[Discussion] So... How's that democracy working out for you?

Is democracy a system capable of dealing with the challenges of the future, and if not, what alternatives exist?

jdzappa wrote:

On the conservative side, we now have a young mother Jennifer Whitaker shot by a BLM supporter for saying “all lives matter.” I get that was stupid thing to say but there’s no excuse for that level of violence. Both of these deaths are just so senseless.

I'm sad that someone got murdered, but this story seems like there is a lot more to it than just simply saying this was the fault of a BLM supporter. First, it seems like it's only being covered by Fox News and other alt-right websites as far as I can tell. Second, this happened at like 3 a.m. when someone from Jennifer's group used a slur. Third, both groups were armed and pulled on each other.

Again, it's sad when someone gets killed for something stupid, but that story doesn't compare to someone driving their car at protesters during an actual protest. It just gives me the feeling that it's a story trying to make it seem like BLM is out there gunning down people in the name of the cause, and that's not what it seems like actually happened here.

EDIT: Aw dang Karma beat me to it.

Removed. No need for a pile on.

Axon wrote:

There you go jdzappa. Watch the first part of that 7 part special that was created by BBC Northern Ireland. The parallels can be even more troubling that most would appreciate.

I finished this a few month ago and I'd warn people it does not shy away from how dirty that conflict got. Highly depressing watch.

Within the first couple of minutes, it states that Paisley supplied the money to finance attacks.

So...where's the parallel? That's the first thing that comes to mind, that I don't think you could have 'political' wings (edit) as close to the paramilitary movements as you did in Northern Ireland. Certainly not for that long with that much visibility.

The big difference that jumps out to me is that a conflict in America is going to be an American conflict. With Northern Ireland you've got larger, more powerful countries who all have their own uses for NI. Britain naturally had more sympathy for the Unionists, but that was tempered by Britain's relationship with America, which has a large Irish-American population.

Heck, think of the relationship between Thatcher and Reagan, and then remember that the IRA almost killed Thatcher the same year Reagan visited Ireland? In the middle of Reagan cracking the lock the Democrats had on the Irish-American vote? Maybe no one incident shows how mixed up the whole thing was more than Joe Doherty? I think until Gitmo, he was the person with the longest detention in American history without being charged with a crime.

(edit: just so you don't think I'm Gael'splaining, I'm sure you're aware of all that, and I think you've even shared your opinions on people like U.S. Rep. Peter King?)

No one's going to be able to use America as a pawn like that, even Russia or China. Heck, China will want whatever gets Americans back to shopping and running up the credit card bills again. I can't see Canada or Mexico getting *too* involved even if the American Left are the underdogs. They're *certainly* not going to look kindly on an insurgency of the American Right--there will be no slipping back and forth over the border, which is often a critical part of these kinds of conflicts.

Heck, the idea of right wing American militias might be the one thing that'll get Mexico to pay for a wall!

We can make the point that ethnic tensions are dangerous without trying to shoehorn them into every other instance of sectarian warfare that comes to mind.

CptDomano wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

On the conservative side, we now have a young mother Jennifer Whitaker shot by a BLM supporter for saying “all lives matter.” I get that was stupid thing to say but there’s no excuse for that level of violence. Both of these deaths are just so senseless.

I'm sad that someone got murdered, but this story seems like there is a lot more to it than just simply saying this was the fault of a BLM supporter. First, it seems like it's only being covered by Fox News and other alt-right websites as far as I can tell. Second, this happened at like 3 a.m. when someone from Jennifer's group used a slur. Third, both groups were armed and pulled on each other.

Again, it's sad when someone gets killed for something stupid, but that story doesn't compare to someone driving their car at protesters during an actual protest. It just gives me the feeling that it's a story trying to make it seem like BLM is out there gunning down people in the name of the cause, and that's not what it seems like actually happened here.

EDIT: Aw dang Karma beat me to it.

Fair enough - should wait till there’s more info about the investigation. And I recognize that neither murder is representative of the average BLM supporter nor conservative for that matter.

Also, I wasn’t trying to draw direct connections between Northern Ireland and America only saying that I have a heightened sense and worry about this sort of stuff.

My bad, jdzappa. I thought a conflict sparked off by civil rights protests by people who felt like second class citizens in gerrymandered districts in a English speaking common law country, met by militarised police and demonised by religious demagogues, both invoking nationalist rhetoric within the centre of a failing empire that once believed it was exceptional and beyond the repercussions that those "other" countries deal with had some similarities. If you were to change "nationalist" for ethnic or even tribal rhetoric I thought it sounded like it had even more resonance.

I'd be a wrong and a fool, though

IMAGE(https://www.derrydaily.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Free-Derry-corner-pic-new-e1592045902627.jpg)

Absolutely no parallels at all.

jdzappa wrote:

Also, I wasn’t trying to draw direct connections between Northern Ireland and America only saying that I have a heightened sense and worry about this sort of stuff.

I certainly worry too--the worrying part I get.

I just don't know if any of these other cases make for good comparisons. Like, there's a part of the British Army's after-action report on Operation Banner that has stuck with me through the years:

Security forces do not ‘win’ insurgency campaigns militarily; at best they can contain or suppress the level of violence and achieve a successful end-state. They can thus reduce a situation to an ‘acceptable level of violence’ – a level at which normal social, political and economic activities can take place without intimidation. ‘Acceptable level of violence’ as a term should be used carefully since violence should have no place in a developed society. What is required is a level which the population can live with, and with which local police forces can cope. Security forces should bring the level of violence down to the point at which dissidents believe they will not win through a primarily violent strategy and at which a political process can proceed without significant intimidation. If possible, the situation should not be allowed to come to that stage.

In America, I think for many reasons that distinguish the two situations, it will become apparent very quickly that winning is not possible through a primarily violent strategy. The end-state the Report talks about will arrive before any insurgency gets very far, if not failing to even "come to that stage."

@Axon don’t get me wrong I found the video fascinating. And I agree with you there are troubling parallels.

Ah, don't worry jdzappa. I trust that you can see where the situations diverge and where there might be some lessons to be learned. Of course things are never exactly the same.

Seriously cheeze_pavilion, taking the British Army's word on how it "suppressed" violence to allow the "political process" proceed without intimidation is something you should examine because it's not what happened. The process was completely swayed by violence and intimidation from beginning to end. Both parties were literally forced at the point of death for them or their families to negotiate an acceptable conclusion. It's very much detailed in that documentary. Like I say, it was nasty. And the British Army were in the gutter with the rest of them.

As for could it happen in the US? Name and insurgency the US forces have put down? Philippines, maybe? Nicaragua? Are the US forces prepared to go as far as death sqauds? Given it recent efforts, I think your confidence is very much misplaced.

Axon wrote:

Ah, don't worry jdzappa. I trust that you can see where the situations diverge and where there might be some lessons to be learned. Of course things are never exactly the same.

Seriously cheeze_pavilion, taking the British Army's word on how it "suppressed" violence to allow the "political process" proceed without intimidation is something you should examine because it's not what happened.

Trust me--I'm not inclined to give the British the benefit of any doubt.

The process was completely swayed by violence and intimidation from beginning to end. Both parties were literally forced at the point of death for them or their families to negotiate an acceptable conclusion. It's very much detailed in that documentary. Like I say, it was nasty. And the British Army were in the gutter with the rest of them.

There are stories in my family of blowtorches and needle-nose pliers. I'm at least somewhat aware of just how dirty it was.

As for being forced at the point of death, what I was trying to communicate was just how fast I think that point will come. This won't be the British Army in Northern Ireland trying to navigate a mess of competing priorities. This will be whoever gets control of the American armed forces quickly being able to make it clear that anything resembling Northern Ireland will not be possible.

As for could it happen in the US? Name and insurgency the US forces have put down? Philippines, maybe?

The people who were living here before European colonization? Granting your point for the sake of argument when it comes to overseas insurgencies, this is not overseas.

If anything, the closest parallel would be to the insurgency that quickly followed the original American Civil War. I think there are many reasons why it is a very *poor* parallel.

Give it recent efforts, I think your confidence is very much misplaced.

Given the huge differences between those situations and the situation in America that I've been explaining, I think your ability to identify parallels is very much in question.

Axon wrote:

Nicaragua? Are the US forces prepared to go as far as death squads? Given it recent efforts, I think your confidence is very much misplaced.

Your edit crossed in posting, and I'm very much starting to feel like we're *really* not so much discussing this stuff as much as you think an American isn't being sufficiently negative about America on the internet, and like I said this will not be overseas which means it will be Americans on *both* sides, so how about this as a 'glass half full or empty' exercise:

I think your confidence in Americans to mount an insurgency of their own as effective as those they have faced from other people around the globe is very much misplaced.

Maybe that's more to your liking?

This is a fairly sobering article:

538 wrote:

Through that lens, it makes perfect sense why Americans are politically divided on Portland: It’s actually a divide over whether you see the protesters as a threat. And that should make us all very uncomfortable — no matter which side of the aisle we’re on. Because evidence points to the fact that many Americans, regardless of their party affiliation, are willing to condone violence and repression against their political opponents.

Back in March, McCoy and other researchers surveyed nearly 3,000 Americans about their support for various anti-democratic policies under different scenarios where one party, or the other, was in power. The results from this survey have not yet been published, but their preliminary analysis finds significantly higher support for such policies as prosecuting journalists, banning protests and disqualifying political opponents from elections in situations when a respondent’s preferred party was in power — and hoping to stay there. The effect was larger among Republicans hoping to consolidate Republican power. But it existed for Democrats, as well. For instance, while 23.6 percent of Democrats and 22.7 percent of Republicans said the president should do what the people want, even if it goes against existing laws, when their party was out of power, those numbers jumped to 29.6 percent and 35.1 percent, respectively, when the rule of law became inconvenient to keeping the other side at bay.

I'm not trying to do the "both sides are terrible" thing. But if I'm 100% honest with myself, I genuinely think that the country would be significantly better off if I could exclude (checks Trump's current approval rating) 41.5% of the population from voting in the next election. That's a fairly sobering thought that I'm not sure how to address.

The example question is so vague as to be almost meaningless. When PoC loot it is partially to recover wealth and property that has been stolen from them for hundreds of years. When white supremacists murder PoC it is to maintain a system of oppression that elevates themselves so they don't have to work hard. These things are both violence, but there is a HUGE difference.

But the core question of the piece is whether we are willing to forgo democratic principles in favor of our own agenda. To put it a different way, if you had the ability to suspend voting rights for an entire group of people, an act that would guarantee that universal health care would be implemented within weeks, would you do so? Or, if you knew without a shred of doubt that failing to suspend the voting rights for that group would guarantee that UHC would not be passed for fifty years, would that change your mind?

Because I think I actually might. That's what I'm struggling with. How do we reconcile our belief in the democratic process with our willingness to ignore that process when it no longer fits to our belief system?

There's also something of a paradox of tolerance issue. If you know that group A supports taking your voting rights away, and you have the power to prevent group A from voting, is it legitimate to do that?

Usually paradox of tolerance comes up when we're talking free speech, but eventually you do have to reach a hard power question: can you prevent a fascist from voting? Discard, for the sake of argument, worries about how you identify fascists- there are plenty of people who publicly say that liberals or minorities or women or non-taxpayers should not be allowed to vote.

Off the top of my head, to answer trichy's question, I don't think I would suspend the voting rights of political opponents for a policy outcome. But man I do see the appeal... on the one hand you've got an arbitrary ephemeral privilege that only a small fraction of the group use and then only to do harm, on the other hand the death and suffering of millions over years.

But would I do it to prevent people who will vote to end voting? Makes me unhappy but yeah I think you have to. Sure you can try and put protections into the laws all you like but we've seen what happens when people who don't give a fig about laws and norms get into power. Sure there'll be a polling place in the Democratic city... One. In an area off the bus lines, with minimal parking, not enough ballots, and pens that don't work. Have fun getting fired for taking eight hours off work to vote, commies.

To end on a brighter(?) note though, I strongly suspect that benching the fascists for being fascists would have the same *result* in the pro-UHC vote, just from some circumstantial evidence (cf Jonathan Metzl, Dying of Whiteness)

edit: basically qaraq'hausered while going back and forth on coming from a similar place as trichy in the OP ("Like many of you, I was raised and educated with the fundamental belief that democracy was the ideal form of governance") and how I didn't lose my faith in democracy and the ability of the world to get better, as much as I have lost my faith in people. Even the ones I agree with.

trichy wrote:

But the core question of the piece is whether we are willing to forgo democratic principles in favor of our own agenda. To put it a different way, if you had the ability to suspend voting rights for an entire group of people, an act that would guarantee that universal health care would be implemented within weeks, would you do so? Or, if you knew without a shred of doubt that failing to suspend the voting rights for that group would guarantee that UHC would not be passed for fifty years, would that change your mind?

Because I think I actually might. That's what I'm struggling with. How do we reconcile our belief in the democratic process with our willingness to ignore that process when it no longer fits to our belief system?

I struggle with it as well.

Probably one of the best things that could happen in this country would be for conservative media to be silenced. It's a deeply anti-democratic idea. But at the same time it's becoming clearer that doing so would actually help our democracy because conservative media has played a central role in honing ideological differences into uncrossable schisms.

Conservative media has literally created an alternative America, with a fully retconned history, that completely ignores reality. Democracy can't really function properly if a sizable portion of people are voting for a version of the country that doesn't even exist.

Making things worse, demographics are moving real America further and further away from the Mayberry version conservative media promotes. And, as that difference becomes more pronounced, conservatives--who already buy into the idea of might makes right, that upholding the social order is of paramount importance--are going to be led down a path of violence by conservative media. Violence will be the only way their America can be preserved.

And seeing that there's part of me that would support all sorts of anti-democratic initiatives: political re-education camps to deprogram consumers of conservative media; a new wave of literacy tests for voting that would be specifically designed to deny the franchise to people who believe the things spewed by conservative media, strictly curtailing the First Amendment rights of conservatives, etc.

Does your math change if you apply/remove the Just World Hypothesis?

Given my current mental model of the world, I think it does change my math. The trick would be to have the fortitude to ensure the math is recalculated if/when the model changes. Therein lies the danger.

Something hand-wavy like...
Belief : Agreed Upon Rules = Compliance (A + B)
Reality : Agreed Upon Rules = Compliance (A(-10) + B(-60))
Reasonable Expectation : Agreed Upon Rules = Compliance (A(-10) + B(-10))

So if we take action to pivot reality towards the reasonable expectation, is it worth the cost?
Given the way the game is currently being play, I say yes.

Do we have the capability to stop once we reach a reasonable expectation?
I am not so sure, but most likely not. See better responses below.

trichy wrote:

But the core question of the piece is whether we are willing to forgo democratic principles in favor of our own agenda. To put it a different way, if you had the ability to suspend voting rights for an entire group of people, an act that would guarantee that universal health care would be implemented within oweeks, would you do so? Or, if you knew without a shred of doubt that failing to suspend the voting rights for that group would guarantee that UHC would not be passed for fifty years, would that change your mind?

Because I think I actually might. That's what I'm struggling with. How do we reconcile our belief in the democratic process with our willingness to ignore that process when it no longer fits to our belief system?

Look, the quickest way to enact a progressive agenda in this country would be to ensure every single person votes.

Why? Because absent GOP voter-suppression tactics, the result would be a left-wing landslide.

To that end, I kind of reject the premise of the question. Stopping the current suspension of voting rights would obviate the need for me to suppress the opposition.

538 is misconstruing the survey questions to get the "both sides" story they want. That particular one is:

Again, imagine that it's 2021 and the (Democrats/Republicans) have won the presidency, but not the Congress. The president wants to carry out his/her mandate from the people for change, but is hampered by the Congress controlled by the (Republicans/Democrats)s who refuse to pass new laws.
Some people say that the president should do what the people want even if it goes against existing laws. Others say that the president should follow the law even if it’s not what the people want.
In this 2021 scenario, in your opinion, should the president do what the people want even if it goes against the law?
· President should do what people want
· President should follow the law

It's not about ignoring laws, it's about dealing with an intransigent Congress. Of course there will be many Dems that aren't going to want a repeat of the Republicans stonewalling Obama.

Jonman wrote:

Look, the quickest way to enact a progressive agenda in this country would be to ensure every single person votes.

If someone wants to vote then then they absolutely should be able to, but the Madisonian lurking in me cringes at the idea of 125+ million people with little to no interest in politics and current events voting.

I think it important to recognize that "Democracy" or even a Republic like we have is not a single monolithic process, but a set of processes, norms, goals and ideals and they often conflict. Civil Disobedience clearly conflicts with Law and Order, or "no one is above the law", but it is considered necessary at times. When authoritarians make laws chilling protests, violating those laws is necessary. Sea Lions need to be punched or they won't learn that their tactics are unacceptable. Etc. Free Speech is not a suicide clause to allow fascists to tear down the country from inside.

The point is, conflicts between ideals exist and the way forward is to find the rules that lead to better outcomes in most situations without conflicting too much with other ideals.

We also have to look at scholarly research in Political science over the last few decades to really learn what is broken and how it can be fixed. There is nothing in the basic idea of Democracy that says campaigns should be publicly funded or not. But we can point to research and say, this is a better way to do things, even though no one said we have to.

OG_slinger wrote:
Jonman wrote:

Look, the quickest way to enact a progressive agenda in this country would be to ensure every single person votes.

If someone wants to vote then then they absolutely should be able to, but the Madisonian lurking in me cringes at the idea of 125+ million people with little to no interest in politics and current events voting.

Honestly, uninformed voters are preferable to actively-misled voters.

Jonman wrote:

Honestly, uninformed voters are preferable to actively-misled voters.

I'm sold on that.

"Active voters" are inappropriately biased towards uninformed citizens who probably wouldn't have voted, but voted because the screaming people told them that one side was coming to suck the blood from precious babies.

The "other side" is regular voters who are putting so much thought into what is right that they had to resort to mathematical notation.

OG_slinger wrote:
Jonman wrote:

Look, the quickest way to enact a progressive agenda in this country would be to ensure every single person votes.

If someone wants to vote then then they absolutely should be able to, but the Madisonian lurking in me cringes at the idea of 125+ million people with little to no interest in politics and current events voting.

If you made voting compulsory, the existence of the anti-mask brigade indicates that there would still be a lot of people who go all "You can't make me vote! This is a free country!"

And which party do you think the overwhelming majority of these people would be failing to vote for?

CaptainCrowbar wrote:

If you made voting compulsory, the existence of the anti-mask brigade indicates that there would still be a lot of people who go all "You can't make me vote! This is a free country!"

Their petulance is easily addressed by a "None of the Above" option on every ballot.

Jonman wrote:
CaptainCrowbar wrote:

If you made voting compulsory, the existence of the anti-mask brigade indicates that there would still be a lot of people who go all "You can't make me vote! This is a free country!"

Their petulance is easily addressed by a "None of the Above" option on every ballot.

Seriously? You actually think the kind of person who complains that wearing a mask infringes their precious freedom would meekly line up at the booth just to tick "None of the above"?

CaptainCrowbar wrote:
Jonman wrote:
CaptainCrowbar wrote:

If you made voting compulsory, the existence of the anti-mask brigade indicates that there would still be a lot of people who go all "You can't make me vote! This is a free country!"

Their petulance is easily addressed by a "None of the Above" option on every ballot.

Seriously? You actually think the kind of person who complains that wearing a mask infringes their precious freedom would meekly line up at the booth just to tick "None of the above"?

And that's why you pair it with an all-mail-in voting system.

Fines for not voting.

Mr GT Chris wrote:

Fines for not voting.

This is such a tempting idea, but you know it would just be used to disproportionately fine the poor and marginalized, whose votes would mysteriously get lost in the system or "never received" and incurring the fine. Fines are of no consequence to the wealthy who won't notice the minor ding while creating further debt and criminality on the poor for whom such a fine would likely just further oppress into debt.

CaptainCrowbar wrote:

If you made voting compulsory, the existence of the anti-mask brigade indicates that there would still be a lot of people who go all "You can't make me vote! This is a free country!"

And which party do you think the overwhelming majority of these people would be failing to vote for? :)

But are they the overwhelming majority of the people who otherwise wouldn't vote?

I don't think they are. I think people who would vote for the other party would be the vast majority of people who are not voting now and who would vote if it was compulsory.

In a country like America, I can see compulsory voting being a good thing because so many people don't vote because of how hard it is to vote. It wouldn't be a silver bullet, but I think if the government had to be ready for everyone to vote that would be more pressure to break down the barriers to vote.

And of course, those barriers tend to stand in the way of the people who would vote for the other party. From people too busy and suspicious of the system to young voters who don't vote because they don't feel they know enough (saw that in a recent survey--turns out a lot of young people are TOO civic-minded!!!) to exercise that responsibility, a compulsory voting system might be useful in getting a lot of well-meaning people to vote. People left out by our crazy and twisted voting system, on accident and by design.

Compulsory voting might be the thing to get that broken American system fixed. In other words, it's not so much about getting everyone to vote. It's making government deal with the need for a more regular and predictable voting system.

I'm still not sure that justifies the threat of legal punishment for the non-exercise of a right. It is the best argument for convincing someone like me, though, who is in the anti-compulsory vote, pro-compulsory mask brigade.

I think I may be the only member of that brigade, though.