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Subject: U.S. Politics: Nonvoters rss

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Kelsey Rinella
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Apparently, there's been a first-ever poll of unlikely voters. They much prefer Obama to Romney, though they're not well-informed and generally think politics doesn't much matter. My impression is that people who support the party which would benefit from having them vote think it would be good for them to vote, while their opposition don't, and may actually see it as preferable for them not to vote.

I have never seen a principled argument for either side. Does anyone know of one/can anyone make one? Though I don't have a good way of tying these together, I can anticipate some points:

1. It's more democratic if more people vote.
  2. The government more accurately reflects the will of its people if a higher proportion of its people's will is expressed in voting results.
    3. The votes of those who are unlikely to vote generally wouldn't clearly express a preference which reflects how they'd feel if they were well-informed.
      4. The decision to vote reflects one's degree of engagement in the political process very badly, and politicians are in a position to bias that reflection to their advantage and so to corrupt the process. For example, it would be possible for voting to be made easier or harder for members of the military deployed overseas.
      5. There's feedback from voting to political engagement. The harder it is for a particular person to vote, the lower the probability of her voting and the less likely it is that any political knowledge she develops would be of use. This means any obstacles to voting are somewhat self-reinforcing.
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Boaty McBoatface
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As long as money is a key factor in elections it really does not matter how many people vote. It's how many rich people fund the candidates that matters.

We also need to move towards a none of the above system, the problem is that our political masters claim popular mandated when they do not in fact enjoy the support of the majority of these who actually bother to vote.

At the end of the day the reason so many don't vote is because it does not make any difference whom they vote for. Until our political masters are truly our political servants, and do what we actually want them to do more and more people will stop voting.

Also as long as you have an Electoral College system that in effect means that not everyone’s vote counts equally many people will see no real point in voting because they are not engaged ion the process.
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Mac Mcleod
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rinelk wrote:
Apparently, there's been a first-ever poll of unlikely voters. They much prefer Obama to Romney, though they're not well-informed and generally think politics doesn't much matter. My impression is that people who support the party which would benefit from having them vote think it would be good for them to vote, while their opposition don't, and may actually see it as preferable for them not to vote.

I have never seen a principled argument for either side. Does anyone know of one/can anyone make one? Though I don't have a good way of tying these together, I can anticipate some points:

1. It's more democratic if more people vote.
2. The government more accurately reflects the will of its people if a higher proportion of its people's will is expressed in voting results.
3. The votes of those who are unlikely to vote generally wouldn't clearly express a preference which reflects how they'd feel if they were well-informed.
4. The decision to vote reflects one's degree of engagement in the political process very badly, and politicians are in a position to bias that reflection to their advantage and so to corrupt the process. For example, it would be possible for voting to be made easier or harder for members of the military deployed overseas.
5. There's feedback from voting to political engagement. The harder it is for a particular person to vote, the lower the probability of her voting and the less likely it is that any political knowledge she develops would be of use. This means any obstacles to voting are somewhat self-reinforcing.


As long as the percentages won't change, letting others vote is the pragmatic way to save time.

I.e., if the vote will be 60/40 with general disinterest BUT it will be 60/40 if everyone gets whipped up and goes out to vote... then it's about the same.

In my area, we have a pretty good idea how it's going to go weeks if not months before the actual vote. Perhaps with the loss of landlines, we may get voting surprises again. That would motivate people to vote.

 
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Kelsey Rinella
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Rochester
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chaendlmaier wrote:
If people don't care about politics, they also shouldn't vote. If they want to, then that's fine, but I don't think there's a point in dragging people to vote without informing them first. Unfortunately when this information is provided it's usually heavily biased.


I can understand that. But it seems to me that the only method we have of encouraging our government to represent our interests is voting. So this position seems to amount to acceptance that government ought not represent the interests of those who don't vote. A consequence is that it is in government's interest to make it hard for people whose interests they'd prefer not to represent vote. That seems at least superficially very bad.
 
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Clay
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rinelk wrote:
Apparently, there's been a first-ever poll of unlikely voters. They much prefer Obama to Romney, though they're not well-informed and generally think politics doesn't much matter. My impression is that people who support the party which would benefit from having them vote think it would be good for them to vote, while their opposition don't, and may actually see it as preferable for them not to vote.

I have never seen a principled argument for either side. Does anyone know of one/can anyone make one? Though I don't have a good way of tying these together, I can anticipate some points:

1. It's more democratic if more people vote.
  2. The government more accurately reflects the will of its people if a higher proportion of its people's will is expressed in voting results.
    3. The votes of those who are unlikely to vote generally wouldn't clearly express a preference which reflects how they'd feel if they were well-informed.
      4. The decision to vote reflects one's degree of engagement in the political process very badly, and politicians are in a position to bias that reflection to their advantage and so to corrupt the process. For example, it would be possible for voting to be made easier or harder for members of the military deployed overseas.
      5. There's feedback from voting to political engagement. The harder it is for a particular person to vote, the lower the probability of her voting and the less likely it is that any political knowledge she develops would be of use. This means any obstacles to voting are somewhat self-reinforcing.


1 may be true, but if so isn't very compelling. Whether or not something is "more democratic" isn't necessarily an improvement, the important facet of democracy is the option. Once the option is given the importance shifts to results, which are unswayed by degree of democratic sampling.

2 is probably only slightly accurate to reality, in many cases it may not be accurate at all.
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Dan Schaeffer
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slatersteven wrote:
At the end of the day the reason so many don't vote is because it does not make any difference whom they vote for. Until our political masters are truly our political servants, and do what we actually want them to do more and more people will stop voting.


The problem is in a pluralistic society, "what we actually want them to do" is not one thing, it's often many different things, some of them mutually exclusive. I want them to provide a better safety net for poor people; someone else wants them to cut funding to programs that help poor people. Even within a party or a voting bloc, different voters have different priorities. A voter's choice in an election is not the candidate who is going to do everything the voter wants - it's the candidate whose attitudes and policy positions generally line up with the voter's, so that there's a better chance that the things the voter wants done will get done.

If someone stops voting because the last guy they voted for didn't do everything the voter wanted, that voter doesn't understand how politics, government, democracy, or the world work.

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Also as long as you have an Electoral College system that in effect means that not everyone’s vote counts equally many people will see no real point in voting because they are not engaged ion the process.


I agree, the electoral college system is flawed. I'm not sure a switch to a straight popular vote is a correct (or workable) answer, but I'm not 100% either way.
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Boaty McBoatface
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Golux13 wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
At the end of the day the reason so many don't vote is because it does not make any difference whom they vote for. Until our political masters are truly our political servants, and do what we actually want them to do more and more people will stop voting.


The problem is in a pluralistic society, "what we actually want them to do" is not one thing, it's often many different things, some of them mutually exclusive. I want them to provide a better safety net for poor people; someone else wants them to cut funding to programs that help poor people. Even within a party or a voting bloc, different voters have different priorities. A voter's choice in an election is not the candidate who is going to do everything the voter wants - it's the candidate whose attitudes and policy positions generally line up with the voter's, so that there's a better chance that the things the voter wants done will get done.

If someone stops voting because the last guy they voted for didn't do everything the voter wanted, that voter doesn't understand how politics, government, democracy, or the world work.


The point is you vote for candidates who do what you want, my point is that if candidates do not offer what you ant you will not vote for them. Also if candidates say they will do what you want you will become cynical and not vote. I am sorry but just because that is how it is does not mean that is how it should be. They are supposed to be there to represent us, not those who par thier ellection expenses (which os too often the case).

If course sometimes events conspire to make certain promises untenable, then it's the job of the candidate to explain that. It's his job to convince me that he is the best man (or woman) for the job, it's not my job to do that. The problom is that they are faling to do that across vast swathes of the ellectorate.

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Quote:
Also as long as you have an Electoral College system that in effect means that not everyone’s vote counts equally many people will see no real point in voting because they are not engaged ion the process.


I agree, the electoral college system is flawed. I'm not sure a switch to a straight popular vote is a correct (or workable) answer, but I'm not 100% either way.


I think a popular vote would at least engage the voters.
 
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All I can think is that the Obama team needs to get out the vote and that Soros is spending his money in exactly the right place.
 
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Golux13 wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
Also as long as you have an Electoral College system that in effect means that not everyone’s vote counts equally many people will see no real point in voting because they are not engaged ion the process.
I agree, the electoral college system is flawed. I'm not sure a switch to a straight popular vote is a correct (or workable) answer, but I'm not 100% either way.
Last US Presidential election I saw an interesting argument which suggested that despite it being a strange remnant of bygone times, the US Electoral College system is good for democracy.

The (very) short version: it helps counteract the consequences of the "tyranny of the majority".
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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gyc365 wrote:
Golux13 wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
Also as long as you have an Electoral College system that in effect means that not everyone’s vote counts equally many people will see no real point in voting because they are not engaged ion the process.
I agree, the electoral college system is flawed. I'm not sure a switch to a straight popular vote is a correct (or workable) answer, but I'm not 100% either way.
Last US Presidential election I saw an interesting argument which suggested that despite it being a strange remnant of bygone times, the US Electoral College system is good for democracy.

The (very) short version: it helps counteract the consequences of the "tyranny of the majority".


But is that not what democracy is, the will of the majority?
 
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slatersteven wrote:
But is that not what democracy is, the will of the majority?
Within reasonable limits, yes.

It's quite well described here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyranny_of_the_majority
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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gyc365 wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
But is that not what democracy is, the will of the majority?
Within reasonable limits, yes.

It's quite well described here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyranny_of_the_majority


But if the will of the majorty is to be distrusted then why should this majorty participate in a process that they are (in essence) considered inimicable to? If the prosses is designed to reduce or nullify thier influence why shoud they bother to try and influence it? Also how can you goven if you do not have to support of the people? Government that is without popular support has no vadality in making laws that affect that ellectorate, and thus they have no moral reason to obey it's laws.
 
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This is one of the difficulties of democracy. Democracies have a very uneven record on civil rights and freedom.

It's difficult to define "reasonable limits". It's hard to discuss them, hard to define them in the form of laws, and hard to enforce such laws.

Yet without them, enforcement practice tends to reflect society's prejudices as well as its aspirations and principles.
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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gyc365 wrote:
This is one of the difficulties of democracy. Democracies have a very uneven record on civil rights and freedom.

It's difficult to define "reasonable limits". It's hard to discuss them, hard to define them in the form of laws, and hard to enforce such laws.

Yet without them, enforcement practice tends to reflect society's prejudices as well as its aspirations and principles.


I would disagree, I can't think of an example of where democracy failed to defend civil rights and freedom except in siutations where minorities had undue influence. Indeed the history of the strugle for denmocracy is the strugle of minority interest groups trying to restict power and influence in order to maintain thier own olicharical power.
 
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I agree that there are minorities with too much power. There are also minorities with too little.

I think you're looking at the wrong category.
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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gyc365 wrote:
I agree that there are minorities with too much power. There are also minorities with too little.

I think you're looking at the wrong category.


No, I don;t see the point of a government that has been ellected by a minorit of votes just tp protect those minorities. It does not have a mandate, it does not have democratoc legitimacey and it does not enjoy popular support. Any system of government that calls it's self demoicratict must operate (and can only have legitimacy) from the majorty, any thing else is eiterh plutocracy (what in effect the Americvan system is) or an oligarchy, not a democracy.
 
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