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Three Things to Improve Politics in the U.S.?

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 

What I'll propose is flat out never going to happen (not in the next 50 years), but join me on a thought experiment. Tell me why this would fail to improve politics in the United States. Or tell me if you think it would work.

 

I'd propose three things to improve politics in the United States:

  1. Do away with political parties.
  2. Do away with the primaries.
  3. Implement instant runoff voting.

 

My interest in politics is barely above nil, but I'm curious enough to know what people think of the above.

post #2 of 53

Just to clarify (we've had some off topic posts) the topic of the thread is to discuss Erik's three points.  Discuss your thoughts on the following:

  1. Doing away with political parties.
  2. Doing away with the primaries.
  3. Implementing instant runoff voting.
post #3 of 53

I may sound like I'm really interested in politics because I like to discuss this stuff with you guys, but really, I'm with Erik.  Outside of this website, and voting day, and John Stewart and Steven Colbert, my interest in politics is right "up" there with his.  I mostly enjoy discussing with you guys because I'm learning about things, learning people's thought processes, learning how to debate, stuff like that.

 

So, the bottom line is, I don't know much about politics, but it seems to me like Erik's proposals would be good things.

 

On the other hand ... even without the labels of Democrat and Republican, a guy who runs for congress is still going to try and do whatever pleases those in his community, right?  So maybe it won't make a difference?  They're still going to vote the way they think they need to vote to keep their constituency happy ... and then hopefully continue to get re-elected.

 

But I like new ideas, and I like change, so I think it would be fun to try it out and see what happens!

post #4 of 53
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfingdad View Post
 

On the other hand ... even without the labels of Democrat and Republican, a guy who runs for congress is still going to try and do whatever pleases those in his community, right?  So maybe it won't make a difference?  They're still going to vote the way they think they need to vote to keep their constituency happy ... and then hopefully continue to get re-elected.

 

I think the party system pushes candidates towards the extremes. They'll decide who to back. The governor will decide which local guy to "favor." The President will subtly "endorse" the candidate that the party says he should endorse. And so on.

 

That's why I included the bit about eliminating primaries. The primaries allow the parties to winnow down the candidates to one, then those candidates run to the extreme edges of their parties to shore up their party votes. A candidate who, to make something up, is opposed to laws preventing gay marriage but also in favor of guns is a candidate without a party (and thus, without any backing).

 

So parties encourage extremism, primaries encourage the parties to take the "winner" and push them to the extremes, and if we do away with those, we might have six choices for any office on voting day, so you implement instant runoff voting as a means of determining a winner.

 

At least, that's the thought…

 


 

As of right now four people have proven themselves incapable of reading either the first OR second posts and have had their posts deleted.

 

Seriously, people, they're not long posts. This thread is not about "tell me your ideas for improving politics." Read the first or second post.

post #5 of 53

Agree (with Erik)

 

Less tribalism, less labels

post #6 of 53

One of the best things I think is it would force the voter to actually educate themselves on who they are voting for instead of voting for a "D" or an "R".  I like your thought Erik about it pulling candidates who would not otherwise be, away from extremes.

post #7 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post
 

 

I think the party system pushes candidates towards the extremes. They'll decide who to back. The governor will decide which local guy to "favor." The President will subtly "endorse" the candidate that the party says he should endorse. And so on.

 

That's why I included the bit about eliminating primaries. The primaries allow the parties to winnow down the candidates to one, then those candidates run to the extreme edges of their parties to shore up their party votes. A candidate who, to make something up, is opposed to laws preventing gay marriage but also in favor of guns is a candidate without a party (and thus, without any backing).

 

So parties encourage extremism, primaries encourage the parties to take the "winner" and push them to the extremes, and if we do away with those, we might have six choices for any office on voting day, so you implement instant runoff voting as a means of determining a winner.

 

At least, that's the thought…

Aah ... very good points.  Well, I already said I liked the idea.  Now I like it more.

 

Could you elaborate slightly on what you mean by "Instant runoff voting?"  Do you mean something like ... we vote on the 10 or 20 or 50 or whatever candidates that are on the ballot on November 5th, for example, then as soon as that's tallied, we have another election on December 5th between just the top two vote getters?  Am I close?  Without putting too, too much thought into it ... I like that idea too.

 

There was a hilarious bit on Colbert a couple of months ago that made fun of our long, drawn out, election "season."  He compared us to Australia, where the entire process, from candidate introduction to election was one month.  (I don't claim to know if that was accurate info on Australia, maybe he was being hyperbolic for comedy's sake)  Maybe if there were no worries about needing to win the nomination, then we wouldn't have the ridiculous 3 year long cycle of "Who's going to run."

post #8 of 53
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfingdad View Post
 

Could you elaborate slightly on what you mean by "Instant runoff voting?"

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting

 

Quote:
Ballots are initially distributed based on each elector's first preference. If a candidate secures more than half of votes cast, that candidate wins. Otherwise, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Ballots assigned to the eliminated candidate are recounted and assigned to those of the remaining candidates who rank next in order of preference on each ballot. This process continues until one candidate wins by obtaining more than half the votes.
post #9 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post
 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting

 

Oh, that makes even more sense.  No need to even have a second election.

 

Soooooooo ... when are you running so we can vote you in and get all of this stuff implemented???

post #10 of 53

The problem with the party system is that since '96, it seems even more tribal, more "us" against "them," more "we are good" versus "they are evil."

 

This attitude does not promote cooperation.

 

What is worse is that one party has taken over a majority of state government and gerrymandered districts that make even less geographic sense than previously so that the elected official does not fear re-election or any responsibility to the minority - therefore a vast minority across the nation are no longer represented.

 

This is what occurs with "tribalism."

 

Get rid of parties - no labels.

 

Let's get ideas and working together back in vogue.

post #11 of 53

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post
 

What I'll propose is flat out never going to happen (not in the next 50 years), but join me on a thought experiment. Tell me why this would fail to improve politics in the United States. Or tell me if you think it would work.

 

I'd propose three things to improve politics in the United States:

  1. Do away with political parties.
  2. Do away with the primaries.
  3. Implement instant runoff voting.

 

My interest in politics is barely above nil, but I'm curious enough to know what people think of the above.

 

I agree 100% on the first part. Political parties have become the bane to our political system. Not sure if you can ever get rid of them. You would probably have to make redistricting work in a way were it is competitive for every seat. Also destroy the whole political party machine that has created all these super PAC's. I think there needs to be some creative rule making.

 

Agree with the 2nd point. It is such a power grab by the political parties to hold Americans hostage on who they have the right to elect.

 

Yea, I can get on board with that type of voting. I had to convince myself of how it worked and the reasoning behind it. It is basically saying, Ok no one got 50%, so lets drop the lowest and re-vote. But instead of re voting, we assume that they will vote the same for the ones not last, and just count the dropped votes in the re count.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Desmond View Post
 

The problem with the party system is that since '96, it seems even more tribal, more "us" against "them," more "we are good" versus "they are evil."

 

This attitude does not promote cooperation.

 

What is worse is that one party has taken over a majority of state government and gerrymandered districts that make even less geographic sense than previously so that the elected official does not fear re-election or any responsibility to the minority - therefore a vast minority across the nation are no longer represented.

 

This is what occurs with "tribalism."

 

Get rid of parties - no labels.

 

Let's get ideas and working together back in vogue.

 

Here's the thing, how do you stop them from still banding together. You can drop labels, it still doesn't stop them from bringing together an agenda, hence a shadow party.

post #12 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by saevel25 View Post
 

Yea, I can get on board with that type of voting. I had to convince myself of how it worked and the reasoning behind it. It is basically saying, Ok no one got 50%, so lets drop the lowest and re-vote. But instead of re voting, we assume that they will vote the same for the ones not last, and just count the dropped votes in the re count.

I don't think you are assuming anything.  If 10 people voted for you, me and Erik, and 4 voted for you with their first choice, then Erik second, 4 voted for Erik first then you second, and 2 voted for me first then Erik second ... it's not really an assumption to say that were I not on the ballot, those 2 would have voted for Erik over you.  They already said as much.  I think this makes great sense.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by saevel25 View Post
 

 

Here's the thing, how do you stop them from still banding together. You can drop labels, it still doesn't stop them from bringing together an agenda, hence a shadow party.

That was my first thought too.  But Erik addressed my concerns quite well here ...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post
 

 

I think the party system pushes candidates towards the extremes. They'll decide who to back. The governor will decide which local guy to "favor." The President will subtly "endorse" the candidate that the party says he should endorse. And so on.

 

That's why I included the bit about eliminating primaries. The primaries allow the parties to winnow down the candidates to one, then those candidates run to the extreme edges of their parties to shore up their party votes. A candidate who, to make something up, is opposed to laws preventing gay marriage but also in favor of guns is a candidate without a party (and thus, without any backing).

 

So parties encourage extremism, primaries encourage the parties to take the "winner" and push them to the extremes, and if we do away with those, we might have six choices for any office on voting day, so you implement instant runoff voting as a means of determining a winner.

 

At least, that's the thought…

You eliminate the parties, then you eliminate the primaries, and there is no (or less) worry about everybody jumping in together behind one guy and pushing him to the extremes.  I'm picturing 2008.  John McCain needn't worry about appealing to his conservative base to get the party nomination, so he doesn't have to compromise his ideals (I'm obviously making an assumption thats what he did, for the sake of this point) and bring on Sarah Palin to push him further right.  He could stick to his 'maverick' guns, appeal to us in the middle and have a very solid chance at winning the election.

post #13 of 53

1) The founders were mostly quite ideologically committed to no parties, but even within their own generation they'd begun to form parties.  I like the sort of gentleman(woman) public servant without particular group commitments ideal, but it seems so unrealistic to me that I don't think it's really something worth advocating.  Especially with modern population size and modern communication technology, just practically only the Bloombergs of the world (i.e., the independently ultra-wealthy) would ever be able to afford to get their ideas and message and goals out there to the voters without any sort of organization.  That pretty much necessarily becomes a political party, even if you pretend not to call it that.

 

2 & 3) I'm a huge advocate of instant runoff voting.  Personally I think it makes the most sense to do a sort of combo of California style open primaries (currently, all candidates on a single list regardless of party, all voters choose a single candidate, top two vote getters face off in the general regardless of party) with instant runoff.

 

I'd like to see open primaries that are themselves instant runoff, but instead of choosing the final winner there, do an instant runoff and take the top 3-4 candidates, then have a general election where everyone ranks the top 3-4 vote getters from the primary.

post #14 of 53

I'm on board with all of this plus let's get rid of the electoral college and go back to every vote counts.  1 person = 1 vote.

post #15 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post
 

 

I'd propose three things to improve politics in the United States:

  1. Do away with political parties.
  2. Do away with the primaries.
  3. Implement instant runoff voting.

 

I think these are good ideas.  IMO it's something a good portion of the country would go for since I think most people are middle of the road politically.  #3 might be a little tough since voters might have to implement some strategy and I don't trust that people are smart enough ;-)

post #16 of 53

I disagree with the concept to abolish the political parties.  While party partisanship appears to be a major problem right now, I feel that is actually a smokescreen.  In fact, it is possible that strong political parties are needed now more than ever, an idea I'll explain a little further down.

 

The party system historically has worked as a buffer against extreme ideals and has actually helped elective offices remain more balanced than more dissimilar.  Without a party system, it is highly more possible that candidates with strong, extremist viewpoints could get elected.  At the root of this was funding - it has been nearly impossible for a candidate to secure office without the backing of his or her party.   With a majority of party finances being derived from donors and sources that are somewhat more centrist, no political party would be in a position to totally disenfranchise their base by swaying too far from a reasonable position. 

 

However, one thing has significantly distorted this - the Super PACs.  With vast sums of political funding now driven by Super PACs, fringe candidates are more easily able to mount viable campaigns without the express approval and support of their party.  People who were once not electable are now viable candidates, and they are occasionally elected now and are able to buck their party's agenda. 

 

Another aggravating factor is how the use of media has shifted over the last decade or so and how that is shaping the electability of candidates.  At one time, the various media outlets were also somewhat more centrist in their approach.  There were certainly biases present in reporting, but they were much more subtle than what we see today.   With news organizations themselves representing positions far more left or right than previously, they shape the viewer or reader's perspectives on the candidates far more than before.  At the same time, the voting populace has themselves shifted further away from a population that may actually do some research and create an informed opinion; it is now a world of tweets and soundbites the defines what directions a voter heads. 

 

I recall from college Poly Sci that "An informed and intelligent electorate is essential for a functional democracy".   The political parties used to help support that vision by having a platform that people could understand.  Campaign funding was consistent with that perception, and helped position candidates who represented views that would reflect that vision but yet be sufficient middle-of-the-road so as to be electable.  And the media reasonably presented those opinions to the public to make a choice.   However, we largely have an electorate now that is neither informed nor intelligent (at least on the fundamental issues and true needs).

 

With the terribly skewed Super PAC-based funding and the shifts in relatively balanced media coverage, we now have a system where the loudest candidate voice gets the most sound bites and is packaged and marketed in ways we never saw a couple decades ago.  The extremists now have a platform, and they have found the self-perpetuating cycle where the louder they yell the more funding they can generate.    Chris Anderson's book "The Long Tail" outlined a business phenomena where smaller demographic segments offered great opportunities through technology-infused marketing focus, and this same phenomena can now be seen in our political spectrum.  The "long tail" demographics in the electorate have power unlike they ever had before.  Without the two main political parties providing some buffer in the system, it is likely this problem will get worse and worse.

post #17 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post
 

What I'll propose is flat out never going to happen (not in the next 50 years), but join me on a thought experiment. Tell me why this would fail to improve politics in the United States. Or tell me if you think it would work.

 

I'd propose three things to improve politics in the United States:

  1. Do away with political parties.
  2. Do away with the primaries.
  3. Implement instant runoff voting.

 

My interest in politics is barely above nil, but I'm curious enough to know what people think of the above.

 

As much as I like these ideas, I think #1 is the hardest to implement simply because on the national level, it takes millions to run a campaign and often, a sizable portion of that funding comes from the national party HQ.  So IMHO, unless there was also implemented a way to limit and equalize the funding for a presidential campaign, only the very rich or very connected would have the financing to mount a serious campaign.   

post #18 of 53

Voters rarely understand the true platform of the party they just voted for anyways.

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