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Weakening democracy lol

DrZoidberg

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Something not in the US Constitution is political parties, and none of its creators seemed to want them. Several of them went on record as deploring parties as leading to strife from rival factions. The Founding Fathers on Party Strife (Quotes) | Satyagraha and What Our Founding Fathers Said About Political Parties - Bill King Blog and The Founding Fathers Feared Political Factions Would Tear the Nation Apart - HISTORY

But their hope of a partyless political system was not to be. In the first term of the first President, George Washington, the politicians started dividing themselves into parties, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans.

The Federalists wanted an industrialized nation with a strong government and a lot of international influence, while the D-R's wanted an isolationist, agrarian nation with a wimpy national government. Though many Americans continue to claim the D-R vision of the US as an ideal, the nation has become everything the Federalists wanted. The first D-R President, Thomas Jefferson, ended up acting Federalist-like with his Louisiana Purchase and his sending military expeditions to North Africa to punish raiders of American shipping.

 Party divisions of United States Congresses and  Political parties in the United States and  Political eras of the United States
EraYearsCongressesParty IParty II
1st Party System1789 - 17951 - 3Anti-AdminPro-Admin
1795 - 1825 4 - 18Dem-RepFederalist
2nd Party System1825 - 183719 - 24JacksonianAnti-Jackson
1837 - 185525 - 33DemocraticWhig
1855 - 185734DemocraticOpposition
3rd Party System1857 - 189735 - 54DemocraticRepublican
4th Party System1897 - 193355 - 72DemocraticRepublican
5th Party System1933 - 198173 - 96DemocraticRepublican
6th Party System1981 - present97 - presentDemocraticRepublican
We are at the 117th Congress.
Political parties is unavoilable in a modern democracy. Its just too much shit to keep track of for one person. Ruling has to be a team effort.

I also don't give much weight to the pipe dreams of the founding fathers. In 1776 democracy was a wild and fanciful thought experiment. No, shit they got some details wrong.
 

lpetrich

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Political parties is unavoilable in a modern democracy. Its just too much shit to keep track of for one person. Ruling has to be a team effort.

I also don't give much weight to the pipe dreams of the founding fathers. In 1776 democracy was a wild and fanciful thought experiment. No, shit they got some details wrong.
On a national scale, maybe, but the colonies had representative democracy in them, and the Continental Congress was that also, after a fashion. The US started out with Articles of Confederation, but that specified a very wimpy national government, and the US Constitution was created to specify a stronger one.
 

lpetrich

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As I've noted elsewhere, there is some research which finds a correlation between strength of legislature and strength of democracy: Project MUSE - Stronger Legislatures, Stronger Democracies also at 1. Fish pp 5-20.pmd - Fish Steven - Stronger legislatures, stronger democracy - EN - Standards.pdf Also What Makes Legislatures Strong? | Journal of Democracy and some numbers: Microsoft Word - Parliamentary Powers Index, Scores by Country.doc - PPIScores.pdf Some later work: Measuring Legislative Power: An Expert Reweighting of the Fish‐Kroenig Parliamentary Powers Index - Chernykh - 2017 - Legislative Studies Quarterly - Wiley Online Library

It's worth noting that the US Founders started with Congress and not with the Presidency.

That also agrees with how the top-rated democracies are mostly parliamentary systems -- systems where the legislature is supreme and controls the executive.
 
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lpetrich

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The 2010 structural-demographic forecast for the 2010–2020 decade: A retrospective assessment -- Peter Turchin and Andrei Korotayev
This article revisits the prediction, made in 2010, that the 2010–2020 decade would likely be a period of growing instability in the United States and Western Europe Turchin P. 2018. This prediction was based on a computational model that quantified in the USA such structural-demographic forces for instability as popular immiseration, intraelite competition, and state weakness prior to 2010. Using these trends as inputs, the model calculated and projected forward in time the Political Stress Indicator, which in the past was strongly correlated with socio-political instability. Ortmans et al. Turchin P. 2010 conducted a similar structural-demographic study for the United Kingdom. Here we use the Cross-National Time-Series Data Archive for the US, UK, and several major Western European countries to assess these structural-demographic predictions. We find that such measures of socio-political instability as anti-government demonstrations and riots increased dramatically during the 2010–2020 decade in all of these countries.

As to what happens in a sociopolitical crisis, Peter Turchin The Ginkgo Model of Societal Crisis - Peter Turchin -- from how a ginkgo's leaf veins radiate outwards.

He rated 30 crises on how well they fit the following:
  • Population decline / > 50%
  • Lethal epidemic
  • Elite: massive downward mobility / dispossession or extermination
  • Ruler executed or assassinated
  • Transformative revolution
  • Civil war / Prolonged civil wars (>100 years)
  • Territorial fragmentation / External conquest
His counts of how many crises had which numbers of them, from 0: 2, 1, 1, 4, 5, 7, 6, 3, 1.

Peter Turchin Population Immiseration in America - Peter Turchin

Peter Turchin A History of the Near Future: What history tells us about our Age of Discord - Peter Turchin
 

steve_bank

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She is a self avowed Marxist who has publicly said wants to get rid of private property. She wants to tear the system down and relace it wth her vision of 'true democracy'. No police. She let rioters into city hall at night.

She has 50% support in her district. The fact of her sucess in a major city is an indication of how we are becoming susceptible to radical divions and divides.
 

lpetrich

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Where the US is in the ratings:
Rater / RatingUSAllMinWorstUSBestMax
EIU Democracy Index2516701.087.929.8110
FFP Fragile States Index37179120111.744.616.20
Freedom House612100183100100
  1. What did the rating?
  2. US rank (best = 1)
  3. All that were rated
  4. Worst possible rating
  5. Worst that was listed
  6. US rating
  7. Best that was listed
  8. Best possible rating
Note that the Fragile States Index is in the reverse direction: lower is better instead of higher is better.

The US, though good, is far from the best, and one can construct a composite profile of the best countries.
  • Parliamentary system - the legislature picks the acting executive
  • Proportional representation
  • One legislative chamber or an upper one that does not do very much
  • A ceremonial president or monarch
The US fails all four criteria.
 

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3 reasons why New Zealand has the best-designed government in the world - Vox - Jan 16, 2015

Noting
The Perils of Presidentialism
Linz, Juan J. (Juan José), 1926-
Journal of Democracy, Volume 1, Number 1, Winter 1990, pp. 51-69 (Article)
Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press
DOI: 10.1353/jod.1990.0011

Back to Vox.
We in the US tend to assume that — however awful we might think our politicians are — our political system is excellent. The Constitution is held in high esteem across the political spectrum, and Democrats and Republicans alike pay lip service to the "genius" of the Founders. But our system, combining two powerful legislative bodies with a strong executive, is pretty rare internationally. Indeed, it appears to be a weaker model than most; the US is the just about the only country to sustain a presidential system for a long period without descending into dictatorship.

We can learn a lot from other countries' models, which are often more streamlined and democratically representative than our own. The best of the bunch, in my judgment: New Zealand.

The article then discussed a downside of single-member districts: inadequate representation. A Democrat in rural Texas and a Republican in Manhattan are never likely to get well-represented. That is especially bad for when a candidate wins by a narrow margin - there is a big unrepresented population.

Author Dylan Matthews then discussed proportional representation, settling on mixed-member PR (MMP) as the best system. That is what's used in Germany, New Zealand, Lesotho, Bolivia, Scotland, and Wales.

Pure party list?
Party-list systems make it hard for a single party to get a majority, which means that if, say, a party has 45 seats out of 100, it still needs to win over a party with 6 seats to govern. The 6 seat party then has significant power to demand stuff, out of proportion to its actual level of support. So ironically, this form of proportional representation can have patently undemocratic consequences. Stuff like this has happened frequently in Israel, with fairly deleterious results.
DM says that nations with MMP avoid that kind of problem, but then again, there aren't many nations that use it.
Unlike party list representation, people still have representatives with at least some ties to their area, for whatever that's worth.

But more importantly, it means parties have to be organized enough to compete in a decent number of districts in order to have a shot. That discourages the kind of excessive party formation that happens under pure party-list representation, while still ensuring that smaller parties get some say.
 

lpetrich

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DM then mentions another nice feature of New Zealand: unicameralism.

The US Senate weights voters of small states much more than voters of large states, something that is hard to defend as a democratic ideal.

But as he says, many nations seem to do well with only one legislative chamber: New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Portugal, Denmark, Israel, Iceland, Taiwan, ...

Australia has an active Senate like the US Senate, but Canada's is a rubber-stamp body and the UK's House of Lords does very little. New Zealand abolished its upper house in 1951.
But even weak upper houses can typically delay legislation if they want to, and force changes on occasion. Germany's Bundesrat, for example, has an absolute veto over constitutional changes; in other cases, if the Bundesrat rejects a bill passed by the Bundestag (the lower house) with a two-thirds majority, the Bundestag has to muster a two-thirds majority itself to overrule the veto. That puts New Zealand over the top; not only does it, like Germany, have mixed member proportional representation, but unlike Germany it doesn't have a meddlesome upper house. The sole legitimate democratic institution is the one elected to proportionately represent the population.
 

lpetrich

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DM then defends figurehead monarchies. *Gag*

His argument is that parliamentary-system presidents may be meddlesome. But so can monarchs.
 

lpetrich

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Behind Manchin’s Opposition, a Long History of Fighting Climate Measures - The New York Times - "Senator Joe Manchin III noted climate policy when he said he would vote against the Build Back Better Act. In his life and career, West Virginia coal has loomed large."
The version of the bill that passed the House last month devoted $555 billion to shifting the nation to renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar power, and away from fossil fuels like West Virginia coal. Mr. Manchin, who defied gale-force political headwinds in 2010 by running for the Senate on his opposition to President Barack Obama’s climate change legislation, killed a provision in Build Back Better that would have imposed stiff penalties on electric utilities that continued to burn coal and natural gas.

But even with the stick dropped from the House’s bill, West Virginia’s coal interests were working hard to kill off the measure’s carrot, a package of tax credits to make clean energy more financially competitive, and, by extension, struggling coal even less so. Their lobbyists talked frequently to Mr. Manchin.

Tara Dublin (Taylor's Version) on Twitter: "I love this woman so so much. This is just another reason why I named one of my cats after Auntie Maxine Waters 🔥🔥🔥 #MAGAManchin @RepMaxineWaters" / Twitter
noting
✨ I 💛 Us ✨ on Twitter: "Congressperson Maxine Waters at a church in Los Angeles, spoke on Manchin’s obstruction of the BBB bill. (vid link)" / Twitter

She challenged Sen. Manchin to go on TV and explain why he is against each bit of BBB.

She can be fierce. Like this: Maxine Waters Says She Told Jim Jordan to ‘Shut Your Mouth’ for ‘Bullying’ Dr. Fauci | MSNBC - YouTube
 

lpetrich

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Juan Williams: American democracy is in peril | TheHill
Noting Trump's claim that the election was stolen from him and that many Republicans continue to believe that.
The deepest wound is to America’s founding identity as a nation of laws.

The U.S. is “closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe,” Barbara Walter, a member of a CIA advisory panel called the Political Instability Task Force, writes in a forthcoming book.

Walter, a professor at the University of California at San Diego, predicts that such a war, if it comes, will feature “insurgency, guerrilla warfare, terrorism."

Walter’s book “How Civil Wars Start and How to Stop Them” says two factors point to a possible future civil war in America:
  • the erosion of democratic norms -- something associated with the rise of autocratic leaders
  • the rise of power-seekers “using racial, religious or ethnic divisions to try to gain political power.” -- like white supremacists

Poll: A majority of Americans believe U.S. democracy is in crisis : NPR
A new NPR/Ipsos poll finds that 64% of Americans believe U.S. democracy is "in crisis and at risk of failing." That sentiment is felt most acutely by Republicans: Two-thirds of GOP respondents agree with the verifiably false claim that "voter fraud helped Joe Biden win the 2020 election" — a key pillar of the "Big Lie" that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.

...
The country can't even decide what to call the assault on the Capitol. Only 6% of poll respondents say it was "a reasonable protest" — but there is little agreement on a better description. More than half of Democrats say the Jan. 6 assault was an "attempted coup or insurrection," while Republicans are more likely to describe it as a "riot that got out of control."

...
"I think the Democrats rigged the election," said Stephen Weber, a Republican from Woonsocket, R.I. "And who the hell would vote for Biden?"
A Republican may not be a very good judge of that. Fox News caricatures are far from the real thing.
Democrats also expressed dismay about the state of democracy — but for very different reasons. In follow-up interviews, they voiced concern about voting restrictions passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures in the wake of the 2020 election. And they struggled to make sense of the persistent belief in the fiction that Trump won.

"When Trump first came out with his 'big lie,' it just never occurred to me that so many Republicans would jump on board," said Susan Leonard of Lyme, N.H.

"It's like a group mental illness has hit these people," said Leonard. "I cannot believe this is happening in our country. I'm scared, I really am."
 

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US could be under rightwing dictator by 2030, Canadian professor warns | US politics | The Guardian
By 2025, American democracy could collapse, causing extreme domestic political instability, including widespread civil violence. By 2030, if not sooner, the country could be governed by a right-wing dictatorship.

We mustn’t dismiss these possibilities just because they seem ludicrous or too horrible to imagine. In 2014, the suggestion that Donald Trump would become president would also have struck nearly everyone as absurd. But today we live in a world where the absurd regularly becomes real and the horrible commonplace.

...
I’m a scholar of violent conflict. For more than 40 years, I’ve studied and published on the causes of war, social breakdown, revolution, ethnic violence and genocide, and for nearly two decades I led a centre on peace and conflict studies at the University of Toronto.

Today, as I watch the unfolding crisis in the United States, I see a political and social landscape flashing with warning signals.
Then mentioning Rush Limbaugh: "I remarked to friends at the time that, with each broadcast, it was if Mr. Limbaugh were wedging the sharp end of a chisel into a faint crack in the moral authority of U.S. political institutions, and then slamming the other end of that chisel with a hammer."

Then the likes of Fox News and Newsmax.
What seems to have pushed the United States to the brink of losing its democracy today is a multiplication effect between its underlying flaws and recent shifts in the society’s “material” characteristics. These shifts include stagnating middle-class incomes, chronic economic insecurity, and rising inequality as the country’s economy – transformed by technological change and globalization – has transitioned from muscle power, heavy industry, and manufacturing as the main sources of its wealth to idea power, information technology, symbolic production and finance. As returns to labour have stagnated and returns to capital have soared, much of the U.S. population has fallen behind. Inflation-adjusted wages for the median male worker in the fourth quarter of 2019 (prior to the infusion of economic support owing to the COVID-19 pandemic) were lower than in 1979; meanwhile, between 1978 and 2016, CEO incomes in the biggest companies rose from 30 times that of the average worker to 271 times. Economic insecurity is widespread in broad swaths of the country’s interior, while growth is increasingly concentrated in a dozen or so metropolitan centres.

Two other material factors are key. The first is demographic: as immigration, aging, intermarriage and a decline in church-going have reduced the percentage of non-Hispanic white Christians in America, right-wing ideologues have inflamed fears that traditional U.S. culture is being erased and whites are being “replaced.” The second is pervasive elite selfishness: The wealthy and powerful in America are broadly unwilling to pay the taxes, invest in the public services, or create the avenues for vertical mobility that would lessen their country’s economic, educational, racial and geographic gaps. The more an under-resourced government can’t solve everyday problems, the more people give up on it, and the more they turn to their own resources and their narrow identity groups for safety.
Are the two sides alike? "While both wings of U.S. politics have fanned polarization’s flames, blame lies disproportionately on the political right."

As Dr. Theda Skocpol notes, the Republican Party is “marriage of convenience between anti-government free-market plutocrats and racially anxious ethno-nationalist activists and voters.”

About Fascism,
And it’s not inaccurate to use the F word. As conservative commentator David Frum argues, Trumpism increasingly resembles European fascism in its contempt for the rule of law and glorification of violence. Evidence is as close as the latest right-wing Twitter meme: widely circulated holiday photos show Republican politicians and their family members, including young children, sitting in front of their Christmas trees, all smiling gleefully while cradling pistols, shotguns and assault rifles.

Those guns are more than symbols. The Trump cult presents itself as the only truly patriotic party able to defend U.S. values and history against traitorous Democrats beholden to cosmopolitan elites and minorities who neither understand nor support “true” American values. The Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. capitol must be understood in these terms. The people involved didn’t think they were attacking U.S. democracy – although they unquestionably were. Instead, they believed their “patriotic” actions were needed to save it.
Sort of like Adolf Hitler portraying himself as a great German patriot at his trial for leading the Beer Hall Putsch.
 

lpetrich

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Jack Goldstone, a political sociologist at George Mason University in Washington, D.C., and a leading authority on the causes of state breakdown and revolution, told me that since 2016 we’ve learned that early optimism about the resilience of U.S. democracy was based on two false assumptions: “First, that American institutions would be strong enough to easily withstand efforts to subvert them; and second, that the vast majority of people will act rationally and be drawn to the political centre, so that it’s impossible for extremist groups to take over.”

But especially after the 2020 election, Dr. Goldstone said, we’ve seen that core institutions – from the Justice Department to county election boards – are susceptible to pressure. They’ve barely held firm. “We’ve also learned that the reasonable majority can be frightened and silenced if caught between extremes, while many others can be captured by mass delusions.” And to his surprise “moderate GOP leaders have either been forced out of the party or acquiesced to a party leadership that embraces lies and anti-democratic actions.”
JG has worked with Peter Turchin.
Once Republicans control Congress, Democrats will lose control of the national political agenda, giving Mr. Trump a clear shot at recapturing the presidency in 2024. And once in office, he will have only two objectives: vindication and vengeance.

A U.S. civil-military expert and senior federal appointee I consulted noted that a re-elected president Trump could be totally unconstrained, nationally and internationally.

A crucial factor determining how much constraint he faces will be the response of the U.S. military, a bulwark institution ardently committed to defending the Constitution.
But Trump is likely to appoint Trump loyalists to the top leadership of the armed forces.
The experts I consulted described a range of possible outcomes if Mr. Trump returns to power, none benign. They cited particular countries and political regimes to illustrate where he might take the U.S.: Viktor Orban’s Hungary, with its coercive legal apparatus of “illiberal democracy”; Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil, with its chronic social distemper and administrative dysfunction; or Vladimir Putin’s Russia, with its harsh one-man hyper-nationalist autocracy. All agreed that under a second Trump administration, liberalism will be marginalized and right-wing Christian groups super-empowered, while violence by vigilante, paramilitary groups will rise sharply.
 

lpetrich

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Jack Goldstone and Peter Turchin wrote Welcome To The ‘Turbulent Twenties’ - NOEMA in late 2020, before the elections.

Back to The Globe And Mail.
Perhaps Democrats squeak out a victory, and Republican states refuse to recognize the result. Or conversely, perhaps Republicans win, but only because Republican state legislatures override voting results; then Democratic protestors attack those legislatures. In either circumstance, much will depend on whether the country’s military splits along partisan lines.
Then discussing the Weimar Republic.
First, in both cases, a charismatic leader was able to unify right-wing extremists around a political program to seize the state. Second, a bald falsehood about how enemies inside the polity had betrayed the country – for the Nazis, the “stab in the back,” and for Trumpists, the Big Lie – was a vital psychological tool for radicalizing and mobilizing followers. Third, conventional conservatives believed they could control and channel the charismatic leader and rising extremism but were ultimately routed by the forces they helped unleash. Fourth, ideological opponents of this rising extremism squabbled among themselves; they didn’t take the threat seriously enough, even though it was growing in plain sight; and they focused on marginal issues that were too often red meat for the extremists. (Today, think toppling statues.)
Mitch McConnell is a good example of the third one. He cooperated with Trump and bailed him out twice.
To my mind, though, the fifth parallel is the most disconcerting: the propagation of a “hardline security doctrine.” Here I’ve been influenced by the research of Jonathan Leader Maynard, a young English scholar who is emerging as one of the world’s most brilliant thinkers on the links between ideology, extremism and violence. In a forthcoming book, Ideology and Mass Killing, Dr. Leader Maynard argues that extremist right-wing ideologies generally don’t arise from explicit efforts to forge an authoritarian society, but from the radicalization of a society’s existing understandings of how it can stay safe and secure in the face of alleged threats.

...
The rapid propagation of hardline security doctrines through a society, Dr. Leader Maynard says, typically occurs in times of political and economic crisis. Even in the Weimar Republic, the vote for the National Socialists was closely correlated with the unemployment rate.
The Nazis didn't get many votes when the economy was doing well, in the mid to late 1920's, but during the Great Depression, the Nazis started doing *very* well.
 

lpetrich

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"Beyond a certain threshold, other new research shows, political extremism feeds on itself, pushing polarization toward an irreversible tipping point."

The nonlinear feedback dynamics of asymmetric political polarization | PNAS
Political polarization threatens democracy in America. ... Our analysis suggests that subtle differences in the frequency and amplitude with which public opinion shifts left and right over time may have a differential effect on the self-reinforcing processes of elites, causing Republicans to polarize more quickly than Democrats. We find that as self-reinforcement approaches a critical threshold, polarization speeds up. Republicans appear to have crossed that threshold while Democrats are currently approaching it.
Polarization and tipping points | PNAS
We used a computational model to search for an answer in the phase transitions of political polarization. The model reveals asymmetric hysteresis trajectories with tipping points that are hard to predict and that make polarization extremely difficult to reverse once the level exceeds a critical value.

Back to TGAM.
This suggests a sixth potential parallel with Weimar: democratic collapse followed by the consolidation of dictatorship. Mr. Trump may be just a warm-up act – someone ideal to bring about the first stage, but not the second. Returning to office, he’ll be the wrecking ball that demolishes democracy, but the process will produce a political and social shambles. Still, through targeted harassment and dismissal, he’ll be able to thin the ranks of his movement’s opponents within the state – the bureaucrats, officials and technocrats who oversee the non-partisan functioning of core institutions and abide by the rule of law. Then the stage will be set for a more managerially competent ruler, after Mr. Trump, to bring order to the chaos he’s created.
Someone like Ron DeSantis.

Under the less-optimistic scenarios, the risks to our country in their cumulative effect could easily be existential, far greater than any in our federation’s history. What happens, for instance, if high-profile political refugees fleeing persecution arrive in our country, and the U.S. regime demands them back. Do we comply?
 

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3 reasons why New Zealand has the best-designed government in the world - Vox - Jan 16, 2015

Noting
The Perils of Presidentialism
Linz, Juan J. (Juan José), 1926-
Journal of Democracy, Volume 1, Number 1, Winter 1990, pp. 51-69 (Article)
Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press
DOI: 10.1353/jod.1990.0011

Back to Vox.
We in the US tend to assume that — however awful we might think our politicians are — our political system is excellent. The Constitution is held in high esteem across the political spectrum, and Democrats and Republicans alike pay lip service to the "genius" of the Founders. But our system, combining two powerful legislative bodies with a strong executive, is pretty rare internationally. Indeed, it appears to be a weaker model than most; the US is the just about the only country to sustain a presidential system for a long period without descending into dictatorship.

We can learn a lot from other countries' models, which are often more streamlined and democratically representative than our own. The best of the bunch, in my judgment: New Zealand.

The article then discussed a downside of single-member districts: inadequate representation. A Democrat in rural Texas and a Republican in Manhattan are never likely to get well-represented. That is especially bad for when a candidate wins by a narrow margin - there is a big unrepresented population.

Author Dylan Matthews then discussed proportional representation, settling on mixed-member PR (MMP) as the best system. That is what's used in Germany, New Zealand, Lesotho, Bolivia, Scotland, and Wales.

Pure party list?
Party-list systems make it hard for a single party to get a majority, which means that if, say, a party has 45 seats out of 100, it still needs to win over a party with 6 seats to govern. The 6 seat party then has significant power to demand stuff, out of proportion to its actual level of support. So ironically, this form of proportional representation can have patently undemocratic consequences. Stuff like this has happened frequently in Israel, with fairly deleterious results.
DM says that nations with MMP avoid that kind of problem, but then again, there aren't many nations that use it.
Unlike party list representation, people still have representatives with at least some ties to their area, for whatever that's worth.

But more importantly, it means parties have to be organized enough to compete in a decent number of districts in order to have a shot. That discourages the kind of excessive party formation that happens under pure party-list representation, while still ensuring that smaller parties get some say.

It's not a fair fight. It's inherently easier to tweak an electoral system in a small country. The bigger the country the more complicated it is to balance it correctly
 

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It is regrettably clear that Europeans are prepared one bit to sacrifice anything to protect Ukraine against Putin's advances. Which is the same thing as not being willing to fight for democracy. It's a problem.
 

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I couldn't help but return to that Vox article.
3 reasons why New Zealand has the best-designed government in the world - Vox
Then saying that constitutional monarchies are great. Most such monarchies, like the UK one, strike me as monarchies in name only, monarchies that are mostly indistinguishable from republics. Their monarchs are monarques fainéants, do-nothing monarchs.

The article quotes this table:
TypeERLYRESHREGL
Constitutional monarchy281755
Indirectly elected president213742
Directly elected president144937
  • ERLY - early elections
  • RESH - Cabinet refhuffling/replacement
  • REGL - regular elections/other

Source: Shut up, royal baby haters. Monarchy is awesome. - The Washington Post

I am NOT impressed. It strikes me as  Survivorship bias - the surviving monarchies are those whose nations have not had political upheavals over the last few centuries and/or those whose monarchs stay out of political fights. That's why Prince Charles seems so reckless.

There is also the problem that parliamentary-system presidents may be people accustomed to political action, so they may deciding to meddle in politics.
 

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Are constitutional monarchies better than presidential republics? Correlation ≠ causation! | Suffragio -- looks at some different issues.


Trump endorses Hungary’s Orbán for reelection - POLITICO - "It’s not the first time the former president has backed a populist foreign leader with authoritarian tendencies."
noting
Endorsement of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán
Viktor Orbán of Hungary truly loves his Country and wants safety for his people. He has done a powerful and wonderful job in protecting Hungary, stopping illegal immigration, creating jobs, trade, and should be allowed to continue to do so in the upcoming Election. He is a strong leader and respected by all. He has my Complete support and Endorsement for reelection as Prime Minister!
Donald Trump on Vladimir Putin: In his own words | CNN Politics - 2016 July 28
  • October 2007: Trump said Putin’s doing a great job
  • December 2011: Trump praised Putin’s “intelligence” and “no-nonsense way” in his book “Time to Get Tough.”
  • June 2013: Trump wonders if Putin will be his “new best friend”
  • October 2013: Trump says Putin is outsmarting the US
  • July 31, 2015: Trump says they’d get along
  • Oct. 11, 2015: Trump says they had good ratings together
  • Nov. 10, 2015: Trump reiterates that he and Putin “were stablemates”
  • Dec. 17, 2015: Trump returns Putin’s praise
  • Dec. 18, 2015: Trump defends against allegations Putin has ordered the killings of journalists
  • Feb. 17, 2016: Trump says he’d be “crazy” to disavow Putin’s praise
  • April 28, 2016: Trump says maybe they’ll get along
  • July 28: Trump says he’d be firm with Putin
 
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America’s Self-Obsession Is Killing Its Democracy - The Atlantic - "The U.S. still has a chance to fix itself before 2024. But when democracies start dying—as ours already has—they usually don’t recover."

Author Brian Klass, a contributing editor to The Atlantic and a global-politics professor at University College London, started with
In 2009, a violent mob stormed the presidential palace in Madagascar, a deeply impoverished red-earthed island off the coast of East Africa. They had been incited to violence by opportunistic politicians and media personalities, successfully triggering a coup. A few years later, I traveled to the island, to meet the new government's ringleaders, the same men who had unleashed the mob.

As we sipped our coffees and I asked them questions, one of the generals I was interviewing interrupted me.

“How can you Americans lecture us on democracy?” he asked. “Sometimes, the president who ends up in your White House isn’t even the person who got the most votes.”

“Our election system isn’t perfect,” I replied then. “But, with all due respect, our politicians don’t incite violent mobs to take over the government when they haven’t won an election.
A decade later, one of them did: Donald Trump.
During the Donald Trump presidency, the news covered a relentless barrage of “unprecedented” attacks on the norms and institutions of American democracy. But they weren’t unprecedented. Similar authoritarian attacks had happened plenty of times before. They were only unprecedented to us.
After noting some quick deaths of democracy in the past,
But in the 21st century, most democracies die like a chronic but terminal patient. The system weakens as the disease spreads. The agony persists over years. Early intervention increases the rate of survival, but the longer the disease festers, the more that miracles become the only hope.

American democracy is dying. There are plenty of medicines that would cure it. Unfortunately, our political dysfunction means we’re choosing not to use them, and as time passes, fewer treatments become available to us, even though the disease is becoming terminal. No major prodemocracy reforms have passed Congress. No key political figures who tried to overturn an American election have faced real accountability. The president who orchestrated the greatest threat to our democracy in modern times is free to run for reelection, and may well return to office.

Our current situation started with a botched diagnosis. When Trump first rose to political prominence, much of the American political class reacted with amusement, seeing him as a sideshow. Even if he won, they thought, he’d tweet like a populist firebrand while governing like a Romney Republican, constrained by the system. But for those who had watched Trump-like authoritarian strongmen rise in Turkey, India, Hungary, Poland, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Venezuela, Trump was never entertaining. He was ominously familiar.
Why does BK seem to know much more than many Americans?
At issue was a classic frame-of-reference problem. America’s political culture is astonishingly insular. Turn on cable news and it’s all America, all the time. Other countries occasionally make cameos, but the story is still about us.
Related to this is the remarkable ignorance that many Americans have about other nations' political systems, even those that one might expect to be knowledgable. How many people understand how a parliamentary government works? Proportional representation?
 

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That’s why most American pundits and journalists used an “outsider comes to Washington” framework to process Trump’s campaign and his presidency, when they should have been fitting every fresh fact into an “authoritarian populist” framework or a “democratic death spiral” framework.
Ignoring that the system itself is at risk.
Even today, too many think of Trump more as Sarah Palin in 2012 rather than Viktor Orbán in 2022. They wrongly believe that the authoritarian threat is over and that January 6 was an isolated event from our past, rather than a mild preview of our future. That misreading is provoking an underreaction from the political establishment. And the worst may be yet to come.

The basic problem is that one of the two major parties in the U.S.—the Trumpified Republican Party—has become authoritarian to its core.
One must either reform the Republican Party or else win *every* election.
Erica Frantz, a political scientist and expert on authoritarianism at Michigan State University, told me she shares that concern: With Republicans out of the White House and in the congressional minority, “democratic deterioration in the U.S. has simply been put on pause.”

...
When democracies start to die, they usually don’t recover. Instead, they end up as authoritarian states with zombified democratic institutions: rigged elections in place of legitimate ones, corrupt courts rather than independent judges, and propagandists replacing the press.

There are exceptions. Frantz pointed to Ecuador, Slovenia, and South Korea as recent examples. In all three cases, a political shock acted as a wake-up call, in which the would-be autocrat was removed and their political movement either destroyed or reformed.
A big problem is that Republicans have been reluctant to do what was done in South Korea -- purge their party of Trumpies and suchlike authoritarians. So 6 out of 10 voters consider the January 6 insurrection "legitimate protest", and only 1 out of 10 an insurrection. Whatever happened to Antifa? The FBI?

And rather than cleaning house, the Republicans who dared to condemn Trump are now the party’s biggest pariahs, while the January 6 apologists are rising stars.

Frantz concurred: “What did surprise me and change my assessment was the Republican Party’s decision to continue to embrace Trump and stand by him. The period following the Capitol riots was a critical one, and the party’s response was a turning point.”

That leaves American democracy with a bleak prognosis. Barring an electoral wipeout of Republicans in 2022 (which looks extremely unlikely), the idea that the party will suddenly abandon its anti-democracy positioning is a delusion.
Then a long list of possible reforms, like:
  • Establishing a constitutional right to vote -- the US Constitution is hard to amend, though state constitutions are easier.
  • Establishing a nonpartisan election-management body.
  • Electing the President by popular vote.
    [*}Reducing the gap in representation between high-population and low-population states. Currently, ever state has 2 Senators. One could make the Senate more proportional, or else weaken or abolish the Senate.
  • Introducing multimember districts with proportional representation. How happy it is to see someone suggest that for the US in a major publication.
  • Aggressively regulating campaign spending.
  • Establishing age limits for Supreme Court Justices.
The American system isn’t just dysfunctional. It’s dying. Nyhan believes there is now a “significant risk” that the 2024 election outcome will be illegitimate. Even Frantz, who has been more optimistic about America’s democratic resilience in the past, doesn’t have a particularly reassuring retort to the doom-mongers: “I don’t think U.S. democracy will collapse, but just hover in a flawed manner for a while, as in Poland.”
 

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Over in the RvW thread, I noted MSNBC commentator Ben Rhodes:
Ben Rhodes on Twitter: "Alito is so extremist far right that his idea of owning the libs is taking shots at Boris Johnson." / Twitter

But he is also the author of "After the Fall: the Rise of Authoritarianism in the World We've Made"
Ben Rhodes on Twitter: "1. The paperback of my book on the rise of authoritarianism, After the Fall, is out. ..." / Twitter
1. The paperback of my book on the rise of authoritarianism, After the Fall, is out. It's the backstory of a world unravelling, extraordinary people fighting back, and my personal journey through the rough currents of politics and identity today.

2. After the Fall tells the story of Viktor Orban’s rise in Hungary, Vladimir Putin’s transformation of Russia into a belligerent kleptocracy, the emergence of China’s techno-totalitarian alternative model, and the unravelling of American democracy.

3. One comment I heard when the book came out: "this is kind of dark." Over the last year, events in Hungary, Russia, China and the US have reinforced that an honest view of what’s happening demands that we face darkness head on - indeed, that's a prerequisite for holding to hope

4. In Hungary, Orban recently won another mandate that was largely pre-ordained bc of the authoritarian playbook he has pursued - a playbook that draws on Putin’s example and is being copied by the Republican Party.

5. The ties between Orban and Republicans that I wrote about have become much less subtle, with Orban recently hosting CPAC – America’s pageant of right-wing extremism as a showcase of illiberalism.

6. One of the Russians I spoke with, @navalny, has been sentenced to a long prison term. Above for telling the truth about Putin’s Russia at a time when a conscience is not welcome in Russian politics.

7. The invasion of Ukraine, foreshadowed by some of the Russian voices in this excerpt from After the Fall, showcases both the extreme violence where ethno-nationalist authoritarianism inevitably leads and the limitations of the model that Putin has built.

8. The Hong Kong movement I profiled has been crushed by the weight of China’s national security laws even as many of its young people have taken their struggle for identity and democracy global (reinforcing Taiwan’s drift from China).

9. The dystopia of the CCP’s techno-totalitarian model is on display not just in Xinjiang province but in Shanghai, which I wrote about as a manifestation of China’s model to the world.

10. In the United States, January 6 was not a wake-up call but rather just one more chapter in the Republican Party’s transformation into a party that pursues power not through democracy, but rather by dismantling it.

11. Of course this same nationalist authoritarian trend is playing out from Israel to Brazil to India to the Philippines and beyond. Only active citizenship can reverse it and it will take at least a generation to swing the pendulum back.

12. Among the reasons to be hopeful? In the U.S. and around the world, people are far more aware of the dangers to democracy today than they were in past years. In Ukraine, people are showing that a democratic national identity is literally stronger than autocracy.

13. What gives me the greatest hope, though, are the stories of people like those who I profile in After the Fall. Because I still believe that more people would rather live in systems that value the freedom and dignity of individuals, even though nothing about that is given.

14. I hope you read this book and others wrestling with these issues. Amidst social media discourse where everything seems to have the biggest stakes and smallest impact, I still believe that spending real time with a subject is most valuable to me as a reader and writer. Thanks!
 

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From his book:
... I asked him to walk me through how his country's prime minister, Viktor Orbán, had transformed Hungary from an open democracy to a largely authoritarian system in the span of a decade. It took him only a few minutes. Win elections through right-wing populism that taps into people's outrage over the corruption and inequities wrought by unbridled globalization. Enrich corrupt oligarchs who in turn fund your politics. Create a vast partisan propaganda machine. Redraw parliamentary districts to entrench your party in power. Pack the courts with right-wing judges and erode the independence of the rule of law. Keep big business on your side with low taxes and favorable treatment. Demonize your political opponents through social media disinformation. Attack civil society as a tool of George Soros. Cast yourself as the sole legitimate defender of national security. Wrap the whole project in a Christian nationalist message that taps into the longing for a great past. Offer a sense of belonging for the disaffected masses. Relentlessly attack the Other: immigrants, Muslims, liberal elites.
Just like the US Republican Party.

Then about Russian dissident Viktor Navalny,
As usual, the thing that grated most on Navalny about Putin's Hhetorical broadsides against the West was how they elided the extent to which everything Putin did was in service of power and profit. "What is the best response to Putin?" Navalny asked, clearly prepared to answer his own question. "Look, if the West is so mean and bad and ugly and there are gays everywhere and the gay marriages and morality is dying - which they are talking about all the time - my response is: I'm showing that these guys who are blaming the West have a palace somewhere in France. Showing people they are using their families, and their nostalgia to live in a great country - Make Russia Great Again - they're using it for their own personal good and personal profit." Navalny paused for effect. "'We can have a great country, who can be a leader of Europe, and one of the best countries in the world, without that stuff."
Then about how Russian leaders liked to build empires rather than improve conditions at home. The Tsars did it, the Soviet Union's leaders did it, and now VP wants to do it.

It's like how the Soviet leaders liked to buy lots of goodies from the Western evil empires.

Ben Rhodes: We Have Reached a Hinge of History - The Atlantic
 

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Home | Democracy Matrix hosted by the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg, Germany

On top were the countries that turn up on top in other indices of democracy and social development: northern and central European countries, and scattered countries elsewhere. The US is at #36 with score 0.811 - "Deficient Democracy", though it is one of the highest with that label. The best ones have label "Working Democracy".

All those that scored better than the US:
  • Northern Europe: Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Iceland
  • Central Europe: Germany, Switzerland, Austria
  • Ex British Empire: New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, UK, Canada, Barbados
  • Latin America: Costa Rica, Uruguay, Chile
  • Western and Southern Europe: Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus
  • Eastern Europe: Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Czechia, Latvia
  • Eastern Asia: South Korea, Japan, Taiwan
  • Middle East: Israel

The site also has graphs over time. They are interesting.

The US is at about 0.65 in 1900, then jumps up to 0.7 in 1920, when women got the vote. Then slowly rises to 0.8 in the early 1960's, then increases more rapidly, reaching 0.9 in the early 1970's. It then very slowly rises, then drops to about 0.85 after 2016, when Donald Trump was elected.

Looking at Germany, the late 19th cy. German Empire was at 0.5, then the Weimar Republic was at 0.65, then the Third Reich at close to 0, and then West Germany and unified Germany at close to 0.95. East Germany was at 0.15 for nearly all of its existence.

Russia was 0.05 - 0.1 in the Tsarist and Soviet years, was at 0.6 in the Yeltsin years, and gradually declined to 0.3 in the Putin years.

Lots of other interesting trajectories: Country Graph | Democracy Matrix (I'd selected the US in it) - like much of Latin America jumping around a lot.
 

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Assesses democracies with a matrix of combined factors:
  • Procedures of Decision
  • Regulation of the Intermediate Sphere
  • Public Communication
  • Guarantee of Rights
  • Rules Settlement and Implementation
  • Dimension (total)
and
  • Freedom
  • Equality
  • Control
  • Institution (total)

Combined as
  • Procedures of Decision (PD): Freedom -- Are political offices filled by free and competitive elections?
  • Procedures of Decision (PD): Equality -- Do all citizens have equal voting rights?
  • Procedures of Decision (PD): Control -- Are elections supervised by an autonomous election management body and/or civic election observers?
  • Regulation of the intermediate Sphere (RI): Freedom -- Can parties and civil society organizations form and act freely?
  • Regulation of the intermediate Sphere (RI): Equality -- Do all relevant interests of the society have the same chance to organize and influence political decisions?
  • Regulation of the intermediate Sphere (RI): Control -- Do political parties and civic organizations control the government and political representatives?
  • Public/Communication (PC): Freedom -- Are the freedom of expression and press freedom in place?
  • Public/Communication (PC): Equality -- Do all relevant interests and citizens have the same chance of access to media and information?
  • Public/Communication (PC): Control -- Does the media control the political representatives and government activity?
  • Guarantee of Rights (GR): Freedom -- Is there an independent judiciary and the rule of law?
  • Guarantee of Rights (GR): Equality -- Do all citizens have the same access to justice and enjoy equality before the law?
  • Guarantee of Rights (GR): Control -- Do governmental organizations respect legal norms and comply with judicial decisions?
  • Rules settlement/implementation (RS): Freedom -- Is the rules settlement and implementation realized by an effective and independent government?
  • Rules settlement and implementation (RS): Equality -- Do legislature, executive as well as the administration treat all citizens equal?
  • Rules settlement and implementation (RS): Control -- Is the government controlled by the legislature (or opposition) and administration?
Totals over dimension:
  • Institution Index: Procedures of Decision (PD) -- Are political offices filled by free and fair elections? Are elections supervised by independent election observers?
  • Institution Index: Regulation of Intermediate Sphere (RI) -- Are intermediate organizations (political parties, associations, civil society) able to represent freely and fairly all relevant interests in the society, and control political officials and governmental action effectively?
  • Institution Index: Public/Communication (PC) -- Is a free and fair representation of all interests ensured? Does the media control the government?
  • Institution Index: Guarantee of Rights (GR) -- Are political rights and civil liberties for all citizens guaranteed by procedures corresponding to the principles of the rule of law (independent judiciary, equality before the law, effective jurisdiction)?
  • Institution Index: Rules settlement and implementation (RS) -- Is the government independent from the influence of non-democratic legitimized veto players, and is it controlled by the legislature (or opposition) and administration? Do the executive and legislature treat all citizens equally?
Totals over institution:
  • Dimension Index: Freedom -- Is the principle of the citizens' self-determination rooted in the political community and pervades all institutions of the political system?
  • Dimension Index: Equality -- Do citizens have equal and fair chances to participate in relevant democratic procedures, and are citizens treated equally by governmental institutions?
  • Dimension Index: Control -- Are political officials and governmental action effectively controlled by vertical and horizontal accountability?
Grand total:
  • Overall Index -- Are freedom, equality, and control in all institutions realized?
Seems like it would be interesting to download all of the site's data and then do a principal component analysis on it. What is correlated with what?
 

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Opinion | There’s a Reason Trump Could Try to Overturn the Results of the 2020 Election - The New York Times
Sometimes, it seems, the Senate isn’t entirely useless.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 16 senators, led by Susan Collins of Maine and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, released the text of a new bill intended to make it harder to overturn the results of a presidential election. A direct response to Donald Trump’s multipronged attempt to stay in power, the bill is meant to keep a future candidate for president, including a losing incumbent, from following the same playbook.

...
The bill would address each part of the scheme. It would require states to choose electors according to the laws that existed before Election Day and prevent state legislatures from overriding the popular vote by declaring a “failed election.”

The bill would make it clear that each state can send only one slate of electors to Congress. It would require the governor (or other designated official) to certify the winning candidate’s electors before a specified deadline, to try to prevent postelection manipulation. If a state tries to subvert this process, the bill sends the dispute to a panel of federal judges. Candidates can then appeal the judges’ decision to the Supreme Court on an expedited basis.

As for Congress, the bill makes clear that the vice president has only a “ministerial” role in the counting of electors and raises the bar for objections, from only one member in each chamber of Congress, to one-fifth of all members in both the House and Senate.
Author Jamelle Bouie called it a "good bill".
There’s also the effect of the Electoral College on how Americans conceptualize democracy. It “frames elections more as complex puzzles or logic games than as singularly important moments in self-governance,” the legal scholar Katherine Shaw notes in an article for the Michigan Law Review.

...
Despite the good things about this bill, the single most important reform we could make for our presidential elections is to end the Electoral College in its current form, whether that means a national popular vote or the proportional allocation of electors (which already exists in both Maine and Nebraska) or some hybrid of the two.
The Maine-Nebraska system is two electors elected by winner-take-all for the state, and the rest of the electors elected by each Congressional district. That is not true proportionality, and it is vulnerable to gerrymandering.

JB concludes with
With that said, the most important safeguard for our electoral system isn’t a particular set of rules and arrangements, but political actors who accept defeat, honor the results of an election and allow the winner to take and exercise the power to which they’re entitled. And it is a serious, possibly existential problem for American democracy that a large part of one of our two major parties just doesn’t want to play ball.
 

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Opinion | There Are 100 People in America With Way Too Much Power - The New York Times
Senators.
Toward the end of my Tuesday column on the Senate, I gestured toward the idea of making it into something like the British House of Lords, which has limited power to veto legislation or make policy. Most democracies with bicameral national legislatures have done something similar, empowering their lower, popular chambers and weakening their upper chambers.

The Canadian Senate, for example, acts mainly as a council of revision, amending legislation that comes out of the House of Commons. It can reject legislation, but it rarely exercises that power. The Australian Senate has much more power to block legislation from the House, but the chamber is more democratic than its American counterpoint in that it is apportioned by proportional representation.
That's when they have upper houses. Of top scorers,
  • Yes: Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, Canada, Australia, UK, Japan, Uruguay
  • No: Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand, S Korea, Taiwan, Costa Rica
I recall someone claiming that Germany's states are all unicameral, and I fact-checked that by checking on all the  States of Germany. That is indeed the case. I also checked on  Countries of the United Kingdom, and I found that all but England have their own legislatures, all unicameral. England, however, has none. US states, however, are all bicameral except for Nebraska, which is unicameral.
The United States stands alone with a Senate that is powerful enough to grind the entire legislature to a halt. You could end the filibuster, of course, and that would improve things, but it would take a constitutional amendment to do any root and branch reform of the Senate.
 

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The measure of success for democracy isn't the degree of socialism in a society. If a majority of the people would vote for the Nazi party and the Nazis as such got into power that isn't a failure of democracy. That's exactly how democracy should work.

Just to make sure I'm following you, there is a well-known historical instance when a majority of the people DID vote for the Nazi party and the Nazis (as such) DID get into power. It happened in Germany in 1932. Is this exactly how democracy "should" work?

(If you nit-pick that the Nazi coalition won only 44% of the vote and had to mount a "Stop the Steal" campaign to obtain complete control, you lose.)

 Adolf Hitler's rise to power

(Summarized from above) The Nazi Party only garnered 43.7% of the vote. As you wrote They managed to win a majority of seats by joining with another party to form a government. Even then it is only because President von Hindenburg of Germany feared anarchy if he didn't acknowledge this coalition as winners they never would have won power.
And the Weimar Republic used Proportional Representation.
Welcome to the perils of PR.
 

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I found which previous column he referred to.
Opinion | Joe Manchin Is a Symptom, but It’s the Senate That’s Sick - The New York Times
It may seem odd to blame the institution for this outcome. It’s not as if there is any alternative to passing legislation through both chambers of Congress. But it’s also no accident that climate legislation has repeatedly been passed in the House only to collapse in the Senate. It is no accident that, as a general rule, the upper chamber is where popular legislation goes to die or, if it isn’t killed, where it is passed in truncated and diminished form, like the recent (and lackluster) bipartisan gun bill. The Senate was built with this purpose in mind. It was designed to keep the people in check — to put limits on the reach of democracy and the scope of representation.
Separate from the issue of each state having 2 Senators, no matter what its population. Founder James Madison wanted a proportional Senate, but JB argues that that would not have made much difference.
... Many of the framers of the Constitution were as interested in suppressing the democratic experimentation of the previous decade as they were concerned with building a more powerful national government. The two, in fact, were connected. “Most of the men who assembled at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 were also convinced that the national government under the Articles of Confederation was too weak to counter the rising tide of democracy in the states,” the historian Terry Bouton writes in “Taming Democracy: ‘The People,’ the Founders, and the Troubled Ending of the American Revolution.”

... Bouton argues that they were the popular efforts to make the American economy more favorable to the average person. “Popular calls for a revaluation of war-debt certificates, bans on for-profit corporations, progressive taxation, limits on land speculation, and every other measure to make property more equal promised to take wealth away from the elite,” Bouton writes. “The same was true of the popular resistance that halted tax collection or frustrated creditors in their attempts to foreclose on their debtors.”

Some of the most ardent nationalists were also speculators who had wagered heavily on land and war-debt certificates and feared that democracy would undermine, or even destroy, their investments in property. This elite fear of financial ruin was at its most acute in Pennsylvania, where ordinary people had written and implemented the most radically democratic Constitution in the new nation.
 

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Back to Opinion | There Are 100 People in America With Way Too Much Power - The New York Times

JB proposes repealing the 17th Amendment and reverting to election by state legislatures. But he also proposes weakening the Senate to make it more like the UK House of Lords and the Canadian Senate.
My Senate could not block House legislation, but it could offer amendments if it chose to take action. Those amendments would then be voted on by a conference committee of House and Senate members, for final approval. If the Senate decides to hold a bill for revision, it has a set amount of time — let’s say 60 days — with which to act. If it does not act in that time, the bill is deemed passed and goes to the president for signing.

The Senate would retain its oversight powers as well as its power to approve treaties and offer “advice and consent” to the president for judicial and executive branch nominees. But “advice and consent” would mean an actual hearing and an actual vote.

The idea is to move the locus of policymaking back to the House of Representatives (which I would like to enlarge to at least 600 members), and to make it the most important chamber in the operation of government. In this scheme, it might be worth extending House terms to three years to reduce the pressures of campaigning and allow members more time to develop expertise, should they seek it.
He neglected making it semi-proportional, like the  German Bundesrat the German upper house.
  • Population >= 0: 3 votes
  • Population >= 2M: 4 votes
  • Population >= 6M: 5 votes
  • Population >= 7M: 6 votes
A state can send as many delegates as votes, or else one delegate with all the votes. But each state votes as a bloc, with all the votes the same.
 

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Having taken on the Senate, JB turns to the House.
Opinion | You Want to Clean Up the House? Same Here - The New York Times

He is correct in recognizing the deficiencies of single-member districts and first-past-the-post voting, but he fails to mention the solution: proportional representation. What he says:
One solution is just to get rid of districts altogether. Or if you’d prefer to keep districts, divide each state into a number of multi-member districts, in which voters elect multiple candidates using a form of preference voting. Ranked-choice voting has made some inroads here in the United States, but I am a fan of approval voting, in which voters can cast a vote for as many candidates as they’d like that are on the ballot. Whoever gets the most votes — or in a multi-member district, the top vote getters — wins a seat in Congress.

Now, approval voting is a little more complicated than this — and there are different forms of approval voting that, for example, allow voters to mark the intensity of their preference — but these are the basics. One advantage of approval voting is that it is more likely to produce winners with broad support across the electorate. Another advantage is that it allows third parties to compete without “spoiling” the election in favor of a candidate who doesn’t have majority support. (Although, in some circumstances, approval voting can produce plurality winners.)
The variation of approval voting he mentioned is called rated or score voting - one gives each candidate a rating.

But for nonpartisan methods to produce proportionality, one needs to elect winners one by one, and downweight the ballots that elected each winner. Otherwise, a partisan vote will make the election degenerate into a general-ticket election, voting for an entire delegation in single-seat fashion.
 

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Abolish State Senates - The American Prospect
At first glance, California state Sen. Richard Richards might have seemed an exceptionally powerful lawmaker in 1960. The just-completed census revealed that Los Angeles County, home to just over six million people, constituted a whopping 38.4 percent of the entire state’s population. So Richards, as the county’s sole senator, could speak for more than one-third of the state’s residents.

At second glance, however, Richards was no more than a legislative pip-squeak—and, more distressingly, so was Los Angeles. California, like virtually every other state, had shaped its upper house in the image of the U.S. Senate, apportioning its seats not by population but by jurisdiction. Every county was entitled to no more than one senator. As California’s senate had just 40 seats, but the state itself had 58 counties, the smallest counties had to buddy up to get the total down to 40, but that still meant that a senator representing a district with roughly 6,000 residents could, on any given measure, cast the same number of votes (one) as Richards, who represented six million.

That disturbed the U.S. Supreme Court, then under the leadership of Chief Justice Earl Warren and in an uncommonly egalitarian frame of mind. In Baker v. Carr (1962) and Reynolds v. Sims (1964), the Court held that equality under the law meant that state legislatures had to be governed by districts of equal population. No longer could senators from two all-but-unpopulated Sierra Nevada districts outvote the one senator from teeming, gridlocked L.A. In short order, California reshaped its Senate so that roughly one-third of its members came from L.A. County, and all the other states (except Nebraska, which already had a unicameral legislature) did likewise.

The Court’s one-person-one-vote doctrine became the law of the land. And in the process, state senates became entirely redundant.
The bicameral states have nearly identical partisan fractions in both houses. "Nor is there an appreciable difference in the job functions of the legislative chambers."

Yet no state has been made unicameral since the Reynolds decision in 1964. The only unicameral state continues to be Nebraska, made that way in 1934.
This is not at all surprising. Legislators, like most people, are disinclined to vote themselves out of a job. Republicans (and Democrats of a Scrooge-like disposition) may bemoan government profligacy at every turn, but when did you ever hear them call for consolidating legislatures into a single body?

Besides, having two separate houses has proven to be an effective way of shielding the business of lawmaking, or law-derailing, from the public’s eye. Key provisions can morph into something quite different or disappear altogether in transit between the houses, or in conference committees where versions are reconciled and where powerful interests can make behind-closed-doors power plays. Such things can and do happen in unicameral legislatures, too, of course, but the gratuitous complexity that comes with having two houses does the cause of transparency no favors.

Nebraska's change was done by referendum.
The change would likely never have been made but for the nearly dozen-year campaign for unicameralism waged by the state’s remarkable U.S. senator, George Norris, whose other notable achievements include federal legislation outlawing court injunctions against strikes (the Norris-LaGuardia Act) and, as a passionate public power advocate, the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority, which he championed for years before Franklin Roosevelt became president and pushed Congress to enact it.

Norris’s case for unicameralism was similarly progressive. Bicameralism, he argued, was an 18th-century transposition to American soil of the British Parliament. Like the House of Lords, the U.S. Senate—whose members were chosen by state legislatures until the popular vote requirement of the 17th Amendment, enacted in 1913—was initially devised to enable a quasi-aristocracy to tamp down the popular sentiments of the lower house’s hoi polloi.

A body so conceived, Norris contended, ran against the American grain, particularly for state legislatures, whose creation had required no equivalent to the compromise between small and large states that created a bicameral Congress at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. “The constitutions of our various states,” Norris declared, “are built upon the idea that there is but one class. If this be true, there is no sense or reason in having the same thing done twice, especially if it is to be done by two bodies of men elected in the same way and having the same jurisdiction.” Which, of course, became even more the case after the Warren Court’s rulings.

Then discussing proportional representation and mixed-member systems like in Germany and New Zealand.
In general, significantly changing the legislative system would have to either come from the electorate via an initiative, or begin with a Democratic legislature and then be put before the voters as a referendum. (New Zealand adopted its system only after voters approved it in 1996.) Only 26 states have an initiative or referendum process, but in a state like Michigan, which does have that option and where Democrats usually win statewide but are locked into minority status in the legislature, the party should begin the work of persuading voters to move to a hybrid mode of representation.
 

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I note a curious shift in the right wing. Richard Nixon appealed to a "silent majority" that didn't demonstrate or riot or do other such obnoxious things. But looking at places like Quora, right-wingers now often sound like they are a persecuted minority. They say that the US is a republic not a democracy, they talk about the "tyranny of the majority", and they like to say that democracy is like two wolves and a sheep deciding on what's for dinner.

Republic not a democracy? The US is both. There are some nations that are republics without being democracies: those with one-party systems, like Communist countries.

Tyranny of the majority? The right wing's solution is to amplify the voting power of their favorite people, but to avoid such bias, one should require a supermajority, more than 50%. This is good for big changes like amendments of constitutions, but not so good for everyday business. The US Senate's filibuster effectively imposes a 60% supermajority for most business. That filibuster is not even a talking filibuster, but over the last half-century, it's been a Senator issuing a hold request. This seems like the fake war in Star Trek Original Series episode "A Taste of Armageddon".

But why a 60% vote to overcome a filibuster? Why not 66.7%? 75%? 80%? 90%? 95%? 99%? 100%?

That last one is unanimity, and it was used in Poland's early-modern parliament, the Sejm ("same"), as the  Liberum veto

But that helped Poland go from a sprawling empire to disappearing off the map. Poland's neighbors obstructed action to stop them, and those neighbors partitioned then Poland out of existence.

Imagine Canada and Mexico partitioning the US out of existence.
 

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Apropos of ranked-choice voting, the following at The Hill caught my eye:
While Palin has received Trump’s endorsement, it’s unclear how she will perform in Tuesday’s primary as a result of the new ranked-choice voting system. The new system could benefit candidates such as Begich, given that a traditional primary would have brought out a more conservative base that would likely rally around Palin. Additionally, recent polls show Palin trailing Begich and Peltola.

Because of the new system, the winner of the special election won’t be known for days. Significantly, Palin is on Tuesday’s ballot twice: Once for the special election and again for the at-large House primary featuring dozens of candidates.

Questions:

(1) WHY does ranked-choice voting bring out fewer conservatives? Assuming the journalist isn't confused about the reason for Palin suffering under such a system, is it because "conservative" thinkers only handle binary choices well, and anything more complicated would cause them to stay home in confusion or frustration?

(2) WHY will the ranked-choice delay results by "days"? If tallied by computer the extra processing would take milliseconds, not days. Even counting manually, efficiencies are possible. Do such ballots cause delays in the European countries which have adopted ranked-choice?

(3) So this special election is just to fill the House seat for 2 months while waiting for the November election? Has anyone mentioned how ridiculous some American election recipes seem?
 

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Has any consideration been given to make voting compulsory? Whilst seemingly undemocratic it does force more electors to pay some attention (albeit reluctantly) to the voting process.

I still shake my head that 1/3 of eligible voters did not bother voting for or against Brexit in the UK in 2016. It would have made a huge difference (one way or the other) if those voters had put down a mark.
Or the fact that a US president often only gets (it seems to me) 50% of 66% of possible ballots. Hardly a ringing endorsement.

PR has some advantages but if a substantial minority of the population, say 25-33%, do not vote then it really is not much different to FPTP.
For all the bagging it gets FPTP works for a 2 or 3 horse race but obviously not for 8-9 candidates.
 

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The intellectual right contemplates an 'American Caesar' | The Week

Starting off with Ronald Reagan and going ahead to Donald Trump, with his getting the support of far-right militias.
With most Republican officeholders and media personalities refusing to condemn the actions of the insurrectionary mob that invaded the Capitol to stop congressional certification of the 2020 election results — or Trump's decisive role in inciting that mob — and some of them instead endorsing an evidence-free conspiracy involving the "deep state" and the FBI, the GOP has verified that the Overton window has shifted sharply to the right. What would have until quite recently been considered unacceptable forms of political dissent have been legitimized. That's how the once unthinkable becomes a new normal.
Then on right-wingers embracing Trump's Presidency.

The Flight 93 Election - Claremont Review of Books - Michael Anton, who worked for Rudy Giuliani and Condoleeza Rice, "portrayed Trump as a final, last-ditch opportunity for conservatives to wrest control of the country back from those (like Hillary Clinton) who aimed at nothing less than its thoroughgoing destruction."

Two months before the 2020 general election, MA wrote this: The Coming Coup? - The American Mind
Claiming that the left wing was planning a coup in case Joe Biden didn't win.
When events unfolded in precisely the opposite way — with Trump losing the vote, refusing to accept the result, and attempting a hapless coup of his own to stay in power — Anton said nothing to acknowledge either the irony or the error. Quite the opposite, in fact. In the months since Trump left office, Anton has been doing his best to throw open the doors of the conservative intellectual world to ideas once considered far too extreme for American politics.

How extreme? So extreme that in late May, Anton set aside nearly two hours on his Claremont Institute podcast ("The Stakes") for an erudite, wide-ranging discussion with self-described monarchist Curtis Yarvin about why the United States needs an "American Caesar" to seize control of the federal government, and precisely how such a would-be dictator could accomplish the task.
The Stakes: The American Monarchy? - The American Mind

Almost like saying that King George III was right.
 

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It's important right at the outset to make a few things clear about the Anton-Yarvin conversation. First, Anton doesn't explicitly endorse Yarvin's most outlandish ideas, which blend a far-right love of unlimited executive power with the techno-utopianism of Silicon Valley. (Yarvin created the Urbit digital platform and co-founded the tech company Tion, while also gaining considerable notoriety with the alt-right blog "Unqualified Reservations," written under the pen name Mencius Moldbug.) In fact, at several points Anton goes out of his way to declare in a tone of mock seriousness that as someone affiliated with the Claremont Institute, which has long advocated for a return to the principles of the American founding (including the Declaration of Independence's denunciations of monarchical tyranny), he can't stand behind Yarvin's sympathy for dictatorship. Yet it's also true that at no point does Anton offer a substantive critique of Yarvin's arguments and assertions. He merely expresses pragmatic or tactical objections, as if the primary fault in Yarvin's ideas is that they are unrealistic.
What do they think that the US is now?
Rather, they agree early on in the podcast (around minute 24) that the current American "regime" is most accurately described as a "theocratic oligarchy" in which an elite class of progressive "priests" ensconced in the bureaucracies of the administrative state, and at Harvard, The New York Times, and other leading institutions of civil society, promulgate and enforce their own version of "reality." Anton and Yarvin treat this assertion as given and then proceed to talk through how this theocratic oligarchy might be overturned.
What do they want instead?
 

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Curtis Yarvin then explains that roughly every 75 years, a "Caesar" takes over and makes "substantive regime changes." George Washington in 1789, Abraham Lincoln in 1861, FDR in 1933. So we are due for another one.

Repeating patterns in US history have been noted by others:  Cyclical theory (United States history) and Peter Turchin Age of Discord II - Peter Turchin

Despite being a revolutionary leader, GW wasn't much of a Caesar figure, it must be noted.


Curtis Yarvin proposed Elon Musk, despite his being Constitutionally ineligible for the Presidency. The two joked that he should simply run, win, and demand that the Constitution be changed to accommodate him. They also joked about how great it would have been for Donald Trump to declare himself the personal embodiment of the "living Constitution".

CY then proposed that a President ought to give himself emergency powers on day one of his Presidency, after running on a campaign promise to do exactly that. He will then take over the National Guard and he will coordinate with sympathetic members of the police. When any Federal agency does not go along, he will ask his followers to besiege its buildings. When MA asked CY what to do about the likes of Harvard and the NYT protesting that this is dictatorship, CY responded that it is essential to "smash it" in one blow. To suggest that a Caesar accept "someone else's department of reality is manifestly absurd." He continued that "when Caesar crosses the Rubicon, he doesn't sit around getting his feet wet, fishing. He marches straight across the Rubicon" and that he uses "all force available." This will help the whole world to be "remade".
The podcast concludes with Anton quoting another Claremont writer (Angelo Codevilla) on how Trump dropped "the leadership of the deplorables," which is waiting to be picked up by someone "who will make Trump seem moderate." Yarvin responds approvingly with a quote by Serbian dictator and indicted genocidal war criminal Slobodan Milošević, who said the goal should be that "no one will dare to beat you anymore."

It's almost like they said "I believe in dictatorship, but with me the dictator."
 

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Opinion | A New Playbook for Saving Democracy, Defeating Fascism and Winning Elections - The New York Times - by Anand Giridharadas
It is time to speak an uncomfortable truth: The pro-democracy side is at risk not just because of potential electoral rigging, voter suppression and other forms of unfair play by the right, as real as those things are. In America (as in various other countries), the pro-democracy cause — a coalition of progressives, liberals, moderates, even decent Republicans who still believe in free elections and facts — is struggling to win the battle for hearts and minds.

The pro-democracy side can still very much prevail. But it needs to go beyond its present modus operandi, a mix of fatalism and despair and living in perpetual reaction to the right and policy wonkiness and praying for indictments. It needs to build a new and improved movement — feisty, galvanizing, magnanimous, rooted and expansionary — that can outcompete the fascists and seize the age.
Then mentioning the pro-democracy activists that he has reported on in recent years.
In their own circles and sometimes in public, these organizers warn that the right is outcompeting small-d democrats in its psychological insight into voters and their anxieties, its messaging, its knack for narrative, its instinct to make its cause not just a policy program but also a home offering meaning, comfort and belonging. They worry, meanwhile, that their own allies can be hamstrung by a naïve and high-minded view of human nature, a bias for the wonky over the guttural, a self-sabotaging coolness toward those who don’t perfectly understand, a quaint belief in going high against opponents who keep stooping to new lows and a lack of fight and a lack of talent at seizing the mic and telling the kinds of galvanizing stories that bend nations’ arcs.
Telling a good story is essential, like this: A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - YouTube about the Green New Deal. It was a bit overconfident, but it told a good story.

Or AOC's Green New Deal posters, based on parks in cities:
Only six so far, and I can think of some candidates for future ones.
 

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The right presently runs laps around the left in its ability to manage and use attention. It understands the power of provocation to make people have the conversation that most benefits its side. “Tucker Carlson said what about the war on ‘legacy Americans’?” “Donald Trump said what about those countries in Africa?” It understands that sometimes it’s worth looking ridiculous to achieve saturation of the discourse. It knows that the more one’s ideas are repeated — positively, negatively, however — the more they seem to millions of people like common sense. It knows that when the opposition is endlessly consumed by responding to its ideas, that opposition isn’t hawking its own wares.
For instance,
Mr. Trump’s wall was a bad policy with a shrewd theory of attention. President Biden’s Build Back Better was a good policy with a nonexistent theory of attention.
Donald Trump could get attention just by being a major-league a-hole. It's like a toddler who throws temper tantrums.
A concept you often hear among organizers (but less in electoral politics) is meaning making.

...
A story, an explanation, a narrative — these form the bridge that transports you from noticing the new Spanish-speaking cashiers at Walgreens to fearing a southern invasion or from liking a senator from Chicago you once heard on TV to seeing him as a redemption of the ideals of the nation.
Like AOC's video.
 

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There is a phrase that all political organizers seem to learn in their first training: Meet people where they are.

...
Many organizers I spoke to aired a concern that, in this fractious and high-stakes time, a tendency toward purism, gatekeeping and homogeneity afflicts sections of the left and threatens its pursuits.

...
Meeting people where they are also involves a pragmatic willingness to make the pitch for your ideas using moral frames that are not your own. The victorious abortion-rights campaigners in Kansas recently showcased this kind of approach when they ran advertisements obliquely comparing government-compelled pregnancies with government-compelled mask mandates for Covid-19. The campaigners themselves believed in mask mandates. But they understood they were targeting moderate and even some rightist voters who have intuitions different from theirs. And they played to those intuitions — and won stunningly.

...
If the left could use a little more grace and generosity toward voters who are not yet fully on board, it could also benefit from a greater comfort with making powerful enemies. It needs to be simultaneously a better lover and a better fighter.
The Right does concern trolling all the time, so it's good to use their ideology against them.
 

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Then about Beto O'Rourke, John Fetterman, and Gavin Newsom being confrontational, like JF trolling Mehmet Oz about his residence and his grocery shopping.
Many leading political thinkers and doers argue that the right’s greatest strength isn’t its ideological positioning or policy ideas or rhetoric. It is putting a metaphorical roof over the head of adherents, giving them a sense of comfort and belonging to something larger than themselves.

...
The Democratic Party establishment is abysmal at this kind of appeal. It is more comfortable sending emails asking you to chip in $5 to beat back the latest outrage than it is inviting you to participate in something.
By contrast, some Democratic Socialists of America branches will fix people's cars' brake lights.
As Bhaskar Sunkara, the founder of Jacobin, the leftist magazine, has observed, the political parties most effective at galvanizing working-class voters in the 20th century were “deeply rooted” in civil society and trade unions, “tied so closely with working-class life that, in some countries, every single tenement building might have had a representative.”
AOC does a bit of that in her district, NY-14, I must note.
 

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Back to telling compelling stories.
There are reasons this is harder for the left than for the right. As the writer Masha Gessen said to me not long ago, it is easier to tell a story about a glorious past that people vividly remember (and misremember) than it is to tell the story of a future they can’t yet see and may not believe can be delivered. It is easier to simplify and scapegoat than to propose actual solutions to complex problems.
It was not for nothing that the Nazis called their regime the Third Reich. They wanted to suggest continuity with past German regimes: the Holy Roman Empire and the late 19th cy. German Empire. Many Nazis, like Adolf Hitler himself, had fought for that Second Reich, and they wanted to bring back something like it. In Italy, Benito Mussolini admired the Roman Empire.

The Soviet Union was different in that it presented itself as building a new and glorious society, and a lot of people believed that in its early decades. That vision faded in that nation's last decades, and Vladimir Putin, despite being raised in the Soviet Union, does not have its future orientation, instead looking back to it as some Good Old Days.

AG suggests some storytelling possibilities.
One could tell the story of a country that set out a long time ago to try something, that embarked on an experiment in self-government that had little precedent, that committed itself to ideals that remain iconic to people around the world. It’s a country that also struggled since those beginnings to be in practice what its progenitors thought it was in theory, because its founding fathers “didn’t have the courage to do exactly what they said,” as the artist Dewey Crumpler recently put it to me. America was blinded by its own parchment declarations to the exploitation and suffering and degradation and death it allowed to flourish. But since those days, it has tried to get better. The country has seen itself more clearly and sought to improve itself, just as people do.
 

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The left in Sweden are now in shock over the big win for the far right party there. They are also talking about weakening democracy. NO. The democracy is fine. This is democracy working as it should. What has changed are people's values and opinions. Because the world has changed. People are now worrying about different things. We can debate why that is. But my favourite candidate not winning is not the same thing as democracy failing. Perhaps it's me who isn't keeping up with the times?

I'm an upper middle class, well educated well off man with a good job. I'm fairly well insulated from economic issues. I have very little worry about in life. That informs my political choices. Caring about other people and being generous is what people who feel safe do. People who feel threatened act defensively. That is what I think is happening. I think the IT economy has been awesome for the world at large. Great wealth has been created. But it hasn't been spread around evenly. While IT advances have benefitted the uneducated rural working class as well. The urban middle class are today, by comparison, fabulously wealthy.

My current lifestyle was unatainable for 99% of Scandinavians in the 1970'ies. Today it's fairly normal. For IT professionals.
 

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What does "democracy" even mean? I had thought that it meant MORE than just rule by the majority, that it implied social equality. I checked several dictionaries, but only three of them partly agreed with this, and then only in a secondary definition of "democratic":

Dictionary.com: "pertaining to or characterized by the principle of political or social equality for all."

Cambridge Dictionary: "A person or a group that is democratic believes in, encourages, or supports freedom and equality between people and groups."

Collins Dictionary: "Something that is democratic is based on the idea that everyone should have equal rights and should be involved in making important decisions. Education is the basis of a democratic society."


I like Collins' mention of education. However this was NOT part of the (secondary) definition; it was just the example sentence.

In the olden days, citizens were influenced by eloquent and educated opinion-makers, and usually chose representatives to lead the government rather than making decisions with popular referenda. Brexit is an obvious example of the 51% probably making a bad decision which well-informed representatives would not have made.

The left in Sweden are now in shock over the big win for the far right party there. They are also talking about weakening democracy. NO. The democracy is fine. This is democracy working as it should. What has changed are people's values and opinions.
But surely we can agree that it is NOT democratic for 51% to select a government whose announced intention is to exterminate some religious group within the 49%.

Hitler came to power as a result of processes of a representative democracy. Is there some point where we will agree that democracy did NOT work "as it should" ?

In the U.S., many voters today, in this post-rational era, are influenced by lies about a stolen election, lies about Hillary Clinton, etc. I refuse to believe that this "is democracy working as it should."

Because the world has changed. People are now worrying about different things. We can debate why that is. But my favourite candidate not winning is not the same thing as democracy failing. Perhaps it's me who isn't keeping up with the times?

I'm an upper middle class, well educated well off man with a good job. I'm fairly well insulated from economic issues. I have very little worry about in life. That informs my political choices. Caring about other people and being generous is what people who feel safe do. People who feel threatened act defensively. That is what I think is happening. I think the IT economy has been awesome for the world at large. Great wealth has been created. But it hasn't been spread around evenly. While IT advances have benefitted the uneducated rural working class as well. The urban middle class are today, by comparison, fabulously wealthy.

My current lifestyle was unatainable for 99% of Scandinavians in the 1970'ies. Today it's fairly normal. For IT professionals.

I have no idea what the relevance of these final paragraphs is. YOU may be charitable and happy to be taxed to support the less fortunate in the pursuit of utilitarianism. This does not mean that ALL voters, or even 51%, are just as charitable.
 

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But surely we can agree that it is NOT democratic for 51% to select a government whose announced intention is to exterminate some religious group within the 49%.
I certainly don't agree with that. That's the heart of democracy, and perhaps it's most important flaw.

"Democratic"isn't synonymous with good, fair, reasonable or nice.

Despite the tendency in the developed world today to believe that it is.
 

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But surely we can agree that it is NOT democratic for 51% to select a government whose announced intention is to exterminate some religious group within the 49%.
I certainly don't agree with that. That's the heart of democracy, and perhaps it's most important flaw.

"Democratic" isn't synonymous with good, fair, reasonable or nice.

Despite the tendency in the developed world today to believe that it is.
Democracy is merely the method is which we (the 'democratic') have decided how to choose our governmental representatives. 'Democracy' cannot tell us which candidate, party is the best. It cannot tell us which policy is the best or better. It cannot guide us like that.
It is just a selection method that presents all candidates, parties, policies etc. to public scrutiny. After the digestion of all the available information we make a choice.
We have given the word democracy a burden it cannot bear nor was designed to bear.
 
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