Thursday, November 30, 2006

Whose Trojan Horse Is it? IRV as Both Half Step for Democracy and as Solidifying Corportocracy, Beware

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"There wouldn't be an Elephant or a Donkey hiding in IRV, would there?"

Whose Trojan Horse is this? Is it being pushed by noble grassroots democratic interests into the Democratic-Republican corrupt city under siege in the name of more competitive democracy, or, is it being pushed backwards out of the city by the very parties that no one wants?

The IRV (Instant Runoff Voting) Half Step: A Trojan Horse to PRMA? Or a Trojan Horse to Solidify the Same Parties After all? Historically it has been both so beware.

Recently, Instant Runoff Voting has won in four cities across the U.S., in four different contexts with very different demographics. This is interpreted at that link as an "electoral solution" by many different people against the "corporotocracy". However, what if the corporotocracy is the one to really gain from IRV? What if the corporotocracy built the Trojan Horse IRV? For how IRV needlessly serves to maintain and even solidify the U.S. two party corrupt party framework, and for how other mechanisms would be more beneficial read on.

While I would support IRV as a Trojan Horse "moving into the city" held by the Democratic-Republican neocons, remember that it is as well a horse that serves to perpetuate Democratic and Republican second round wins, without them having to earn the votes. Thus, beware that IRV can serve as a Trojan Horse in the reverse: maintaining the same old parties in power without any change of policy even as their base of support has eroded, as much as building the potentials of more competitive parties.

Either way it is interpreted, IRV has difficulties itself. It is at best a half-step toward a more optimal democracy--though perhaps an important half step.

In this short post I'll compare IRV to PRMA, or 'proportional representation with majoritarian allotment,' which is a full step that removes some of the still unrequired limitations of IRV. A short background discussion of IRV, PRMA and straight PR (proportional representation) is detailed at below and at the above link.

The irony of IRV is that, despite some saying there that IRV is "one approach to breaking the two corporate party stranglehold that exists in the US," IRV effectively enshrines second round low plurality wins of the very parties that those who support IRV would lambast. As mentioned in Toward A Bioregional State, Republicans have supported IRV in Alaskan state attempts when they felt it served to coup second round votes from the separatist party of Alaska. Democrats support IRV in other contexts, where they think that they can sponge up Green voters. Either way, it is important to remember that an easier way of gaining voters is actually appealing to them in the first round, instead of scheming not to be representative in the election and gaining votes in a second round by voters desperate to escape one or the other, instead of wanting to promote one or the other.

Suboptimally, in the long run, IRV would ensure that the stranglehold still continues to exist--even with less people voting for it in the first round.

PRMA has the best features of PR without its gridlock drawbacks. PRMA has the best features of IRV without its drawbacks of continuing to institutionalize a low plurality winner election (which means a less representative party getting into power).

This other version of PR, called 'proportional representation with majoritarian allotment' or PRMA, means when elections go to plurality wins (less than 50% want a 'winning' candidate), it goes proportional representation. On the other hand, when 50% of the public truly wants a singular candidate then it goes to that candidate in the district.

The intra-party dynamic that PRMA sets up is toward on the one hand majoritarian parties hoping to integrate 50% of the public. On the other hand, they are arranged against lots of other parties knowing that if they at least create a plurality win, they win as well. The outcome of that is that it forces all parties to seriously ratchet for 100% electoral inclusion. Thus, it makes pre-electoral collusion strategies of ignoring blocks of very popular issues intentionally ignored by the Democratic and Republican Parties unlikely to be tolerated. The gatekeeping they exercise together against the supermajorities supporting health care, ecological concern, and sustainable economic policies would end.

PRMA is additional security that third and fourth parties (if they can show the actual win is plurality) will have real electoral incentives to fight against vote fraud--instead of stand by and watch collusion from Democrats and Republicans to protect vote fraud in American politics at present, which has perhaps been going on since 1960 (though that link's predictions about 2000 would have been better on betting on Republican instead of Democratic fraud, considering 1998 Florida vote law changes), perhaps even earlier, though definitely later.

The difficulty in most U.S. elections is that the Democratic and Republican group of parties agree to appeal to only a partial electorate, and have successfully gerrymandered districts and utilized vote laws to assure that there is nothing competitive about voting at all since most competitive party experiences are demoted from a voter's eye view of U.S. elections and replaced with either a one-party gerrymandered district experience or a form of managed debate over different methods of approach of the same neocon policies, instead of a true election which would be over priorities of the policies themselves.

Instead, PRMA raises the stakes and assures that if smaller parties can pull enough people to cause a plurality, then the district has several representatives based on the direct and actual percentage of the public that voted for them.

For example in an election between parties A B C D (with D as an independent write-in), if--

A 40%
B 40%
C 15%
D 5%

--it's a plurality outcome. Thus it goes PR (proportional representation for the district), though at the direct percentage they get and no more--because that is closest to what the public in aggregate wanted to see.

Candidate A gets .40 of a vote. The voter (you) put him on a leash just like you wanted since he was unable to win a larger majority.

Candidate B gets .40 of a vote as well.

Candidate C gets .15.

The suggestion is that the top three candidates get 'the' seat, split three ways if a plurality win. The numbers and weight of the candidate's power changes depending on what the voter wants.

If the public in aggregate want something else, i.e., not a plurality win, then the public had more confidence in a particular singular candidate. If a candidate can get over 50% of the vote, then they get the full 1 seat and no one else.

If the public is able or unable to solidly back a singular candidate, then that should be reflected accurately either way.

PRMA forces all parties to ratchet up the voter appeals for more voter inclusion. IRV indirectly does this in the first round though it is only a feint because of the second round runoff if a plurality win. However, since the public definitely wanted a plurality win, no one should artificially be forced to support any candidate they didn't want, which is the point of IRV's second round. IRV keeps institutionalizing low plurality wins with the only benefit going to the unrepresentative party that failed to get a lot of support in the actual election (the first round). IRV rewards laziness and lack of getting out the vote by a party.

Thus, while IRV is hardly a democratic optimum since it lets lackluster parties who no one wants to vote directly for, like the Democrats or the Republicans in the first round, coup votes in a second round, such parties get rewarded for being unpopular which is hardly optimal.

The only thinly optimal feature of IRV is that it helps build the potential recognition of third or fourth parties, an important informal check and balance on political corruption. However, the bad feature of IRV is that it would only enshrine the very parties of the Democrats and Republicans with their lower plurality first round wins anyway--without encouraging them to get out the vote. IRV only encourages second round coups of votes so they could appeal to even less people in the first round and still get in via the second round. IRV is like a fusion ticket though it doesn't encourage large umbrella campaigns, and actually encourages lower plurality wins.

PRMA solves some of the difficulties of second round low pluralities in IRV, and it is a virtual PR. You, the voter would decide on that. PRMA is flexible since, most important, it lets the voters collectively decide, based on the actual demographic outcome of a particular election, how much power a candidate gets. Nothing is decided beforehand. If the aggregate public wants a majoritarian win, they get that. If the aggregate public want a mixed/plurality win, they get that. Either way, with PRMA, the voters more directly decide based on how they actually voted and how much they actually trust someone--and trust them no further!

PRMA is featured in Toward a Bioregional State, in two places: as a democratic optimum for geographic demographics being meaningful in the state based Electoral College for the Presidential Vote, and for district based legislature elections in state Senates and federal Senates (based on whole states instead of special singular Democratic or Republican gerrymandered districts), and in state House of Representatives and federal House of Representatives (based on stable watersheds).

HOWEVER, I would support IRV--as only a stepping stone--to build larger and more competitive parties for more voter choices.

Plus, strategically, IRV stands to get its foot in the door (with less existing corrupt party opposition) because pre-existing Democrats and Republicans have been known to sponsor it. However, it does in a small way serve the voters by creating more competitive party frameworks, though it is unrequired to force the voter optimally to support a party in a second round they failed to support in the first.

That being said, I would still support IRV presently--unless you want to go at it and push for PRMA. IRV is sort of a half-optimal step to PRMA. Half step is better than nothing. Since, once IRV has built more informal parties in place, and the drawbacks of IRV mentioned above are seen later, I suggest PRMA is a more democratically optimal solution. Within the book, I would suggest a lot more requires changing formally, though this is only a little forewarning or even foreshadowing of IRV difficulties that will soon become apparent. It's hardly enough. There are several chapters touching on the dynamics of PRMA versus IRV versus PR in the book. Check out the table of contents.


Blogger Mark said...

Just archiving a short summary of this I posted elsewhere:

And for solutions [to general democratic corruption issues]..., I would propose something like this. Click the book link on the right column:

"Bioregional democracy (or the Bioregional State) is a set of electoral reforms and
commodity reforms designed to force the political process in a democracy to better
represent concerns about the economy, the body, and environmental concerns (e.g. water quality), toward developmental paths that are locally prioritized and tailored to different
areas for their own specific interests of sustainability and durability. This movement is variously called bioregional democracy, watershed cooperation, or bioregional representation, or one of various other similar names—all of which denote democratic control of a natural commons and local jurisdictional dominance in any economic developmental path decisions—while not removing more generalized civil rights protections of a larger national state."


"Toward A Bioregional State is
a novel approach to development and to sustainability. It proposes that instead of sustainability being an issue of population scale, managerial economics, or technocratic planning, an overhaul of formal democratic institutions is required. This is because
environmental degradation has more to do with the biased interactions of formal institutions and informal corruption. Because of corruption, we have environmental
degradation. Current formal democratic institutions of states are forms of informal gatekeeping, and as such, intentionally maintain democracy as ecologically out of sync. He argues that we are unable to reach sustainability without a host of additional ecological checks and balances. These ecological checks and balances would demote corrupt uses of formal institutions by removing capacities for gatekeeping against democratic feedback. Sustainability is a politics that is already here--only waiting to be formally organized."

The demographics of concern are indeed already here. Check out the polls collated at the link around the supermajority supporting health, ecology, and economic locality. We're hardly alone in this.

Just for one example of moving the frameworks over, one of the many ideas in Toward a Bioregional State would be for a more competitive party framework facilitated by watershed districts. Why? Permanent, ungerrymanderable, directly a reflection of a community's durable local interests. Updating with censuses can be done with relative weights how much the representative's discrete vote counts in legislatures (state and federal, in the U.S. example), instead of being an excuse for changing and biasing the whole demographic arrangement in gerrymandering).

Watershed districting is one of about 60+ different institutional additions for many forms of checks and balances. Yes, current border issues are discussed for what happens there.

Starting up these other institutions (independent of any governmental relations) would help as well. (CDI and Commodity Ecology)

(Of course, counting votes would help: fully public voting frameworks, paper-based auditablity. You would be surprised how few places in the world have this arrangement and are merely 'virtual democracies.' At this stage, particularly the U.S. can't prove in a court of law--with demonstratable evidence--it conducts tamper-proof elections.)

The bioregional state ideas are hardly limited to suggestions for the United States. It's a suggestion for everywhere.

A more intricate example solving several issues at once, is the suggestion for the voting rules of of "PRMA" (proportional representation with majoritarian allotment). It gets a bit hairy to describe just in a blog form.

However, for a short summary, it's point is to solve several difficulties at once: to get all political parties competing for 100% of the full electorate, instead of merely competing for the partial electorate; providing incentives for small parties more than just symbolic opposition; solving issues of how to make electoral fraud more contestable, with parties having a real self-interest in it what are the exact numbers because a lot rides on that instead of abstract moral incentive to contest election fraud; the higher competition means all parties will be integrative and attempt to appeal to the electorate more. The whole incentive frameworks have changed. Wed this with watershed districting (so the pre-vote totals aren't rigged either to a particular demographic of party support) and throw in several dozen other ideas, and you have something.

For instance, with PRMA, if the aggregate voters actually want a plurality outcome (supporting a spectrum of candidates without one getting over 50%), just accept that this is the more accurate reflection of what the electorate wanted. In this case, the result goes proportional representation only based on the outcome for that particular election, with the discrete top three (as a suggestion) representatives getting the exact percentage of the vote they got, e.g., .10, .42, .45). That's all a single representative's vote counts for in the subsequent legislature where three people are brought into power from that (watershed) district. (It effects executive branch elections as well of course, though I'm not going to summarize that here.)

It's sort of a direct democracy through letting the actual voting outcomes be meaningful for how much power the electorate is willing to give to a certain candidate.

Contrast that with the 'first past the post' frameworks as they are called, where even a low plurality win will get any candidate the whole shebang, thus FPTP incentives peversely encourage parties to find ways to keep people away from the election instead of integrating them.

On the contrary, if the electorate does in a particular election support a single candidate more than 50%, then they get the whole vote--though only in that particular election outcome that they have to prove.

Thus the incentive is to set up a dynamic for making smaller parties (that know they can indeed win under the outcome of plurality) compete with larger parties (that know if they are more integrative they can win the whole vote). This will encourage a ratcheting appeal up to the full electorate as they compete for whether the general outcome will be plurality or majoritarian, pushing all parties with these very different incentives in the same framework instead of just collusion to appeal to a partial electorate. Additionally, it solves some demographic and party strategy specialization problems noted in both PR and FPTP.)

With PRMA, then multiple parties compete to represent the durable local interests of voters, instead of compete to divide them into ever-changing gerrymandered districts that bias election totals before elections even start; or instead of gatekeep against such issues. The self-interested incentives of smaller parties or larger parties to challenge potential vote fraud is enhanced because it translates into real issues now, exactly what are the actual demographic outcomes of an election (whether majoritarian or plurality wins.) PRMA sets up informal self-interested incentives for parties to challenge vote fraud, because their actual power rides on it. More on that at the link--and the book.

8/21/2007 11:53 AM  

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