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Thread: Thinking about a more Direct Democracy.

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN

    Thinking about a more Direct Democracy.

    In light of my unfortunate interjection of unrelated optimism in the Trump Dump thread, a few weeks ago, I thought we might discuss prospects for real and meaningful new ways to select and operate our governments.

    With each new technology our methods have evolved and now we have the internet, with the ability to instantly engage individuals or groups (for good or ill), on any scale, from local to global.

    It's easy to black hat new ideas and there are rafts of reasons why real-time, direct democracy should fail but let's try and be a bit more positive in this thread and pretend it could work - pretend that humans can find the mindfulness, compassion, imagination and dedication needed to make it work.

    What would it look like? How would it function?


    EDIT: Given that specific points are expected to be made and replied to, Quote Storming is permitted in this thread.
    Last edited by Nicker; 16th Feb 2018 at 09:08. Reason: Quote Storming Permission

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    I'll get it started.

    I offer "sortition" as one method for sampling the public mood and collecting public input, online.

    Sortition was practiced by the progenitors of democracy, the Athenian Greeks. They used it to select officers for key positions. It was thought to deter corruption because it randomised the selection of officials. This was thought to assuage the ego and to reduce the likelihood they could be bought, at least ahead of time.

    While it is unlikely that people would agree with this method to select city, state and national leaders (at this time, anyway) it could be useful to establish "citizen juries" to oversee elected officials between elections, assuring that they execute their office honestly, effectively and in accordance with the mandate they were given.

    Pollsters recognise that the accuracy of simple polls plateaus around 1,000 participants. Larger sample sizes do not offer greater benefits for the additional effort. Random selection, coupled with a large sample size, should make buying off such a "jury" very difficult, if not impossible.

    A large sample size might also help to reduce the effect of individual incompetence and indifference.

  3. #3
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Direct democracy? You want these people to have even more direct power than they already have!?

    I mean I think it could be made to work just fine, technology! and all, but when public opinion is so malleable in such radically illiberal directions in our era, it would lead to catastrophic decisions IMO. I worry even more about mass incompetence than the individual sort.

  4. #4
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    I used to be optimistic about the capacity of the masses to make well-considered decisions given enough time. The last two and a half years have given that view a thorough drubbing.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    OK - well this is off to an optimistic start.

    Remember that the USA isn't the whole world and only 1/3 of the voters created the mess there.

    So imagining for the moment that people also have a good side...

  6. #6
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    I'm in India, bub. We voted someone into office who was at least indirectly responsible for one of the worst communal riots in the land's history 16 years ago. You also have Brexit to consider. Nationalistic fervour's coming back into style like some long forgotten trend dusted off from a stack of old Macy's catalogues.

    But yeah, as a thought experiment, why not, I guess. I doubt I'll have much to contribute to this in terms of ad hoc'ing a fool-proof system but do continue.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: I think I've been here
    Can we for once acknowledge that being a full-time politician is a very difficult and demanding job that requires a lot of experience and the ability to negotiate compromises at its core? Not well meaning idealism, purity of heart and unchanging pigheadedness.

    You wouldn't find much can-do optimism in the idea to randomly elect people to act as doctors, architects or teachers. The decisions of politicians affect many people in very basic ways.
    I want professionals to do that job - not amateurs. And I want them to be paid more than similar positions in the industry, so we get the better people for the more important tasks.
    Last edited by Kolya; 16th Feb 2018 at 03:32.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2017
    Location: Denmark
    Kolya has it absolutely right here... For things to work and move along in a reasonable time, you have to have professionals working with it.
    Being a politician is a job, a demanding one at that, and one where you are constantly in the line of fire from all directions. Will it ever be perfect? No... And would a system like the one in the US benefit more from election campaigns being driven more by actual politics and reason than money? Certainly.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Reminds me of an old Colin Baker episode of Doctor Who. Each time the president (of an Earth colony) had reforms or important things that he wanted to put forward, he'd be hooked up to an electric chair and a public vote (via yes and no buttons on their TVs) would be done, potentially leading to the death of the president by public vote. They'd usually survive a few shocks (3-4) so a few big no votes was survivable, but too many and that would mean an early death.

    One way of doing things I guess. Though even in Doctor Who it was seen as barbaric and got removed by the end of the episode.

  10. #10
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Ok, I'll try to give you the most optimistic scenario I can muster.

    My undergrad university (U. Texas) in my old department (Government) was known for its program of educated polling. They'd take a random sample of the public, poll them as soon as they walked in the door, and then they'd give them an entire week or two long course on all of the major political issues, the technical issues involved, why things were done the way they were, and then they'd poll them again at the end.

    Some opinions stayed about the same, but on a lot of issues there were very dramatic changes because the training was able to dispel a lot of the more ridiculous myths from people's heads... They got to actually talk to single mothers on welfare and see how they were already holding down two jobs and still struggling, or they got to see what international aid was actually being spent on and how US interests were so much better fulfilled when nations don't collapse into roving bands of terrorists, etc. People were still definably left or right or whatever; it didn't brainwash them or change their core beliefs or values. It just got them to think more critically and dispel the obvious falsehoods and crackpot conspiracies.

    So... I would have a lot more confidence in direct democracy decision-making if they came after these kinds of educational sessions. That pushes against the limits of feasibility possibly beyond what one could realistically hope for, but if you're going to do it at all, that's what I'd argue is the most necessary prerequisite to have it actually work to make good decisions.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    My apologies, Sulphur, and anyone else not living in the USA. The Orange Pall has global effects but it is true that the regression to insular and nationalistic ideologies is a world wide issue. I think that ultimately comes down to economic / population issues. There is simply not enough room in our physical world to allow space for the other in our world views, unless that other is a threat.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    As far as qualifications go, it is a false equivalent to compare politicians with engineers, architects or medical doctors. The latter require certification at accredited universities. Their skill set is specific and it's relatively easy to test for basic competence.

    No such education exists for politicians. The former are all amateur politicians when they win their first election. There is no diploma or practicum requirement, not even an apprenticeship. It's all on the job training. Tradespeople are better qualified than noob politicians. Elected officials also have a raft of career bureaucrats, who largely remain in place regardless of regime change. People with experience and direct knowledge of the specific functions those elected are expected to oversee.

    So I don't think the comparison between politicians and doctors is fair.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2013
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicker View Post
    the regression to insular and nationalistic ideologies is a world wide issue
    You're after "direct democracy", but that kind of shit is what the "demos" wants today. So what do you do?

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: I think I've been here
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicker View Post
    So I don't think the comparison between politicians and doctors is fair.
    Well many politicians here come from a juridical background where people get a lot of insight into government structures and decision making processes, not least into the intentions and values behind them, that amateurs tend to see as hindrances and useless bureaucracy.
    A previous juridical career is also obviously useful, since politicians are supposed to create the rules by which the judicial branch decides.
    Manager positions in the industry also share a lot of similarities with the day to day of politics, but are based on a different set of values and therefore less advantageous.
    And of course you can study political science, if you want a specific qualification.
    So it's not like politicians come into the senate from plowing their corn field. That is indeed an ancient (Roman) ideal that wouldn't work today.

    And while those qualifications are not strict requirements, politicians generally won't get very far without them. Unless you directly invoke the vox populi which may choose actors, clowns or anyone with an "honest face" and some charisma, who promises bread and games and a glorious future.
    The ancient Greeks didn't have that problem because they required political education to even begin participating in their democracy, by excluding women, slaves and all the dumb fucks that didn't come from a noble family.

    In reality political education is factually required to juggle the host of interests that culminate at the head of any government. It is a practical problem of democracy that anyone is supposed to be able to get elected, that we try to amend by choosing schooled representatives that are organised in parties etc. But direct democracy removes this barrier and makes the problem much worse.

    In that respect the idea isn't much different from Trump's agenda of destroying the political establishment, because he can't see the use of it.
    Last edited by Kolya; 17th Feb 2018 at 05:01.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    Some do have legal backgrounds and some don't. That's a far cry from politicians having equivalent educational requirements to doctors. There is no school of government other than government. And as for politicians not getting very far without a specific education, that is not true. Plenty of people from all walks of life, achieve high office and acquit themselves as well as any ex judge or lawyer.

    You claim that direct democracy would make things worse but that's just an assertion or do you have a specific example to call on?

    Juries are not comprised of legal professionals but with guidance and clear rules they can navigate trials quite well. We are all deemed competent enough to judge politicians every few years, why not more often and why not on specific legislation?

    As for your Trump comment... you have heard of the informal logical fallacy, reductio ad Hitlerum ? Well I am considering coining a new one.

    Try entering into the spirit of the discussion. Criticising is easy. Creating is hard.
    Last edited by Nicker; 17th Feb 2018 at 22:37.

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    nemyax - the title of this thread is Thinking about a MORE Direct Democracy. A small but significant difference to demanding Direct Democracy.

    The challenge is how might we use the WWW to govern ourselves better.

    Who are "the demos"?

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    Demagogue - Thanks for that example. Any successful democratic process requires an educated electorate to function well. One involving more people more directly will of course require an even higher level of knowledge. Any evolution to greater and more direct public involvement won't roll out smoothly in one generation but perhaps such a system would inspire nations to provide better educations for their children, given that many of them might be direct participants in government.

    I think that a More Direct Democracy might work best with the "professional" legislators making the sausage and the public giving it the sniff test before it hits the pan. So often politicians get elected on one platform then switch to another after the polls close. Sometimes this is necessary and sometimes it's just duplicity. People should be able to push back against the latter more often than every few years.

    There is a weekly call in show in Canada, called Cross Country Checkup. It has run for decades. It is live, lasts two hours (no commercials), has a specific topic announced well in advance and it is moderated. They bring on experts and advocates to flesh out the topic and to respond to the audience calls but it is the callers that drive the show. Over and over I am impressed by the quality, insight and wisdom of callers. They prove there is a vast, untapped pool of talent we are missing out on.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicker View Post
    Who are "the demos"?
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/demos

    It's mostly just a fancy synonym for "people".
    Last edited by Starker; 17th Feb 2018 at 23:18.

  19. #19
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    I learned something new today.

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: I think I've been here
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicker View Post
    Some do have legal backgrounds and some don't. That's a far cry from politicians having equivalent educational requirements to doctors.
    I didn't say they had the same requirements. What I meant was that political decisions affect many people in basic ways and are therefore at least as important as the decisions of doctors.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicker View Post
    There is no school of government other than government.
    I gave a you a few examples how one could get tthe necessary eductaion, including studying political science which is exactly the "school of government" that you ask for. Are you somehow averse to science and expert knowledge?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicker View Post
    You claim that direct democracy would make things worse but that's just an assertion or do you have a specific example to call on?
    Well the Brexit has already been named. Experience also shows that the public will always prefer debts over cutting of state services, even if bureaucracy is hugely overblown already (See Greece). The Swiss took well into the 1970s to allow women to vote, because that required a public poll, whereas suffrage had long been achieved in most represantative democracies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicker View Post
    Juries are not comprised of legal professionals but with guidance and clear rules they can navigate trials quite well. We are all deemed competent enough to judge politicians every few years, why not more often and why not on specific legislation?
    I don't agree that jury courts were a good idea and there are lenty of examples why they are not, but this is a whole different discussion.
    Suffice to say that giving everyone the guidance and wrapping every political decision into a similarly tight set of rules is practially impossible.
    To begin with, people tend not to care and not even go to votes they have no interest in. That leads to only the interest groups voting at all. A positive solutionn to that
    would be to require say a 50% overall turnout. But at that point direct democracy generally falls on its face.
    What then? Forced voting? Doesn't work either.
    It's not like this stuff hasn't been tried.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicker View Post
    As for your Trump comment... you have heard of the informal logical fallacy, reductio ad Hitlerum ? Well I am considering coining a new one.
    Yes, I heard of it. But I showed you a parallel: Trump wants to cut out the experts in politics ("dry the swamp") and so do you apparently. And he ran into predictable problems, because - like you - he vastly underestimated the complexity of politics at state level.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicker View Post
    Try entering into the spirit of the discussion. Criticising is easy. Creating is hard.
    Creating something stupid isn't that hard. And critical thinking is something positive.
    It sounds like you want to make general agreement with your idea the entry card to this thread.

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    In theory, I like the idea of a direct democracy, but given the way that I've seen people behave - in recent elections and referendums around the word, in online games, and even in communities like TTLG - the whole idea is just depressing.
    I can never decide if the awful people, the hate groups, the racists, the bigots, are a small but loud fraction of society whose toxic opinions make them stand out more and seem more numerous than they really are, of if that's just human nature, and any attempt at direct democracy would be doomed to failure because, in their hearts, most people are just not decent people capable of making informed, rational and empathetic decisions.


    I think the big problem with current political systems is that they aren't actually the representational democracies that they claim to be.

    They are corrupted by political parties and money.

    A true representational democracy would actually have representatives from every part of society having a say, as opposed to all policy decided by a group that mostly consists of rich, privileged white men.

    I think that political parties are anathema to democracy, because they subvert the concept. The government doesn't make decisions based on consensus from different parts of society, but instead one faction organises into a monopoly to subvert the democratic process and push the agenda of their party.


    The other thing is that current electoral systems are, by and large, broken in most countries. Ireland is a tiny country that doesn't really matter to the rest of the world, but they are one of the few countries that actually allow each voter to list their candidates in order of preference; to vote for the person that they really want to elect, but to hedge their bets and also put in the candidates that they'd least hate to see in office as later preferences on their votes. Without that, you end up with a government that the largest single group of people want, rather than what the entire population would like to compromise on.


    The other thing is that governments around the world are really far too swayed by basically bribes from wealthy interests and large companies. It seems to be too easy for specific elected individuals and political parties to be bribed into not making the decisions and legislation that need to be made for the benefits of the most people.
    In a direct democracy, it would be much harder for those special interests to subvert democracy, because they'd need to bribe everyone - and if they were bribing everyone, they'd probably have to do so with community projects rather than monetary bribes - and wouldn't that mean that they were basically donating their money to make the world a better place, even if for the wrong reasons?

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2010
    Location: A Former Forest
    I’m hopeful most of you know this old adage, “Democracy is 2 wolves and a sheep voting about what’s for dinner.” Once can flip that and say 2 sheep voting to kill the wolf. The founding fathers of the USA said over and over again that our republic would not stand if we lose our moral backbone. Thou shall not steal is the heart of the matter. Do not steal peoples’ life, liberty, or property.

    Bill Gates is wildly more wealthy than I am. Do I have a right to confiscate some of his wealth? No, of course not. What if I convince a majority of my fellow citizens it would be good to jack him? I call that theft.

    Direct democracy has always failed. It always eats itself. Republics work better, but we have to remain moral, or you get what we have today in the USA. Organized theft and reduction of rights by the real threat of force.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2003
    Location: Location, Location
    If you're gonna pull the theft angle, consider the case of corporate lobbyists and bribes endeavoring to rewrite the rulebook so those at the top can run off with more and more of the economy's blood, and a greater percentage of the money supply pools around them. There's theft of wealth going on right now, only it's in the opposite direction from what you're referring to.

    You're right to bring morality into the subject of economic policy, but you're pointing it at the wrong crowd.

  24. #24
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2010
    Location: A Former Forest
    Trance, I see the theft coming from many angles. I'll clarify that taxes are necessary evils if we want public services and infrastructure. The theft is in how they are implemented, to what degree, and for what purpose. Funds earmarked for roads going to the general fund. Public servants getting higher retirement payments than their regular salary. Being allowed to buy years of service for pennies on the dollar. These are just the surface examples.

    The "rich" may be playing games, but 10s of millions of public servants and their unions are breaking the banks of many states in the USA. California is practically insolvent because of unfunded pensions. We pay ridiculous amounts of tax to cover it. Much of the entire budget goes toward it, while our roads rot, and criminals are set free to kill and rob again.

    To add insult in injury, we now can't even write off the confiscatory state taxes.

    The republican party in California is effectively dead, except for the few Congressional Reps. In state government, the Dems rule 100% due to open primaries. The majority has effectively made the minority illegal. Only in hard core red areas do Republicans win races. Orange County used to be solid red. It is now deep purple.

    Now excuse me while I put on "Smoke on the Water" and have a cocktail. It's almost noon.

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2003
    Location: Location, Location
    All of that sounds like a failing of the republic model rather than anything against direct democracy. Enjoy your cocktail.

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