The Latest Mann and Ornstein

I think we all missed it, but if opinion page editors used this piece at the Post by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein as a guide, about half of all the stupid political columns written in a given year would be spiked. Their list of 5 things that won’t work includes the perennial third party, term limits and balanced budget non-solutions. I agree with 3 of 4 of their positive reforms (I don’t think their suggestions to encourage voting are workable). If there was any doubt about ever seeing either of these guys on a Sunday show ever again, this piece puts it to rest: they’re on PBS and C-SPAN only for the rest of their careers.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit






92 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    If there was any doubt about ever seeing either of these guys on a Sunday show ever again,

    They need to come up with a defense of private equity ASAP.

  2. 2
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Good article. I was with them until they starting talking about election reform. Instant runoff doesn’t work. Some great material on Brad Blog as to why.

  3. 3
    Another Halocene Human says:

    To have mandatory voting, all of our citizens would have to be CITIZENS. Instead, a large swath of our citizenry is considered suspect from the get-go and the state demands that they PROVE they have the right to vote.

    Plenty of elderly, poor, homeless, students will not be voting this fall, even if they were born in the USA and voted in every past election.

  4. 4
    Fargus says:

    I agree that the solutions about encouraging voting aren’t workable (the black helicopter crowd would be screaming about jackbooted thugs if they had to pay a tax for not voting, and people would easily make the case that a lottery is like bribing people to vote; in both cases we’d likely get a less informed electorate, on average). What I would like to see is mandatory early or weeklong voting, or at the very least weekend voting. Part of the burden is people having to wait in line for hours and hours on a workday.

  5. 5
    jayackroyd says:

    I dunno. When I bitched to the MTP producer on teh twitter, one of my followers said Ornstein and Mann had also not been on PBS shows. With sponsors Boeing, Prudential and ATT, it may be a while before they appear on Washington Week, for instance.

  6. 6
    jayackroyd says:

    The trouble with O & M’s positive ideas is they’ll increase turnout and make government more responsive to voters. And so it runs right up against the Republican obstruction they wrote about in the book, and the last op-ed. The core Republican value is making government less representative–from the filibuster to voter restrictions to gerrymandering. All the shit they want to do is going to be faced with die hard opposition from Republicans, who would never control a legislative body again under O&M reforms.

  7. 7
    clayton says:

    @jayackroyd: Judy interviewed them on the Newshour either the same day or the day after that op-ed was published.

  8. 8
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Mandatory voting is not in itself a panacea. This has been tried in several places and yet some of the winners of the elections have been totally crappy individuals.

    I guess I’m a nattering nabob of negativity on that topic. I have no constructive suggestions, only criticisms.

  9. 9
    c u n d gulag says:

    Mandatory voting?

    We already have too many stupid and ignorant dumbasses voting.

    I think we need to return to literacy tests.

    Only this time – for WHITE people! ;-)

  10. 10
    Ash Can says:

    Say what you will about their ideas for election reform, this op-ed was still the most intelligent thing I’ve read on the Internet in a while.

  11. 11
    ET says:

    Is it just me or does anyone else wonder why we have op-eds in the newspapers? Before the advent of the interwebs that and the Sunday Yack-fests were where you got “official” opinion, now the Internet hosts a whole bunch more. We don’t need some self designated opiner to tell us how/why.

    If papers want to save money and make their newspapers appreciably better overnight, get rid of the op-eds.

  12. 12
    liberal says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    To have mandatory voting, all of our citizens would have to be CITIZENS.

    Actually, IIRC that’s not true. It used to be that non-citizens could vote in local elections in some places. I’m not sure about Federal elections. I’m pretty sure, though, that there’s not much in the Constitution about who qualifies for voting. IIRC (again, sigh) states could pass laws saying only people owning land could vote, and those would be struck down based on the 14th Amendment, not on specific provisions in the Constitution.

  13. 13
    jayackroyd says:

    @clayton: thanks!

    Once again, proves you gotta confirm anything you see in a tweet

  14. 14
    Jerzy Russian says:

    @Ash Can:

    Say what you will about their ideas for election reform, this op-ed was still the most intelligent thing I’ve read on the Internet in a while.

    Roger that.

  15. 15
    Mino says:

    Chris Hayes’s Up is scheduling them, I think. Has Rachel had them on? I know I saw them somewhere.

  16. 16
    liberal says:

    @ET:
    Well, they’re still useful as measures of received elite (read: Village) wisdom.

    Some things are funny, though. Like the Wash Post having Jackson Diehl as a columnist. I never read the guy, but AFAICT he’s a less provocative, boring version of the more virulent neo-cons. Must have a readership of about 14.

  17. 17
    EconWatcher says:

    Somewhat OT, but I was surprised by how literate Senator Tom Coburn is on economic policy issues, as shown in this interview with Ezra Klein.

    True, Klein repeatedly pawned him, politely shooting down every example the Senator gave, to show that it did not really quite prove what the Senator thought it did.

    But frankly, the Senator’s ability to at least attempt to marshal facts and reasoning in argument was far better than I expected, and far better than what you usually see from wingnuts. And you have to give some credit for the fact that he seems to acknowledge that tax increases must be part of the package. I mean, if Dick Lugar could be ousted as a liberal…

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....ezra-klein

  18. 18
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    To have mandatory voting, all of our citizens would have to be CITIZENS.

    One huge problem is that a lot of people who are “citizens” are not actually citizens.

    In that they don’t or can’t participate in the process even in the most minimal way. They’ll happily delegate their personal sovereignty to someone else because they are lazy, not interested, don’t think they can make a difference, are too high, think it’s all rigged anyways, are busy with other concerns.

    I’ve voted in just about every election that’s happened in my neck of the woods since I acquired the franchise waaay back during the Ford administration. But a lot of people who should have started voting at that time never have, for one or more of the reasons in the previous paragraph.

    I don’t know how to solve this problem. Making it easier to vote in Oregon, by mail, has not radically increased the participation levels, nor has it radically increased the number of people registered to vote in the first place.

  19. 19
    Mino says:

    @EconWatcher: Sen Coburn’s reason for breathin’ is to undo Social Security and he’s closer than ever with the Blue Dogs he has subverted. He’s even seduced Durbin. I lose hope.

  20. 20
    john b says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    Instant runoff doesn’t work. Some great material on Brad Blog as to why.

    you’ve piqued my interest. what are some of the reasons? (or links to those). i know that instant runoff isn’t the most mathematically sound of voting schemes but it’s the simplest of the alternatives to our traditional model (which has terrible consequences for our democracy)

  21. 21
    Older_Wiser says:

    Nice suggestions, but only real education will cure voter ignorance and apathy. We see how, with the historic election of the first A-A, or Black, president, how the reactionaries have come out of the woodwork in all quarters. The Republican Party might as well just admit it’s nothing more than a white supremacist outfit. Along with convincing ignorant schlubs that they, too, can be part of the 1% (just win the lottery!), every single reactionary thought I’ve ever heard is being expressed today by the rightwing to people whose depth is about that of spilled milk across a floor. They don’t think beyond sound bites because they haven’t learned to be anything but superficial and cling to their racism, guns and religion.

    I live in a heavily white Republican, religiously fundie county and there are some “real winners” here, and where you can hear overtly racist language (I’ve had 2 run-ins with merchants who were blatantly racist about the President). They think simply because I’m white that I’ll agree with their POV and when I don’t, I’m treated as though I’m a “traitor”, but that doesn’t bother me as much as their ignorance does.

    Typical of this kind of shallow thinking was the young recent HS graduate I stood behind at the supermarket a couple of years ago who was boasting to the clerk that her father gave her a choice: a new car or sending her to college. She chose the car. I wouldn’t be surprised if she still lives at home, maybe unmarried with a couple of kids and the car is long gone (as well as the fathers of her kids).

    I don’t like being so negative, but you would have to live here to understand what I see on a daily basis. Even when you present real facts, they’ve already made up their minds. Sometimes, when we live among those like ourselves, we begin to think that perhaps things aren’t so bad, but they are. Sure, there is still basic “goodness” in a lot of people, but too many are reserving that goodness for those exactly like themselves.

  22. 22
    EconWatcher says:

    @Mino:

    You may have better info than I do, but I thought all Durbin really did was acknowledge that there will have to be some changes to social security to avoid big benefit cuts in about 25 or 30 years (which I believe is correct). That could be done now with a combination of some benefit tweaks and adjustments to the cap on the payroll tax.

    If he said much more than that, I missed it.

  23. 23
    geg6 says:

    @Fargus:

    at the very least weekend voting. Part of the burden is people having to wait in line for hours and hours on a workday.

    This. I have no problem with most of their solutions, but dislike very much the mandatory voting. I think we’d have a much larger turnout if people could do it over the weekend, and not just one day but both.

  24. 24
    Lee says:

    Instant Runoff Voting would certainly help.

    Brad Blog needs to read up on gaming theory and math and he will understand the problem/solution.

  25. 25

    @liberal:

    Some things are funny, though. Like the Wash Post having Jackson Diehl as a columnist. I never read the guy, but AFAICT he’s a less provocative, boring version of the more virulent neo-cons. Must have a readership of about 14.

    Even when I was blogging the WaPo op-ed page and reading the op-eds religiously, I was unable to make it through a Jackson Diehl column. My eyes would glaze over, my brain would go comatose, and I’d throw in the towel. He made Robert J. Samuelson seem interesting by comparison, and that’s saying a great deal.

  26. 26
    geg6 says:

    @Lee:

    I am not any sort of math whiz, but do understand game theory a little (used some tricks from it to score ridiculously high on my GRE math test, LOL). And I agree that instant runoff would most likely help based on my, admittedly, amateur understanding.

  27. 27
    Lee says:

    @geg6:

    Brad’s criticism seems to come from the mechanics of the system (the actual mechanism of people voting) and he needs to separate that criticism from the system of voting.

    FPP voting will always settle into a two party system with a goal of 50%+1 results (resource optimization).

  28. 28
    Zagloba says:

    @Lee: Instant Runoff Voting would certainly help.

    Depends both on what specific method you mean by “instant runoff”, and what you mean by “help”.

    If you’re referring to the Australian Vote (aka Alternative Vote), then that system does take away most of the reward for voting strategically (ie lying about your true preferences). But almost any electoral system that has one seat per district (that is, no proportional representation) is going to have fewer, larger, and more entrenched parties.

  29. 29
    jheartney says:

    @ET: Why do we have Op-Ed’s? Well, once upon a time there were multiple daily papers, often representing multiple political views, in all major metropolitan areas. As these collapsed into One Paper to Rule Them All per city (if that), they decided they needed to provide some diversity of editorial opinion. Thus the right wing op-eds in traditionally liberal papers. Of course in the case of WaPo, the main editorial page drifted right till today us libs have to make do with bloggers.

  30. 30
    handsmile says:

    Perhaps tangential, but I’d like to use Mino’s comment #15 to recommend and urge viewership (once again) of “Up w/ Chris Hayes.” It is emphatically, flat-out, THE BEST political affairs program now on television (for those of a liberal/progressive orientation.)

    Each week I learn from this show (something all too rare when watching news/opinion programs: yelling at the stupidity/lies issuing forth is the usual practice). Examining topics both national and international, Hayes’ panelists are consistently well-informed on the subject under discussion and, importantly, represent organizations, publications, and perspectives that appear seldom, if at all, elsewhere. (While I have enormous respect and regard for Rachel Maddow, one quibble is her reliance upon the “usual suspects” or even rank hacks as program guests.)

    Scholars like Ornstein and Mann, whose membership in the better Village salons and dining clubs may now be in jeopardy, are the very kind of guests that one gratefully finds on each “Up” broadcast.

    Of course by being aired from 8:00-10:00am on Saturday and Sunday, “Up” can seriously disrupt weekend mornings (chores or serenity get sacrificed.) The miracle of the Intertubes, however, does offer a way around that obstacle.
    http://upwithchrishayes.msnbc.msn.com/

    I certainly wish a FPer here would highlight what Chris Hayes is doing. That would attract more attention to this tremendously rewarding program. Watch this show!

    P.S. Alexis Goldstein, frequent guest on financial matters, who is a former Wall Street vice president and now an Occupy Wall Street activist, is a name to be remembered.

  31. 31
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @liberal:

    It used to be that non-citizens could vote in local elections in some places.

    I’m pretty sure they still can. That would be a matter of state law if anything, and local law, of course.

    Local election voting by residency, not citizenship, is pretty common in Western Europe from what I understand.

    Plutocrats and oligarchs are afraid of the masses who have to live with their stupid, selfish, and self-serving decisions from having a say.

    More uninformed voters? Oh gosh, somebody without a PhD might vote.

    Any group whom we paternalistically exclude from voting (homeless, people with disabilities, immigrants, young people, etc) is ripe for exploitation.

    Oh yeah, let’s add “felons” to that list.

  32. 32
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    They’ll happily delegate their personal sovereignty to someone else because they are lazy, not interested, don’t think they can make a difference, are too high, think it’s all rigged anyways, are busy with other concerns.

    Yeah, those people frustrate me. They think they’re sending a message by “boycotting” (this is what I’ve been told quite earnestly by non-voters) but the real message the politicos get is “more of the same, please.”

  33. 33
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @john b: I saw a video which ran a hypothetical instant runoff and it was really terrifying. I’m pretty sure BradBlog linked to it (and they are very critical of it), but I couldn’t find the video readily. :(

    It does have mathematical problems. That’s kind of the main problem. It’s also very, very hard to administer and removes transparency. But mostly, it results in bizarre and perverse election results, even if carried out perfectly and honestly.

  34. 34
    jimmiraybob says:

    …they’re on PBS and C-SPAN only for the rest of their careers.

    Not if the TeaBirchvangelicals can kill PBS and C-SPAN.

  35. 35
    Lee says:

    @Zagloba:

    But almost any electoral system that has one seat per district (that is, no proportional representation) is going to have fewer, larger, and more entrenched parties.

    Correct we have two things working against us. First is we don’t have proportional representation (which does not always result in a two party system). The second is we have a voting system that will always result in a two party system. If we switch away from FPP, to a different system (IRV is one system) we can remove the factor that always results in a two party system.

    …it results in bizarre and perverse election results, even if carried out perfectly and honestly.

    What makes it bizarre & perverse? Yes it is more complicated, but the results are supposed to be a general reflection of the opinion of the electorate.

    Keep in mind there are some places in the US that already use IRV (many places in Europe already use IRV as well).

  36. 36
    Mino says:

    @handsmile: I certainly wish a FPer here would highlight what Chris Hayes is doing. That would attract more attention to this tremendously rewarding program. Watch this show!

    This. This. This.

  37. 37
    NonyNony says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    Mandatory voting is not in itself a panacea. This has been tried in several places and yet some of the winners of the elections have been totally crappy individuals.

    In any democracy some of the winners of elections are always going to be crappy individuals.

    It’s one of the truisms of democracy – you give the people what they want, and sometimes what they want sucks.

    The great benefits of democracy are that instead of one “great family” ruling a country all of the elites get to have a principled power-sharing arrangement, that sometimes a “new man” who isn’t from one of the elite families can move into a position of power, and that the number of “wars of succession” that need to be fought over who gets to sit in power have dropped to zero – election campaigns replace wars in a “civilized democracy” much in the same way that civil lawsuits replace duels and vengeance killings.

    There are zero guarantees that democracies will produce “good” leaders, regardless of the procedures you use to select leadership. The best you can do is try to make the outcome as transparent and representative of the majority will as possible while respecting the rights of the minority.

    The only really good thing about democracy is that it’s the least worst system of selecting leaders that we’ve found in a few millenia of recorded human history. It’s not really a particularly good one, but it’s better than just handing over the reigns of power to the son of the last leader, or letting a handful of oligarchs just do it without any input from the populace at large. At least with a democracy if the leader of a nation is the half-witted lesser son of a previous leader, there’s some justification in saying that that nation kind of did it to themselves instead of just having it foisted upon them by the Divine Right of Kings or some other nonsense like that (and the population is less likely to rise up in bloody revolt or if they can be assured that the most they’re going to have to put up with the half-wit they voted for is 4-8 years).

  38. 38
    Mino says:

    @Lee: I have exactly zero faith that Republicans/ Blue Dogs would not immediately find a way to rat-fuck the system.

  39. 39
    Mino says:

    @EconWatcher: I wish that Dems would make it clear, if that is the case, that their solution is to increase the amount of salary subject to withholding. They refuse to do so. One can only suspect the reasons for this.

  40. 40
    Zagloba says:

    @Another Halocene Human: It does have mathematical problems. That’s kind of the main problem.

    Arrow’s Theorem, amigo. Every electoral system has “mathematical problems”.

    It’s also very, very hard to administer and removes transparency. But mostly, it results in bizarre and perverse election results, even if carried out perfectly and honestly.

    Bollocks. AV takes a few more steps than a plurality count, but it’s hardly difficult. (Plus, it gives me a freshman-level example of a recursive algorithm in the real world.) And I’m going to need a citation on the “perverse outcomes” bit too.

    ETA: Since “instant runoff” doesn’t refer to any one system, I’m assuming you’re referring to Australian Vote. If you have a different actual system in mind, please enlighten.

  41. 41
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mino:

    I wish that Dems would make it clear, if that is the case, that their solution is to increase the amount of salary subject to withholding. They refuse to do so. One can only suspect the reasons for this.

    You mean other than the fact that it will piss off everyone who makes more than $106,000 a year, which is a big chunk of regular voters? (With “regular” meaning people who vote on a regular basis, not “average” voters.)

  42. 42
    jayackroyd says:

    @Zagloba:

    Yeah. When I visited Norway we stopped by the parliament, and learned about their voting system, which supports seating six or seven parties. Voters cast votes for parties, and the parties provide an ordered list of candidates for each constituency. Through a fairly complicated bit of arithmetic, the parties choices are assigned in order of finishing position. The key to this is there are about a dozen (IIRC) members of parliament from each constituency, which means there is always a seat for any party that goes over the minimum (middle single digits, again IIRC)

  43. 43
    Mino says:

    @Mnemosyne: If they do it incrementally, I think it would be acceptable. Remember, SS has not had a salary-step increase in forever, virtually ignoring inflation.

    You think means-testing is gonna be a winner? Or an increase in the rate, which is totally regressive? And clobbers the self-imployed.

    I don’t think decreasing the benefits, when secure pensions are fast becoming a thing of the past, will be very popular, either.

  44. 44
    liberal says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I don’t know how to solve this problem.

    Oh, we know how to solve the problem: organizing people. Which takes money and time. Center-left and left groups have a lot less of the former, relative to the fascists, though. So time, aka elbow grease, it is.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mino:

    You think means-testing is gonna be a winner? Or an increase in the rate, which is totally regressive? And clobbers the self-imployed.

    You mean, would those solutions be winners with people who make more than $106,000 a year? Well, duh, of course they would, because then the burden falls on other people, not on them.

    If it can be sold as, “Instead of having to calculate your calculate your taxes twice and figure out if you have to pay AMT, we’ll just raise the payroll tax and simplify your life,” that would probably be a selling point to the crowd I’m thinking of.

    But for people who have comfortable retirement savings beyond Social Security, threatening to means-test isn’t going to mean jack shit.

    ETA: To be clear, I think the main part of the Democratic plan is to raise the salary cap (though probably not to remove the cap, which is what some people want) but I think announcing that they want to raise it is more politically risky than you seem to think.

  46. 46
    Palli says:

    @NonyNony: @NonyNony:

    Suggesting that what we have is Democracy is silly, though, because Americans have not arrived there as a society. States rights abuses, bigotry and economic imbalance continue to limit our development toward real Democracy
    Mandate a national ballot form (President/Vice president/Senate/House) with citizen voting rights the same across all the states that include released felons. Although there will continue to be local ballots the clear and concise design of a good nation-wide form will set the tone.

  47. 47
    Mino says:

    @Mnemosyne: Well, the comfortably-well-off never mind an increase in regressive taxes and fees since they serve to widen the wealth gap even more.

    Plus the uncertainty leads to too many …OMG, blah, blah, blah… comments, including mine.

  48. 48
    slag says:

    @handsmile:

    Perhaps tangential, but I’d like to use Mino’s comment #15 to recommend and urge viewership (once again) of “Up w/ Chris Hayes.” It is emphatically, flat-out, THE BEST political affairs program now on television (for those of a liberal/progressive orientation.)

    I’m not traditionally a teevee viewer (don’t even have it really), but I approve this message. The Hayes episodes I’ve seen online are unusually good. Surprisingly worth the time.

    And I don’t think your liberal/progressive caveat is needed. There are no good conservative programs on the air now. None. They should all be renamed Conservatives Gone Wild. To have a good political show, you have to have at least some intellectual honesty.

  49. 49
    Bill Murray says:

    @Mnemosyne: means testing will lead to those that now get but will not get SS after means testing will no longer support SS and it will end up like welfare. If the economy ever picks up again, SS will be fine in perpetuity. Worse case scenario is that in like 20 years, SS will pay out 78% of expected benefits, which will be more than current benefits even accounting for projected inflation.

    So reducing benefits now because “SS is going broke” is a really bad idea. Raising the cap would not be a big deal, but isn’t going to happen unless we get a new bunch of legislators

  50. 50
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @EconWatcher: Coburn doesn’t really think tax increases per se are part of the solution, but appears to be willing to accept some things that Grover Norquist would _call_ tax increases but really aren’t, e.g., cuts to subsidies and incentives that make up a big chunk of the tax code. IOW he accepts _revenue_ increases, but not any kind of increase in the rates paid on income. And what’s scary is that that now passes for reasonable, because Norquist holds the line that even those are unacceptable because, recalling the anti choice “fungibility” argument, any cut to a subsidy has the effect of raising a tax and thus must be offset by even steeper cuts to rates. Norquist rejects raising revenues by any means. Coburn accepts raising revenues by means other than higher rates. I’m pretty sure that’s how they differ.

  51. 51
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Bill Murray: Yup. Of all things to get anxious about with a 20-year time horizon, Social Security doesn’t belong anywhere near the top of the list.

  52. 52
    Mino says:

    What is freaking our lawmakers is that SS pay-outs are hitting up the General Fund right now, with the economy as it is.

    They want SS to be self-funding each year so they don’t have to repay all those Treasuries.

  53. 53
    Lee says:

    Learned of a new voting system today.

    Majority Judgment

    It is based off the Bucklin Voting System

  54. 54
    Mino says:

    @FlipYrWhig: It’s Reagan’s old switcheroo: close loopholes, reduce rates, re-insert loopholes. Voila! Profit.

  55. 55
    Mino says:

    @Lee: I’m beginning to that random selection by lottery could not be worse.

  56. 56
    Zagloba says:

    @Lee: Any voting system that features “rankings” or similar sliding approval measures is fatally vulnerable to strategic voting.

    It’s a fine idea if you know your voters are going to be honest; but since it strongly incentivizes dishonesty (i.e. voting your favored candidate a 100% rating on all scales), it’s not suitable for general use.

  57. 57
    Lee says:

    It’s a fine idea if you know your voters are going to be honest; but since it strongly incentivizes dishonesty (i.e. voting your favored candidate a 100% rating on all scales), it’s not suitable for general use.

    You are only rating the general rank of the candidate (Excellent-Reject, or first-last). So by definition your favored candidate should have a top score. So I’m not sure how that is dishonest.

    Maybe I’m missing something….

  58. 58
    ThresherK says:

    “Encourage voting” is a meme which works in direct contradiction to “voter fraud fraud” legislation. Anyone who doesn’t admit the existence of the latter is naive about the former.

    The same way “encouraging healthy eating” by whatever Michele Obama is doing (in an honest, good effort) buts up against the idea of “pouring rights” contracts for soda sellers in public schools.

    Like hitting one’s knee with a hammer, it’ll feel good just to stop.

  59. 59
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @handsmile: MHP was on Saturday and she was brilliant too.

  60. 60
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Zagloba: Right, a recursive election algorithm is easy to understand and administer. Oh, you’re going to leave that up to the computer. Okay, then.

    I, for one, welcome my Koch-sponsored overlords.

  61. 61
    Triassic Sands says:

    If there was any doubt about ever seeing either of these guys on a Sunday show ever again, this piece puts it to rest: they’re on PBS and C-SPAN only for the rest of their careers.

    Not at all. If they simply acknowledge their heresy and recant, followed by writing a profound “both sides do it” essay, they will be back in favor over night.

    The fallacy underlying the idea that we need a moderate, centrist party to rescue us is so obvious even Mann and Ornstein are unlikely to identify it. In a way, that is exactly what we have now. Obama made sincere efforts to compromise with Republicans and delivered a stimulus that was a compromise package, as well as health care reform that incorporated many Republican/conservative ideas and eliminated some of the more progressive ideas. It is that kind of legislation that is supposed to save us. However, the stimulus was too small and the PPACA, while doing some good for some people (at least in the short term) is wholly inadequate as a solution to our health care problems. Both the stimulus and PPACA are what you would expect from a moderate, compromise party, but neither is adequate.

    Since we know that the ideas of today’s radical Republicans are nothing more than “voodoo economics” and thoroughly discredited wishful thinking, the only plausible way to address our problems is with more liberal/progressive ideas and legislation. It isn’t that the Democrats are too liberal, it’s that they aren’t liberal enough, and when legislation is a compromise between Democratic mush and radical Republican nonsense it either make our problems worse or postpone serious efforts to deal with them.

    The lessons on health care have been demonstrated for us by a host of other nations that have adopted a range of universal health care programs. Some are never going to fly in this country (UK’s socialized medicine, for example), but there is nothing stopping us (except our own ignorance, stupidity, and lack of will — minor obstacles) from studying other country’s systems and adapting one or more to our needs.

    A moderate, compromise solution simply won’t work — none of the workable systems elsewhere look anything like what one would call a compromise of Democratic and Republican ideas, so there is no reason to believe, other than pure wishful thinking, that such a system will work in the US. The one thing that all of the major universal systems have in common is the requirement that essential care be offered on a not-for-profit basis. That means private, for-profit insurance companies have to go, yet every conceivable compromise system in the US would maintain the primacy of private insurance companies.

    In the original Mann/Ornstein essay that has apparently gotten them banished from prime time, they twice allowed their fears to get the best of them and yielded to the temptation to spread the blame around. They weakened their essay by lacking the courage to go all the way and without any reservation lay the blame on Republicans (where it belongs).

    Sadly, the weakest link in our political system is not the GOP, but rather the American voter — who puts the GOP in office. It is just too easy to sway millions of voters with scare tactics, radical ideological nonsense, and simple solutions that are simply wrong. Until someone comes up with a way to improve the quality of the average voter, I don’t see anything getting better. The fact that Romney is polling anywhere close to Obama is all the evidence we need that Americans haven’t been paying attention and didn’t learn anything from eight years of Bush.

  62. 62
    Another Halocene Human says:

    I guess I’m talking about ranked choice. That’s the only one I’m familiar with.

    http://www.vcstar.com/news/201.....sco-gives/

    As for perverse?

    http://www.futurity.org/societ.....th-add-up/

    Opponents point out that voters whose choices are repeatedly eliminated effectively get to vote several times, and moreover the process gives equal value to a person’s third-place ranking of a candidate and someone else’s top-choice vote. __ But, Devlin points out, there are other problems. “For example, with ranked-choice voting, you can get a winner who is the first choice of only a relatively small minority of the voters.

    Contra the claims that traditional runoff elections represent “the worst voting system possible”, our legacy system is open, easy to understand, and confers legitimacy upon the eventual winner who was obligated to garner a majority of the votes cast before taking office.

    Wanky voting systems seem to be a article of faith to narcissistic libberfnardians, who are so insulted that the candidate who represents the one, true, perfect set of political views (that is, theirs), only garnered 5% of the vote.

    It’s taking the self-absorption and condescension of Americans Elect and using it to fsck up the entire election, angry anarchist style, because the normals keep on voting for mainstream candidates instead of Pon Raul.

  63. 63
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Also, too, FYWP. That double underscore trick did not work!!!

  64. 64
    Zagloba says:

    @Lee: You are only rating the general rank of the candidate (Excellent-Reject, or first-last). So by definition your favored candidate should have a top score. So I’m not sure how that is dishonest.

    The way I understand the system, a voter marks each candidate on some number of scales, and then some weighting system gets used on the back end to determine the winning candidate.

    Now, no matter what your actual opinion of the candidates’ strengths on the various scales, a smart voter will rate their favorite candidate 100% on all of them, and any candidate that they emphatically don’t want to see in office 0% on all of them. For the ok-but-not-my-first-choice candidates, a smart voter who knows coming in roughly how much support each has in the voting pool will give them rankings again not according to their actual abilities, but solely based upon how okay with them the voter is.

    Next: if the weighting method treats all the various scales as equal, then a smart voter will rank their okay-but-not-top candidates equally on all scales. On the other hand, if the scales are weighted differently, a smart voter will simply shift their rankings up or down to counteract the weighting. So this system reduces to a one-scale weighted-preference system, with all the known holes and paradoxes that these systems are known to enjoy.

  65. 65
    Another Halocene Human says:

    San Francisco’s Ranked Choice Voting after seven years

    Majority Rule? Maybe not (go to 3:30 in the video for a real life example of what I would consider a perverse outcome)

    http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.c.....ce-voting/

    “A decade or more ago, when ranked choice voting was proposed, it was going to do all of these great things,” said Terry Reilly, former chairman of Campaign Finance review in San Jose. “It was going to give you unicorns and rainbows. But over the past decade, you have seen from the results that is doesn’t live up to its promises.”

  66. 66
    Zagloba says:

    @Another Halocene Human: Right, a recursive election algorithm is easy to understand and administer. Oh, you’re going to leave that up to the computer. Okay, then.

    Hardly. It’s incredibly easy to implement by hand. All you need is a large supply of yellow highlighters.

    Here’s how it works. You start with all the ballots, each having the voter’s ranked list of candidates.

    Step 1: Divide the ballots by which candidate is at the top. Count each pile. If any candidate has more than 50% of the ballots in their pile, they are the winner.
    Step 2: If Step 1 did not produce a winner, redivide the ballots by which candidate is last-ranked. Whichever candidate received the most last-place ballots is eliminated. Take a yellow highlighter and color over that candidate’s name on all ballots.
    Step 3: Go to step 1, but disregard all yellow names.

    Opponents point out that voters whose choices are repeatedly eliminated effectively get to vote several times, and moreover the process gives equal value to a person’s third-place ranking of a candidate and someone else’s top-choice vote.

    The first of these is bullshit, and the second is a feature, not a bug. See, for example Fields Medalist Tim Gowers. A voter whose ballot is not eliminated after their first-choice candidate is eliminated isn’t getting any more bites at the apple than the voter whose ballot still has their top choice in the running. The only voter who gets fewer bites is the one that doesn’t rank every candidate.

  67. 67
  68. 68
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Step 1: Divide the ballots by which candidate is at the top. Count each pile. If any candidate has more than 50% of the ballots in their pile, they are the winner.
    Step 2: If Step 1 did not produce a winner, redivide the ballots by which candidate is last-ranked. Whichever candidate received the most last-place ballots is eliminated. Take a yellow highlighter and color over that candidate’s name on all ballots.
    Step 3: Go to step 1, but disregard all yellow names.

    With all due respect, you’re skipping a step in terms of how this system is actually implemented in the united states.

    If it worked as you say, it would be little different from a traditional runoff, in which the 3rd place endorses one of the top two to try to influence those voters to switch and put that person over the top.

    Furthermore, 2nd and 3rd place choices count equal to 1st place, so that on each recursion, the field can be altered dramatically and in ways the voters may not have anticipated.

  69. 69
    Zagloba says:

    From your CBS link:

    Nearly all of those dozen or so candidates did not receive a majority vote. For many opponents of the system, those numbers don’t add up.

    This is just deliberately misunderstanding the system. Ranked-Vote is not supposed to elect only candidates who get a majority first-place vote — if it were, then it would be the same as plurality!

    ETA: Also, the video in that link is less than 3 minutes long.

  70. 70
    Zagloba says:

    @Another Halocene Human: With all due respect, you’re skipping a step in terms of how this system is actually implemented in the united states.

    And that is?

    And no, it’s not the same as traditional runoff, because it’s very rare to have candidates endorse each other before an election in anticipation of a runoff which takes place days or weeks after the main election. One of the big problems facing runoff elections in the real world is that they are both expensive and low-turnout.

  71. 71
    DFH no.6 says:

    @liberal:
    Want to know the truth about what Villago is getting at here? (my version of “the truth” anyway, created by decades of political observation and participation – that last mostly in the form of campaign volunteering and maxing-out donations going back pretty consistently since the execrable Nixon years)

    The truth is there’s a significantly large number of potential voters in our fair land for whom Democratic/liberal policies help (or would help, if they could be enacted) but who are so apathetic in regards to something as simple as voting that they just never do it. Sure, there are a number of reasons for that, but really the most important (by far) is that they don’t care.

    The roughly 50% of the potential electorate who don’t vote?

    It’s mostly made up of young/poor/working class/lower middle class people, not older people and the relatively well-off and wealthy (who vote in far higher percentages, and we know for which side, mostly).

    The Hispanic population is a case in point – that my lovely adopted state of AZ is so crazy far-right at this point in its history has as much to do with continuing political apathy (i.e., they vote in significantly lower percentages than Anglos) among AZ’s fairly large Hispanic population as it does with the fascist leanings of so many whites here.

    This scenario is repeated across the country, with differing population groups, of course, and so we get the governance we “deserve” when people not only vote against their economic interests (poor/working/middle class whites) but don’t even bother to vote at all.

    That mountain of apathy among the demographics for whom Democratic/liberal policies are better than the fascist policies is the liberal/left’s largest obstacle.

    “Elbow grease” and “time” are not nearly enough to deal with that mountain. Sad to say, but after more than 40 years I don’t believe there actually is a solution (not for the foreseeable, anyway).

  72. 72
    Zagloba says:

    Oops, opened wrong video to look for 3:30. I see the objection now, and it’s innumerate. (For those who don’t want to scroll through video, it’s that the winning candidate in one race received votes on 4,321 out of 18,308 ballots.)

    Exercise for the reader: prove that no candidate in the election had their name listed on a majority of ballots.

    Now, this does point to an interesting design choice in San Francisco’s system, namely that a voter only lists her top three choices, when there may be many more candidates than three. In the system as I described it, there are as many ranking slots as candidates

  73. 73
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Zagloba: It’s 6 minutes long. And RCV was sold as producing a majority vote… but thanks for changing the goalposts.

  74. 74
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @DFH no.6: Apathy is one thing. The real scandal are people’s votes being stolen or denied, though unaccountable voting software, inadequate resources to accommodate all voters by 7pm, voter “scrubbing”, voter restriction laws, “positive ID” laws, etc.

  75. 75
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Zagloba:

    Now, this does point to an interesting design choice in San Francisco’s system, namely that a voter only lists her top three choices, when there may be many more candidates than three. In the system as I described it, there are as many ranking slots as candidates

    Forget about that real-world experience. In my perfect voting system, you’ll get unicorns, ponies, AND rainbows streaming out of your ass!

  76. 76
    Zagloba says:

    @Another Halocene Human: I can’t be arsed to defend SF for selling a system to do something it won’t do. No system can get a candidate elected by more than 50% of the electorate if all candidates are voted for by less than 50% of the electorate.

  77. 77
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Zagloba:

    And no, it’s not the same as traditional runoff, because it’s very rare to have candidates endorse each other before an election in anticipation of a runoff which takes place days or weeks after the main election. One of the big problems facing runoff elections in the real world is that they are both expensive and low-turnout.

    Not sure what it is you’re saying here, as endorsements are sought and granted (or not granted) AFTER the first election failed to produce a final winner.

    France’s runoffs tend to be pretty well-attended. Perhaps in local elections the runoffs are between two fairly similar candidates and the passion sort of rubs off. Maybe that is because extremists can’t even muster 3rd place. Maybe that’s a good thing.

    The runoff is intended to confer legitimacy by forcing the candidate to win a majority of the popular vote. Perhaps runoffs are unnecessary? Was Clinton’s legitimacy questioned?

  78. 78
    Zagloba says:

    @Another Halocene Human: Forget about that real-world experience. In my perfect voting system, you’ll get unicorns, ponies, AND rainbows streaming out of your ass!

    Remind me again, which of us was telling the other one of us about the theorem which is usually rendered into the vernacular as “there does not exist a perfect voting system”?

    It’s not my fault that your reading comprehension in English is as bad as your math skills.

  79. 79
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Zagloba: Why is this a sticking point for you when you’ve just argued that having the winner garner a majority of the vote is not an important goal?

    What I really want to know is why you think a fringe candidate will represent the constituents better and govern better than a candidate supported by a majority of voters?

  80. 80
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Zagloba: That wasn’t me so I suppose you’ll have to go back upthread and figure out who said that. Jeez.

  81. 81
    Zagloba says:

    @Another Halocene Human: Why is this a sticking point for you when you’ve just argued that having the winner garner a majority of the vote is not an important goal?

    Cite where I argued that, please.

  82. 82
    Another Halocene Human says:

    I’m not looking for a perfect voting system. I’m looking for a functional voting system. Very different exercise, buckeroo.

  83. 83
    Zagloba says:

    @Another Halocene Human: See my #40, directed at you.

  84. 84
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Zagloba:

    This is just deliberately misunderstanding the system. Ranked-Vote is not supposed to elect only candidates who get a majority first-place vote—if it were, then it would be the same as plurality!

    @ Zagloba:

    Cite where I argued that, please.

    @Zagloba:
    So what are you arguing, then?

  85. 85
    Zagloba says:

    @Another Halocene Human: I’m not looking for a perfect voting system. I’m looking for a functional voting system. Very different exercise, buckeroo.

    It’s good that you’re not looking for a perfect voting system, since Arrow’s Theorem shows that they don’t exist. For the same reason, it’s good that I’m not looking for one, nor do I think I’ve found one in AV. Especially since my very first comment in this thread said that AV is better than plurality, but still has problems.

    As I said before: your reading comprehension sucks, and your math skills are worse. Pardon me while I leave to get something productive done.

  86. 86
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Zagloba: Oh, so that was sarcasm?

    I don’t think you understand that I don’t care about your sainted and perfect optimized voting system algorithm unstoppable filing method style technique. Or your mathematical wanking. Or your mathematical definition of a perfect voting system and your theorem that proves that a mathematical abstract thing is not a thing. We’re talking about politics and power here, son.

  87. 87
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Zagloba: You don’t know anything about my math skills, buddy.

    Your communication skills are for shizzle, unless you think being coy is an effective tactic.

    Don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya.

  88. 88
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Zagloba:

    Especially since my very first comment in this thread said that AV is better than plurality, but still has problems.

    How is AV better than plurality?

    You didn’t answer my question about Clinton, either.

  89. 89
    Zagloba says:

    @Another Halocene Human: So what are you arguing, then?

    Do you not see the difference between a candidate getting a majority of the first-place vote (in a system like this, where a voter lists multiple candidates in rank order), and a candidate getting votes on a majority of ballots?

    Please keep in mind: if a majority of voters (more than 50%) put some candidate in their first-ranked spot, then that candidate wins the election, and everyone agrees that that is the right outcome of that election. That’s the easy scenario. The hard scenario is when no candidate has majority first-rank support.

    /Now I really am leaving for work.

  90. 90

    […] now, via Balloon Juice, comes this article (in of all things, the Washington Post) in which various solutions to […]

  91. 91
    Lee says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    Yes his legitimacy was questioned by conservatives. Does it actually matter if it was or was not? Conservatives questioned everything about the Clinton Presidency.

    What is the actual number of runoffs that have occurred? I’m guessing a small number.

    Bush/Gore/Nader is an excellent example of how IRV (or one of its variants) would have resulted in Gore as President.

    SF did not implement IRV. They certainly called it IRV but since they removed a significant requirement of IRV whatever they implemented was not actually IRV. Much like Republican’s new ‘Medicare’ is only Medicare in name only.

  92. 92
    James E Powell says:

    @DFH no.6:

    Sad to say, but after more than 40 years I don’t believe there actually is a solution (not for the foreseeable, anyway).

    I am afraid I have to agree with you, based on my experience. For almost 40 years, I have knocked on doors, stood in front of grocery stores, made phone calls, spoken to all manner of group meetings, and in several other ways have attempted to persuade people to register to vote and to vote. With very small marginal exceptions, non-voters are non-voters because they do not want to vote.

    There are, no doubt, many reasons for this, some of which may overlap and reinforce others. But asking them to register and vote is going to take efforts that are orders of magnitude greater and more expensive than simply working on the people who already vote regularly.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] now, via Balloon Juice, comes this article (in of all things, the Washington Post) in which various solutions to […]

Comments are closed.