• Banno
    18.6k
    Why would an election be the only (or even a very good) way to find this out?Isaac

    Polls have been notoriously inaccurate in Australian Federal Elections.
  • Isaac
    8.4k


    I'm not suggesting there isn't a worse way.

    Do you really go about your daily business, read the newspaper, look at the world around you and actually wonder if a majority of the population might consistently vote for an environmental, socialist government?

    Maybe you live in some kind of communal Utopia (good on you if you do), but here in rural England I need only walk to the shops to gain a pretty robust notion that an environmental, socialist government is not going to get into power.

    We have about a 60% turnout, that's thousands. A really, really good sample size.

    So given that I've already got a really good guess at how successful my preferred candidate will be, and I've got a very good sample already if I wanted that confirmed statistically, what would be the point of an even more accurate election snapshot to confirm this?
  • Banno
    18.6k
    We have about a 60% turnout...Isaac


    That 40%... who are they? If they did "turn out", how would the vote change? What is the systemic bias here?

    There's also the difference introduced by proportional representation. The two main political parties here only managed to garner about a third of votes each. Because of proportional representation, a third of the Australian Senate consists of minor parties, with whom the government must make deals in order to pass legislation. They actually have to talk and negotiate.

    That 40% makes a huge difference to who has the cross-bench seats.
  • Isaac
    8.4k
    That 40%... who are they? If they did "turn out", how would the vote change? What is the systemic bias here?Banno

    That's what I meant by looking out of the window (metaphorically). I'm not a hermit, we don't live lives insulated from politics. If there were 40% of the local population keen environmentalists, keen socialists, it would manifest in society, in our day-to-day interactions. I don't need an election to discover the political viewpoint of the 40%. I live in the society they have a 40% stake in.

    The two main political parties here only managed to garner about a third of votes each. Because of proportional representation, a third of the Australian Senate consists of minor parties, with whom the government must make deals in order to pass legislation. They actually have to talk and negotiate.Banno

    There are definitely better ways than the English system, for sure. And better systems make voting more worthwhile, I wouldn't deny that.

    That 40% makes a huge difference to who has the cross-bench seats.Banno

    Maybe, but again the difference they might make is not a mystery because we inhabit the same world as that 40%. There are not large sections of the population holding seriously progressive views but not bothering to vote. If there were, society would already be the better place their votes might make it because of their consumer choices, their neighbourliness, their concern for their environment, their care for those less well off than them.

    Politics is about so much more than voting and if it's not working, if communities are dysfunctional, then voting becomes irrelevant. All it's going to do is record that dysfunction for posterity. Like a photograph. Personally, I'd rather it was blurry.
  • Banno
    18.6k
    Ok, so do we have a difference here? My suggestion is that compulsory voting, especially in combination with proportional representation, leads to greater diversity within parliament, and that this is an overall good.
  • Isaac
    8.4k
    My suggestion is that compulsory voting, especially in combination with proportional representation, leads to greater diversity within parliament, and that this is an overall good.Banno

    Proportional representation I can totally get behind, and I think a lot more people would choose to vote if we had it.

    Mandatory voting isn't something I care much about either way. I think it's completely unnecessary, but it's not much of an imposition, so I wouldn't kick up a fuss about it.

    My point in this thread really has been against the lazy argument that voting is one's civic duty par excellence and to avoid it is some act of freeloading/neglect. Voting, especially in a first past the post system, is largely pointless and of all the political acts one could (ought to) do is certainly the least important. Help a neighbour with their shopping instead (metaphorically speaking).

    I don't vote (and never have) mainly because of the first past the post system in the UK, I probably would if we had PR, but I still would object strongly to any deification of voting. It acts, when treated that way, like an opiate, allowing people to think they 'done' politics by ticking a box once every five years, and can then rest on their laurels for the intervening time. Rather politics is the intervening time because its in that time that it's decided who will vote for whom. Once that intervening time it up, the rest is just bureaucracy, the taking of a census. The political dye is already cast by then, and voting (as a duty) is simply increasing the accuracy of an already accurate summary of where we got to.
  • Agent Smith
    7.4k
    Refusal to cast one's vote can be, inter alia, because one has lost faith in the process (rigging, poor quality candidates, and so on) or for the reason that one prefers/advocates for getting rid of democracy for a more authoritarian alternative. One reason is good, the other is bad.
  • Isaac
    8.4k
    Refusal to cast one's vote can be, inter alia, because one has lost faith in the process (rigging, poor quality candidates, and so on) or for the reason that one prefers/advocates for getting rid of democracy for a more authoritarian alternative.Agent Smith

    The latter is extremely unlikely. When non-voters are surveyed, either apathy or disillusionment are cited. A preference for dictatorship is vanishingly absent.

    As I've argued, worrying that we don't know what the 40% non-voters might have voted for is quite ridiculous. We know with a great deal of certainty what they would have voted for. The problem is that most people are drawn in to the micro-scale battles between the two/three main parties and so consider uncertainty about which of those would gain the vote to be a meaningful scale of uncertainty. It isn't. The bulk of the 40%, if forced to vote, would vote for one or other of the two main parties who are virtually indistinguishable from one another in terms of long-term societal change. We know this with a very high degree of certainty and therefore we don't really need them to cast a vote in order to find out.

    It's like me claiming to be uncertain about the contents of the delivery from my local bookshop on the grounds that I don't know exactly which cover this version will have.
  • Agent Smith
    7.4k
    Point made, point taken.

    It's just that young girls seem fascinated by so-called (Disney) princesses and are forever looking for their prince charming. This obsession with (benevolent) despots is (psychologically) most intriguing, wouldn't you agree? It appears that there's a good chance that monarchies will make a comeback. Perhaps it's just a childish fantasy, but do we ever really grow up (re neoteny)?
  • Isaac
    8.4k
    This obsession with (benevolent) despots is (psychologically) most intriguing, wouldn't you agree?Agent Smith

    To a point, yes. The benevolent despot thing is just about the conflict between individual narratives and the slightly chaotic effect of peer conformity when group size is large enough.

    Consider a flock of starlings (if you have such creatures where you live). Each starling is simply trying to follow the others, staying close to minimise predator risk. But in trying to copy the location of their neighbour, each will make tiny mistakes, they'll slightly overcompensate for a bank to right, pull up slightly too early. You see the same in traffic jams, for instance, if you want a more human example.

    Cultures are like this too (goes the theory) we have a drive to conformity, but we make small errors in conforming, we overdo some things, under do others, not because we decide to, but just by error in our attempts at conformity.

    This makes large groups slightly random in their net behaviour. They can end up behaving in a way that no individual actually wants, but is, like the starlings, the result of multiple errors piling up into strange attractors.

    We know this, I think think, from experience. So part of us is wary of giving power over to the group, we still have this notion that a benevolent dictator would represent interests of each individual within the group (individuals like us) in a way that the group as a whole might not do due to this accumulated error problem.

    ...at least, that's one theory.
  • Agent Smith
    7.4k


    So, Starling swarming behavior is chaotic? How exactly is it so? They give me the impression of syncrhonized events/sports, the kind you see in the Olympics.
  • Isaac
    8.4k
    So, Starling swarming behavior is chaotic? How exactly is it so? They give me the impression of syncrhonized events/sports, the kind you see in the Olympics.Agent Smith

    Sure.

    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11721-015-0103-0

    https://hal-lirmm.ccsd.cnrs.fr/lirmm-01598654/

    https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Simulated-Flocking-Behavior-Travers/2433bc091e90ca87c5589482cce437261ae183e4
  • Agent Smith
    7.4k
    Danke but, for better/worse, above my pay grade! I'll tune out now.
  • baker
    4.9k
    I'm fairly certain I'd rather live in a democracy than any of the other available options.Isaac

    Democracy isn't a given, it isn't the default. If enough people don't vote, a minority can, through what is on principle a democratic election, establish a dictatorship and abolish democracy altogether.

    By voting, you, at least on principle, benefit from voting. Even if it isn't immediately obvious, and even though you cannot single-handledly change the course of politics.
  • baker
    4.9k
    I don't vote (and never have)Isaac

    I know people who don't vote, as a matter of principle. I vote.

    mainly because of the first past the post system in the UK, I probably would if we had PR, but I still would object strongly to any deification of voting. It acts, when treated that way, like an opiate, allowing people to think they 'done' politics by ticking a box once every five years, and can then rest on their laurels for the intervening time.

    I suppose some people are like that. But I'm not. Perhaps it's because of the specific situation of the country I live in. Last year, there was a real danger of the then government abolishing democracy. They had gained so much power (seats in the parliament) because so many people were too apathetic to vote. But the situation here is different, than in, say, the US or UK, because we don't have a tradition of two major parties fighting for supremacy. Rather, there has usually been one major party, and a number of smaller ones which have to form a coalition in order to rule. Also, new parties spring up; many are short-lived, but they actually make it into the government. The party currently in rule (and with an overwhelming majority) was only formed earlier this year, shortly before the elections in April.
    In a political situation that is this dynamic, voting does make a difference.
  • baker
    4.9k
    How does a president represent the will of millions of strangers? You can't represent someone's will unless you know their will. Just getting elected by the strangers doesn't grant you some magical ability to know their will once elected.Yohan

    Representative democracy is about the elected people representing those that voted for them. Not everyone.
  • baker
    4.9k
    When democracy is indistinguishable from tyranny we’ve lost the plot.NOS4A2

    Again,
    It seems that what you really want is that your political stance should prevail with ease.
  • Isaac
    8.4k
    If enough people don't vote, a minority can, through what is on principle a democratic election, establish a dictatorship and abolish democracy altogether.baker

    But enough people do vote. So that's not something I have to do anything about, is it?

    In a political situation that is this dynamic, voting does make a difference.baker

    Yeah. I don't object to voting, or with a compulsion to vote where it's necessary. What I object to is the ludicrous notion that I have no means at my disposal to check whether I'm in such a circumstance prior to any given election. It's absurd. I know the political landscape in my part of the world very well. I know almost exactly how much use my vote will or won't be. Where it won't be of any use, there's no point in doing it. It's not magic, it's just a bit of paperwork. It either needs doing or it doesn't.
  • baker
    4.9k
    But enough people do vote.Isaac

    That varies from country to country.

    Yeah. I don't object to voting, or with a compulsion to vote where it's necessary. What I object to is the ludicrous notion that I have no means at my disposal to check whether I'm in such a circumstance prior to any given election. It's absurd. I know the political landscape in my part of the world very well. I know almost exactly how much use my vote will or won't be. Where it won't be of any use, there's no point in doing it. It's not magic, it's just a bit of paperwork. It either needs doing or it doesn't.

    Again, that varies from country to country. I agree that in some countries, elections are an exercise in futility. In some others, not so much.
  • Yohan
    635
    Representative democracy is about the elected people representing those that voted for them. Not everyone.baker
    A democratically elected representative is supposed to represent the will of the democratic republic, is how I thought its supposed to work.

    In either case, is it true?

    Leaders used to claim to represent the will of God, and God is supposed to know what's good for the people, or nation, and so indirectly the leader who represents God's will is also representing the will of the nation. Am I right? I am going by deduction.

    Assuming the presidents (at least in America) have all been believers, this is what the presidents tacitly should believe. That God is leading them, directly or indirectly, to lead the people.

    Anyway, the job of a leader already should imply to be capable of assessing what's best for the group as a whole and representing the groups best interests.

    So calling someone a representative leader is like calling someone a single bachelor, in a sense. Unless I'm missing something.

    At any rate, I'm not convinced the Pope or any of the leaders claiming to represent God's or the people's will or best interests actually are

    It does seem to me that representing the will of "the people" would require a supernatural aid, or otherwise a continual and caring conversation between the leader and who they are supposed to represent.
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