Social Question

Thammuz's avatar

Would you support this kind of political system?

Asked by Thammuz (8684 points ) May 9th, 2011

I have been thinking, refining and fixing this idea for a long time, and i think it’s good enough to actually be put out in the open for public scrutiny, please be honest in your critiques, i don’t like when people sugar coat their opinions.

Premise: I think democracy, as intended nowdays, is based on a flawed premise, the premise that we are all equals. This worked back in ancient greece when the voting population was only composed by rich male citizens, which also implied educated at the time.

What the premise shoud be nowdays, IMO, is that we should all be given equal opportunities and equal treatement, but also we should all be expected to meet a certain standard. This sounds really worse than it is, just hear me out.

I am completely uninterested in politics because i think that a system where candidates can promise anything but don’t have to deliver is a system that can’t work, because it relies on honesty and god knows how big a shortage of that there is. Therefore i don’t read up on the candidates, don’t read the programs and don’t vote. Yet my vote would count as much as my mother’s who instead is somehow convinced that the system works and actually cares enough to read every program and make a conscious choice, and her vote is worth as much as that of, say, a brainwashed religious fundamentalist that votes for the party his preferred religious authority tells them to. This is wrong. It’s not only detrimental to society itself, it’s also wrong. It doesn’t reward effort and interest, it only punishes it by equating it to zero regardless.

So here is my idea, it needs a lot of work to actually be implemented because it needs us to change the way we see the government before it can actually be put to work. We need to start seeing the government as our emplyee rather than the other way around.

1) Every party running in any election has to present a program that is considered legally binding within a certain margin of error. Say someone promises a 10% tax cut to the middle class, they have to be able to at least give, say, a 7.5% tax cut.
If any term of the program is unfulfilled by the end of the mandate, or worse the government has acted contrarily to the terms of the program, the elected individuals are put on trial for fraud at the state’s expense. If they’re found guilty, the laws and/or policies in question are abolished from the moment the sentence passes. Mind you that this trial should not be by jury (As if there was any reason to specify that trial by jury is bollocks), because this kind of judgement needs insight in the matter of legislation and possibly even economics. This last part is not a new idea, it was used in ancient Rome during the age of the republic, before the empire, and it kept people from deliberately fucking the state over. It’s not very easy to implement but it would work. This would lead politicians to promise things they can actually deliver on,

2) We change the way voting works. With legally binding programs we can actually somewhat rely on them to be significant predictions of what a candidate will do if elected, and thus we introduce this: every ballot will be accompanied and indivisible from a 10 questions true or false test randomly selected from a pool of a sufficently high number of questions created from the legally deposited programs of every party. Say there’s 3 parties, 100 questions each, we already create a pool that is too big to memorize for anyone without actually knowing the programs. The ballots are printed in the booth and the computer selects the questions randomly at the moment of printing. Every wrong answer detracts 10% from your vote (or every correct one adds 1 to your vote starting from 0, if we want to avoid going into the decimal places). This should possibly be coupled with the Alternative voting system, to balance it even more. This way we’re not denying anyone their vote a priori, we’re just evaluating the effort and thought behind the vote on its own merits and, eventually, ignoring or taking in lesser consideration the ones that don’t make the cut.

3) Every aemendment to the constitution has to be voted by referendum, with the same system but with questions regarding the original and new texts and their legal implications. Every law proposal has to be compared to the present constitution beforehand and can only be voted upon if it doesn’t contrast with it.

That’s pretty much it, i will ad pieces if i should realize i forgot something important. I know this sytem lends itself to exploitation, but so does the present one and actually so does every system mankind has ever concieved, what we usually base our decisions on is whether something works in theory, which this, IMO, does much better than democracy as it is today.

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31 Answers

downtide's avatar

I like proposal 1.
Proposal 2. No way. Can you imagine how expensive it would be, how few people would bother to vote at all if it required you to spend an hour answering a 100-question quiz. This would never work.
Proposal 3 – would be un-necessary if proposal 1 worked. If a pre-election manifest was legally binding there wouldn’t be any need for a referendum because you’d know in advance when you voted on a party what their policies would be.

Thammuz's avatar

@downtide No way. Can you imagine how expensive it would be, how few people would bother to vote at all if it required you to spend an hour answering a 100-question quiz. This would never work.
The test, as i said, is 10 questions randomly picked form a larger pool, to prevent people from memorizing the answers and instead forcing them to learn about the programs.

As for how few people would actually bother, that’s exactly the point. I don’t see why people who don’t care enough to bother reading up on the candidates and their proposals should have it easy. We’re talking about running a country, not the local soccer team. This way we weed out morons, apathetics and ignorants by design and only the ones who actually give a shit about how the country is ruled actually get to make their voices count for something.

As for expensiveness, i don’t see the problem. it would take more time, true, but we do have machines that can evaluate standardized tests, all it takes is a machine that reads the referral number of a question and the answer written on the module with a scanner and compares them to its internal database. We could even do it on paper and just have the PC count the right answers and grade the quiz without counting the votes themselves. True it would cost, but it would lead to a better system.

jlelandg's avatar

What would we do if there was a war, Sept. 11th, sub-prime crisis type event that threatened these promises in proposal 1? There’s always assholes errrrrrr excuses (yeah, that’s it).

downtide's avatar

@Thammuz I don’t know what the average turnout for an election is in the USA but in the UK it’s somewhere between 25 and 30%. If you put people off by tests and quizzes that will drop to probably 10%. If you further filter out 90% of those votes because they failed the quiz, that means that you have a situation where the government is voted in by a mere 1% of the population. You may as well not have elections at all. Pointeless, and very expensive to implement.

I certainly would not bother voting under those circumstances because I know I’m not intelligent enough to understand the politics, memorise policies enough to pass the quiz. It would be a waste of my time and of the time & money of the people collecting and counting my discarded vote.

Thammuz's avatar

@jlelandg Well, to be honest, that is one of the parts that still needs work. The romans, from which i took a good deal of inspiration, used to elect a dictator with unlimited powers, and we all know how well that turned out.

Personally i would think the idea of allowing a margin of error should take care of this, otherwise either we evaluate as the event happens if it is enough to treat it as “extenuating circumstances”, so to speak, allowing a larger margin of error (but still putting on trial behaviours opposite to the ones in the proposal, if you promise to cut the military budget you can leave it as it is if it’s absolutely necessary, but you can’t double it on a whim without being asked to answer for it afterwards. Which doesn’t mean being condemned by default, mind you, it means putting your decision up to scrutiny amd have someone else evaluate the data) or we ignore it forcing politicians to be extremely careful what they promise (which would not be my favourite option, because it’s incredibly unreasonable to expect the government to, say, cut the military budget after a foreign power declares war)

@downtide I’m not American, i’m Italian. Voting here is a duty, not only a right, and we have, if i recall correctly, about a 60% average turnout. And we are curently lamenting a lack of social interest in the state’s management, which means you should really worry.
Besides, as i already said, the idea is precisely to make the votes of the educated and socially interested minority worth more, both by making their votes actually worth more and by downplaying votes from those who don’t care enough and/or aren’t capable enough to understand what they’re voting on.

That’s what i mean by “being held to a certain standard”, and to test the voters on their own merits is the only way not to ignore votes a priori, by class or by education level or by some other arbitrary standard, and thus maintaining the equal opportunity to express your opinion for everybody. An opportunity you’re free to ignore, allowing those who care to make their voices heard all the louder. I’m all for a government that gets elected by a 1% that can actually comprehend what they are voting on, rather than a governemnt elected by a 51% that can’t tell their asses from their elbows.

As your fellow englishman Douglas Adams said “All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.” or, in this case, not all votes have the same worth, some are cast with much more thought and considerations than others.

As for you “not being smart enough” you’re ignoring that a) politicians would have to make their policies understandable if they wanted people to vote them and b) the votes aren’t evaluated on a binary base. They’re worth anywhere between 0 and 1 (or 0 and 10, if you want to stay away from decimal values), depending on how many correct answers you give. Which means that your vote could be worth less than a political scientist with asperger’s syndrome’s vote, but it would be worth more than, say, an EDL member’s.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I like the idea of a vote weight. People should be able to prove they know what they are truly selecting. The questions and wording could present a problem. Any issue could be written in a form that can influence the answer. That’s a tough one.
I applaud your out of the box thinking.

Thammuz's avatar

@worriedguy How to formulate the questions has been a really tough problem and still i can’t find a good answer. On one hand there is the need to make as many questions as possible out of the programs, on the other hand there should be as little trick questions as possible, to keep the playing field fairer. It’s a tough part of the idea of which i’m not unaware, my mother is a teacher and that’s the first objection she raised out of personal experience.

Also, thanks :)

augustlan's avatar

I’ve had a similar idea to your testing proposal (to make sure people really know what they’re voting for), but I think it’s less complicated. At the voting booth, no names or party affiliations would be used. You’d have to vote solely on the proposals from each candidate, in several major categories. The proposals would be listed randomly in each section, so you’d have no way of knowing who is proposing what (so, not all “Proposal A“s would be from the same candidate). You’d see something like this on your ballot:

ABORTION LAWS
Proposal A) No change
Proposal B) Make it more difficult to obtain
Proposal C) Use public funds to pay for it
Proposal D) Outlaw it.

TAXATION
Proposal A) 10% cut for the lower and middle class, 5% increase for the upper class
Proposal B) 15% cut for the lower and middle class
Proposal C) 5% increase for all
Proposal D) 15% cut for the upper class
Etc, etc, etc.
(Assuming computerized voting, each proposal would have a link to the entire plan for further reading, if desired.)

You would select what you felt was the best plan in each category, maybe being able to indicate which categories are most important to you (adding more weight to those votes). Whichever candidate gets the most proposal votes from you gets your overall vote or whichever candidate gets the most proposal votes from everyone wins the election.

I like the idea of holding politicians accountable for their promises, but in the US it would be very difficult to do so. Unless the winning candidate belonged to the majority party at the time, his plans won’t get passed. One person’s ideas don’t go very far here, if the majority of the politicians around aren’t in favor of those ideas.

Thammuz's avatar

@augustlan Unless the winning candidate belonged to the majority party at the time, his plans won’t get passed. One person’s ideas don’t go very far here, if the majority of the politicians around aren’t in favor of those ideas.

Yeah, this particular idea was born from our political system that makes it so that if you get elected you also have a decent amount of seats in parlaiment. We don’t work on a two-party system, so in our case it makes sense, the winning party gets the bigger slice of the cake, which isn’t 50% but is still bigger than every other party’s, but votes still need 50%+1 to pass, which means parties have to meet halfway to at least reach a 50%+1 consensus.

As for your voting idea, it works assuming every possible combination of those options exists in the running parties, otherwise one party could concievably get your vote even thought you don’t agree with a good 50%of their policies, plus it absolves a different function from my suggested system, with which it could very well coexist.

IMO it would work better without electing a ruling body because, when you think about it, that’s as close as direct democracy you could get without polling everyone’s opinion without limiting them to 1 out of 4 choices. It makes the politicians completely redundant because you’re not asking them to make the decisions, you’re telling them what to do. You could just as well have the most voted proposals count as guidelines for the government, take three guys with enough expertise in economics and politics, give them the list of things to do and tell them to get cracking on how to do that. If they manage to they stay up, if they fail they get replaced, like a normal office job.

meiosis's avatar

1. As Harold Macmillan said in reply to a journalist who asked him what was most likely to blow a government off course, “Events, dear boy, events”

2. Why is an intellectual appraisal of the parties’ policy positions any more worthwhile than an emotional reaction to them?

3. Not all countries have a written constitution.

@downtide Election turnout in the UK around 25–30%? – You’re wildly wrong. The lowest since 1945 is 60%.

Thammuz's avatar

@meiosis
1. I know, i know. I never said my idea is flawless and i already acknowledged that i have yet to find a satisfactory contingency measure for extenuating circumstances.

2. That’s not what the system implies. The system i suggest implies that, whoever you vote for, you need to know what you’re voting for your vote to be worth someting. You can still vote out of gut feeling, even though, as Carl Sagan said “I don’t think with my gut” and therefore you should probably use that thing between your ears to make an educated decision, as long as you do it while knowing all the options and proving that you do.

As for why intellectual appraisal is better than emotional appraisal: Rationality takes in account reality as objectively as possibly, emotion takes in account only subjective perception and it is generally not dwelled upon analytically (like the people who say that gays marrying would destroy the istitution of marriage, implying it would damage them personally, while relying only on “logic” that doesn’t hold water and their personal distaste for gays.) and since, again, we’re not talking about the local soccer team here, we’re talking of a complex social contract that has to benefit everyone who subscribes to it, we can’t allow “ugh, gross” as a good reason to forbid something, just like we can’t allow “me and my best friend get a 100% tax cut while you all get a tax raise of 20% and give us the difference” to become law. The latter is taken care of by majority voting, the former should be taken care of by devaluing the votes of people who don’t actually have what it takes in terms of brainpower and dedication.

3. I’m not suggesting this can work plug-and-play with every country in the world.
As i said explicitly, this needs a big overhaul of the general way of thinking and it is in itself a big overhaul of the whle system. What makes you think i wouldn’t be in favour of creating a written constitution if i lived in any of the the states you listed?

Ron_C's avatar

What make you think such a program or constitutional change would work? Who would be the judges if juries are “bollocks”.

A very small percentage of people in the U.S. and U.K. actually vote. Even a smaller percentage actually understand the issue (Tea Party for example).

I do not want an elite few running my country, we have that now. Your system would only perpetuate this system.

The only reform that I consider acceptable is first make corporate interference in the voting process a crime like the U.S. founders intended. Elections must be publicly funded. Contributing to an election campaign must be either illegal or on public record with the individuals contribution stated. Bundling money should be illegal. Voting machines must be outlawed; interference is too easy. Term limits must be established and enforced.

meiosis's avatar

The law of unintended consequence of an eligibility test to determine voting weight would probably ensure that the political parties make their manifestos absurdly complicated, so that their own votes would count for more.

@Ron_C I don’t know about the US, but in the UK the voter turnout averages around 70%.

CaptainHarley's avatar

American democracy, as cumbersome and problematic as it is, is far and away the best, most WORKABLE system devised so far by the mind of mankind. It is based on the principle that all men and women are of worth, and should have the right to vote on matters concerning themselves and their families. You are displaying an almost incredible degree of arrogance by proposing a system to replace this one by defining a degree of itellectual superiority that would be required before one can vote. Who are you to say that being somehow intellectually superior makes you better than the average Joe who has to work long hours to make a living and has never had the opportunity to develop his intellectual capacity? Or the working poor woman who didn’t even get to finish the 8th grade and thus cannot read very well… or at all!

This proposal, like all other utopion proposals by the self-styled “intellectual elite” is doomed right from the start by human foibles, human error, human intransigence, and human arrogance.

Thammuz's avatar

@Ron_C Who would be the judges if juries are “bollocks”.
Uhm, i don’t know, actual judges? People who have studied the law and thus can deliberate on whether or not something goes against it, like in most countries of roman law? A trial is not supposed to determine if the general public likes something, it is supposed to determine if something is or is not against the law, and if someone is or is not guilty of something. I wouldn’t want to be called to decide if someone is guilty of homicide because we pay and train policemen to find and study evidence to determine that, for instance. Trial by jury is by no means the standard, and there’s good reason for that.

A very small percentage of people in the U.S. and U.K. actually vote. Even a smaller percentage actually understand the issue (Tea Party for example). I hope you don’t mean the tea party understands the issues. Anyway, yeah, i know, and that’s precisely why i’m suggesting this change. I don’t think someone who is too dumb or too uneducated or both to understand the issues they’re voting on should be taken in the same consideration as someone who actually knows what he’s voting on. Simple as that. Would you ask someone who flips burgers at macdonald’s to perform open heart surgery on you or your kids? I hope not, otherwise you’re crazier than a shark with a can opener. And the same goes with running a country. It’s not something easy and it has big consequences, why shouldn’t we treat it as something for the ones who can actually do it right?

The only reform that I consider acceptable is first make corporate interference in the voting process a crime like the U.S. founders intended. Elections must be publicly funded. Contributing to an election campaign must be either illegal or on public record with the individuals contribution stated. Bundling money should be illegal.
Way ahead of you. In theory at least. Many european countries already implemented this reform you’re talking about, i know for a fact that germany did and we did as well, I assure you that no amounts of legislation can do away with corruption, only honesty can do that and, as i said, there’s a huge shortage at the moment, and there’s been for hundreds of years.

@meiosis The law of unintended consequence of an eligibility test to determine voting weight would probably ensure that the political parties make their manifestos absurdly complicated, so that their own votes would count for more. No, they would not, because they’d have to understand the other parties’ as well since all the programs are the sources for the quiz and not just the one of the party you’re voting. Besides we could easily fix that by forbidding the running candidates from voting or by instating a minimum percentage of turnout for the election to be valid, like we already do here.
I’m sorry if i take some things for granted, i’m not all that knowledgeable about the details of voting systems around the western world.

@CaptainHarley It is based on the principle that all men and women are of worth, and should have the right to vote on matters concerning themselves and their families.
So is mine. I’m not taking away from anyone the right to cast a vote. I’m just evaluating, on its own merits the value of the vote. I’m not deciding beforehand that someone who only made it to eight grade can’t vote, in fact i opted for the quiz idea especially because it doesn’t pre-judge. I know a couple of people who stopped in eight grade, i don’t think they’re stupid and i don’t think it would be beyond them to read three or four sheets explaining a party’s political agenda, and if it is beyond them then maybe it’s better their vote is worth less than that of someone who can figure out what he’s voting.

You are displaying an almost incredible degree of arrogance by proposing a system to replace this one by defining a degree of itellectual superiority that would be required before one can vote.
What, being able to understand what you’re voting is an unreasonable expectation now? Besides, again, i’m not preventing anyone from voting. Read the goddamn post. I’m just evaluating with how much thought and dedication the decision was made. You could be the supidest motherfucker on the planet and i wouldn’t take the pen and the ballot from your hand if i had a gun to my head. It’s your right to cast your vote. It’s society’s duty to verify whether you understood what you were voting on and thus whether your vote should be taken into account and how much so to prevent damage to itself.

Who are you to say that being somehow intellectually superior makes you better than the average Joe who has to work long hours to make a living and has never had the opportunity to develop his intellectual capacity? Or the working poor woman who didn’t even get to finish the 8th grade and thus cannot read very well… or at all!
You’ve got to be shitting me. Ok, you must be the guy who would actually ask someone who flips burgers at macdonald’s to perform open heart surgery on himself then. No? Then tell me why the equally important matter of running a fucking country should be left in equally incapable hands?

And i’m not saying that flipping burgers means you’re a dumbass, if i thought that i would have said that only people with such-and-such level of education/income/both should be allowed to vote.

I did not because i don’t think that what you do or what your education level is should be treated as a qualifying factor, i think that everyone should be given the same chance. My system is designed specifically not to damage the lower class worker who’s still smart enough to understand what he’s voting for, while keeping the too stupid, apathetic or just plain ignorant away from the dirving seat.

And I acknowledge full well that it’s not nice to say somehting like this, and it’s not someone’s fault if they’re ignorant and they don’t have the means to educate themselves and whatever, but nobody defends me that way when i show up in a surgery room with my spatula!

The fact that something is not your fault doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect you. It might well be not a person’s fault if they didn’t have hte means of educating themselves this doesn’t make them any more reliable or their opinions worthy of more consideration. It’s also not your fault if you’re not a heart surgeon, this doesn’t mean you’re qualified to perform open heart surgery.

There is a goddamn good reason why sensitive matters are left in the hands of people who know how to handle them. Sorry if you don’t like that, but that’s a fact. And running a country should be one of these things.

This proposal, like all other utopion proposals by the self-styled “intellectual elite” is doomed right from the start by human foibles, human error, human intransigence, and human arrogance.
Actually, this proposal, like all other utopiAn proposals by the self-styled “intellectual elite” is doomed right from the start by human foibles, human error, human intransigence, and human arrogance. And this goes for everything including the system we have going on, which is very much fucked up even from a theoretical point of view. And besides even this system used to base your elegibility to vote on your ability to sign your name!

CaptainHarley's avatar

“One person, one vote” has been the operating principle for this Country for a long time now. Whether it’s going to ultimately work or not is still in doubt, but the principle stands: if you are a citizen, you have the same right to vote as any other citizen, and your vote counts as much as the next person’s vote. That is a bedrock foundation of the American republic.

What your system proposes is assessing the relative worth of human beings, whether you want to admit it or not.

Thammuz's avatar

@CaptainHarley And i’m not american, so i don’t care. Besides nothing is carved in stone and constitutions and principles are there because the people want them, and as such they can be changed if the people want them changed.

Thammuz's avatar

@CaptainHarley What your system proposes is assessing the relative worth of human beings, whether you want to admit it or not.

No, it’s evaluating the relative skill of human beings. If i were evaluating the worth i would be advocating slavery for those who can’t pass the test. There’s nothing wrong with not allowing an unskilled individual to perform a sensitive operation.

And furthermore it is not evewn doing that because it simply evaluates how well you studied the proposals for that particular election. the same person could get a 10/10 one time and the next election only get a 3/10 because they didn’t have the time to study the candidates as well. It’s not about the person, it’s about how well you prepared yourself before casting that single vote.

Also thanks for proving you have no counterargument to this “skilled > unskilled” point.

meiosis's avatar

@CaptainHarley American democracy isn’t really that different from democracy in many other countries. Certainly, one person one vote is not a uniquely American idea (and it certainly wasn’t in place at the founding of the republic). Just saying…

@Thammuz There’s a world of difference between asking for an opinion on a particular matter, in which case I would go to a specialist, and asking for the opinions of everybody on a broad range of issues (i.e. an election). In my opinion, an uninformed vote is just as valuable as an informed one. Generally, populations get it right and countries get the government they deserve…

Thammuz's avatar

@meiosis There’s a world of difference between asking for an opinion on a particular matter, in which case I would go to a specialist, and asking for the opinions of everybody on a broad range of issues (i.e. an election).
Yeah, and that is that finding someone competent to do the latter well is even harder than the former.

In my opinion, an uninformed vote is just as valuable as an informed one.
In my opinion it is not. In my opinion voting for someone without knowing what his political position is is the dumbest fucking idea in the world and people shouldn’t be forced be ruled by somone who gets the people vote because he’s photogenic and smiles a lot and because someone else did not want to waste ten fucking minutes on reading an electoral program.

Italy has been ruled for more than 10 years (complexively) now by a borderline mafia boss who owns 3 TV stations. Most people don’t even read his fucking electoral program, they vote him because he’s a “funny guy, he’s like one of us” (in that same way farts are funny, i.e. not when you’re above five years old or you have to share a room with them, and he’s one of us except he has three tv stations, three yachts etc etc.) by their own admission, and because he’s a good demagogue. He promised the fucking world and did not deliver once, he made italy a joke on the international stage byt acting like a fucking moron whenever foreign policies were involved, he has several trials pending (And some of the laws whose change caused a trial being dropped were changed during his own mandates, go figure.) which he refuses to attend to, he tried to amend the constitution so that he would have been above the law as long as he was in charge and anyone who accuses him of trying to become the next Mussolini gets called a communist (God knows why) by him and his fucking cronies. He went as far as accusing the judges who were supposed to sentence him since before he was elected, of attempted coup while there is actual evidence that he himself did belong to an organization that planned a coup.

Why do people vote for him? because they believe his fucking promises. Which may be naiveté the first time, but is plain stupidity the next 2.

This system would prevent people who vote out of peer pressure or simply from what they read in propaganda to be worth as much as they are now.

Generally, populations get it right and countries get the government they deserve…
Which is good how exactly? I happen to think the human race, in general, deserves little more than genital warts and a punch in the dick. I’d rather we had more than we deserved, when possible. Choosing a governmental body isn’t about choosing a government you deserve, it’s about choosing the best people for the job, and i’d much rather have them than the morons we seem to deserve.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Thammuz

Dress it up all you want to, it’s still a case of self-styled “intellegensia” telling the rest of us bumpkins how our Nation should be run. I dispise this sort of intellectual arrogance with a passion!

Thammuz's avatar

@CaptainHarley Yeah, and it’s discrimination to evaluate attitude tests and not hire someone because they’re incompetent.

I don’t deny that it’s making it so that an “intelligenTsia” rules the country. In fact that’s precisely the point. The difference from the origin of this term is that while the original intelligentsia was a closed circle of people that decided for the country, my version allows anyone to be as relevant as they can with their level of skill, dedication and intelligence.

Why? Because intelligence allowed us to get to the point we are now. It was doctors, scientists, economists, etcetera that allowed us to have a longer life span, better living conditions, commodities and so on. Because an intelligentsia was the group of people that made your conjstitution and your bill of rights, without asking anyone’s approval. Because you vote for people who are picked from an intelligentsia. Because you listen to the opinions of people in the media who are part of that same intelligentsia.

Do you honestly think that any president you ever had could rightly be called a “bumpkin”? No, of course not, they were all learned individuals, even Bush Jr somehow made it through college (which speaks volumes on your educational system, but i digress), and they were all at the very least middle class.

Tell me again who was against having an intelligentsia running the country?

Face it, the intelligentsia always wins in the end. Why? Because there’s a reason if the human animal has a big brain and no claws. There’s people out there who are clever enough to put an entire nation on its knees while keeping it begging for more. The intelligentsia spots them, others don’t. Then you get the Hitlers, the Stalins, the Maos, all people who did one thing well: fooled the “bumpkins” into thinking they were doing the right thing for them. They used a populistic approach, used the existing discontent as a starting point and led the people wherever the fuck they wanted them to go, without the people noticing until it was way too late.

My system ensures two things: that the people get what they voted for and that the thing that gets voted in is voted by people who give enough of a shit to sacrifice their own time and energy to research what they are voting on. You call it evaluating a human being’s worth. I call it evaluating a human being’s interest and ability in having a part in the management of his own country. Just like i would evaluate an applicant’s ability to hire him or a student’s ability in order to grade him.

If you think a human being is just his ability to pick a candidate in an election, then i guess you’re right.

Personally, though, I think there’s more to living than knowing you can cast a completely meaningless vote that can be overridden by the first KKK fucktard who comes along, and i think there is nothing wrong in being humble enough to accept that some things one is not cut out to do.

I can’t draw for shit, can’t play any instrument, can’t get my head around economics and suck at strategy games. I don’t want my vote on an economics matter to be worth as much as that of someone who is probably less likely to cock it up. I have friends who aced their economics exams in uni and friends that flunked them; i won’t ask for help to those who flunked them, would you? No, you would not.

You accuse me of arrogance, but i don’t think i would ace these tests and thus make my vote worth ten times more than “you bumpkins”. I fully realize that my vote would probably be worth about 4 or 5 points because i can’t be arsed and i’m not the brightest man alive, but i would be ok with that because that’s an objective assessment of my ability in choosing what’s best for my country. You on the other hand think that just by being alive and being able to hold a pen your vote should be able to cancel out that of a political sciences major, how am I the arrogant one?

You just tell me this, and please, really explain to me why do you think i’m wrong on this one:

Don’t you already pick people who you think as the most qualified for office in an election? If you do, then how is it wrong to introduce a system that doesn’t preclude you the possibility of proving yourself competent enough to make that decision, instead of just assuming that you’re as competent anyone else, including that dumbass colleague you have who can’t tell his ass from his elbow and constantly fucks everything up, thus ensuring that the most competent people, not chosen from the outside but judged on individual merit and anonymously (as it is now) pick the most competent person for the job?

Unless you deliberately vote incompetent apathetic retards, look for doctors with tons of malpractice cases under their belts and always ask for the worst tv-repairmen in the shop, you already value competence, dedication and intelligence, so how is it wrong to endorse these qualities one more step of the way, whether you have them or not?

bkcunningham's avatar

@Thammuz, Harry S. Truman.

Thammuz's avatar

@bkcunningham Went through high school, and made his way through the political system, like most presidents if i recall. He might not have been a college graduate but he surely learned from experience before getting into office, and i’m pretty sure they didn’t vote him because he didn’t go to college. They voted him because he was a competent individual. Simple as that.

Which i can go behind 100%, that’s ptecisely why i never suggested that we take the education level of someone as a measure of their aptitude to vote. There can very well be people who didn’t have the luxury of a formal education but still have intelligence and common sense enough to for a reasoned opinion, and why the hell should i preclude anyone from giving it a shot?

weeveeship's avatar

tl;dr. I will only address your first point.

While your goals might be noble, the first point is impractical. In real life, contingencies and strange occurrences happen all the time. There might be a terrorist attack or natural disaster that requires more funding into relief efforts. There are also other factors that affect the tax rate and the increase in taxes such as population growth, age demographics (important for Medicare and Social Security), economic situation, wars, etc. Of course, money must come from somewhere, so allowing the President more flexibility would help the government better deal with said contingencies.

Another issue is that the candidates know that they will be held to their promises as binding law. Therefore, they are incentivized to make counterintuitive promises, such as promising to increase taxes by a more than they actually plan on increasing taxes. One reason for this is because of the desire for flexibility. The counterargument would be that some other candidate would simply promise to increase taxes by a lower amount. However, this candidate also runs into the risk of not being able to follow through due to contingencies and be found in violation of his/her promises.

Thammuz's avatar

@weeveeship That’s a good point that has already been brought up, and i have no actual reply for that other than “yeah, it’s a problem that i still have to find a solution to”.

What i’d be more interested in would be your point of view on point 2, which is the one that is most important to me.

weeveeship's avatar

Point 2 brings up issues of institutional racism. States in the south have implemented similar “exams” before shortly after the Civil War. I think that such exams as a condition for voting are unconstitutional.

Point 2 also disadvantages the poor, regardless of race.

Thammuz's avatar

@weeveeship issues of institutional racism
... The fuck? Racism of all things? Seriously, i won’t even defend from the accusations of disadvantageing the poor, as i said, I acknowledge full well that it’s not someone’s fault if they’re ignorant and they don’t have the means to educate themselves and whatever, but the fact that something is not your fault doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect you.

It might well be not a person’s fault if they didn’t have the means of educating themselves this doesn’t make them any more reliable or their opinions worthy of more consideration. It’s also not your fault if you’re not a heart surgeon, this doesn’t mean you’re qualified to perform open heart surgery.

But racism? Are you implying that a true or false test automatically favours one race rather than another?

By the way, just to clear this up, i know my system discriminates. It’s designed to do so. The difference from those tests you mentioned is that a) it doesn’t prevent someone from expressing his preference regardless, it just downplays the worth of the vote, and it doesn’t even do that very well because there’s a 50% chance of getting the answers right even if you know nothing about the subject and b) it doesn’t pre-judge. It evaluates after the vote is cast, and it’s entirely based on the person’t knowledge of the subject, since voting is anonymous.

weeveeship's avatar

@Thammuz Yes, institutional racism. Institutional here means that the racism is inherent in the system. There need not be an actual person who discriminates or even intend to discriminate against a certain race.

Point 2 is similar to the old literacy tests. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literacy_test

Certain minority groups are disproportionately poor and therefore have little opportunity to get educated. Many schools in poor neighborhoods consistently fail to reach standards. There are many reasons for this, which I will not go into here.

Having even a true/false test with the result of reducing a person’s vote should his/her answers be wrong would basically require someone to comprehend the true/false questions fully to get a “full vote.” However, reading levels in certain segments of the population are low. Besides, party platforms, which is what I assume the voters will be tested on here, are often convoluted and sometimes even contradictory, further compounding the problems for those who lack a solid education.

Thammuz's avatar

@weeveeship Ok, you’re delving way too much in US-only problems here. As for party platforms being convoluted, they are because they don’t need people to understand them to get them to vote for them. My hypothesis is that to be sure enough people give them their votes they would try and make them as streamlined as possible. Remember also that i’m not talkking about a two-party system. Here electoral programs (which would be binding, in some measure, as exposed in point 1 and would be the subject of the test) matter a lot, because most people don’t vote by party, they vote by program (which basically mean they vote by promises).

weeveeship's avatar

@Thammuz Since I am from the US, I only comment on the 2nd point from an American perspective. Other countries might have different systems.

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