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Offline Chris Pook

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Why Democracy?
« on: June 10, 2019, 11:34:08 »
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there are many areas, especially politics, where instead of scientific methods of experiment and proof, the public debate desperately needs arguments about values, which we can expose to each other in the awareness that yes, there are right and wrong answers, but that nobody can know for certain whether they have landed upon them.

Perfection, ideals, absolutes, are unknowable - at least on this world.  So there is no building of Jerusalem.

Consequently a need for pragmatic acceptance of rules of debate and a willingness to lose gracefully.

Quote
Richard Dawkins's anti-democratic prejudice should warn us of dangers ahead
REBECCA LOWE
10 JUNE 2019 • 7:00AM

Like other hardline Remainers, Dawkins questions the very foundations of democracy

Here’s a question for you. It’s easy to work out the value of d when we know the values of a, b, and c, and that the proportional relationship between a and b is equal to that between c and d, right? Known as ‘the rule of three’, the ability to complete such a calculation was one of the tests John Stuart Mill suggested wannabe voters should face before being allowed to access the ballot box.

Richard Dawkins’ recent pronouncements on the topic of voting ‘qualifications’ hardly demonstrate original thinking. Here, he joins a prestigious set of thinkers, encompassing Mill and others, and dating back at least to Plato. Focusing on the premise that “under-age people” aren’t allowed to vote because they are “unqualified”, even though “there must be some adults less qualified than some under-age people”, Dawkins asked his Twitter followers, “Is age the only practical threshold or could others be devised?”.


@RichardDawkins
 Under-age people can’t vote. Whatever our criterion for thinking them unqualified (eg insufficiently developed reasoning powers or knowledge) there must be some adults less qualified than some under-age people. Is age the only practical threshold or could others be devised?

Now, we Leavers are used to having our academic prowess questioned in relation to our ability or eligibility to vote. Brexiteers are constantly described as ‘stupid’ and much worse, often by those seeking to overturn the referendum result on the grounds that the people “did not know what they were doing”. As well as stoking division in our society, this emphasises a fundamental misunderstanding about democracy.

There is a particular irony to Dawkins’s wrongheaded focus on ‘qualifications’. In the tweet above, Dawkins outs himself as a prime example of why excellence in one area doesn’t simply translate into excellence in others. His grasp of zoology may be top-notch, but his ruminations on democracy would be trounced — not least in terms of awareness of the literature — by almost any A-level politics student sitting their exams this week.

Like his religious pronouncements, Dawkins’ tweet also reflects the basic error of assuming that the scientific method is the only route to truth, sadly common amongst today’s scientists-turned-political-sages — check out Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now for a 500-page example. Rather, there are many areas, especially politics, where instead of scientific methods of experiment and proof, the public debate desperately needs arguments about values, which we can expose to each other in the awareness that yes, there are right and wrong answers, but that nobody can know for certain whether they have landed upon them.

The biggest flaw displayed by Dawkins’ tweet is not a lack of sophistication, or even an understandable failure to grasp the limits of scientific expertise, but an extremely serious category error. The democratic process is not fundamentally about being ‘good’ at voting, or bringing about the ‘right’ decisions. As with those people who ask what they gain when they vote, to think that democracy is a system we should use because it provides the ‘best’ means to certain ends is to get things seriously back-to-front. 

Democracy, when instituted properly, is a process that respects our fundamental political rights. It respects our right to participate in political decision-making, to run for office, and to hold our political representatives to account. These are rights we each hold, equally — as full members of a political society — regardless of our qualifications, or personal characteristics, including age, as long as we’re past the age of majority.


All of this goes much beyond voting. Our involvement in the whole deliberative process represents the way in which our capacity for moral reasoning is something beyond intelligence or skill — a capacity that is an essential, wonderful feature of us as human beings, born free and equal. And for all the potential flaws in democracy’s mechanisms, it is the best political manifestation of this fundamental equality that we all share. It shouts out loud from the rooftops that we all matter, and that we all matter equally.

So, none of my criticisms of Dawkins make me want to push him out of the polling booth — however poor his understanding of political matters. He has the exact same right as any of us to be involved in the democratic process, and we must defend that, even as he rails against us.

Reasoned argument — and an overriding human commitment to the good — will, as ever, win out, showing why people like Dawkins are not only fundamentally wrong when they make eligibility to vote a matter of ‘intelligence’ - but their approach should warn us of great danger ahead.

The tradition Dawkins follows leads back to Plato’s philosopher-kings and Mill’s maths tests. It also includes the arrogant thinking of those intellectuals who wanted to restrict entry to the academy and the franchise on the grounds of wealth, gender, and race — and who pushed for ‘fashionable’ ideas like eugenics. And it seems evident today in the idea that Leavers are mostly elderly idiots, swayed by rhetoric, whose deaths will tidy up our polling.

Like other extremely clever people before him, Richard Dawkins simply cannot comprehend the idea of the fundamental equality of all human beings. One explanation is that his cleverness doesn’t extend that far. The other, sadly more likely, is much darker — that he just doesn’t like it.

 

Rebecca Lowe is director of FREER, and author of a recent paper entitled ‘Why Democracy: Taking political rights seriously’.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/06/10/richard-dawkinss-anti-democratic-prejudice-should-warn-us-dangers/?li_source=LI&li_medium=li-recommendation-widget

Democracy relies on a willingness to "play up, play up and play the game", lose gracefully and look forward to the next match to get a different outcome.  It is endangered by appeals to the heart, to fear, that demand that winning is the only thing and that the end justifies the means.  Those two poles define the difference between traditional conservatism in Britain and the British left.

On the Continent the difference is between a left that shares the same tendencies as the British left but where conservatism is driven by the need for perfection, where order is the ultimate goal.

Freedom requires the tolerance of chaos.


"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

"If change isn’t allowed to be a process, it becomes an event." - Penny Mordaunt 10/10/2019

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

Offline Lumber

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2019, 12:01:07 »
Is there more to Dawkins' position that just his tweet? If it was just his tweet, than I feel like Ms. Lowe took an innocuous question and ran way past the goal posts with it.

His tweet is merely a question, and an interesting one to ponder at that. He doesn't actually make any claims that we should change voter eligibility requirements.
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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2019, 13:00:15 »
Is there more to Dawkins' position that just his tweet? If it was just his tweet, than I feel like Ms. Lowe took an innocuous question and ran way past the goal posts with it.

His tweet is merely a question, and an interesting one to ponder at that. He doesn't actually make any claims that we should change voter eligibility requirements.

Given the political climate in the UK, and his position as a "remainer" it's hardly an innocuous question.

He's essentially implying the "leavers" are too dumb to know how to vote properly(his way), and should be excluded from voting. The danger he and his supporters don't seem to care about/realize is that eventually they too will be considered somehow "unfit" to vote for one reason or another.

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2019, 13:44:32 »
After we've voted, we don't really have democracy until the next election. And with political intent to future proof legislation, it is difficult or expensive for new governments to change policies and laws of outgoing activist governments without substantial cost even if those changes are part of the platform that results in their democratic election. Take for example the rising Liberal-" progressive" desire to reinstate and "harden" S. 13 of the human rights code, which was repealed 10 years ago with bipartisan support.
... Move!! ...

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2019, 14:20:57 »
As the Brits would say Dawkins has form on this question.  And he shares a mindset with many others.

This,
Quote
The danger he and his supporters don't seem to care about/realize is that eventually they too will be considered somehow "unfit" to vote for one reason or another.
really is the heart of the matter.

And as for "future-proofing"  - there is no future-proofing.  The future must take care of itself.  Parliamentary sovereignty ensures that.  Brexit supporter that I am, and wanting the referendum to be honoured, I have no problem with a future parliament, or even the next parliament, negotiating re-entry into the EU.  But first the current parliament must honour the referendum the previous parliament offered, the current parliament pledged to honour in their manifestos and that voted overwhelmingly to initiate the withdrawal process. 

The process needs to be completed.

Then another general election allows for a new parliament to do things differently - according to the democratically expressed will of the electorate.
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2019, 14:44:12 »
And:

Why democracy?

Because central planning.


https://www.messynessychic.com/2019/06/13/tehrans-desert-ghost-towers-look-like-a-zombie-movie-waiting-to-happen/?fbclid=IwAR1cFWNnG2cyy-H2IeUU7h6o6sesqI6Y3XC6-ElS9dzVNuhmVKain_XuJ84

17 cities just like it.  Ready to move in.... but no water, no sewage, no heating, no money.

And Iran has company - China's efforts in Inner Mongolia





But all is not lost - the locals are adapting to the new environment



Proof of my position that regardless of what we do to the planet and its cities the nomads will survive.

Have yurt, will travel.

https://www.messynessychic.com/2015/04/22/are-mongolian-nomads-moving-into-chinas-ghost-cities/


Actually, as I look at these pictures more I am reminded of a question that constantly arose on a British TV show about archaeology: Time Team.  The question was why did the incoming Saxons, Angles, Fries and Jutes all build their villages in Roman complexes.  Presumably for the same reason these Mongols are putting their yurts up in city squares and by urban lakes - because they can.



« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 14:49:33 by Chris Pook »
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2019, 14:44:56 »
Tom Watson - Deputy leader of the UK Labour Party.

The Labour Party has always struggled between its bottom up nationalist factions and its top down supranational internationalist factions.    The struggle is mirrored in the Tory party between the top down nationalist, High Church faction and the free trading, globalist, Gladstonian liberals.

Leave voters are largely Labour Party nationalists of a socialist economic persuasion.  They have found unnatural allies in the High Church Tory faction.

The one thing they can both agree on is they want to be free to fight their own battles internally within the UK and come to their own conclusions independent of any outside agency - whether Pope, EU, UN, Communist and Socialist Internationals or Google and Facebook.

In order to win in the past both Labour and the Tories have had to mask their nationalist/internationalist-globalist divides.  When internationalism became a bad word them the new buzzword "globalism" came to the fore.

Anyway, back to Tom Watson.  Apparently Brexit has ripped the mask off. 

Quote
"He (Tom Watson) used a video message to set out his case, claiming the left had been too timid to defend European values.

"I love Europe because I'm a democratic socialist," he said. "Socialism is achieving common causes by the strength of collective endeavour.

"That's what Europe is. We've shied away from saying these things for too long

Quote
The core values of the EU are: Internationalism, Solidarity, Freedom. They are British, Labour values.

Tom Watson is joined by another member of Jeremy Corbyn's cabinet, Emily Thornberry

Quote
Emily Thornberry said we should be'true to our internationalist values and campaign for Remain and Reform'"

One man's internationalist is another's globalist - and this is the grand bargain at the heart of the EU.  The bargain between factions of the Spanish Civil War - the Reds and the Blues - the socialists and the aristocracy.  Ultimately there wasn't a hair of a difference between them.  Both believed in top down corporatism, in supranational agencies, and the need for order.  The only discussion to be had was who, which individual and their friends and allies, would be making the decisions.  Thus the EU and the centre coalition of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats - both of whom have qualified the concept of democracy, in search of "real" democracy, to such an extent as to make the concept of democracy all but unrecognizable.  And thus, as internationalism has been morphed into globalism so, moving in the opposite direction, democracy has morphed into populism.

Fortunately, in my view, there are opposing views in the market that are truer to the traditions of buccaneering, chaotic, liberal democracy based on local cooperation and decision-making.

One of those voices comes from Ian Lavery

Quote
(Labour) party chairman Ian Lavery hit out at Remainers in the party, dismissing them as "left wing intellectuals" who were "sneering at ordinary people" in traditional Labour heartlands who voted for Leave.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/06/17/tom-watson-argue-brexit-can-reversed-speech-making-renewed-call/
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“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2019, 22:11:50 »
>Solidarity, Freedom.

I can only wish them luck, since those two are incompatible.  A man is not free unless he is free to go his own way, and socialists - however they define the term - have a poor track record of preventing solidarity from deteriorating into totalitarian tyranny.
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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2019, 01:37:49 »
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“Both for practical reasons and for mathematically verifiable moral reasons, authority and responsibility must be equal - else a balancing takes place as surely as current flows between points of unequal potential. To permit irresponsible authority is to sow disaster; to hold a man responsible for anything he does not control is to behave with blind idiocy. The unlimited democracies were unstable because their citizens were not responsible for the fashion in which they exerted their sovereign authority... other than through the tragic logic of history... No attempt was made to determine whether a voter was socially responsible to the extent of his literally unlimited authority. If he voted the impossible, the disastrous possible happened instead - and responsibility was then forced on him willy-nilly and destroyed both him and his foundationless temple.”

― Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers p 234

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2019, 07:44:15 »
― Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers p 234
Love the book, but it is based on a model of government that presumes society will be better off with the laziest, most selfish f**kstick in your section/platoon/flight/ship/squadron voting than the smartest, most responsible & ethical civilian you know.

Now that I've typed that out, though, it may be true in some cases  ;D
>... socialists - however they define the term - have a poor track record of preventing imposed solidarity from deteriorating into totalitarian tyranny.
FTFY
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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2019, 12:34:16 »
If it's imposed, it has already deteriorated into tyranny.
That which does not kill me has made a grave tactical error.

"It is a damned heavy blow; but whining don't help."

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2019, 14:37:06 »
If it's imposed, it has already deteriorated into tyranny.
Zackly!
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2019, 16:42:55 »
Democracy because no other.

Ultimately, no matter what anybody thinks of the other guy's opinion everybody is convinced of his own opinion.  If a "leader" (self-designated or otherwise) proposes a course of action that does not attract the conformity of the general populace one of three things will occur:

The populace will ignore the leader and he can retire in splendid isolation to his hermitage and wall himself in like an ancient anchorite - best outcome for all concerned
The populace will ignore the leader and blissfully run him over if he continues to try to oppose them passively - populace undisturbed but leader perturbed
The populace will notice the leader and actively take steps to remove the leader if he tries to oppose them actively and aggressively - populace and leader perturbed.

It doesn't matter how you define the terms: elite, aristocracy, real, true, whatever.... any minority that sets themselves against the majority will eventually find themselves facing one of those three outcomes.  Or rather two outcomes - ignored or dead.

Quote
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

This is not a statement of a choice.  It is a truism. 

Just like you cannot lead where your followers will not go, and, you are incompetently silly to give an order that will not be obeyed.

Ultimately the second law of thermodynamics applies to politics as to everything else when you have 7 billion independently moving pieces.  Trying to impose order on a state tending to entropy and chaos requires energy - energy that in turn requires the expenditure of blood and treasure.  The less chaos you can tolerate, the more order you try to impose, the more energy you need to expend..... and the sooner you run out of both treasure and blood.

Democracy is chaotic.  The more chaos you can tolerate the less blood and treasure you need to expend.



« Last Edit: June 26, 2019, 16:50:30 by Chris Pook »
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2019, 19:26:55 »
Democracy because no other.

Ultimately, no matter what anybody thinks of the other guy's opinion everybody is convinced of his own opinion.  If a "leader" (self-designated or otherwise) proposes a course of action that does not attract the conformity of the general populace one of three things will occur:

The populace will ignore the leader and he can retire in splendid isolation to his hermitage and wall himself in like an ancient anchorite - best outcome for all concerned
The populace will ignore the leader and blissfully run him over if he continues to try to oppose them passively - populace undisturbed but leader perturbed
The populace will notice the leader and actively take steps to remove the leader if he tries to oppose them actively and aggressively - populace and leader perturbed.

It doesn't matter how you define the terms: elite, aristocracy, real, true, whatever.... any minority that sets themselves against the majority will eventually find themselves facing one of those three outcomes.  Or rather two outcomes - ignored or dead.
...

Chris. Your theory works only where the leader is isolated or supported by a weak minority. All too often such leaders have sufficient time and resources to build a support base around themselves (frequently including the police and/or military) which is dependent on the him for their favoured position in society. That power base is often strong enough to thwart any attempt by the majority to reassert themselves.

Here's a small article that postulates that only 4.5% of the people in the world live in a full democracy while 49.3% live in some form of democracy. The remainder trend towards some form of hybrid or authoritarian regime.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2018/02/01/the-best-and-worst-countries-for-democracy-infographic/#6f7cda903fff

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index

Note that while Canada ranks as a "full democracy" the US's score ranks it as a "flawed democracy"

I used to be an optimist who felt that the world's march to democracy might be slow and measured by centuries but was nonetheless inevitable. More recently I've become a cynic who sees that democratic principles play second fiddle to such things as oppression through control of the population by way of religious dogma and/or domination over the nation's resources/wealth.

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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2019, 21:41:19 »
I don't dispute your cynical view.

I would contend, though, that authoritarian societies tend to lurch from one dictator to the next as the society rebels against the first and pursues a fruitless search for a second.  They seek someone to supply their "manna from heaven", their bread and circuses.  They prefer security over liberty.

Trying to impose an authoritarian regime on a previously democratic society, I believe, is considerably less easy. 
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2019, 13:32:18 »
I'd say that the US position on the scale has just dropped quite a few points based on todays USSC decision:

Quote
Supreme Court OKs Excessive Partisan Gerrymandering
The ruling opens the door for lawmakers to draw districts that greatly benefit their party.
By Sam Levine

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blessed extreme partisan gerrymandering, giving politicians a green light to draw electoral districts that keep them in power indefinitely.

In a 5-4 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that partisan gerrymandering was a political question beyond the reach of the federal court. There are no fair and manageable standards for judges to evaluate whether a gerrymander is constitutional, Roberts wrote in his majority opinion.

“We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts,” Roberts wrote in Thursday’s decision. “Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions.”

Roberts was joined by the court’s four other conservative justices in the majority.

The court’s decision ensures state lawmakers will have virtually unlimited license to choose the voters who elect them. By packing the opposing party’s voters into as few districts as possible or spreading them out among many districts, lawmakers can make it next to impossible for the other party to win a majority of legislative or congressional seats.

Justice Elena Kagan, in a dissenting opinion joined by the three other liberal-leaning justices, wrote about the corrosive effect gerrymandering has on American democracy. New technology, she said, would only make the practice more extreme.

“If left unchecked, gerrymanders like the ones here may irreparably damage our system of government,” she wrote. “Of all times to abandon the Court’s duty to declare the law, this was not the one. The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government. Part of the Court’s role in that system is to defend its foundations. None is more important than free and fair elections.”

Kagan further added, “The majority’s idea instead seems to be that if we have lived with partisan gerrymanders so long, we will survive.”

Gubernatorial and state legislative elections later this year and in 2020 will now determine which party controls redistricting for the following decade. Republicans currently have the power to draw far more congressional districts than Democrats do (179 to 76); if that continues after the 2020 elections, the Supreme Court’s decision will effectively entrench GOP rule.

The cases the Supreme Court ruled on involved congressional districts in North Carolina and Maryland, two great examples of the power of gerrymandering. In North Carolina, Republicans have controlled nearly all of the state’s 13 congressional seats since 2012, even though they’ve consistently won only about half of the statewide congressional vote. In Maryland, Democrats redrew one of the state’s congressional districts in 2011, flipping it from a Republican one to a Democratic one. Roscoe Bartlett, who represented the district, won with over 60% of the votes in 2010. In 2012, with new district lines in place, he lost to a Democrat by more than 20 percentage points. Democrats have held a 7-to-1 edge in that’s state’s congressional delegation ever since.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the suit, which is actually two consolidated cases ― Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek ― is a disappointment to gerrymandering reform activists, who argued that Maryland and North Carolina were clear-cut examples of egregious partisan gerrymandering and that the court had to act. Lawmakers in both cases had admitted they drew electoral boundaries with the specific intent of advantaging their own party.

In North Carolina, Republicans had to redraw the state’s congressional districts after a 2016 court ruling said their first attempt had unlawfully diluted the influence of black voters. When they set out to draw a new map later that year, Republicans required that it continue to give Republicans a 10-to-3 advantage and told the mapmaker they hired not to consider race. A top Republican in the legislature boasted that the reason lawmakers were passing a 10-to-3 map was because it was not possible to draw a map that was 11-to-2.

The plaintiffs in the North Carolina case ― Democratic voters in each of the state’s congressional districts, the state Democratic Party and civic groups ― argued that the districts in North Carolina clearly violated the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech and the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the law. They also said lawmakers were essentially guaranteeing election outcomes, violating provisions of Article I of the Constitution, which says the members of the House of Representatives shall be chosen by “the people” and allows lawmakers to only set the “time, manner and place” of elections.

The Maryland case involved a challenge to the state’s 6th Congressional District. The plaintiffs, Republican voters, said that Democrats intentionally gerrymandered the district in 2011 to flip it from a Republican one to a Democratic one.

During oral arguments in March, the more conservative justices on the court did not seem eager to weigh in on partisan gerrymandering. The U.S. Constitution gives lawmakers the power to draw district lines, and the conservative justices seemed hesitant to embrace the idea that the court had a responsibility to step in and decide when gerrymandering is so egregious that it becomes unconstitutional. They also appeared skeptical that there was a way to figure out when gerrymandering was so severe that it was unconstitutional.

“There are no legal standards discernible in the Constitution for making such judgments, let alone limited and precise standards that are clear, manageable, and politically neutral,” Roberts wrote. “Any judicial decision on what is ‘fair’ in this context would be an ‘unmoored determination’ of the sort characteristic of a political question beyond the competence of the federal courts.”

Paul Clement, a prolific Supreme Court lawyer who served as solicitor general under George W. Bush, argued on behalf of North Carolina lawmakers. He warned the court against striking down the districts, saying it would invite a flood of lawsuits from people who were dissatisfied with the results of elections.

The gerrymandering reform advocates on the other side of the case were concerned that computer mapping, big data and other new technology would allow lawmakers to gerrymander more precisely than they ever had before.

Democrats are determined not to let Republicans have as much influence in redrawing electoral boundaries in 2021 as they did in 2011. Former Attorney General Eric Holder is leading a group, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, focused on helping Democrats win key state races that will ensure they have a seat at the table during redistricting.

There is also a movement to rein in excessive partisan gerrymandering outside of the courts. Voters in Michigan, Colorado, Utah and Missouri approved ballot initiatives to either allow independent commissions to redistrict or to limit excessive political considerations.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/supreme-court-partisan-gerrymandering-constitutional_n_5cf1907ee4b0e8085e3a0fe1

Full text of decision here:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/18-422_9ol1.pdf

I think that Kagan, in dissent, stopped just short of calling the majority morons.

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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2019, 14:26:27 »
Correct me if I'm wrong ( I know you will ) but isn't the United States of America a confederation of 50 autonomous democratic states that have agreed to a collection of rules on how to cooperate with each other?

I was under the impression that was the rationale for both the Senate's equal representation by state and the use of the Electoral College to decide the Presidency.  The title is President of the United States, not President of Americans.

Each state gets to decide how to elect or appoint its representatives.  Don't they?
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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #17 on: June 27, 2019, 16:14:15 »
Correct me if I'm wrong ( I know you will ) but isn't the United States of America a confederation of 50 autonomous democratic states that have agreed to a collection of rules on how to cooperate with each other?

I was under the impression that was the rationale for both the Senate's equal representation by state and the use of the Electoral College to decide the Presidency.  The title is President of the United States, not President of Americans.

Each state gets to decide how to elect or appoint its representatives.  Don't they?

Absolutely correct that the US is a federation of states. That's why there's hope that state supreme courts might still step in on a state by state basis to deal with these issues. The decision does speak specifically about the fact that federal courts shouldn't interfere in the political process.

That said, the federal court system does step in when interpreting the Constitution and the rights of all citizens. As an example the Hobby Lobby decision which seems to cloak corporations with the religious beliefs. The Constitution has as one of it's cornerstones the fact that all men (and now women and blacks) are created equal and entitled to vote in elections (including ones for federal office). While the Constitution does provide the States with the administrative powers to run those elections (again, including ones for federal office) I think it's a natural extension of the "one man, one vote" rule upon which their democracy is based that states should not be allowed to rig the elections.

You've always been an strong advocate for democracy and the peoples' rights. Can you honestly disagree with Kagan's opening statement.

Quote
For the first time ever, this Court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities.

And not just any constitutional violation. The partisan gerrymanders in these cases deprived citizens of the most fundamental of their constitutional rights: the rights to participate equally in the political process, to join with others to advance political beliefs, and to choose their political representatives. In so doing, the partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people. These gerrymanders enabled politicians to entrench themselves in office as against voters’ preferences. They promoted partisanship above respect for the popular will. They encouraged a politics of polarization and dysfunction. If left unchecked, gerrymanders like the ones here may irreparably damage our system of government. And checking them is not beyond the courts. The majority’s abdication comes just when courts across the country, including those below, have coalesced around manageable judicial standards to resolve partisan gerrymandering claims. Those standards satisfy the majority’s own benchmarks. They do not require—indeed, they do not permit—courts to rely on their own ideas of electoral
fairness, whether proportional representation or any other.

And they limit courts to correcting only egregious gerrymanders, so judges do not become omnipresent players in the political process. But yes, the standards used here do allow—as well they should—judicial intervention in the worst-of-the-worst cases of democratic subversion, causing blatant constitutional harms. In other words, they allow courts to undo partisan gerrymanders of the kind we face today from North Carolina and Maryland. In giving such gerrymanders a pass from judicial review, the majority goes tragically wrong.

 :cheers:
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Offline YZT580

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #18 on: June 27, 2019, 16:40:08 »
I thought it was a wise decision by the Supremes.  To have written otherwise would have put them in the position of creating law which is not in their mandate.  It would also have entailed expropriating a portion of the States authority.  The fact that Roberts (who has been never been a conservative before all else judge) wrote for the majority indicates to me that the Supremes are moving back into their proper role.  Now it is up to the states to act to stop gerrymandering and hopefully they will instead of passing the buck.

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2019, 16:55:41 »
I think that Kagan, in dissent, stopped just short of calling the majority morons.

 :facepalm:   :brickwall:   :pullhair:

I doubt Republican supporters are complaining.  :)
 
REDMAP ( short for Redistricting Majority Project aka "gerrymandering on steroids" ) has been very effective for them.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/REDMAP

In spite of losing the popular vote in every presidential election, except one, since the 1980's.

Lost by 3 million in 2016. Lost by 10 million in the 2018 midterms.

Quote
A bipartisan report indicates that changes in voter demographics since the 2016 election could impact the results of the 2020 election. African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and other ethnic minorities, as well as "whites with a college degree", are expected to all increase their percentage of national eligible voters by 2020, while "whites without a college degree" will decrease. This shift is potentially an advantage for the Democratic nominee; however, due to geographical differences, this could still lead to President Trump (or a different Republican nominee) winning the Electoral College while still losing the popular vote, possibly by an even larger margin than in 2016.
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/demographic-shifts-show-2020-presidential-race-could-be-close-n868146


« Last Edit: June 27, 2019, 17:38:24 by mariomike »

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #20 on: June 27, 2019, 18:28:31 »

You've always been an strong advocate for democracy and the peoples' rights. Can you honestly disagree with Kagan's opening statement.

I trust that I continue in such advocacy.  As to Kagan's opening statement: No. I can't disagree with her observations.  But I can disagree with her prescription.

I do agree that mucking around with boundaries by parties is antithetical to democracy.  The scientist in me would sooner select polls by grid squares.  But I'm told that that would be anti-democratic as well.

Failing the grid square system my preference would be for an impartial third party to make the allotments.  Or perhaps some sort of lottery system like the draft registration number.  Or perhaps something else. 

The problem is trying to find a system with which everyone agrees, or finding that benevolent dictator who will impartially resolve all issues. I don't find the courts to be necessarily benevolent nor impartial.

I am no big fan of the party system.  Nor am I a big fan of adverserial politics.  But, as with democracy, I have difficulty finding anything better.  I would sooner the parties, those free associations of individuals (at least theoretically), fight it out among themselves, than have a third party given absolute authority over the decisions.

Perhaps one way to describe my view of democracy is that it promotes peace through allowing all parties to continue beating dead horses until they all become exhausted and move on to other horses.  Trying to impose order on energized opponents seems to me to be unlikely to resolve much of anything and is more likely to result in people resorting to direct action outside the confines of any constitutional or institutional norms.
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Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #21 on: June 27, 2019, 19:40:18 »
The redistricting decision increases democracy rather than lessening it.  The authority is left with the elected legislative bodies (federal and state) rather than held by an appointed one.  Any branch (executive, legislative, judicial) can make mistakes, but only elected ones are responsive to voters.
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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #22 on: June 27, 2019, 22:33:15 »
The redistricting decision increases democracy rather than lessening it.  The authority is left with the elected legislative bodies (federal and state) rather than held by an appointed one.  Any branch (executive, legislative, judicial) can make mistakes, but only elected ones are responsive to voters.

That's the whole point. They are not responsive to the voters as a whole. They are rigging the system so that a minority of the voters get the majority of the seats in the legislatures. The majority of the votes lose their value in gerrymandering. These aren't mistakes. They are deliberate acts to frustrate/devalue the vote of the opposition.

There are some states that have created nonpartisan commissions that set districts but they are in the minority.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering_in_the_United_States#Redistricting_commissions

Where you lose the bubble in this is that you believe that democracy is fostered if the decision is left to the legislative assemblies rather than an appointee. The real issue is that the decision ought to be in the hands of the people as a whole in order to be democratic.

 :brickwall:
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Offline YZT580

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #23 on: June 27, 2019, 23:19:09 »
This shift is potentially an advantage for the Democratic nominee; however, due to geographical differences, this could still lead to President Trump (or a different Republican nominee) winning the Electoral College while still losing the popular vote, possibly by an even larger margin than in 2016.  Just an observation:  The author of this comment isn't concerned about fairness what so ever.  The concern is that a republican will be elected instead of the only logical choice: a democrat.  There was significant, although not conclusive evidence in the last election that a number of California congress seats were decided through ballot box stuffing by the democratic party.  Where is the hue and cry over this issue?

Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Why Democracy?
« Reply #24 on: June 27, 2019, 23:24:12 »
There is nothing that prevents appointees from being partisan.  A redistricting czar or commission appointed primarily by Democrats or Republicans is subject to all the same potential worries.

I'll stick with elected legislatures > appointees in the matter of what is democratic.  That is true irrespective of whether particular decisions of either are good or bad.

[Also: how exactly is redistricting to be placed in the hands of "the people as a whole" without the majority finding a way to squeeze out the minority?]
« Last Edit: June 27, 2019, 23:27:06 by Brad Sallows »
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"It is a damned heavy blow; but whining don't help."

Despair is a sin.