[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?

Amoebic wrote:
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.

The corruption aspect aside, it’s actually good that it encourages poorer demographics to vote while not really moving the needle for richer demographics. That’s the reason why the Liberal/National parties (rough Republican equivalents in Australia) are so against it.

cheeze_pavilion 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!"

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.

This is the same government that cuts the budgets of most federal agencies every year, constantly gives them more work to do and then bitches when their cyber security practices are abysmal. It can and absolutely would institute mandatory voting without making it easier for people to vote.

It changes the battleground too so incumbants are not likely to want to change to compulsory voting.

With voluntary and FPTP elections, the primary strategy is to motivate the base to show up in greater number than your oppostion.

With compulsory voting, your base has to show up and so does your opposition. The battle is now for the voters in the middle. You don't need to feed your base meat any more. It modulates the policy positions you would try for.

It used to annoy me in my late teens/very early twenties, but I recognise now that compulsory voting is absolutely one of the better things about Australian politics.

Compulsory voting here in Belgium too (except for local elections, since this year). I have never seen any correlation between non-extreme voting and compulsory voting. In the latest election, the extreme-right Vlaams Belang got 18% in Flanders and is now polling in the twenties. In Wallonia, the communist PVDA got 14%. In fact, one of the (also unproven) arguments used here against compulsory voting is that those unhappy voters would stay home if they didn't have to go.

Campaigns are indeed less focused on turning out the base, but I see the same in our surrounding countries that lack compulsory voting (Netherlands, Germany, France, Luxembourg). Then again, although declining turnout is much higher in Western Europe.

Although I can't prove it, I would agree with those here stating that lifting vote suppression would be a much more important step in the US when working towards a representative democracy.

Compulsory voting by definition should include whatever steps required to allow people to actually vote. Otherwise it’s just empty legislation and I don’t think anyone is suggesting that.

Mr GT Chris wrote:

Compulsory voting by definition should include whatever steps required to allow people to actually vote. Otherwise it’s just empty legislation and I don’t think anyone is suggesting that.

Yes. I know there's a cultural aversion to ID cards in the States, but it does make voter registration super straight forward. Every citizen gets a paper in the letterbox, stating when you need to be where. You show up with your ID card, vote and done. Easy peasy.

And to answer trichy's question: I would personally not be in favor of eroding my political opponent's voting and other democratic rights, as that would hurt everyone in the long term. But I also understand this comes from a place of huge privilege: I'm comfortable enough to be able to think in terms of society's long-term health. If I were living in the US with a chronic illness that requires medicines at 500$/month WITH Obamacare, that would cost like 50$/month in any other developed country, and the 'other side' not only opposes UHC but actively works to dismantle the little protection I have from a choice between bankruptcy or death... Yeah.

Mr GT Chris wrote:
Amoebic wrote:
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.

The corruption aspect aside, it’s actually good that it encourages poorer demographics to vote while not really moving the needle for richer demographics. That’s the reason why the Liberal/National parties (rough Republican equivalents in Australia) are so against it.

The implicit assumption there is that poorer voters don’t vote because there’s no penalty for not voting, rather than not voting for a whole host of other reasons (explicit supression efforts and lack of ability physically get to a polling station for a start). Fines for not voting wouldn’t “encourage poorer demographics to vote”, it would disproportionately punish people that were unable to.

dejanzie wrote:

I know there's a cultural aversion to ID cards in the States, but it does make voter registration super straight forward. Every citizen gets a paper in the letterbox, stating when you need to be where. You show up with your ID card, vote and done. Easy peasy.

As long as you also make voting possible for everyone - sufficient polling stations, expanded mail in voting, federal holiday on Election Day, etc - easy peasy.

Mixolyde wrote:
cheeze_pavilion 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!"

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.

This is the same government that cuts the budgets of most federal agencies every year, constantly gives them more work to do and then bitches when their cyber security practices are abysmal. It can and absolutely would institute mandatory voting without making it easier for people to vote.

Yeah, you're probably right.

It's just that Florida's been on my mind, how the legislature totally mangled the voter initiative to give felons back their right to vote. How at this point, there's all kinds of fear that there's some minor fine they didn't even know they owed and they could be sent to jail for trying to vote. If voting was compulsory, it would be a stronger argument against a fuzzy law like that. If you *have* to vote, it gives liberal groups suing to overturn those laws a unique reason why everyone has to know if they can vote or not. It feels like governments get away with terrible administration of voter laws because they can leave it up to the person to figure everything out. You're probably right though, there would be more costs than gains.

Mr GT Chris wrote:

Compulsory voting by definition should include whatever steps required to allow people to actually vote. Otherwise it’s just empty legislation and I don’t think anyone is suggesting that.

I think this is another one of those cases where if you successfully took those steps, the need for compulsory voting would be gone, because those steps would basically solve the problem compulsory voting was proposed to fix in the first place.

Just think of it like how school attendance is compulsory to a certain age, sometimes you have jury duty, you should sort your trash on the correct days etc. Basically, many countries consider voting as just another societal obligation. We all know we should vote but maybe some of us need a little extra nudge to do so. Compulsory voting is a straightforward way to achieve that.

It might sound overly negative but those that are downtrodden, who have become disillusioned, do tend to vote for left-leaning parties when forced to. Again, this is why right wing parties are traditionally against the concept. To be honest, if you believe that compulsory voting is somehow bad for society, it probably just means you’ve unknowingly bought into right wing propaganda at some point.

cheeze_pavilion wrote:
Mr GT Chris wrote:

Compulsory voting by definition should include whatever steps required to allow people to actually vote. Otherwise it’s just empty legislation and I don’t think anyone is suggesting that.

I think this is another one of those cases where if you successfully took those steps, the need for compulsory voting would be gone, because those steps would basically solve the problem compulsory voting was proposed to fix in the first place.

The statistics do show that compulsory voting will lead to a higher turnout, even in countries where voter suppression isn’t rampant. Regardless, it doesn’t need to be either or.

Mr GT Chris wrote:

Just think of it like how school attendance is compulsory to a certain age, sometimes you have jury duty, you should sort your trash on the correct days etc. Basically, many countries consider voting as just another societal obligation. We all know we should vote but maybe some of us need a little extra nudge to do so. Compulsory voting is a straightforward way to achieve that.

It might sound overly negative but those that are downtrodden, who have become disillusioned, do tend to vote for left-leaning parties when forced to. Again, this is why right wing parties are traditionally against the concept. To be honest, if you believe that compulsory voting is somehow bad for society, it probably just means you’ve unknowingly bought into right wing propaganda at some point.

I don't think compulsory voting is bad for society, but I'm really going to need citations here. When I think of election results across western Europe - with or without compulsory voting - I'm seeing zero correlation between that and election results (left vs right, extremist vs mainstream party results). WithinBelgium, Flanders tends to vote right of center with 18% going to the neo-nazi's of Vlaams Belang and Wallonia tends to vote center-left with 14% going to the communists of PVDA/PTB.

Mr GT Chris wrote:
cheeze_pavilion wrote:
Mr GT Chris wrote:

Compulsory voting by definition should include whatever steps required to allow people to actually vote. Otherwise it’s just empty legislation and I don’t think anyone is suggesting that.

I think this is another one of those cases where if you successfully took those steps, the need for compulsory voting would be gone, because those steps would basically solve the problem compulsory voting was proposed to fix in the first place.

The statistics do show that compulsory voting will lead to a higher turnout, even in countries where voter suppression isn’t rampant. Regardless, it doesn’t need to be either or.

I'm not disputing whether turnout will be higher, I'm saying if you take the required steps that lead up to compulsory voting, the turnout will already be high enough to solve the problems.

Like, don't confuse the means with the ends. Getting more people to vote is the means, but getting a government that can pass things like UHC and all that stuff is the ends.

Excellent points. Perhaps I'm just buying into the right-wing propaganda myself. For context, this thread is probably the first time I've seen anyone presumably left leaning be even neutral on compulsory voting. That's coming from Australia of course. My whole life the political right has told me that compulsory voting is bad because it means the uneducated and uninterested are forced to vote and they don't understand what is best for the country. That actually sounded pretty good to me in my teens but now I understand the coded language being used. Anyway, I should certainly try to dig up some statistics. Ideally I want to look at a single country or region that switched between non-compulsory and compulsory voting.

It's possible that what works in one country won't work in another and might even have significant negative side effects, because of the differences between those countries.

I'm left leaning, but I also believe in liberty, so when it comes to nudge economics, I say why not turn that frown upside down, and instead of fines, offer money! Like a participation trophy!

I know it will never work, conservatives would go crazy, all that. I just wish the left were quicker to think in terms of carrots than sticks, if there *was* more of a focus on finding solutions that preserved liberty while still accomplishing left-wing goals.

A part of me wanted to make a mustache-twirling post about HaHa, mailed off my Ballot Request form! Now, to plot my crimes with the single Paper Ballot and envelope I will receive... Hahaha!

cheeze_pavilion wrote:

It's possible that what works in one country won't work in another and might even have significant negative side effects, because of the differences between those countries.

I'm left leaning, but I also believe in liberty, so when it comes to nudge economics, I say why not turn that frown upside down, and instead of fines, offer money! Like a participation trophy!

I know it will never work, conservatives would go crazy, all that. I just wish the left were quicker to think in terms of carrots than sticks, if there *was* more of a focus on finding solutions that preserved liberty while still accomplishing left-wing goals.

Isn't it Australia that has a thing where you get a sausage if you vote? Or New Zealand?

I like that as a participation trophy. Plus, it supports local industry!

Jonman wrote:
cheeze_pavilion wrote:

It's possible that what works in one country won't work in another and might even have significant negative side effects, because of the differences between those countries.

I'm left leaning, but I also believe in liberty, so when it comes to nudge economics, I say why not turn that frown upside down, and instead of fines, offer money! Like a participation trophy!

I know it will never work, conservatives would go crazy, all that. I just wish the left were quicker to think in terms of carrots than sticks, if there *was* more of a focus on finding solutions that preserved liberty while still accomplishing left-wing goals.

Isn't it Australia that has a thing where you get a sausage if you vote? Or New Zealand?

I like that as a participation trophy. Plus, it supports local industry!

So in Seattle, 777x's for everybody?

That's us, the famous Democracy Sausage. Voting day is an event here, you avoid the political spruikers, head in to vote, then exit and receive sausage. Sometimes it's free, but usually there's a modest fee to fund raise for the facility that's providing the voting space.

Like a lot of Australian culture, it's both extremely serious while simultaneously being very tongue-in-cheek.

Jonman wrote:
cheeze_pavilion wrote:

It's possible that what works in one country won't work in another and might even have significant negative side effects, because of the differences between those countries.

I'm left leaning, but I also believe in liberty, so when it comes to nudge economics, I say why not turn that frown upside down, and instead of fines, offer money! Like a participation trophy!

I know it will never work, conservatives would go crazy, all that. I just wish the left were quicker to think in terms of carrots than sticks, if there *was* more of a focus on finding solutions that preserved liberty while still accomplishing left-wing goals.

Isn't it Australia that has a thing where you get a sausage if you vote? Or New Zealand?

I like that as a participation trophy. Plus, it supports local industry!

That's a particularly good trophy....it goes right along with the old saying, "it's better not to know how sausages and laws are made."

I hope they provide excellent sausages.

Chairman_Mao wrote:
Jonman wrote:

Isn't it Australia that has a thing where you get a sausage if you vote? Or New Zealand?

I like that as a participation trophy. Plus, it supports local industry!

So in Seattle, 777x's for everybody?

Yes, but they're made of sausages.

Man if only we could get local breweries and marijuana dispensaries to give out freebies for voting here in the Northwest. That would be awesome!

Regarding compulsory voting - imho that would hurt the Democrats in national elections. Battleground states might just say “f u big government” and turn out against the left. And the Right has no interest in countrywide voting.

I’ve also heard that in other countries with compulsory voting people just tend to vote how their family and friends do. Remember a lot of people don’t follow politics.

jdzappa wrote:

Man if only we could get local breweries and marijuana dispensaries to give out freebies for voting here in the Northwest. That would be awesome!

It worked for churches in the Middle Ages.

trichy wrote:

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.

I've been alive since 82. Since I was born America has gotten worse for me (and a lot of other people) every year. My earliest political memories were of a system in collapse. Clinton writing all our manufacturing jobs to NAFTA. Bush Jr (Allegedly) stealing the election. 9/11, finding out how Bush and the Saudi's and the Hijackers were uncomfortably close. Patriot Act. Eternal War.

The recession. (starting in 2000) The gradual contraction of the economy I depend on to work, the stock market and housing crash of 08 and the NON RECOVERY that followed. The Obama Election and betrayal. Watching the people who caused the collapse knowingly walk away unscratched while the shrinking "middle class" was crushed, and then taking their homes too.

When I graduated University I figured out that the business degree I earned was worthless and I now had a heaping helping of debt involved. I needed work so I took a warehouse job I hated. Watching Obama crush Occupy Wall Street was tough. Like a knife in the ribs. It was then I understood that peaceful protest would NOT be enough. Watched the Dem party and media and Establishment sabotage Bernie. I voted for Trump because I figured that he would either be the best president ever or drive this country into collapse. Yaknow, either way. Was shocked when he was elected.

Countries end or go into civil war/rebellion when enough people are willing to walk away from them then are willing to stay. You see it over and over again in history. Enough people in this country were angry enough to turn out to vote the most destructive person possible, in some sort of anguished scream for help. That numbers not getting any smaller. When Biden fails to reverse things for enough people things are going to get MORE unstable, not less.

America has failed. We as citizens failed. We failed in noticing the country getting away from most of us, till it was gone for all.

Heard this for the first time on a podcast but there's a study by a prominent historian that the only thing that fixes massive inequality is war or major catastrophe. Plagues have done it but you need a Black Death level event - smaller outbreaks like COVID only accentuate the problem. It's like human civilization is a forest that needs wild fires to clear out the dead and dying trees and allow for new growth.

I wish I had faith that humans are improving and evolving but I have my doubts.

Bruce wrote:

It changes the battleground too so incumbants are not likely to want to change to compulsory voting.

With voluntary and FPTP elections, the primary strategy is to motivate the base to show up in greater number than your oppostion.

With compulsory voting, your base has to show up and so does your opposition. The battle is now for the voters in the middle. You don't need to feed your base meat any more. It modulates the policy positions you would try for.

I'm going to hammer home this point every time I see it come up so I'm sorry but I'm still of the belief that FPTP or plurality voting is just an awful way for 350 million people to decide anything, compulsory or not. I mean, the British decided FPTP was a poor option for us 3 million odd souls. Odd they never seemed it was important for them though. Almost as if plurality systems favour the ruling majority...?

At the very least, if you are going to compel people to vote let them vote for who they actually want to vote for and register their voice. Picking the lesser of two evils is depressing.

And going back to Trichy's post, proportional representation get voters out of that mindset of them and us. It's might take several cycles but it does eventually get there.

That all said, I'm with Ameobic and Mixolyde on compulsory voting though. The Republicans will remove polling stations and otherwise make it difficult to vote. The fine will then be used as a means to take your vote away. It's not as if they aren't looking for more reasons to make it harder for certain people to vote.

Axon wrote:

And going back to Trichy's post, proportional representation get voters out of that mindset of them and us. It's might take several cycles but it does eventually get there.

I guess I still don't understand how this is going to work in practice. It's an idea with merit--that the logic that a winner-take-all system sustains 'triabalism'--but who are the groups you're looking at?

Like, not just talk about an abstract voter belonging to an unidentified group. An actual population with specific grievances sustained by a feeling of negatively disproportional representation, where those feelings are having a negative impact on the country.

Because when I look at it, the most negative impacts of 'them and us' are coming from people--(not all) white people--who are already disproportionately represented, but punching above their weight! I don't understand how telling someone already in the mindset of 'them and us' that they're going to *lose* power is going to change anything.

The people disproportionately represented below their weight are not the populations where the hate and problematic 'tribalism' is coming from.

I mean, you say "Almost as if plurality systems favour the ruling majority...?" but it doesn't. The U.S. Senate (and to a lesser extent the Electoral College) is proportional representation, it's just proportional to the states, not identity groups. Which has the knock-on effect of favoring the ruling minority. And it's that minority that all the nasty 'tribalism' is coming from.

Abolish the Senate, the Electoral College, FPTP, repeal Citizens United, redistrict the country without gerrymandering. As things are now, it's not really a democratic system.

cheeze_pavilion wrote:
Axon wrote:

And going back to Trichy's post, proportional representation get voters out of that mindset of them and us. It's might take several cycles but it does eventually get there.

I guess I still don't understand how this is going to work in practice.

Maybe listen to those of us with experience of both systems and stop sandbagging with counterfactuals that are exhausting to refute.

"The U.S. Senate is proportional representation". Sweet Jesus, Give me strength.

But I'm sure you'll reinterpret something to suit some larger point scoring exercise to suit yourself. While you're doing that, I'd like to point out that you could argue that you equated the majority and the minority. But I wouldn't do that because I understand the point you are trying to make and it really petty deliberately misunderstanding somebody's point.

Your point doesn't make all that much sense given what we can see all around the world but I'm sure you won't let that stop you.