged from the media virtually ignoring Sanders' campaign, to the DNC locking Sanders' campaign out of its own voter files for months, to the DNC calling MSNBC executives to demand taking a talk show host "off the air" for making a comment about the DNC's bias against Sanders.

Whatever I may think of Sanders, he deserved a fair chance.

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 Post subject: Re: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:50 pm 
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The Phiend wrote:
Open primaries, where anyone can vote for a party candidate they expect to lose against their preferred candidate in another party, probably contributes to chaos as well.
Gah. How could I forget about that?? :? That's only the worst thing of all!

The Phiend wrote:
CWS wrote:
On the Democrats' side, meanwhile, they actually had the opposite problem. Their "race" this year, if you could even call it that, served as little more than a coronation for Clinton, with a small handful of other, forgettable candidates tossed up on stage next to her for the sake of appearances (yes, including Sanders), but with the party leadership knowing from the beginning that she was going to be the final pick.
That's not quite how I saw it....Most of them didn't even try, like you said, but Sanders tried hard. Sanders, of course, was wildly popular in comparison to Clinton; so things ensued that ranged from the media virtually ignoring Sanders' campaign, to the DNC locking Sanders' campaign out of its own voter files for months, to the DNC calling MSNBC executives to demand taking a talk show host "off the air" for making a comment about the DNC's bias against Sanders.

Whatever I may think of Sanders, he deserved a fair chance.
Well, whether he did or not, he was never going to get it. And this convinced me that he was never really going to fight for it, either. He was part of the theatre, like the others. He was there to whip up the base, I personally doubt anyone ever expected him to end up being more popular than the presumptive "queen". :roll:

At least, that's my suspicion, anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:59 pm 
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The Phiend wrote:
Zanth wrote:
I honestly feel ever individual's vote should count the same. It's not even giving any state more power, really, it's giving the power to each individual citizen. Not everyone in California feels the same way, much like every one in Nebraska doesn't. It just seems right.
Well...among other issues that can/will be argued (and maybe are being argued?), there's the detail that there's a single president. If you don't like the feeling that your vote doesn't count once 325,000 thousand people in North Dakota decide the other way; how's it going to feel when 160 million people nationwide decide the other way?


Not as bad as it does when over 2 million more people voted for the loser than did the winner.

At least in the case you bring up, I know my vote counted towards the total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Electoral College, Democracy and Majoritarianism
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:48 pm 
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If anyone's interested in actual cartograms on the election results, here you go.

CWS wrote:
The Phiend wrote:
Open primaries, where anyone can vote for a party candidate they expect to lose against their preferred candidate in another party, probably contributes to chaos as well.
Gah. How could I forget about that?? :? That's only the worst thing of all!
Yeah...while I do believe a political party has the right to decide who it represents, same as any other social organization, I'd think narrowing its own field of hopeful candidates should be limited to its own members. The primaries are theoretically supposed be a "best among us" kind of thing; how well a party's candidate aligns with everyone is what the general election is for, after all.

It may also be worth noting that methods like approval voting exist, which aren't adversely affected by vote splitting the same way plurality is.

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