Author Topic: Two-Party System - Yea or Nay?  (Read 4136 times)

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Cyril

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Two-Party System - Yea or Nay?
« on: November 02, 2010, 02:03:28 PM »
Well, it's election day again in Wisconsin, the day when we in the middle of the spectrum get to choose what half of our own beliefs we value less so that we can elect candidates who will inevitably do stuff we disagree with.

And it's getting worse.

Depending on where you fall on the spectrum, this will affect you more or less, but it still raises the question: why a two-party system?

I know why we have on historically (it dates back to the feud between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton), but the question remains: why haven't we done anything about it yet?

So here we are: a place where we can either weigh in to keep things as are or brainstorm how to improve the U.S. political system. Feel free to post even if you're not from the U.S. We need all the help we can get. (IMHO)

Merlandese

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Re: Two-Party System - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2010, 03:16:22 PM »
My friend and I have discussed this heavily. These short spurts of one political party over the other seem detrimental, and I feel like I should argue them to the death, but if I were to advocate them, this would be my reason:

It does this crazy pendulum motion, back and forth. When one group of beliefs is in power, it is only long enough to make the slightest of changes. However, this short period is long enough to enrage everyone on the opposite side of the political spectrum--conservatives set their calendars and got to work booting Obama out the minute after his election, and liberals will do the same thing when a conservative is elected again.

I'd have to say that it's this constant, seemingly circular struggle that keeps the U.S. political system smack dab in the middle, which is the only way to appease both sides of the argument. I hate it. My friend who has completely opposite political beliefs hates it. But it's a system that makes sure neither of us wins over the other for too long, preventing long-term capitalism or socialism.

What sort of ideas do you have, Cyril?

Cyril

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Re: Two-Party System - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2010, 04:10:19 PM »
Well, I agree that we do have the pendulum swing, but I fear that the two sets of beliefs that it swings back and forth between don't necessarily reflect a shift in the ideas of the voters, because some voters have to lump in things that they don't believe in in order to vote for things that they do.

If I were going to try to improve it, I would say this:

(1) Get rid of political parties. I would just be Cyril, not Cyril (D) or Cyril (R) or Cyril (I). This would also get rid of primaries.

(2) Have people vote not just for who they think would be best, but also second- and third-best. Then make each of the "first-best" votes be worth 3 points, "second-best" votes give the candidate 2 points, and so on. Then the person with the most points wins.

This would have a couple of advantages:

It would lessen the risk of having different candidates "steal voters" from each other to the extent that both would lose, even though they're closer to what the voters want than the person who wins.

For example, suppose there's a moderately-conservative candidate with 30% support and a far-right conservative candidate with 30% support and a far-left liberal candidate with 40% support. Under the current system, the liberal candidate would win, even though the majority of people support a conservative candidate. If you went with my system, then one of the conservative candidates might have won. It's kind of hard to explain in just text, but whatever.

Also, a lack of political primaries would keep more politicans in the race, giving the voters greater choice over who I can elect.

Merlandese

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Re: Two-Party System - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2010, 05:39:30 PM »
Well, I agree that we do have the pendulum swing, but I fear that the two sets of beliefs that it swings back and forth between don't necessarily reflect a shift in the ideas of the voters, because some voters have to lump in things that they don't believe in in order to vote for things that they do.

I agree with that sentiment entirely. It's a third dimension to the two party system that a lot of people don't seem to consider.

If I were going to try to improve it, I would say this:

(1) Get rid of political parties. I would just be Cyril, not Cyril (D) or Cyril (R) or Cyril (I). This would also get rid of primaries.

(2) Have people vote not just for who they think would be best, but also second- and third-best. Then make each of the "first-best" votes be worth 3 points, "second-best" votes give the candidate 2 points, and so on. Then the person with the most points wins.

This would have a couple of advantages:

It would lessen the risk of having different candidates "steal voters" from each other to the extent that both would lose, even though they're closer to what the voters want than the person who wins.

For example, suppose there's a moderately-conservative candidate with 30% support and a far-right conservative candidate with 30% support and a far-left liberal candidate with 40% support. Under the current system, the liberal candidate would win, even though the majority of people support a conservative candidate. If you went with my system, then one of the conservative candidates might have won. It's kind of hard to explain in just text, but whatever.

Also, a lack of political primaries would keep more politicans in the race, giving the voters greater choice over who I can elect.

That is a good system, and if nothing else it deserves a shot. There is a major disadvantage to it, though, and that isn't in it's structure, but in the majority of voters.

Since everyone (to a certain extent) has the right to vote, they also have the responsibility to educate themselves on all matters, for and against everything that takes issue in politics. This is an ordeal in and of itself--political majors and politicians themselves have only a finite grasp of these concepts.

People must then take a moral stance on every issue, even minor ones, and compare them with a list of candidates. Even if there could be only one candidate for every unique bundle of issues, there are so many issues that there would be from hundreds to thousands of legitimate candidates each election. Let's say that you, Cyril, are running, and I agree with everything you offer except the denomination of your religion. Well, I have credentials; maybe I should run. Or maybe there is another person like you with different religious views. All I have to do is spend the next month sifting through candidates to find him.

It's a great system, but people vote the same way that they choose favorite football teams. People from Chicago love the Bears. People from the west coast love west coast teams. It doesn't matter that every single person can be traded or replaced; that uniform and that name is what they like because keeping track of every nuance of the sport would become a part-time job. Most people only like football during the Superbowl. Likewise, most people only pay attention to politics during the election. You might still get voted into third place by me--but all of the research I would need to do!

Your proposition would be wonderful if there were, let's say, some larger form of registering voters. Much like a Driver's license. If only people who studied or somehow proved their competency and involvement in the politics of the country could gain voting power, then "teams" wouldn't be necessary. Personally, I would approve of a system like that--of requiring effort to obtain a voter's license. But it would restrict voters and probably be unappealing to the populous.

What are your feelings about the Electoral College? And would an "indirect election" like that fit in a Utopian political system?

Cyril

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Re: Two-Party System - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2010, 10:13:39 PM »
Well, the thing about voters being uneducated is duly noted. But I don't think it's a problem with my system in particular, but with democracy in general. But that's why we have representational democracy instead of direct democracy. That way we only need the voters to be able to spot political competence, not necessarily have it themselves.

As for the electoral college, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, it means that presidential elections are weighted toward smaller states, which would mean that those in bigger states are less represented in the presidential elections. But I doubt that we would ever change that without devolving into the very same arguments we had when the Constitution was first written (big states v. small states).

What I think definitely should be changed is the all-or-nothing way that we vote. How many conservatives do you think there are in Calfornia and New York that don't get a say in politics because they're consistently drowned out by all the liberals? Or all the liberals in the Bible Belt? It's a crime against democracy, it is.

Also, the system is obviously stacked against third party candidates, but I'm not sure how. I'd need to do more research into the matter.

Reives

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Re: Two-Party System - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2010, 10:52:46 PM »
I'm really fond of the concept of the scored voting system in theory, but aside from the raised complexity of educating the voters, I think there's another potential problem in that people may abuse the system (sort of like they did with youtube ratings back then):

As the society stands now (and it probably won't be able to change for quite a while), there are a significant amount of people who are rooted in one direction or the other. Thus there is a "us-vs.-them" attitude. So when you are given to rank your votes, it would be a natural tendency for people to rank the one they want as the first, and then, whoever the most threatening competitor be ranked last just for the sake of giving themselves more power for their own cause. And then, in the middle, the vote would go to whoever that's not seen as a threat as a filler.

This would result in a skewed representation of the votes, and also might even give an overpowering advantage to whoever's in the middle (even if they're the best candidate by chance, they're elected for the wrong reasons).

For example, say that the system is implemented now, where there is still a divide between the current one-dimensional political spectrum - let there be 3 liberals, 3 conservatives and 2 dudes who vote for the flaming turkey.

The result would be:

Liberals (3):
1st choice (3 pts) = Liberal
2nd choice (2 pts) = Flaming turkey
3rd choice (1 pt) = Conservative (if even)

Conservatives (3):
1st choice = Conservative
2nd choice = Flaming turkey
3rd choice = Liberal (if even)

Minorities (2):
1st choice = Flaming turkey
~~ (one of them goes conservative for 2nd and the other liberal)

The total result would be :
LIBERAL: 15
CONSERVATIVE: 15
FLAMING TURKEY: 18

And the winner is. . .
FLAMING TURKEY


(The effect wouldn't be as pronounced in reality since there would be more than one flaming turkeys, but there would still be a distortion and a potential problem.)

Merlandese

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Re: Two-Party System - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2010, 12:01:16 AM »
I love Flaming Turkey as a candidate. He and I share all of the same values. For starters, neither of us like turkey for Thanksgiving. :P

That model is not only hilarious, but true. However, it is based on linear numbers. What if we changed it to a more exponential scale? I'll use an easy one:

1st Place = 10 points
2nd Place = 6 points
3rd Place = 3 points
(If there were a 4th Place, it would be one point, but let's only use the three votes based on the common formula (N2 + N)/2.)

The result would be:

Liberals (3):
1st choice (10 pts) = Liberal
2nd choice (6 pts) = Flaming turkey
3rd choice (3 pt) = Conservative (if even)

Conservatives (3):
1st choice (10pts)= Conservative
2nd choice (6 pts)= Flaming turkey
3rd choice (3 pts)= Liberal (if even)

Minorities (2):
1st choice (10 pts)= Flaming turkey
~~ (one of them goes conservative for 2nd and the other liberal)

The total result would be :
LIBERAL: 41
CONSERVATIVE: 41
FLAMING TURKEY: 32

And the winner is. . .
A TIE BETWEEN LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES

Which would call for a death match. Or maybe Flaming Turkey could vote to break the tie.

EDIT:
Spoiler: show

The total result would be :
LIBERAL: 48
CONSERVATIVE: 48
FLAMING TURKEY: 56
This was just a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.

« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 12:21:15 AM by Merlandese »

Reives

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Re: Two-Party System - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2010, 12:13:24 AM »
Hm, perhaps I'm getting sleepy and misunderstanding it, but I seem to be calculating the result of that to be:
LIBERAL: 41
CONSERVATIVE: 41
FLAMING TURKEY: 56

From liberals, the turkey would receive (you know what, I think this is actually a good way of adding some spice to political discussions) 3 * 6 = 18 points. Same from conservatives. That's 2 * 18 = 36 points alone. And then, each of the turkey-lovers would give it first place, which is 10 points each, so that's 20; 20+36 = 56 points.

If I'm not getting mixed up here, it seems like the turkey is practically invincible (and thus inedible).

Merlandese

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Re: Two-Party System - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2010, 12:18:34 AM »
Dear me... I just looked at my scratch paper. Not only did I blow it on the Turkey math, but the Liberal and Conservatives get 48 points instead of 41. This is why math should be done more than twice. Thanks, Reives!

What have I done!? I've made the Turkey even stronglier! And more Flaming! Is there any way math can defeat this giant? I'm going to see what I can do. ;)

Reives

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Re: Two-Party System - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2010, 12:27:28 AM »
What the, I somehow came to the result of 41 back there too. Now I can't remember how I arrived at that.

Merlandese

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Re: Two-Party System - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2010, 01:29:10 AM »
I feel like I'm getting to the heart of this problem. It's silly for me to stress over it like this, but I can't stop enjoying myself.

Problem is, no matter how I work it, that Turkey always wins (hypothetically). So I drew up a couple of lines of math that came closer to something workable. But there must be a hole somewhere that can be fixed!! It's almost like we have to make 2nd place less desirable than third, which would be crazy. I'm going to keep brainstorming on this, you watch.

Sorry to stray from the topic, Cyril. But if this voting system error could be ironed out, it might be more feasible. Other systems might be able to make use of it too.

Spoiler: My work so far. • show
Alright, no one's going to want to read this, but it has to be done.

This is my function for points with N being what place the person got:

f(N) = (-N+5)2 - (N-5) whereas N>0

And here are the formulas for Liberal (L), Conservative (Also L, since they both end up the same) and Flaming Turkey (F):

L = 3(f(1)) + 4(f(3)) + f(2)
F = 6(f(2)) + 2(f(1))

As you can see (maybe), the numerics in the last two formulas represent the number of voters chosen already. If we had more voters, those numbers would change.

So, if I plugged my point function into the Liberal equation, it would look like this:

L = 3((-1+5)2 - (1-5)) + 4((-3+5)2 - (3-5)) + (-2+5)2 - (2-5)
L = 3(42 - (-4)) + 4(22 - (-2)) + (3)2 - (-3)
L = 3(16 + 4) + 4(4 + 2) + 9 + 3
L = 3(20) + 4(6) + 12
L = 60 + 24 + 12
L = 96

The Flaming Turkey:

F = 6((-2+5)2 - (2-5)) + 2((-1+5)2 - (1-5))
F = 6(32 - (-3)) + 2(42 - (-4))
F = 6(9 + 3) + 2(16 + 4)
F = 6(12) + 2(20)
F = 72 + 40
F = 112

The conclusion? I need to think about this better.



Cyril

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Re: Two-Party System - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2010, 10:33:50 PM »
I don't think that these are as big of flaws as we're making them out to be.

First of all, it's assuming that there would be only one liberal and one conservative candidate. This is only the case in our current elections because we have primaries to vet them out. Get rid of primaries and the only way you could wind up with that kind of thing would happen would be:
1) only one liberal and one conservative have a desire for power. yeah, fat chance
2) more than one of each part of the spectrum decides to run, but they're able to convince each other to withdraw without the aid of political parties

And with more than three candidates, that would mean that there would inevitably be someone that a given voter isn't voting for. That makes a big difference.

Secondly, we're assuming that there's an equal number of liberals and conservatives voting. While this is hypothetically possible, the same thing could happen in the current system. And with the current system that would mean that (at least presidentially) the race would go to the liberal, because the smaller states on the east coast tend towards voting liberal. Just saying.

Also, I'm not sure what to make of the idea of people consistently voting only for their own "team" or what-have-you. Maybe my glasses are just too rosy, but I don't think everyone does that. Although I have met some.

P.S. On the topic of voting, here's a video on the topic:

Check it out.

Merlandese

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Re: Two-Party System - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2010, 01:39:21 AM »
That was a great video. I think it's a wonderful idea.

silversun

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Re: Two-Party System - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2010, 11:40:35 PM »
Nay. I agree with a lot of what you say. I once heard a person who likened it to the child who gets a choice between pizza and pasta- he technically chose his meal, but what if he wanted salmon? I myself am pro-life but anti- war, so under the current system I must decide which is more important to me.

I live in Texas though. My vote? Utterly useless, it'll go rep no matter what. I don't like having a useless vote. Not to mention my vote is less important than someone who lives in Rhode Island.
The electoral college system is so utterly and obviously broken I'm amazed we've kept it all this time.

On voters' education: this is sadly true. I think this is why parties even exist in the first place: it eliminates having to research the backgrounds of candidates. But who does? The people who pay the millions it takes to get elected...is it any wonder corruption is so widespread?
« Last Edit: December 02, 2010, 11:47:12 PM by silversun »

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