Democracy

The Weirdness of Majority Rule

Narrow elections have broad consequences.

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By early last week, a race once too close to call had become almost too close to comprehend. More than 2.2 million people cast a ballot in Virginia's contest for attorney general, but by Monday morning, Republican Mark Obenshain led Democrat Mark Herring by only 17 votes — a lead that appeared to vanish by week's end, when Herring inched ahead by 164 votes.

Localities submitted their final tallies on Tuesday; the State Board of Elections has until Nov. 25 to certify the results. Whatever the final figure, a recount seems inevitable. Discrepancies in absentee ballot returns, irregularities in Richmond, a malfunctioning optical-scan machine in Fairfax and math errors elsewhere raise the odds of litigation. December might ring with echoes of Bush/Gore, albeit without the butterfly ballots and hanging chads.

This year's election seems to be going out of its way to prove Winston Churchill's observation that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. In Bush/Gore, the margin of victory was smaller than the margin of error, and the Supreme Court decided the contest. Even if the results in the AG race prove more concrete, the winner — whoever it is — will be able to claim a majority only in the narrowest possible sense.

A mere 43 percent of registered Virginia voters cast a ballot this year. Even if the winners received 100 percent of the votes, they still would have the support of less than half the electorate. In the governor's race, Terry McAuliffe won only 48 percent, making him the first governor to enter office with a plurality in half a century. His 48 percent of the 43 percent who voted gives him the support of only 20 percent of the state's electorate — and that is before you take into account the fact that, according to one poll, 64 percent of his supporters said they really were voting against Republican Ken Cuccinelli, rather than for McAuliffe. If the poll is accurate, then less than one voter in 10 cast an affirmative ballot in the Democrat's favor.

And yet someone has to be governor, so it is on such slender reeds as these that history is built. McAuliffe might not have won the Executive Mansion were not the current occupant, Bob McDonnell, sidelined by an ethics scandal that spattered Cuccinelli as well. McDonnell himself probably would not be governor had he not beaten Creigh Deeds for attorney general eight years ago by 360 votes, or one one-hundredth of 1 percent.

Narrow elections can have broad consequences, and the consequences of this year's race for attorney general go beyond teeing up a gubernatorial candidate in 2017. Consider how the state's political and policy landscape would look now if Virginia had spent the past four years with Democrat Steve Shannon, rather than Cuccinelli, running the Attorney General's Office. The differences between Herring and Obenshain are probably just as stark.

It seems odd, therefore, that so much of such great significance should depend on so few votes. Majority rule makes sense, but just barely. The principle of one vote per person is egalitarian, yet it does not take into account considerations such as intensity: The vote of someone who flips a coin before casting a ballot carries just as much weight as the vote of someone who believes the fate of all future generations hangs in the balance, and 51 coin-flippers can overrule 49 voters of the second type, simply because that is how things are done.

Over time, many political theorists, from James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock to Lani Guinier, have wrestled with issues such as these, and some places (London, San Francisco) use instant-runoff voting, or IRV — a system in which voters rank their selections to reflect their preferences more accurately. (IRV has its own pitfalls.) And some questions are walled off from majority rule entirely — e.g., fundamental constitutional rights. Freedom of speech, for instance, cannot be abridged simply because a majority would like to shut someone up. Primary rules like that — rules about what sort of rules we will have — are enforced by the judiciary, whose members generally are not elected, precisely in order to insulate them from majority rule.

Majority rule is at best unsatisfying, and narrow majorities are even more unsatisfying — but this does not mean wide victory margins indicate broad support. Eleven years ago, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein "won" an "election" with 100 percent turnout by a margin of 11 million votes to zero.

This year, many Virginia lawmakers won lopsided majorities against nominal opposition thanks to gerrymandered districts in contests that were never in doubt. Many lawmakers in Congress routinely do the same. Gerrymandering has given us a country where most people like their congressman but despise Congress. But even without gerrymandering, half the country is primed to despise whoever wins the presidency from the moment he or she enters the Oval Office.

Great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities, said Jefferson, but from the Iraq war to Obamacare, they almost always are. For those who care about the consent of the governed, that is one more reason to limit government's scope: Democracy is just about the worst way possible to run a country. Except, of course, for all the others.

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  1. Individual liberty is not up for a vote.

    1. Put another way, democracy sucks and those who invoke Churchill in its defense reveal their gigantic cognitive dissonance.

      1. Still would’ve taken Churchill over FDR any and every day of the week.

        1. Okay, would you have taken Churchill over Chamberlain?

          1. I’d like to see Winston Churchill score 100 points in a game.

            1. ^this. Fat little fuck would have been bouncing balls off of their knees when he took a shot at the rim. Shorties are a safety violation in motion on the court. Hate playing with them.

              1. You know he wasn’t fat in his 20’s. Also he was 5’7″ which isn’t that short.

                1. Shorter than me, and that’s the shortness that counts.

      2. Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all others.

        Translation, all forms of government are bad.

    2. Isn’t it? Someone has to decide whether or not to have individual liberty.

  2. And yet someone has to be governor

    Citation needed.

    1. Really? REALLY?!

      Why, pray tell?

  3. Democracy only works when your TEAM wins.

  4. half the country is primed to despise whoever wins the presidency from the moment he or she enters the Oval Office.

    Paging Mr Freud. Mr Freud to HampR please.

    1. Right: *whomever*.

      1. No, “whoever.” The case of a relative pronoun is determined by its use within the relative clause. In this case, it would be nominative rather than objective: “whoever wins the presidency” = “he wins the presidency,” not “him wins the presidency.”

  5. OT =

    America Sucks Less: The Song

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwQAyskqG0g

    Thoughts? I think it works with their broad point (‘not as bad as them’), but fails on the ‘well, we suck more than 20 years ago’-question

    1. Yeah, we are only 12-14 trillion more in debt than 20 years ago, so the assertion that we suck more than 20 years ago is, what, baseless?

      Yeah, how many more thousands of peeps have been murdered by drone strikes in the last 20 years as compared to the 20 years previous to 1993, so the assertion that we suck more than 20 years ago is, what, just anti-American propaganda?

      1. you apparently didn’t watch the video, or understand my comment.

        Also, please = ‘peeps’ is so 1999. What, are you one of those white kids who wears backpacks to bad hiphop concerts? I blame you for a lot of shit by the way, so maybe you shouldn’t tell me.

        1. He was clearly referring to the delicious Easter marshmallow candy by that name as a warehouse full was incinerated by a drone strike in Pakistan. I think someone owes someone else an apology.

          1. Look, peeps are fucking dangerous and should be shot on sight.

            Documentary footage of what they are capable of =

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDBacIDHD-g

        2. Don’t worry, LM has never, ever worn a backpack nor has he ever attended any hiphop concerts, bad or otherwise.

          Sorry for the other shit for which you blame me.

          1. “Sorry for the other shit for which you blame me.”

            No, not “you”-you. The white backpacker rap fans. GRRRRRRRRRRR. those fuckers have hell to pay.

    2. Well, it’s only semi-OT, since they sing (a little) about elections.

  6. This is why limited government is a fundamental tenant of classical liberalism or Libertarianism. The legitimacy of government is limited by its coercive nature and the inability to get unanimous consent. No matter how popular a government is, there is always going to be a good percentage of the population who didn’t want it. That makes government a necessary evil, not a good. Since it is by definition coercing people who never voted for it to do things they don’t want, government should only do things that are absolutely necessary and can only be done through government.

    1. John, the necessary evil rationale is just fairy tale propaganda which intelligent 6th graders can easily rebut – all they have to do is look at the last 150 years and see the hundreds of millions that have been killed by, in the name of and in defense of, the state.

      1. And that wasn’t because there was a state. That was because people thought the state could do things it should’t be doing. And beyond that, people kill each other, state or no. So take away the state and things would have been just as bloody.

        1. That was because people thought the state could do things it should’t be doing. And beyond that, people kill each other, state or no. So take away the state and things would have been just as bloody.

          Exactly. Not having a government will not prevent murder (well, except for the lack of drug laws that a lot of people die because of). Furthermore, it’ll quickly devolve into despotism.

          1. But having the state will result in far more mass murders.

            1. You may as well say something like, “having fire causes more burns”. Well, duh, but a world without fire is not possible.

            2. But having the state will result in far more mass murders.

              Very debatable. Tyrants gonna tyrant, yo. Whether their subjects have formed a government or not is irrelevant.

              1. Yes, we can agree upon the proposition that “tyrants gonna tyrant, yo.”

      2. Not sure where you’re going with this; what are you actually proposing?

        1. ANARCHY! SOMALIA!

        2. LM is an anarchist. However, he refuses to admit we live in anarchial state right now insofar as there are competing security forces (States) and you can “vote with your feet” to whichever one you prefer.

          1. You refuse to admit that we do not live in an anarchical state.

            Can you leave the United States without ever being subject to the income tax the rest of your life? Can you leave the United States if you are on a no-fly list? Can you leave the United States with 3 million dollars in currency? Can you leave the United States with 3 million dollars in gold? Can you leave the United States without producing identification and without being poked and prodded?

            1. None of that refutes the fact that you *can* leave and choose to go with a different service provider if you so desire.

              1. Yes, it does. If there was anarchy, there would be no income taxes, no death taxes, no papers please regimes and no rectal exams at airports.

                1. Yes, it does. If there was anarchy, there would be no income taxes, no death taxes, no papers please regimes and no rectal exams at airports.

                  None of that is necessarily true. And all you’re doing is being circular.

                2. . If there was anarchy, there would be no income taxes, no death taxes, no papers please regimes and no rectal exams at airports.

                  Right up until a king crowned himself.

                  1. Actually anon you are wrong. There exist a few absolute monarchies in this world but they almost ALL do not have income or death taxes and are considered among the freest nations.

                    i.e. Monaco, Lichtenstein, UAE, Bermuda (ruled directly by Queen Elizabeth II), all are quasi or completely absolute monarchies. They all have average per capita incomes of ~$90,000/yr (roughly 3x the average american), they all do NOT have income taxes, and they generally have the best privacy and civil liberties of any of their ethnic/cultural peers.

                3. there would be no income taxes, no death taxes, no papers please regimes and no rectal exams at airports.

                  Ah, there would, as you would be living under a despot instead of a constitutional republic.

                  1. Ah, there would, as you would be living under a despot instead of a constitutional republic.

                    That was pretty much my point with the crowning himself comment.

                    1. I know. Consider my post supporting opinion.

                    2. A constitution cannot restrain an elected leader for he rules with the claim of popularity. Patrick Henry (the “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” founder) said as much when he opposed the signing of the constitution.

                      I mean look today, Obama/Bush can trample all over the constitution without any repercussions and the military that took an OATH to defend the constitution has not taken violent actions against them (they are basically forsaking their oaths if read literally).

                      But imagine if they were constitutional monarchs instead. They would be overthrown or at the very least bloody hell would of been thrown up at “despotic” or “tyrannical” practices.

                      For some reason the charge of “tyranny” just bounces off “elected” dictators. It can’t stick, because the people think they “chose” the leader and so all the blame for his faults somehow fall on themselves (even though it was the leader who lied to them when running for office as is required to gain popularity).

                      This is what makes it so dangerous. That’s why Hitler, Mao, and Stalin all used elections to give themselves legitimacy even if they eventually did away with the institutions. It’s why North Korea and Iran are both “constitutional republics” and yet neither their votes nor their constitutions matter because of the facade of “popularity”.

              2. None of that refutes the fact that you *can* leave and choose to go with a different service provider if you so desire.

                Not everyone can leave, and no one can choose to go WITHOUT a “service provider”.

            2. I mean, LM, you have a weirdly private definition of anarchy. In the Republic of NLK, it is possible for me to have a completely voluntary, private organization and still require all of these things (that is, having currency and entry restrictions) under contract.

            3. Can you leave the United States with 3 million dollars in currency? Can you leave the United States with 3 million dollars in gold?

              Absolutely, yes. It probably happens a lot more than you’d think.

              Is it legal? Probably not. Why do you care about the legality of an action judged by a government that you want nothing to do with?

              1. And just because you cannot fly out tomorrow with 3 million in gold in your duffle bag doesn’t mean you can’t leave the United States and have your 3 million in gold as well. Set up a transfer to your Security Provider (AKA State) of choice.

                1. Good luck with that. Have you ever tried to do it?

                  1. Have you? I guarantee you can find an international bank and a new Service Provider ready and eager to help you transfer your wealth.

                    1. I guarantee you can find an international bank and a new Service Provider ready and eager to help you transfer your wealth.

                      See: Snowden, Edward.

                    2. Seriously, did he get out with money?

                      Would you at least grant that he was in a better position than most of us to effect a transfer of money out of the US?

                    3. Would you at least grant that he was in a better position than most of us to effect a transfer of money out of the US?

                      Buy bitcoins. Leave country. Sell bitcoins. GG.

            4. You’re both wrong. We do live in a state of anarchy, but not because there are other competing states in the world, but because government is really just a bunch of people doing stuff. If you don’t want to do what they say, then don’t. If the decide they want to punish you, then try to fight them off. Just like in an imagined “stateless” anarchy. To me, anarchism is just the realization that the state is just something that a bunch of other people made up.

              1. But they have a little bit more money than me to force me to do what they think I should do.

              2. “To me, anarchism is just the realization that the state is just something that a bunch of other people made up.”

                Agreed, but it’s important that other people also realize this and oppose the state for its criminal actions just as much as they oppose non-state criminals.

                On a personal level, anyone who doesn’t recognize the supposed legitimacy of the state is already living in a state of anarchy. On the level of society, however, we’re not in a state of anarchy because far too many people treat the state’s aggression as though it were legitimate.

      3. all they have to do is look at the last 150 years and see the hundreds of millions that have been killed by, in the name of and in defense of, the state.

        That’s not a rebuttal.

        1. Yes, by your standards, i.e., pesky facts which upset the narrative, are non-sequiturs.

          1. It’s not a rebuttal because you have no idea what would have happened in the (impossible) absence of a state or states.

            1. No World War I, therefore, No World War II, therefore, no Cold War, therefore No Vietnam War.

              1. Uhhh, nope, you can’t prove a word of that.

                There are always going to be organized gangs of violence. The end.

                1. So, there would have been a WWI without the nation state system? Please, enlighten us.

              2. No World War I, therefore, No World War II, therefore, no Cold War, therefore No Vietnam War.

                Right, all of those things were because and not in spite of Government.

                Leaders rise to power because they’re convincing enough to get a mass of people to agree with them, whatever the subject is. Those leaders will always rise to power; whether you fancy the term “Government” for the power they hold or not is irrelevant.

                1. Oh, so the Russian peasants agreed with Nicky II’s decision to plunge Russia into war?

                  1. I have no idea and neither do you.

                  2. Oh, so the Russian peasants agreed with Nicky II’s decision to plunge Russia into war?

                    Obviously not, since they gave him das boot.

                    1. On the one hand, I am sympathetic to LM’s point that the State is considered separate and apart from the People, which is the Mechanistic Theory of the State. On the other hand, at least *some* of the Organic Theory of the State *has* to be true.

                    2. Much like Sarc says, it doesn’t matter what you call the gang; there will always still be a gang that holds a monopoly of violence over a given number of people.

                    3. Also, I find it amusing that LM knows so much about world leaders and so little about John Locke.

                    4. What would they give him a boat?

      4. It’s not a necessary evil so much as an inevitable one.

        As I’ve said before, there will always be a gang of men with the last word in violence. This last word in violence means they can steal (and call it taxation), because no one can do anything about it. Private security agencies simply will not work because it is in the agencies’ interest to kill the competition, because without competition they no longer have to earn their protection money. They can simply take it.

        As far as limiting this gang of goons goes, I fear that too is impossible. Since they are the last word in violence, they are limited only by their own self-restraint. George Washington stepped down after two terms because he had self-restraint. Sadly, self-restraint is no longer valued in our culture.

        Thus anarchy and limited government are both fantasies.

        1. On the anarchy point I agree. On the limited government point, well, that’s completely ahistorical and imnsho nonsense. If limited government is a fantasy, does that mean it’s valid to equate North Korea with the United States? Of course it’s not valid. because limiting government is possible – we live in a world of limited government right now. It’s not limited *enough* for my tastes, but it is limited.

          1. does that mean it’s valid to equate North Korea with the United States?

            Yeah. Sure. Let’s equate communism to crony capitalism. That’s just stupid. Even for you.

            Government is a one-way ratchet. It’s limited only in what powers it has yet to take. What’s to stop it from taking more power other than the self-restraint with power?

            1. You said limited government was a fantasy. I pointed out that it’s very much a reality.

              1. A government that can compel you to buy health insurance while dictating what kind of oil you may use while cooking dinner is not limited by any stretch of the imagination.

                1. It is limited. It just is not limited *enough*.

                  1. If nothing limits the government from seizing more power, then it is not limited.

                    So tell me Randian, what limits government from taking more power?

                    1. You’re saying that just because something is theoretically limitless means it’s limitless in practice and is limitless *right now*. That just isn’t true.

                    2. Social pressure. See subsequent post.

            2. What’s to stop it from taking more power other than the self-restraint with power?

              Insurrection.

              1. Insurrection.

                That’s the great conundrum. For government to effectively govern, it must have the power to put down insurrection. Yet for it to govern fairly in a limited fashion, the people need to have the power to replace it. Hmmmm.

                1. That’s the great conundrum. For government to effectively govern, it must have the power to put down insurrection.

                  We’ve had this exact discussion before.

            3. I would argue that limited government is temporary, as is anarchy (being the most limited form of government).

          2. The US Govt clearly is operating outside the bounds of the Constitution. What is preventing it from going full retard to Nork status? Clearly not the Constitution, it’s being abandoned with impunity. It’s something else, call it “social pressure”. This “social pressure” is what is limiting the govt, not the Constitution.

            1. I think it really boils down to the fact that the concept of limited government and anarchy both rely on the morality of the people. The only thing we can really do is attempt to persuade people of the immorality of initiating force. No political system is going to solve anything.

            2. There is some rational self interest in there as well. Sure, the leaders of North Korea live nicely and have lots of power in their own little realms, but there are few of them and they are ultimately doomed. In a more limited government like in the US, a whole lot of people can live quite well as parasites on productive society. And most of them are smart enough to see that. You don’t want to kill the host.

        2. Sadly, self-restraint is no longer valued in our culture.

          I’ll just note that this isn’t new; it’s happened to “successful” republics before and it’ll probably happen again.

        3. While history proves you right sarc, the best you can hope for is to define the role of government as limited (through a constitution) and restrict the living shit out of it. This will do two things for you.

          1. It will sustain freedom the longest.
          2. It gives justification for the citizens to throw off tyranny when the time comes.

          1. This. Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau all had theories of how government should be. De Tocqueville showed us how it will be. There is no permanent state of freedom, no natural state of liberty, no social contract that can’t or won’t be broken. The fight for the condition that best serves the interests of man is a continual one and one that cannot be ignored.

            1. This.

              Well said.

        4. ‘As far as limiting this gang of goons goes, I fear that too is impossible. Since they are the last word in violence, they are limited only by their own self-restraint”

          This is incorrect because they only retain the violence monopoly for as long as the cost of acquiescing to them remains lower than the cost of fighting them.

          Whether government or gang power is only ever wielded with the consent of the people. If the ruling group gets too rapacious they will eventually be overthrown and a new group will take their place

      5. Too bad you don’t have a better alternative, Mike.

        1. I do, just take a look at how Josey Wales and Ten Bears handled things.

          1. So your alternative is pure fiction. Great.

            1. It is okay to have fun doing this, anon. Besides, anybody who, in the words of Ten Bears, “did not make peace with the Blue Coats” is awesome!

          2. Ten Bears could just have easily buried Josey up to his neck in an anthill.

            I reckon so.

      6. NASALT
        Not All States Are Like That

    2. Actually the theory goes that you sign up for the social contract so you abide by the outcomes of elections even if you don’t like them. You use all the freedoms you have to go and try to convince people to change their minds. (Following close elections, this shouldn’t take much work.)

      You seem to be claiming that ideally everyone would get everything they want all of the time. But that is of course impossible. The coercive nature of government will always be there (it’s the point of having one). What it uses those powers for are up for democratic debate. Yeah, an essential component of a functioning democracy is a populace mature enough to lose graciously and try again next time.

      1. I can’t really disagree with what you’ve said here, but I’ll highlight that this very problem is one of the reasons markets are a better form of social organization than democracy. In a market, two different people can make two opposite choices and both be satisfied with the results. It’s To Each His Own vs. Winner Take All and latter breeds much deeper conflicts and resentments.

        1. A market left alone is a recipe for the concentration of all resources and wealth in the hands of a few who will inevitably exploit the majority of people for their own ends. There will always be people with advantages, and those will metastasize when unchecked. Capitalism is not a panacea, it is in fact an extremely flawed means of achieving human well-being. It’s perhaps a necessary component of a free society, but it must be strictly regulated and overseen, otherwise it’s just social darwinism in action. Nothing in the history of capitalism suggests otherwise. The only time it’s worked is when it was heavily checked by a free democratic government to smooth its rough edges and redistribute when necessary.

          1. Oh, my. No, capitalism is not a panacea, but it is historically the only way of achieving increased human well-being for large numbers of people over long time scales. It is also an absolutely necessary part of a free society. If you are not free to dispose of your wealth and possessions as you see fit, I don’t see how you can be considered free at all.

          2. Tony:

            The only time it’s worked is when it was heavily checked by a free democratic government to smooth its rough edges and redistribute when necessary.

            You act like the entire history of humanity has been a big, open-minded experiment in organizing society, and that our status quo represents the best way to maximize human well-being that we’ve come up with, so far.

            This is like thinking that a zoo is a big, open-minded experiment in animals organizing their daily lives.

          3. “A market left alone is a recipe for the concentration of all resources and wealth in the hands of a few who will inevitably exploit the majority of people for their own ends.”

            This shows a laughably flawed view of markets since they do not concentrate wealth but multiply it

          4. Says Tony

            “A market left alone is a recipe for the concentration of all resources and wealth in the hands of a few who will inevitably exploit the majority of people for their own ends.”

            And that my friends is the definition of communism. Socialism is communism lite.

            1. So explain what’s wrong with socialism (which is not communism lite at all) rather than simply invoking it as a pejorative.

      2. Tell that to German Jewry of the 40s.

      3. Tell that the Japanese Americans of the 40s.

      4. Tell that to all the American drug war victims behind bars today.

  7. Is it just my imagination or does it always seem that the longer they count the more likely a Democrat wins?

      1. He would agree since it was the Supreme Court which stopped the recounting before Gore wanted them too

        1. You mean stopped the *targeted* recounting. They were fine with all counting being redone, they were not fine with only democratic strongholds being redone.

          1. Isn’t the real scandal that the guy who got fewer votes in the jurisdiction of the office (the country) ended up winning?

            1. What ?

              The Supreme Court ruled that the Democrats in charge of elections in Florida must abide by the election rules that Democrats had already set in place and they weren’t allowed after the fact to change them.

              That is what the Supreme Court ruling was.

              1. I’m saying the biggest scandal is that it was perfectly legal for the guy who got fewer votes to win. The SC deciding who is president is pretty bad too.

                1. The greatest scandal is that who wins the presidency matters a shit-ton. We weren’t supposed to have God-Kings.

                2. Tony:

                  I’m saying the biggest scandal is that it was perfectly legal for the guy who got fewer votes to win. The SC deciding who is president is pretty bad too.

                  This implies that you have a standard that exists outside of our democratically decided laws. Good for you! It’s brave of you to step out like that.

            2. Yes, just as scandalous as the Falcons-Seahawks game in the playoffs last January, when Seattle scored more touchdowns but somehow the Falcons won anyway. Apparently games are played under a different scoring system!

  8. Primary rules like that ? rules about what sort of rules we will have ? are enforced by the judiciary, whose members generally are not elected, precisely in order to insulate them from majority rule.

    Yeah, well that isn’t working out too well either. They can still have majority or congressional deference bias or use other liberty-killing jurisprudence. Furthermore, no legislation needs to show constitutional muster to pass into law, and given the jurisprudence used in determining “government interest” (commerce clause, general welfare, necessary and proper clause), even the constitutionality defense doesn’t help.

    You also need standing to bring forth a case in the first place, something you don’t get when you plea, so you can forget about challenging most criminal laws, and even then, they can simply decline to hear your case. Like:
    Supreme Court Won’t Hear Challenge to NSA’s Collection of Phone Records

    Without comment, the court declined to hear the case brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

  9. The British have not had a party win a majority of the actual votes since the early 1930’s, yet they give the largest party a majority of the seats in Parliament and almost unlimited power.

  10. Who ever wins will have the support of a minority of the people who live in the jurisdiction of the voters. Not all people are allowed to vote; not all allowed voters bother to vote.

    Even the winner of a “landslide” election doesn’t have anything remotely like a mandate to start radical changes in society.

  11. On democracy…
    http://radishmag.wordpress.com…..llectuals/

  12. Once again the recounts continue until the Dem wins, then the (re)counts stop and the winner is declared.

    Why bother even counting if the exit polls are within 5 percent?

  13. I found the flaw in your thinking:

    And yet someone has to be governor…

  14. Majority rule makes sense, but just barely.

    The idea behind majority rule (and elections) was that it would be easier and cause less damage to count up who had more supporters, rather for rival wanna-be rulers to take their armies to the field and decide it by force of arms. The side with the most armed supporters usually wins, so why not skip the bloodshed phase?

    It’s all based on a flawed premise of course: no one has the right to rule another. Government should be limited to pursuing and punishing those who would rob, steal and kill, rather than elevating them to kingship.

    1. The side with the most armed supporters usually wins, so why not skip the bloodshed phase?

      I’d rather die than live without a few choice liberties, so there’s that.

  15. Democracy is just about the worst way possible to run a country. Except, of course, for all the others.

    A common excuse. Why not let people join separate governments? You like the Democratic Party, sign up for their taxes and regulations. You like the Republicans, sign up for theirs. You don’t need either of them, you get left alone as long as you don’t try to hurt anyone or take what isn’t yours.

    1. Having the monopoly on organized violence give you license to steal. That incentive throws a monkey wrench into the notion of multiple governments or security agencies peacefully competing over a geographical area. Why peacefully compete for voluntary contributions when you can kill the competition and then force people to pay for your protection under threat of violence?

      1. Which would never happen in the absence of government, except for all the time.

        1. Tony, what empirical proof do you have that this would be so?

          We do know that several hundred million people have been killed by the state in the last 150 years. Upon what basis can you argue that just as many people would have been murdered without nation states?

          1. There will always be nation states because there will always be men with the monopoly on organized violence using that monopoly as license to steal, then using those liberated funds to build armies to go kill people. Death and taxes cannot be avoided.

            1. Those men (and women) never have an actual monopoly on organized violence, just a claimed one.

              If a large enough, and well armed enough, minority of the populace rejects the notion of that or any monopoly’s legitimacy, then government will cease to exist in that area until the lesson is forgotten.

              1. If a large enough, and well armed enough, minority of the populace rejects the notion of that or any monopoly’s legitimacy, then government will cease to exist in that area until the lesson is forgotten.

                Part of effective governing is not allowing such groups to form, and killing them when they do.

            2. Sarcasmic:

              Death and taxes cannot be avoided.

              Also, there will probably always be child rapists. I’ve never been eager to carve out special acceptance for things just because they may be unavoidable.

          2. LM, at best I think you can say that in anarchy the violence would be distributed and unorganized, unlike Mao’s Great Leap Forward, the Holocaust, and Stalin’s purges. However, the violence would still be there.

          3. I would argue that it is nearly totally certain that the death toll would have been much higher.

            Human institutions (government being the primary one) are perhaps the most important factor in societies preventing violence. Where violence is highest, today and in the past, is where there is a conspicuous lack of institutions. It’s telling that you blame “the state” for those killings (as if there is only one kind). You need to blame totalitarianism, dogmatism, nationalism, what have you, not the concept of government itself (which isn’t ever going away).

            1. I don’t think anyone here is anti-institution. If you want to conflate the two after admitting their different, then that’s your problem, not libertarians.

            2. So it was a lack of institutions that led to millions of people killed in Stalin’s purge, Hitler’s holocaust, and the Khmer Rouge’s killing fields. Sure. Whatever you say.

              1. “So it was a lack of institutions that led to millions of people killed in Stalin’s purge”

                Yep, it’s not the lack of institutions that correlates to violence, it’s the lack of individual property rights.

              2. No, but it also wasn’t “government.” It was genocidal regimes. They happen. They would happen more without “government.”

                1. Those genocidal regimes were government Tony.

            3. I don’t think that is entirely clear. I’m sure there would have been plenty of violence in a 20th century without modern nation states, but it may well not have been so massively organized. The world wars adn the great communist mass murders happened largely because of institutions and people who thought they could plan the future for millions of people.

              1. By what mechanism do you prevent humans from massively organizing?

                1. Tony:

                  By what mechanism do you prevent humans from massively organizing?

                  Historically, you do this through repressive government.

  16. Freedom of speech, for instance, cannot be abridged simply because a majority would like to shut someone up.

    Only quibble I have with this piece. A large enough majority going through the proper channels can repeal the 1st Amendment. But this is an exception to the normal order of things in a democracy, in which majorities rule, even slim ones (because it’s better than the minority ruling). Libertarians have a disturbing tendency to assume that all of their policy priorities ought to be shielded from democratic choice. Because they are just right, now and forever, of course.

    1. Take your Rousseau and shove it up your ass.

      Libertarians have a tendency to assume that certain individual rights should not be abridged in spite of the wishes of the majority.

      1. Just like everyone else?

        1. No, not like everyone else. Certainly not like you. Your prescriptions for governmental solutions trample all over individual negative rights in the name of positive rights that cannot be granted without the use of coercion that extends into every nook and cranny of our lives.

          1. Assclown makes no distinction between positive and negative rights. A right to Tony is anything the government decides to grant the individual though mob rule.

          2. So are you simply labeling all your priorities individual rights, and getting them out of democratic accountability that way? I’m not sure what rights you think I’m trampling. The right not to be taxed? Doesn’t exist, and never has.

            And this coercion thing just doesn’t fly. You can’t think government coercion is bad and then say government should only do those things that require shooting and imprisoning people.

            1. We can, however, say that coercion is only justified in response to coercion or attempted coercion. The “response” part is the key. So what’s wrong with saying government can never initiate coercion, but can use it in response to the intiation of coercion?

              1. Tony doesn’t understand what “initiate” and “response” mean. It’s all the same to him.

              2. What’s wrong is it sounds like a flimsy semantic excuse justifying a broad and radical alteration to society that nobody actually wants.

                Government can shoot you for walking on someone else’s lawn, but it can’t tax people to pay for a healthcare system? Why is one legitimate coercion and the other is not? “Initiation” is kind of a minor technical point that often is no clearer than the “chicken or egg” debate.

                1. Government can shoot you for walking on someone else’s lawn, but it can’t tax people to pay for a healthcare system?

                  Like I just said, Tony simply does not comprehend what “initiate” and “response” mean.

                  1. Like I just said, Tony simply does not comprehend what “initiate” and “response” mean.

                    I guess I should have also explained proportionality to him…?

                    1. I guess I should have also explained proportionality to him…?

                      No point. You see, Tony cannot learn. Learning involves evaluating ideas on merit. As in having actual thoughts. Tony’s brain doesn’t work that way. He evaluates ideas based upon the source. So he may allow himself to be taught, depending on the source, and then regurgitate what his source taught him, but he is not capable of learning.

                    2. I am better acquainted with what you guys think than most liberals, and I’m still calling bullshit. It could be that I’m cosmically bad at understanding your very, very simplistic ideology, or it could be that your ideology actually is as stupid as it seems.

                    3. I am better acquainted with what you guys think than most liberals

                      No you’re not. You’ve spent years here and haven’t learned a thing. All you do is argue against a caricature that has been taught to you by sources you trust, while refusing to learn a damn thing.
                      It’s quite pathetic. Seriously. Pathetic.

                    4. It could be that I’m cosmically bad at understanding your very, very simplistic ideology

                      It is a very simple ideology. All the best ones are.

                    5. No, simple ideologies for how human beings en masse should live are always very, very bad.

                    6. No, simple ideologies for how human beings en masse should live are always very, very bad.

                      Citation needed.

                      And “idolizing authority” (be it a religion, a dictator or a clan leader) is not a simple ideology. Any ideology that depends on the whim of a human is just as complicated as that human. And most humans are really, really complicated.

                  2. “Like I just said, Tony simply does not comprehend what ‘initiate’ and ‘response’ mean.”

                    At some point, we’ll all stop trying to explain it to him. If he doesn’t understand the difference between responding to a trespasser and arbitrarily implementing a healthcare system, then it’s clearly very futile.

                2. Tony:

                  “Initiation” is kind of a minor technical point that often is no clearer than the “chicken or egg” debate.

                  And, if it’s not simple and clear, it must be wrong, right?

                  1. “”And, if it’s not simple and clear, it must be wrong, right?””

                    If it’s not simple and clear it better be incredibly rigorous….which rules out haphazard collection of random appeals to emotion that make up the entirety of progressivism.

            2. So are you simply labeling all your priorities individual rights, and getting them out of democratic accountability that way?

              No, you immoral cunt. NEGATIVE vs POSITIVE rights. This has been explained to you no less than 1000 times and you keep coming back as though the conversation never happened, you immoral disingenuous little cunt.

              You can’t think government coercion is bad and then say government should only do those things that require shooting and imprisoning people.

              False assertion. Of course I can. There is a proper role for government and that’s to protect individual rights. Which has also been explained to you about 1000 times, you disgusting immoral shitweasel.

              1. And I’ve explained a similar number of times why there is no real distinction between negative and positive rights.

                1. And I’ve explained a similar number of times why there is no real distinction between negative and positive rights.

                  A. That’s a fucking lie.
                  B. The only way to justify such a statement is to admit you are an immoral pig who justifies taking what he hasn’t earned.

                  You are completely void of any redeeming quality. You disgust me. You are a vile immoral swine.

                  1. And you need to read another fucking book.

                    1. Herpity Derpity doo.

                      You fucking immoral piece of dung.

                2. And I’ve explained a similar number of times why there is no real distinction between negative and positive rights.

                  Yeah. Because not giving is stealing, and not stealing is giving.

            3. Tony:

              And this coercion thing just doesn’t fly. You can’t think government coercion is bad and then say government should only do those things that require shooting and imprisoning people.

              I thought earlier, you accused Libertarians of “masturabatory rhetoric.”

              Usually, arguing is a two man sport (at least). Yet, you frequently present your own Libertarian arguments, just to know them down, over and over again. Apparently, you’re more comfortable arguing with the Libertarians that live inside your head, then engaging an actual human being.

              If that’s not rhetorical masturbation, I don’t know what is. It fits the metaphor perfectly.

              1. Admittedly I’m not the first one to make this accusation against libertarians: that you are inconsistent in your rhetoric when it comes to government force. It’s entirely legitimate and I don’t see how you argue your way out of the inconsistency.

                The fact is all your rhetoric serves to do what I said: excuse your policy priorities from democratic accountability.

                1. Tony:

                  The fact is all your rhetoric serves to do what I said: excuse your policy priorities from democratic accountability.

                  Democracy is just a way to make a decision. It doesn’t tell anyone what they should or should not think, say, or do.

                  What if everyone votes to ignore democracy? How do you respect democratic accountability in that context?

                  You are presenting the inconsistency. Apparently, whatever any one says or thinks, democratic accountability has to be respected. Really? So there are no simple rules, except that one?

                  Pure contradiction.

                  1. What if everyone votes to ignore democracy?

                    Like say voting to give the head of state absolute powers? Could happen. Has happened. Nobody said democracy was easy or impossible to destroy. On the contrary I think it requires many presuppositions and preconditions, some of which might not even be available without centuries of trial and error first.

                    1. Tony:

                      Nobody said democracy was easy or impossible to destroy.

                      I’m not claiming it’s impossible to destroy. I’m asking you to explain democratic accountability in a situation when people vote to give the government absolute powers? Do you have to destroy democracy, to save it? Or do you save democracy, by destroying it?

                      Because standing on no principle with any sense of firmness except democracy is about as vacuous as you can be.

                    2. I can certainly imagine scenarios in which democracy must be sidelined as a priority when even more basic things (like the very survival of a state and its citizens) are threatened. Free societies do decide when things like martial law, etc., are warranted. But that’s always going to be a precarious situation. But we could all get hit by an asteroid too.

                      I am in no way claiming that democracy is a moral good unto itself. It is a useful practice that serves to make a society work as best it can according to the interests of the people who inhabit it, as well as conferring a peace-promoting legitimacy on government actions.

                    3. Tony:

                      I am in no way claiming that democracy is a moral good unto itself. It is a useful practice.

                      Great, then you’ve answered your own question. It’s just a way of making decisions.

                      This would be a great explanation for why someone would say something like “You know, I don’t think the government should force any kind of religious worship or preferences on any one else. Even if the majority disagrees.”

                      Seems like a perfectly rational thought for someone to have, especially someone who’s primary goal is human well-being. Probably something you would agree with.

                      So, when you complain about libertarians thinking this about more than just state religion and abortion regulations, you’re just bothered by the disagreement. Then, you try to hold democracy up as some legitimizing trump card, which is nothing more, at that point, than a double-standard.

                      I think we’ve figured it out now.

                    4. “You know, I don’t think the government should force any kind of religious worship or preferences on any one else. Even if the majority disagrees.”

                      The reason this is a protected right is because when the majority disagrees, bad things happen that threaten the free participation in society that democracy depends on. Certain rights are protected from majorities because of democracy’s underlying importance. You don’t have a democracy when you have suppression of groups and speech. The Bill of Rights was a giant leap in the course of liberalism (not libertarianism), which has been expanded on (though not always with the benefit of constitutional supermajoritarian protection).

                      You not wanting to pay 3% more in taxes does not meet the test of protected rights. It’s a routine matter of policy that should respect majority rules.

                    5. Tony:

                      The reason this is a protected right is because when the majority disagrees, bad things happen that threaten the free participation in society that democracy depends on. Certain rights are protected from majorities because of democracy’s underlying importance.

                      This is not the foundation of the separation of church and state. They didn’t come up with it because of democracy. This entire post is just your own personal fantasy.

                    6. Separation of church and state:

                      The concept of separating church and state is often credited to the writings of English philosopher John Locke (1632?1704).[8] According to his principle of the social contract, Locke argued that the government lacked authority in the realm of individual conscience, as this was something rational people could not cede to the government for it or others to control. For Locke, this created a natural right in the liberty of conscience, which he argued must therefore remain protected from any government authority. These views on religious tolerance and the importance of individual conscience, along with his social contract, became particularly influential in the American colonies and the drafting of the United States Constitution.[9]

                      I don’t see the “democracy is interfered with” part.

                    7. “You not wanting to pay 3% more in taxes does not meet the test of protected rights. It’s a routine matter of policy that should respect majority rules.”

                      Why say 3% then? If what you say is true, if 51% determined they should like to seize from the other 49%, say, 80% of their earnings then, if I understand your argument, this is not a violation of property rights but rather “a routine policy that should respect majority rules.” [sic]

                2. Tony:

                  Admittedly I’m not the first one to make this accusation against libertarians: that you are inconsistent in your rhetoric when it comes to government force. It’s entirely legitimate and I don’t see how you argue your way out of the inconsistency.

                  Not in any way that progressives aren’t. Progressives are just fine using force to regulate all sorts of economic activity, social activity, etc. But, somehow, gay marriage and abortion are off limits? Why? Why not? Is that not arbitrary?

                  Why doesn’t the government regulate friendship? Some people don’t have friends. Doesn’t that hurt him? Can’t we help maximize human well-being by forcing at least some minimum number of people to be friends for everyone? Why? Why not?

                  If you agree or disagree, is that position “arbitrary”? Why or why not?

                  Your constant whining and moaning about libertarian arbitrariness and inconsistency is just a double-standard. It’s just a manipulative way to start every conversation by putting libertarians on the defensive.

                  Sorry, but libertarians can claim to be motivated by greater human happiness, just like you. You don’t get to avoid the label of arbitrariness simply by going to motive and good intensions, and presenting it as such is a remarkably weak argument.

                  1. Is that not arbitrary?

                    No, it’s not arbitrary. The fact that certain individual rights are protected from majorities is a progressive idea. But those rights are specific and defined because they are particularly vulnerable to attacks from majorities. I also think healthcare should be a right, but I think its particulars should be left to legislatures, since there’s nothing unpopular about getting healthcare (perhaps I assume too much here?)

                    Other protected rights include defendant’s rights (another vulnerable group) and of course the right to vote. All of these are in the service of preserving democracy. Which means democracy is, if not the ultimate good, the most fundamental precondition for it.

                    1. Tony:

                      No, it’s not arbitrary. The fact that certain individual rights are protected from majorities is a progressive idea. But those rights are specific and defined because they are particularly vulnerable to attacks from majorities. Other protected rights include defendant’s rights (another vulnerable group) and of course the right to vote. All of these are in the service of preserving democracy.

                      This is self-contradictory. First, since we’re talking “protection” of rights, we’re talking about laws. Also, since there’s a distinction of “protection” of rights and rights themselves, they are not the same thing. If a right is defined because its vulnerable to attack without law, then this implies it exists without being protected by law.

                      democracy:a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.

                      Every right we have (and that progressives like) isn’t in the service of preserving democracy. How do abortion rights preserve democracy? How does gay marriage preserve democracy? It doesn’t. Lumping every right into democracy or support for democracy is bizarre.

                      You haven’t shown that democracy trumps all, nor have you shown that your insistence that it does is any more or less arbitrary. In fact, your attempt to portray all legal rights as enacted to serve democracy is just revisionist history.

                3. that you are inconsistent in your rhetoric when it comes to government force.

                  Uh, actually we’re quite consistent. The fact that you don’t understand what “initiate” and “response” mean doesn’t make us inconsistent. No. It makes you stupid.

            4. I’m not sure what rights you think I’m trampling.

              I’m certain you would severely limit freedom of speech given the option. Of course, you wouldn’t call it that. You would refer to it as protecting the rights of others who would be offended by that speech. Or certainly you would abridge freedom of speech by limiting political speech in the name of fairness and equality.

              1. Or certainly you would abridge freedom of speech by limiting political speech in the name of fairness and equality.

                Tolerance. Tolerant people do not have to tolerate ideas that they find to be objectionable. So in the name of tolerance, all people with politically disagreeable beliefs must be exterminated.

              2. I’m a hair’s width away from being a free speech absolutist, so no.

                1. Time to trim that hair’s tresses.

        2. Tony:

          Just like everyone else?

          If that’s true, then let me FIFY:

          Libertarians have Everyone has a disturbing tendency to assume that all of their policy priorities ought to be shielded from democratic choice. Because they are just right, now and forever, of course.

          1. No. Not like libertarians. My city just elected a mayor I despise. I’m not going to claim that the outcome was illegitimate, because it wasn’t. I was simply outvoted. It is certainly not the case that most people are as immature as libertarians.

            1. Tony:

              It is certainly not the case that most people are as immature as libertarians.

              This is from a person who trolls libertarian forums, mainly for the pleasure he derives from hurling ad hominems and name calling?

              I think you lost the necessary credibility to complain about immaturity a long time ago.

              1. But I try to do it with a little flair at least.

                1. Oh, come now, don’t be so generous on yourself.

      2. Tony’s broken brain sees no distinction between acting without interference and interfering with others. It’s all force. You see, if you want to act without interference, someone else may initiate force on you anyway. Then you’ll need to use force to stop that force that they initiated. So everything is force.

      3. “Take your Rousseau and shove it up your ass.”

        I don’t understand this. You appear to be arguing for the Libertarian ideal where everyone is free to do as they please as long as they don’t hurt anyone else or take that which isn’t theirs. Yet, you engage in personal insults which can be seen as an attempt to hurt someone’s feelings which is just about the only way you can hurt someone online.

        I don’t like Tony’s style. He unnecessarily adds emotion to his posts and I understand why he attracts so much negative attention. However, those who use personal insults are appear to be ganging up on him.

        The comments section is a form of an online community where people are free to exercise their individual freedoms with no moderation (governance). Yet instead of an ideal Libertarian community there are groups of people who prefer personal insults over reason.

        If Libertarian ideals cannot prevail in this comment section where there are few real world consequences then how can they prevail in the real world?

        Your passion is admirable, but control yourself. Show us that Libertarian ideals can create the kind of limited governance, high individual freedom community we say we want.

    2. in which majorities rule, even slim ones (because it’s better than the minority ruling).

      Based on what principle? “Majorities are better because majorities are better” isn’t a principle, it’s a tautology.

      1. In any contest the winners are happy and the losers are sad. So if the majority always wins then there are always more happier people than sadder people. Or somthing like that…

      2. Well, who would decide when minorities should prevail? And wouldn’t that person in effect be deciding all matters (i.e., a tyrant)? Sure, the judiciary in its capacity to interpret the constitution sometimes overrules majorities, but majority rule in routine matters is simply the essence of fairness. Get a committee together of 10 people tasked with doing something. What possible way other than majority rule is there to make decisions that would be accepted as legitimate by all 10?

        1. Get a committee together of 10 people tasked with doing something. What possible way other than majority rule is there to make decisions that would be accepted as legitimate by all 10?

          Get rid of the committee (which presumably is based on coercion and a claimed monopoly on violence), and have people contract with each other based on mutual consent?

          1. Ten people live on a neighborhood block. They freely decided to get together to decide some things relating to common spaces and regulations of activity on that block. It’s all perfectly free and perfectly practical.

            Now say 1 guy moves away and another person moves in to take his place. Does that guy get to claim the right to ignore any and all of the neighborhood committee’s decisions?

            1. Does that guy get to claim the right to ignore any and all of the neighborhood committee’s decisions?

              Alternatively, let’s say six of the people decide to take the other four people’s houses and turn them into a “common space”. Is it all still “perfectly free and perfectly practical?”

            2. Does that guy get to claim the right to ignore any and all of the neighborhood committee’s decisions?

              Yes, unless a covenant exists on the property to which the new owner must ascribe to before buying the property. A covenant which only the previous owner can put on the property. Standard contractual law.

              1. Which serves as a good metaphor for the social contract. For practical reasons having to do with the nature of how humans come into the world, you are enrolled automatically (or if you prefer, by your parents as your custodians upon your birth).

                1. No, it’s completely different. You can’t be enrolled in a covenant without your consent. The covenant only binds the current property owner: it’s agreement that they won’t sell the property or give it away to someone who hasn’t first agreed to the covenant. The social “contract”, on the other hand, is something forced on you without your consent. It fails to meet even the basic requirements for a valid contract, a meeting of the minds and voluntary consent.

    3. Libertarians have a disturbing tendency to assume that all of their policy priorities ought to be shielded from democratic choice. Because they are just right, now and forever, of course.

      We have given some very good reasons why our policy priorities should be shielded from the tyranny of the majority and you routinely fail to present a compelling argument otherwise. In fact, as a gay man you should understand those reasons better than most.

      1. No you haven’t. There is a difference between constitutionally protected individual rights (which are not subject to simple majority whims), and everything else (which are). You guys want bonus points for your policy priorities with absolutely no justification except that you don’t like it that your priorities tend not to be shared by majorities. A flat tax is not a civil right.

        1. A flat tax is not a civil right.

          I will agree with you on that, though I’m not sure where it came from…

          There is a difference between constitutionally protected individual rights (which are not subject to simple majority whims), and everything else (which are).

          Legally, yes. But our reasons are generally moral.

          You guys want bonus points for your policy priorities with absolutely no justification except that you don’t like it that your priorities tend not to be shared by majorities.

          Achieving our policy priorities would harm no one. Achieving the majority’s policy priorities routinely harms a lot of people, including us. That’s the justification.

          1. Achieving our policy priorities would harm no one.

            Well that’s bullshit on a stick. You guys would alter the landscape of society so radically that it would literally affect everyone’s life to a drastic degree (and in my opinion, for the worse in most cases). I just want to rearrange some taxing and spending.

            It helps that my first priority is in increasing human well-being, while yours is limiting government (which you might assume would increase human well-being, but it doesn’t really matter either way).

            1. Tony:

              It helps that my first priority is in increasing human well-being,

              Really? It sounds like your first responsibility is “respect democracy.”

              1. That’s a good point, Brian. I think you just caught Tony out in a lie.

              2. As I explain elsewhere, that is not the case.

                Democracy is an important component to maximizing human well-being, since people are getting to decide things for themselves (as rational actors all working for their own self-interest, of course–surely you’re not saying they need benevolent libertarian overlords to tell them what’s best for them).

                1. Tony:

                  Democracy is an important component to maximizing human well-being, since people are getting to decide things for themselves (as rational actors all working for their own self-interest

                  This statement contradicts itself.

                  You talk as if we all become some united hive mind by simply voting for a ruler. We don’t. Voting for a ruler to make rules for all regardless of what they think is not accuracy described as deciding things for yourself. Similarly, letting people decide things for themselves does not require democracy, or majority rule over other human beings, or rulers.

                  You consistently conflate the two. That’s your problem, not libertarians.

                  Regardless, if you’re first priority is increasing human well-being, then this would strongly imply that democracy should not be respected when it contradicts human well-being. For example, democratic support for all the horribly repressive laws and property rights violations that government has been responsible for.

                  This is a good thing, even in the context of democracy. Lots of laws were repealed by people saying “This is wrong” (see slavery, prohibitions against gay marriage), not, “This is totally acceptable and legitimate by our democratic process, but, I’m afraid we might be achieving suboptimal performance in terms of human happiness.” Good luck with that. And remember to advocate your own policies for change with the same weakness.

                  1. Similarly, letting people decide things for themselves does not require democracy, or majority rule over other human beings, or rulers.

                    I get where you’re coming from with this, but the presumption is we’re talking about things that affect everyone in the relevant jurisdiction. There are decisions like this. Furthermore it is not a more free society in which people are constrained from making collective decisions about things that affect them collectively.

                    democracy should not be respected when it contradicts human well-being

                    But what’s the alternative? You follow by saying unjust laws were repealed. Yeah, via the democratic process. I don’t get your point. Are you saying there is a set of policies out in the cosmos that accords with The Good that people need to simply accept? Democracy and social progress happen by stumbling along, but that’s better than any alternative I can think of or that you’ve articulated.

                    Do I believe that revolution is ever justified? Yes–when democracy is subverted and thus there is no other recourse. But not because a free democratic society doesn’t give you everything you want. Not that you aren’t free to try.

                    1. Tony:

                      You follow by saying unjust laws were repealed. Yeah, via the democratic process. I don’t get your point. Are you saying there is a set of policies out in the cosmos that accords with The Good that people need to simply accept? Democracy and social progress happen by stumbling along, but that’s better than any alternative I can think of or that you’ve articulated.

                      Because this entire argument started with you faulting libertarians for believing that their principles trump democracy. I’m sorry, but this implies that there is a set of policies that are good and that people should except, regardless of if they do.

                      For example: what progress would we have made in terms of gay marriage if everyone’s starting point had to be that laws banning gay marriage were democratically decided and, therefore, are legitimate? If everyone’s default position on any existing law has to be respect because “democracy”, then the majority is self-legitimizing. Your entire argument just devolves into a way to justify everything that happens in a democracy. That would be convenient if it were true, since libertarians typically favor less government, but embracing that specifically for that convenience is incredibly weak.

                      In other words, you can’t have people changing the law for the better, without admitting that it’s wrong in the first place. This implies a standard of comparison. Again, you’re persecuting libertarians for practices you embrace yourself.

                    2. what progress would we have made in terms of gay marriage if everyone’s starting point had to be that laws banning gay marriage were democratically decided and, therefore, are legitimate?

                      What progress would there have been if all people did was shout principles into the wind? Seems to me all the progress that’s been made has happened in a (tempered) democratic system involving heated nonviolent debate, changes to law, and constitutional interpretation by courts. I don’t object to any of this.

                      I’m also under no illusion that any progress would be possible in a society that overwhelmingly approved of the oppression of gays. But that wouldn’t have been the fault of democracy! Getting rid of democracy wouldn’t have solved that.

                    3. Tony:

                      What progress would there have been if all people did was shout principles into the wind? Seems to me all the progress that’s been made has happened in a (tempered) democratic system involving heated nonviolent debate, changes to law, and constitutional interpretation by courts. I don’t object to any of this.

                      Great, but this has nothing to do with the point of the argument: having standards outside of the law, which are required to have even the motivation to make democratic or constitutional arguments in the first place.

                      I’m also under no illusion that any progress would be possible in a society that overwhelmingly approved of the oppression of gays. But that wouldn’t have been the fault of democracy! Getting rid of democracy wouldn’t have solved that.

                      No one is asserting that getting rid of democracy would help the gays. You’re back to straw manning again. There’s an issue here: standards outside of law, and now you’re choosing to ignore it, and pretend we’re arguing about something else. That doesn’t speak very well of your own opinion as to the strength of your argument.

                2. Democracy is an important component to maximizing human well-being, since people are getting to decide things for themselves (as rational actors all working for their own self-interest…

                  Public Choice 101…rational actors working for their own self-interest will choose to not participate in democracy.

                  Your ignorance is astounding.

                  1. rational actors working for their own self-interest will choose to not participate in democracy.

                    Why not? In any other system you are either a tyrant or a slave. And there are a lot more slaves. Probability-wise you’re better off with democracy by a long shot.

            2. Not giving is not the same as taking.

              /sarcasmic

              My first priority is in treating everyone like equals. The maximization of human well-being is just a side effect.

            3. I just want to rearrange some taxing and spending.

              It helps that my first priority is in increasing human well-being

              You left off the ending to that second sentence “… using coercion, and killing or imprisoning anyone who disagrees with how and who I define as having increased well-being, even if said “helped” people don’t particularly feel helped”.

              1. prole how exactly would you go about enacting your (much more radical) changes? What if, as seems to be the case, very few people want these changes?

            4. Tony:

              I just want to rearrange some taxing and spending.

              The fact that you have such low standards is not our problem.

              1. So you admit that you’re a radical who wants to interfere significantly with the lives of every American because you think you know what’s best for them? I think you should at least admit that, because it’s pretty clearly true.

                1. Stop engaging in rhetorical masturbation. Watching you argue into your own hand is really getting boring at this point.

                  1. It’s a hugely important point. You guys argue for a wholesale restructuring of society. Fine. But how do you get there while preserving everyone’s individual freedom?

                    1. Tony:

                      But how do you get there while preserving everyone’s individual freedom?

                      I don’t think you can guarantee everyone’s individual freedom being preserved. Is this something that the status quo achieves? Or are you just engaging in a nirvana fallacy?

                      Anyway, we are here, and human beings were at a very different place 500 years ago. I assume that, at some point, someone advocated for a different society. Did they have a 500 point plan that proved to everyone their individual freedoms would be preserved? Probably not. But, since the status quo doesn’t do that either, people were open to new ideas.

                      Go ahead and present us with your “but progressivism is tested and it works well enough for everyone! We just want to tweak taxes and spending, while you want to flush us down the toilet with utopian fantasies” argument again. How often do you argue into your own hand every day, anyway?

                    2. It is just a bit worrying that you are skeptical of democracy and want a radical restructuring of society, for obvious reasons.

            5. “Well that’s bullshit on a stick. You guys would alter the landscape of society so radically that it would literally affect everyone’s life to a drastic degree (and in my opinion, for the worse in most cases). I just want to rearrange some taxing and spending.”

              And that Ladies and Gentlemen is Obamacare explained.

              1. Possibly the least intrusive means of healthcare reform imaginable?

                1. Are you really saying that O’care is the least intrusive method of healthcare reform imaginable ?

                  Whaaat ?

                  Texas has had a 60% increase of applications from doctors who want to move here since tort reform was enacted.

                  There is a start.

  17. Great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities, said Jefferson, but from the Iraq war to Obamacare, they almost always are.

    Except the Iraq War was hardly decided by a slender majority. It passed the House with 69% of the vote and the Senate with 77% of the vote (including majorities of both parties). It may have been a senseless, destructive decision, but it was a senseless, destructive decision with a broad consensus.

  18. Since it is by definition coercing people who never voted for it to do things they don’t want, government should only do things that are absolutely necessary and can only be done through government.

    Thank you for making the case for anarchism, John. Now, define for me those government functions that you feel absolutely, positively can’t be privatized. (Hint: there aren’t any).

    1. Violence can’t be privatized. Well, it can, but it’s practical for those who engage in organized violence to have the monopoly on it, because that gives them license to steal. That and when agencies that engage in violence compete with each other, the loser often ends up dead, leading to a monopoly which then becomes the state.

      1. A majority of people would have to be good, independent, reasonable, responsible individuals for the privatization of violence to work. In other words it will never happen.

        1. Really? Private security guards don’t exist? Private bodyguards don’t exist? Owning your own gun and locking up your own house don’t exist?

          The privatization of violence is a reality that already exists. What we are quibbling about is how much an organized criminal gang with a claimed but not actual monopoly on the use of force should be allowed to abridge that privatization.

          1. I guess I should have said “the complete privatization of violence”.

            1. That was implied. I was trying to get a concrete answer to what forms of violence you feel absolutely, positively can’t be privatized, and for which no existing form of partial privatization (that could be expanded to complete privatization) already exists.

  19. A support the existence of a state. I accept Weber’s definition that the government is the monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. If the state is indeed a monopoly over a certain good, in this case harm, then it is safe to assume that if follows the rules that all other monopolies follow. All Monopolies are “rent seeking”. That is, they seek to provide less of a product at a higher price than the market would normally provide. We see this in industries where the State has withdrawn its services, black markets. In the drug trade there is a great deal of violence, and they are very efficient at delivering it, because disputes still arise between parties and when neither wishes to yield there is no superior force to which they can appeal, like a state run court. Therefore a free market has evolved to provide those services. They are very good. The results are nearly immediate. There is no long trials or costly fees, and you get resolution very quickly. This is not a good thing. In summation, if there is one product I don’t mind there not being much of in the marketplace it is violence. I want the government to be the only institution that is able to use force and I want them to be very bad at it.

    1. Wow, I got the first word wrong.

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  21. I don’t understand why people on this site, ie: those of a typically constitutional mindset, are spending so much time arguing the merits (or lack there of) of democracy. According to my understanding of the Constitution, we (are supposed to) live in a constitutional (not democratic) republic. The difference is “majority” vs over-whelming or super majority.
    By engaging in these conversations and debates, without even bringing this fact up, we aid the march from republic to democracy. I’m not saying we should refuse to discuss it, just that we should remember the constitution and republic when we do.
    Remember the words of Ben Franklin next time you think of democracy: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”

    1. I don’t understand why people on this site, ie: those of a typically constitutional mindset, are spending so much time arguing the merits (or lack there of) of democracy. According to my understanding of the Constitution, we (are supposed to) live in a constitutional (not democratic) republic.

      Because, Xiondel, around here, that’s a given.

    2. The 17th Amendment killed the republic and replaced it with a representative democracy.

      1. Do some research into why it was felt necessary to enact that amendment. Or explain why the prior way of electing senators is preferable with respect to freedom. I really do not get this particular crusade.

        1. Do some research into why it was felt necessary to enact that amendment.

          I have.

          Or explain why the prior way of electing senators is preferable with respect to freedom.

          *sigh* It’s a waste of time since you are impervious to learning, but maybe my explanation will help someone else.

          Pre-17A the Senate was the state governments’ representation in the federal government. Theoretically it was a check against federal legislation that compels state governments to do things they would not choose to do on their own, like unfunded mandates, speed limits, drinking ages, etc.

          As it is, state governments can take things up in court, like the ACA for example, but it would be better if those things were never passed in the first place.

          So I can understand why you would support the 17A, because it reduced an impediment to increasing government and the passage of legislation.

          1. Exactly. Pre-17A the states fought for their rights via the Senate while the people used the House. In this way, the federal government was forced to have the support of the people AND the states. Now, it’s a monstrosity that does whatever it pleases with impunity and no one to answer to. So, yeah, thank FED we have that 17th. FED be praised and FED bless you all!

          2. In your studies you must have missed the part where senate seats were being filled by bribery and other forms of corruption when they were done by appointment by state legislature. But the larger problem is that the body pre-17A was meant to mirror the House of Lords, literally being composed of Top Men who would temper the populism of the House. This may or may not be a noble goal, but what it has to do with individual liberty escapes me.

            This is one of those times when your stated principles run up against neoconfederate obsessions, with hilarity ensuing. (‘Twas the John Birch Society that started the repeal movement.)

            1. The problem I see with your argument (outside of implying anyone against the 17th is neoconfederate or racist) is it seems to assume Senate seats aren’t being dealt with like that now. At least pre-17A you had a 3 way fight (fed, state, persons), each with vested and personal interests, butting heads, and having to negotiate to get anything even so much as started. Now, highest bidder gets the seat and all are loyal to the fed. And, you think that’s better for liberty?

              1. I’m for abolishing the Senate.

                (Provided we take House district-drawing out of the hands of politicians and make other pro-representative reforms there.)

                1. And the check/balance for the House at that point would be what? The first time you had a party majority in the house and that party was also in the White House, it’d be over. There would be nothing to stop that party from fundamentally changing not only the fabric, but also the very nature, of this nation. The current system is corrupt enough, I can’t see handing it a free pass and just having faith it won’t abuse. You don’t have to have all the answers or solutions to notice, and call out, the problems that exist. It’s only by pointing these things out to more people that we can truly start to develop a real solution (though, I personally doubt any would be perfect) via the free market of ideas. Pro/con discussions, debating theories, trying localized/small scale experiments, etc. with the goal of maximum personal liberty and representation are all needed in order to fix and restore our Republic.

    3. That quote was not made by Benjamin Franklin (nor does the word “lunch” appear anywhere in the English language until the 1820s). It is also problematic. What’s the alternative? Two wolves and a lamb individually deciding what’s for lunch? How is that better for the lamb, exactly?

  22. Tony:

    What’s the alternative? Two wolves and a lamb individually deciding what’s for lunch? How is that better for the lamb, exactly?

    Because, in that scenario, you’re not telling the lamb that engaging in self-defense is inherently wrong, because “democracy!”.

    1. But the result would still be a dead lamb or, by some miracle, two dead wolves. The only way to get the three to get along peacefully is to instill legitimacy in their approach to making lunch policy (democracy) and have a law against murder of lambs. I can’t make any promises that a society composed of two wolves and a lamb would make that law, but such is the nature of wolves and lambs. My point is your alternative leaves nobody any better off.

      1. The point, as I take it, is 2 fold. 1) Democracy only represents the mob. 2) The ‘wolves’ will eat the lamb anyway, if they choose too, so why the farce of a ‘democratic vote’? I don’t know that there is a perfect solution to full representation, but the closer to the constitution we stay, the easier things are to deal with. At least that way there was a sense of our reps defending us. Your solution would be to use the state to give special rights to the lamb (a law against murder of lambs). How is that fair to the wolves, who can still be murdered? Do you use the state to make a new law giving wolves the same special rights as the lamb? Then, where does that wheel quit rolling? When is enough state enough? I’m not trying to preach anarchy, just making a point about fixing things with the state.

        1. Okay, a law against murder of anyone. If this doesn’t sound particularly easy to accomplish in this hypothetical society, well, all it takes is about 10,000 years of social progress. I think it would be rather optimistic to think that you can do any other form of society easily.

          1. Tony:

            Okay, a law against murder of anyone. If this doesn’t sound particularly easy to accomplish in this hypothetical society, well, all it takes is about 10,000 years of social progress. I think it would be rather optimistic to think that you can do any other form of society easily.

            Actually, what libertarians want is a society that thinks about some of these things and actually tries to think about why they’re good ideas, and what else they implied?

            Yell, socrates thought slavery was immoral about 2500 years ago. It only took governments about 2000 years to figure it out.

            I’m glad they figured out that murder is wrong, too. Why are these things wrong, and what else do they imply is wrong?

            I see where you’re coming from, Tony. For example: gay marriage. It’s really easy to look at gay marriage arguments about equal protection and say, “See? This gay marriage thing is all about the constitution.” No, it isn’t. It’s not just a coincidence that people want only horrible laws repealed because they violate the constitution. It always starts with people realizing what is right and what is wrong. People go to the government to address their grievances because the government insists on ignoring all grievances except the ones they address. It’s easy in such a system to assume that the government, therefore, defines all legitimate grievances, but it’s just a confused position. Laws exist because of principles. They don’t create principles. See history.

            1. For the sake of avoiding an unnecessarily deep philosophical discussion, I will grant moral presumptions that are prior to law. But that’s not part of the conversation. And if we can go around asserting unassailable moral principles, democratic rule would be pretty high on my list, if not yours.

              The question is by what means, if not democracy (tempered by representation, protections, etc., etc.) do you enact your priorities that aren’t necessarily agreed-upon civil rights?

              1. Tony:

                I will grant moral presumptions that are prior to law. But that’s not part of the conversation.

                You’ve repeatedly asserted that your concept of rights is more valid because democracy and law, whatever that means. You could keep arguing against it, but you’re wise for not doing so.

                The question is by what means, if not democracy (tempered by representation, protections, etc., etc.) do you enact your priorities that aren’t necessarily agreed-upon civil rights?

                There you go again, talking about “agreed-upon” civil rights. You keep conflating democracy with agreement. Democracy is a way to make a decision while people disagree. It doesn’t magically make everyone agree. Therefore, your question is meaningless.

                Furthermore, democracy reflects the majority. You, as an individual, don’t enact anything through democracy. Obama garnered your vote. You didn’t make him president yourself, nor did you write Obamacare. Therefore, the question is also meaningless on those grounds.

                I enact my priorities though my action. It’s the only way anyone can. Telling yourself you’re living your priorities by hopping in a voting both and pulling a lever every few years is a form of grand, self-delusion. You’re just giving some ruler an almost meaningless amount of your own approval. Believe it or not, politicians just use your vote to pretend to be legitimate. They don’t really know what you think about them, or their policies.

          2. Why a law? Why do you want to build up the state? Why not accept that murder, theft, assault, rape, etc are all violations of your rights. That alone makes those acts “illegal”, as one doesn’t have the right to violate another persons rights. From there, society (jury) can judge and punish accordingly. Laws are redundant to start with and making one for every problem is just absurd. It’s like the law(s) against suicide. Killing yourself is illegal, but attempting to kill yourself is not. How do you enforce laws on the dead? That is the redundancy of the argument for more government and more laws.

            1. society (jury) can judge and punish accordingly.

              Making laws absolutely necessary rather than redundant. Or should the roomful of hicks and psychopaths (going by my jury duty experience) get to decide people’s fates on personal whim?

              And how do you get a jury together without a legal means of conscription? The right to a jury is most certainly not a “negative” right.

              1. The right to vote carries with it an obligation to participate in society. If you register to vote, you register for jury duty as well. You don’t need a law there. It’s a contract. If you vote, then refuse jury duty, you have violated your contract and imposed on the rights of other voters. Those other voters will uphold their end of the contract and become jury members to judge the “defendant”, and the reasons, for breaking contract and imposing on voter rights. And, yes, if “hicks” and “psychopaths” are the only ones registering to vote, and willing to uphold contracts, they will be the jury members. If you don’t like the jury pool in your area, encourage more people to participate.

      2. The only way to get the three to get along peacefully is to instill legitimacy in their approach to making lunch policy (democracy) and have a law against murder of lambs. I can’t make any promises that a society composed of two wolves and a lamb would make that law, but such is the nature of wolves and lambs. My point is your alternative leaves nobody any better off.

        You’ve just admitted what we’re saying here: before you can establish laws against murder, you have to install legitimacy in the approach. This implies that legitimacy exists outside of law, and is not, itself, established from law.

        So, what you’re really admitting is that, before you can do this, you have to convince both the lamb and a majority of the wolves that eating lambs is wrong, even before it’s illegal.

        My point is your alternative leaves nobody any better off.

        Actually, you’ve admitted that our alternative is required: the idea of the rightness and wrongness of murder has to be established outside of the law first, before it’s established in the law.

        Congratulations on outgrowing legalism.

        1. the idea of the rightness and wrongness of murder has to be established outside of the law first, before it’s established in the law.

          How the hell do you accomplish that?

          The only precondition for the legitimacy of laws is democracy. There is I will note not even a constitutional protection from murder; it’s perhaps the most basic component of common law.

          I said that I presume that a society consisting of two wolves and one lamb will not make its way to democracy. But why the quote is stupid (and definitely not attributed to Franklin) is that the lack of democracy doesn’t make life any better for the lamb.

          I don’t accept that people will all adhere to a cosmic moral principle–that we needs laws to mitigate transgressions is evidence of that.

          1. How the hell do you accomplish that? The only precondition for the legitimacy of laws is democracy.

            Usually, by communicating, and appealing to people’s logic and rationality. You previously expressed the expectation that, after 10,000 years, murder might be made illegal, after “social progress”. How do you think that works? Obviously, the law can’t depend on the law. You can appeal to democracy, but, again, that’s just a system of government, or a way to make a decision as a group. It doesn’t tell anyone what decision to make. So, should murder be illegal, or not?

            In short you’re caught in the chicken and egg problem you brought up before. You want rights to be defined by law, but you can’t explain how one would begin writing laws when none previously existed. “Democracy” isn’t an answer, either. A choice to use democracy isn’t legitimate (apparently) unless you’re already using it. Otherwise, it doesn’t respect democracy. So, how do you start? Do you take a vote on whether or not to take votes?

            I know it would be really convenient for your opponents principles to be arbitrary, while yours are magically self-legitimizing, but that’s just laziness on your part. In other words, “social progress” and changing laws for the better, implies that they were worse before, based on some standard, which, by definition, must be defined outside the law. Slavery was wrong before it was unpopular. Democracy didn’t legitimize slavery. This isn’t hard.

      3. What if there are two lambs and one wolf ?

  23. “But the result would still be a dead lamb or, by some miracle, two dead wolves.”

    Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.

    -Milton Friedman

    1. Isn’t that the claim being made with respect to democracy?

      1. Democracy is a mechanism by which some attempt to gain at the expense of others. The fallacy is in believing that this is the only way by which to gain. For example, people say “Without government, how will I have roads to drive on?” There is such a thing as mutual benefit.

        1. Democracy is a mechanism by which some attempt to gain at the expense of others.

          But it’s so much more orderly than the other ways people attempt to gain at the expense of others.

          Why you think this would cease once we go to cut-throat laissez-faire capitalism is a complete fucking mystery.

          1. Tony:

            But it’s so much more orderly than the other ways people attempt to gain at the expense of others.

            That’s because most of the ways prior to and during democracy, involved really big governments, and practically no rights for anyone involved, except special rulers.

            I’m glad we live in a society that allows little people some rights, along with the special rulers, but it still insists that we pick special rulers, throw them money, and treat them as super, special humans, who deserve more than everyone else. It’s still inherently unequal.

            Furthermore, what a shock that the best form of government in all history = the one with the most diffused government power structure ever tried. Since we stopped rule by dynastic monarchies, the best government involves spreading power concentration and decision making out as far as possible. Begs the question: if you take the limit as power diffusion goes to infinity, then….hmmmm.

            Other than governments that collapsed and burned down around their poor citizens, leaving them in rubble, limited government and democracy is the closest think to libertarianism that rulers have allowed us to try (for reasons that serve them as well as us: I’d rather be in the house of reps. than Kim Jong-un any day). I’m glad you’re happy with the results, but going back the other direction because you think free markets are complicated and scary isn’t a good idea.

          2. “Why you think this would cease once we go to cut-throat laissez-faire capitalism is a complete fucking mystery.”

            It’s a mystery to you. Again, the rest of us understand the concept of mutual benefit. Voluntary exchange comes at noone’s expense.

            1. Ah great, the unicorns have arrived. Equal and voluntary exchange can only happen when everyone’s basic needs are met and nobody is exploiting anyone. So we need a safety net and laws and cops, at minimum. Otherwise it’s basically all exploitation all the time, as we have seen in less regulated times and as we see now in less regulated economies around the world.

              1. Tony:

                Equal and voluntary exchange can only happen when everyone’s basic needs are met and nobody is exploiting anyone.

                I bought breakfast this morning. Thus, you are refuted.

                1. Are you lacking in basic needs/leverage in the breakfast exchange? I’m talking about a system that works for everyone, not just you or people like you.

                  1. Tony:

                    Are you lacking in basic needs/leverage in the breakfast exchange? I’m talking about a system that works for everyone, not just you or people like you.

                    Great, but you originally said:

                    Equal and voluntary exchange can only happen when everyone‘s basic needs are met and nobody is exploiting anyone.

                    Are everyone’s basic needs met? Is no one exploiting anyone anywhere? Then, how did this miracle occur?

                    Anyway, this is classic question begging: if free exchange cannot happen until everyone’s basic needs are met and no one is exploited, then this implies that non-free exchange must meet everyone’s basic needs and rid the world of all exploitation before we can begin to have a free market. Apparently, if the free market meets a basic need, that doesn’t even count, because the basic need wasn’t already met. That would be very convenient for your conclusion, but it’s pure rubbish.

  24. I was thinking of some system where in the case no one received 50% of the vote, essentially each candidate would be authorized to cast the votes of those who voted for them. If A received 40%, B received 35%, and C received 20%, B and C could combine their votes to elect B with 55% of the vote. Of course, C would want something in return, which would presumably help represent those who voted for him to some degree. This would help avoid the situation where someone wins by a mere plurality while also avoiding a potentially lengthy and expensive runoff election.

    1. The problem I see with that idea is you’d just see the Dems and Repubs selling to each other to keep out 3rd party candidates. Not to mention what that means for the personal value and confidence in individual votes. Ideas are great, and should be looked at. That’s how we evolve as a society. So, please, don’t take my comments as a personal attack, but as an opinionated observation.

      1. Yes, a third party is unlikelly to win an election unless they vote is so split up he can win be a plurality. I was thinking that this way at least a third party would have *some* influence, even when losing. However, I can also imagine this leading to votes getting assigned to individuals (candidates or not) as proxy votes. All the people who don’t normally vote would assign some third party authority to vote for them, which I don’t think would be desirable. There’s something to be said for only those votes counting where the voter is motivated enough to show up at the polls.

  25. I really like the idea of instant run-offs.
    If everyone ranks the candidates, and a majority is required, then I think small-party candidates would have way more of a chance.

    Think about it. Currently, a huge number of conservatives and libertarians keep on voting Republikan or Demokrat because they see a third-part vote as a “wasted” vote. But if they could simply rank the candidates, they would feel confident ranking the Libertarian #1 and then the major-party candidate #2.

    I think the results would be much more reflective of the will of the people. And though the major parties would probably still win most elections, if they were the #2 choice on a lot of ballots, that might send them the message they’re not getting right now.
    Although, they’d probably ignore it.

    1. Each person would ‘vote’ for multiple candidates, ranking each candidate. You first start with a list of qualifying candidates. Only the first vote would count initially. If no one wins a majority, you would remove the candidate with the lowest vote from the list, then apply the second vote of those who voted for that candidate and recount. Repeat until someone wins a majority. I may be making this to confusing, but does this sound about right?

    2. I think instant-runoffs are a good idea too.

  26. Can you guys, who are, on the most part, smarter and more well educated than me, have this same dialogue but where there are two lambs and only one wolf ?

  27. Tell me more about this Saddam Hussein fella. His constituency seems to really like him.

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