[ExI] elections again; was [Time Magazine: Person of the Year: Putin(!),my vote instead:Anna Politkovskaja]

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at ceruleansystems.com
Sat Dec 29 02:03:17 UTC 2007

On Dec 28, 2007, at 5:20 PM, Stefano Vaj wrote:
> Mmhhh, this is really very American. First, in many countries there no
> primaries.

The primary process varies considerably from state to state. Remember,  
people don't vote for presidents, the states do, and each state does  
it their own way.  NB: the US President is the elected representative  
of the states, *not* the people; most Americans are clueless about  
this but involving the people at all in the selection of the President  
is a 20th century invention.  In the first part of the 20th century,  
the individual member states voted for the President without any  
election by the people.

Primaries are a convenience, and let people decide who gets to  
represent political parties rather than the party bosses -- a good  

> Second, a system where the number of elected officers (say,
> parliament members) were not proportional to the number of people who
> voted for them countrywide would be considered as a "rigged" system.

I agree.  This is why EU representation is directly proportional to  
the number of people that vote for them.

> Third, limiting the money the candidates can invest in their campaigns
> would be considered as an infringement of their freedom to compete as
> best as they can.

I'm pretty sure you can spend as much of your own money as you want.   
Plenty of politicians in both parties have essentially bought their  
own seats.

> Fourth, a choice between only two self-perpetuating
> parties that have very limited differences in their views on the
> political regime to be adopted or maintained would be considered as
> fairly restrictive.

The party dynamics are a little more complicated than this, as you  
have fluid coalitions of political factions within the individual  
parties and which move between the parties.  In parliamentary systems,  
factions are more obvious to the outside observers.  For example, the  
"neocon" faction in the Republican party were essentially disaffected  
southern Democrats that switched parties around the time of Nixon.

One could make No True Scotsman arguments all day long, but both  
current parties have contained just about every significant faction at  
one time or another.  In addition to significant movement of factions  
under party umbrellas, major political parties *have* been created and  
destroyed -- the Democrats and Republicans have not both existed since  
the beginning of the United States.

And on top of all that you have a huge swath of political independents  
who can choose to caucus with neither political party, selecting their  
individual candidates á la carte (which I believe is more difficult in  
a parliamentary system).

> Fifth, what about direct democracy?

For what?  The US mostly has a facsimile of that at the level of  
political jurisdiction where people are involved.

You are correct that this is all very American, but one gets the  
impression that you only have passing familiarity with the "federation  
of sovereigns" model that the US is based on.  The closest analogue in  
the modern world is the EU, not your average European country (which  
would be analogous to individual member states of the US).

J. Andrew Rogers

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