Labor Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 9/2/2022: Which Are The Pod People And Which Are The Fascists?

1. More on Biden’s speech…I finally read the text of President Biden’s speech; it was even worse than I expected. What kind of advisors would let a President make such a speech? What kind of President would deliver it rather than fire the speechwriter and whoever advocated saying such stuff in public? It says something significant about the distribution of partisan extremism in the media that CNN and MSNBC would be the only networks to broadcast it, yet, ironically, as true blue propagandists, they should have embargoed the speech for their party’s own good. Fox News should have wanted to broadcast it. It’s the best marketing for the Republican Party I’ve ever seen.

Because there is, as the saying goes, no reason to re-invent the wheel, I’m going to send you over to Althouse for her section-by-section analysis, which is close enough to mine to make a parallel post here a waste of time. A sample:

There are far more Americans, far more Americans from every background and belief, who reject the extreme MAGA ideology than those that accept it.

His version of the soul of America represents what “far more” Americans think, so — what? — screw those other people? Something like 47% of voters voted for Trump, but even if the Trump voters were more dramatically overwhelmed by throngs of more “normal” people, they are still part of the population. Or maybe it’s not about excluding everyone who’s not in the majority. Maybe it’s about rejecting them because they have “extreme MAGA ideology.” What is “extreme MAGA ideology”? Desire for a secure border? Pro-life? Really, what are the elements that Biden envisions as not worthy of debate but justifying denouncement as not normal and not mainstream?

And folks, it’s within our power, it’s in our hands, yours and mine, to stop the assault on American democracy….

It seems to me that it’s within our power to participate in democracy and vote. Where is this “assault”? Why in the name of all that is normal and mainstream is he conjuring up violence — an “assault”? It’s going on right now. Don’t you see it? The “assault” I see is the effort to keep Donald Trump from running again. If the overwhelming majority of Americans reject his “extreme MAGA ideology,” what’s the problem? Let him run and he will be defeated.

Ann calls the speech “disturbing and incoherent.” I’d call it dangerous and irresponsible.

2. A cognitive dissonance dilemma for the ethicist. A colleague and professional freind whose expertise I often rely on and whose opinion I greatly respect, was, I recently learned, involved in an ugly workplace ethics scandal many years ago. It is bad enough that it makes me doubt my assessment of the character of this individual, and also bad enough that I can’t imagine asking about it. In short, all of my experience (of many years) with this person tells me that my trust is justified; the facts of the scandal tell me that it is not. The latter are at signature significance levels, but they also occurred decades ago. What is the fair and ethical way to resolve the conflict?

3. Luckily for him, this lousy umpire is a Cuban-American, so he can claim he’s been discriminated against by Major League Baseball. In fact, he’s just lousy at his job. Angel Hernandez was hired as a big league umpire in 1993, and incredibly, still has that job. He sued MLB in 2017, alleging he was discriminated against because he had not been assigned to the World Series since 2005 and had been passed over for crew chief repeatedly. U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken granted a summary judgment to MLB in March 2021. Hernandez is asking the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in February to throw out Oetken’s decision.

It is not going well for the umpire. In its filings with the court, MLB revealed that Hernandez was slated to work the 2018 World Series, but was dinged after getting three calls overturned following video review during Game 3 of the 2018 American League Division Series between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, according to a Major League Baseball response to Hernandez’s recent legal filing. Ah, yes, I remember that game well. It was hardly the first time Hernandez was revealed as grossly incompetent; any serious baseball fan will respond with his name (or Joe West or Laz Diaz) if asked to name the worst umpire in the game. I think Hernandez is the worst umpire I’ve ever seen. But he’s in denial. Rather than accept the fact that he needs to improve, he has been seduced by the race-hustlers. It is so much easier to blame discrimination rather than to admit one’s inadequacies. This is the tragedy of the convenient minority discrimination narrative.

4. Why Republicans lost that House seat in Alaska:60% of Alaska voters voted for a Republican, but thanks to a convoluted process and ballot exhaustion—which disenfranchises voters—a Democrat “won,” wrote GOP Senator Tom Cotton in a tweet. No, thanks to a dumb Republican party, the Democrat won. Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential nominee, and Nicholas Begich III, a Republican from the state’s most prominent Democratic political family, were both strong candidates. A smart party would have made sure they didn’t both end up in a run-off with the main Democratic contender. Smart voters wouldn’t have voted for the Republican they liked and down-voted the other. Obviously, that strategy favors the Democrat. President Taft and Teddy Roosevelt got more votes than Woodrow Wilson in 1912, too.

I detest ranked choice voting, but if Republicans are determined to be incompetent, then they deserve what they get.

5. With all the deserved bashing of Biden, let me pause a bit to remind everyone once again about how many of Trump’s travails are his own doing. Among the worst of his blunders, political and ethical (I know I’ve written this often) was gratuitously insulting Jeb and George W. Bush. It gained him nothing, for Jeb was a non-starter as a candidate with or without Trump. What he accomplished was alienating the entire power circle of a major family dynasty in U.S. politics, and that circle is substantial.  Much of the “NeverTrump” resistance that has split the GOP arose out of the resolve of the Bushes and their minions—like Liz Cheney—to get even.

The Washington Post published in its last Sunday Opinion section a stunning example of the hatred Trump triggered from the Bushies. Former W. speech-writer, a Post Stockholm syndrome token conservative like David Brooks for the Times, authored an epic anti-Trump hate screed that has to be read to be believed. He scolds his own party while adopting false narrative talking points for cheap attacks on Trump. (“Leaders in the Republican Party have fed, justified and exploited conservative Christians’ defensiveness in service to an aggressive, reactionary politics. This has included deadly mask and vaccine resistance, the discrediting of fair elections, baseless accusations of gay “grooming” in schools, the silencing of teaching about the United States’ history of racism, and (for some) a patently false belief that Godless conspiracies have taken hold of political institutions.”)

And all because Donald Trump couldn’t control his natural nastiness and criticize Bush family policies without making the attacks personal.

33 thoughts on “Labor Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 9/2/2022: Which Are The Pod People And Which Are The Fascists?

  1. RE #1: One of the greatest problems we have as a nation is the lack of public understanding of how and why the Framers developed the Constitution that they gave us. It starts in school, with the lack of proper civics education (and the capture of schools by progressives, who obviously want to keep us in the dark. This ain’t a democracy, folks, and it was never intended to be one. If anything, our current wretched national situation is the result of TOO much democracy. Even the talking heads on Fox regularly talk about “threats to our democracy.” For the love of God, why couldn’t they at least say “thread to our REPUBLIC” and start reminding people of that?*

    RE #2: Well, you’re the pro, but it seems to me you should talk to your friend/colleague about this. If he/she dodges or makes excuses, then you’ve got a problem going forward. If the individual is open, acknowledges the error(s) and tells you what was learned and how it informed actions going forward, I’d say that’s an individual who can, indeed, be trusted. We all make mistakes. It’s what we do after making them that improves us as people.

    *One of the most splendid and darkly hilarious aspects of the 2016 Presidential runup was how oh-so-democratic Hillary Clinton captured control of the DNC and, through thoroughly UN-democratic processes, stuck a shiv in Bernie Sanders’s back. Meantime, the sad sacks at the RNC ran their primary process through established and largely democratic processes. And we ended up with Trump, the Destroyer of Democracy. Any movie script with that plotline would never get a greenlight – as history has borne out, that’s too much disbelief to suspend.

      • That’s the thing–the relationship has already been poisoned to a degree of signature significance via the revelation of the scandal.

        If it’s severe enough that you can’t afford trust, then there’s either no relationship to salvage or you apply the Julie principle.

      • I’m thinking you could explore most anybody’s past and find some unethical, illegal or whatever issue. To then prioritize some past indiscretion over current overwhelming experience is just the attitude of a “woke weenie”. In sports (tennis, golf, boxing) you’re as good as your worst shot. In real, life not so much. As Reagan said, “trust but verify” (I think it was Reagan, wasn’t’t it?). Keep your friend.

  2. Re: 4

    Can someone explain to me what happened there?

    Based on ranked-choice voting if party was the leading factor for choosing who to vote for a Republican should have won. Say 31% vote for Palin, 29% for the other Republican and 40% for Peltolaa, then only the last 29% get reallocated. Unless a third of those votes were switching parties for their second option Palin should have won. I’m not saying that is impossible, just highly unlikely.

    I have thoughts and speculation about what happened, but I cannot find the actual numbers ANYWHERE! Wouldn’t that be like in the first couple of paragraphs of any news about this?

  3. 4. I’m still confused as to why anyone would honestly prefer first-past-the-post voting over ranked choice voting for any reason other than dogmatic adherence to how we’ve always done it. What scenario should we be afraid will happen where the results of ranked choice voting would be less aligned with voter preferences than the results of FPTP voting?

    • At first I took issue with your characterization of the Alaska election, on the basis that ranked choice voting would have removed the spoiler effect. However, I realized that’s not quite true.

      Under first-past-the-post voting, if 60% of voters preferred the Republican party but were evenly split across two Republican candidates, then the Democratic candidate would have won with a 40% plurality.

      In the same scenario but with ranked choice voting, one of the Republicans would have been eliminated and their votes would have gone to the other Republican candidate, who would have won. In that situation a Republican wins, just like in the FPTP scenario, but also the Republican voters get to vote on which Republican wins without risking their party losing. That is, if they all have a Republican as their second choice.

      The Republicans lost because not only did the Democratic candidate have a plurality of first choice votes, but many of the people whose first choice was the less popular Republican Begich had the Democrat Peltola as their second choice.

      If Begich had not run, the results would be the same. If Palin had not run… that’s a good question. Unfortunately they don’t appear to tabulate the second preferences of the votes that are not reallocated, which seems like something they should be required to do. However, it is entirely possible that Palin’s voters would have put Begich as their second choice, and therefore if Palin had not run, maybe Begich would have won. That’s a potential spoiler. But since Palin was apparently the more popular Republican candidate, why wouldn’t she be the one running?

      I could see a possible argument that ranked choice voting is bad because it encourages parties to run spoiler candidates under the assumption that there can be no spoilers with ranked choice voting. But who was the spoiler here? Begich didn’t affect the election, and Palin might have affected it but she was actually more popular between the two of them.

      This is a problem with literally any voting system, regardless of how it’s tabulated, because it’s not always possible to reconcile people’s preferences. A voting system will always have edge cases where it may not fulfill some desired criteria for how it should work ideally. This principle is known as Arrow’s impossibility theorem. Technically, it applies to first-past-the-post voting as well, because surprise! FPTP voting is just another variation of ranked choice voting. It’s the one with the rule that only first choices are counted. In the vast majority of realistic scenarios, that makes it worse than many other forms of ranked choice voting.

      Regarding voter preferences, it’s unlikely though theoretically possible to have some voters who prefer A to B, some who prefer B to C, and some who prefer C to A, in such proportions that different types of ranked choice voting will produce different results. There is no one perfect form of ranked choice voting that will avoid all the problems we might object to.

      However, that does not imply that FPTP is objectively better than other forms of ranked choice voting. Even if voters are only allowed one choice, those preferences still exist. No voting system can reconcile them in a perfectly objective way. We have to pick the criteria that matter most to us. Do we want to reward candidates for being the least unpopular? Or do we want to reward them for being the first choice of the most people? The method we choose depends on our answer. I assert that the form of ranked choice voting used in Alaska has better results in the most realistic scenarios than FPTP does. I think the way to discourage strategic voting might be to select the electoral system at random from a curated list after people have cast their votes but before the votes are counted.

      One thing is for sure, though: it is naive to assume that fixing the voting system will be sufficient for fixing the country. Voting communicates so few bits of information that it’s not a meaningful way to influence nuanced policy. In order to reap the benefits of an improved voting system, we also need to get the public talking to each other, negotiating, and issuing thoughtful, responsible, and reasonable ultimatums to elected officials.

      Right now many people feel that voting hardly matters because one politician is about as bad as another. We want to build a world where people fulfill the responsibility of voting, but don’t care that much about the voting system because the top candidates are all decent enough.

      Does that all make sense?

      • Yes. Great post—COTD as soon as I can get it up.

        Ranked voting is how Ted Williams lost the MVP award at least three times when he unquestionably had the best record of any batter. Boston sportswriters hated his guts, so many left him off their ballots—which required ranking up to 10 players. Thus Ted lost in seasons when he won the Triple Crown and notably when he hit.406.

        Having multiple major party candidates has led to chaos and the loss of public trust in elections multiple times. In 1860, it led to a Civil War. In 1912, it led to the US in WWI. In 1968, it gave us Richard Nixon; in 1992, Bill Clinton. 2016: Trump.

        In my view, ranked choice voting just dilutes the appearance of integrity in elections, and is not worth whatever the technical benefits might be. Anything more than two candidates is courting disaster.

        • Thanks, Jack! If the issue you have with ranked choice voting is that confronting voters with more than two choices distracts them by dividing their attention and inspiring intra-party infighting, I can appreciate that. I do think that’s a problem that we should address on the voter level, though, rather than dumbing down the voting system. Also, this line of reasoning seems to imply that we should get rid of primaries and rely on parties to choose their own candidates. Is that something you recommend, or do I misunderstand what you mean when you say we shouldn’t have more than two candidates?

          For your baseball example, I don’t quite follow the logic. If the voters wanted to keep Ted Williams from an award he deserved, wouldn’t they just not vote for him no matter how the voting system worked? Or do you mean it was easier for them to overwhelm any votes in his favor because because instead of having to all agree on a specific other player to vote for, they could all just list ten plausible candidates and after enough runoff iterations, eventually one of those would beat him? Because that doesn’t actually sound like it would be a problem in a political election. If enough people dislike a candidate, maybe we really don’t want them to win. The election system would work exactly as intended in that case. That’s not a bug, it’s a feature. Petty voters are a liability in any voting system.

          For the historical examples, I don’t see how those are arguments against ranked choice voting, given that they are examples of potentially undesirable outcomes that took place under first-past-the-post voting. One of the points in favor of ranked choice voting is that it might very well have kept Woodrow Wilson out of office had it been in effect.

          • I’m sorry: I should have been clearer. The point of the baseball example is that ranked voting allows for hate and negative emotions to distort the results. A simple election process is based on which candidate the most voters want in the position…how much they detest the other options shouldn’t matter at all, or how much the winner’s adversaries hate that candidate should also not affect the outcome. The ranking systems encourages negative campaigning and appeals to emotion. Fear and hate are now the basis on which so many campaigns are based, and ranked voting encourages it.

            • I’d argue that the current system encourages negative campaigning because candidates are rewarded for making each other look worse, and not rewarded for praising each other. If you’re a candidate, a vote for any other candidate is a vote against you regardless of how much you agree with them.

              One selling point of ranked choice voting is that candidates from similar ideologies don’t have to be bitter rivals because if one of them is eliminated then those votes can pass to other similar candidates. They’re not spoilers for each other.

              With a greatly reduced spoiler effect, we don’t have to worry so much about running more than two candidates, which means the “make people fear the other party” approach doesn’t work so well. There’s enough variation in position that a candidate has to establish why their position is good rather than why everyone else’s positions are bad.

              Does that make more sense?

              • Yes, but consider this: ranked choice voting maximizes the effect of hate, and this encourages it. The more polarizing candidates are penalized, or easily can be by targeted negative campaigning. It often would favor the least controversial candidate—eliminating the “extremes.” But in the US Presidency, the most polarizing candidates have often been the most transformative. Abe Lincoln would not have won the election of 1860 with ranked choice voting. Stephen Douglas would have.

                • Ah, now that’s an argument I can appreciate. I even brought it up in previous discussions of ranked choice voting, but nobody confirmed that that was their concern. The idea that RCV might incentivize politicians to be more bland and people-pleasing is a valid one. In response, I have two points.

                  First, I would argue that the first-past-the-post system we have right now has the opposite problem, encouraging divisiveness and scapegoating, and in my opinion that is a more pressing concern at the moment.

                  Second, I think either system could work with a more educated populace, and neither system will work without one. A democracy under either the current FPTP system or the prospective RCV system would still incentivize politicians to pursue the appearance of effectiveness through the easiest method possible, which may not align with actual effectiveness. Turning people against each other or becoming the most bland and people-pleasing candidate are both forms of corruption.

                  In order to fix the problem, I am working to foster literacy in basic mindsets. Not everyone needs to be a great thinker, but most everyone needs to be able to recognize a good idea from a bad one. (Bonus points if they can recognize when an idea is insufficiently good but has potential if modified with other ideas.)

                  I think that with an uneducated populace, RCV is less likely to result in turmoil than FPTP and more likely to lead people to learn to communicate with each other, which is an immediate concern because it would help address all other problems. With an educated populace it will offer people more policy platform choices and therefore more nuance. That said, most of the work of democracy must take place before anyone casts any kind of vote. That’s why I think RCV is worth implementing.

                  What do you think?

      • Well, I cannot agree with several of your contentions. First off, I’d say that the actual result was likely not the one that most of the electorate would have preferred. It boggles the mind that, when 60% of voters chose a Republican, a majority actually wanted the Democrat to win. You have to figure that, if they had still been using FPTP voting there would have only been one candidate from each party — history suggests that whoever had won the Republican nomination would have been a heavy favorite in a two person election.

        The other thing was that, given the actual results, the reason the Democrat won was not just that 30% of the third place voters made the Democrat their second choice. Added to that, more than 20% of the voters who voted for the 3rd place candidate apparently had no second choice. More than 11000 voters disenfranchised themselves in the runoff by not selecting a second choice. Those were all people who voted for a Republican and, presumably, most of them would have chosen the other Republican had they made a choice. That might well have been enough to swing the final result.

        I just hope that Alaskans, whatever their feelings on ranked choice, will view this as a learning moment. They did vote for this system, after all, and it’s incumbent on them to actually understand how it works. It’s incumbent on the parties to explain how it works, too.

        • I don’t understand why you assume that the Alaskans think anything went wrong with their election process. Some of the people who voted for Begich put Peltola as their second choice, and some left their ballots blank rather than vote for either Peltola or Palin.

          It’s true that when we add all the ballots that were exhausted (the people who voted for Begich and had no second choice after his elimination) to all the votes cast for Peltola and for Palin in the second round, we find that Peltola’s votes are not a majority of that total. How is that different, though, from if Begich had never run in the first place, and the people who in reality cast votes for only him had decided not to vote at all? Because that’s effectively what they did. They took themselves out of the denominator of total votes by not selecting a second choice in the event of Begich’s elimination.

          Peltola got a majority of the valid votes after the runoff in which Begich’s votes were reassigned to their second choices. She was the first choice of the most people and the second choice of more people than Palin was. I fail to see how anyone would consider this a miscarriage of democracy.

    • Agree with EC here. Properly exercised, ranked choice gives the same result as open primary + top two runoff for most reasonable cases. If a party disagrees with the open primary concept they can run their primary election and make sure they have only one candidate for the general (this would require both tactical and political considerations on their behalf). As long as open primary is not dictated by law (hello Washington, get rekt!) I see no problem with this.

      The downside of ranked choice is that probably the average voter does not actually understand how it works. I would even require the voter to actually solve an exercise on the out one before voting, but I think those poll tests have been decided to be unconstituational.

      • Yeah, I’d call a system so complex and controversial that the average voter can’t understand how their votes count and how to maximize their effectiveness a “drawback”…

        In contrast, “The most votes win” is remarkably straight-forward.

        • “Complex?” If the ballots are designed in a confusing or ambiguous way, that’s something we can fix.

          If the a voter can’t grasp the concept of “order these candidates from your most favorite to least favorite, and you don’t have to include any you really don’t like” then they probably can’t grasp policy consequences either. If that describes the average voter, then we’ve got bigger problems than the voting system.

          As for “controversial”, most of the opposition to ranked choice voting comes from the major parties, who know it would weaken their control over the country, and from people who oppose it on what appear to be traditionalist grounds. The idea that if a system were any good, we’d be using it already is the sort of blind circular logic that gives conservatives a bad name. I can virtually guarantee you that if the United States had started out with RCV, nobody would be demanding a switch to first-past-the-post.

          Also, what you describe are exactly the excuses people use for opposing voter ID requirements. “It’s too complicated and too controversial and the only real effect is to distort the elections.”

          I suggest checking out a Forward Party event in your area; we have fun demonstrations of how RCV works using things like food and drink flavors.

          • Who uses that as the argument against voter IDs? The idea isn’t that it’s complicated; its that somehow it is “too hard” to get the IDs (which is nonsense.) The legitimate point I’m making is that voters need to understand the exact way their votes work. “Who gets the most votes wins” is easy: a child could understand it. The fact that we’re debating how this system works is strong evidence that it’s not transparent enough. They can grasp the process, but they can’t easily grasp exactly how the process works in practical terms.

            Of course it’s complex. Explain to a typical voter how if she votes for the same candidate at the top of her ballot but ranks another candidate 5th rather than second the outcome might be different.

            As for “The idea that if a system were any good, we’d be using it already”…who made THAT argument? Not me. I just think such schemes increase the chaos factors by adding opportunities for anomalies. We see it in ranked voting results all the time: I mentioned MVP balloting. Cy Young voting and “Fielding Bible awards” also use the same system. What I frequently see are winners who didn’t have the most #1 votes, because some voters trying to manipulate the system left them off their ballots, which was objectively absurd. So the “winner” is not only not the best candidate, most voters didn’t think he was. Now—this is with a lot smaller polls of voters. But it exposes one of the flaws in the system.

            Look, you can choose any system people will put up with to elect candidates—paper stone and scissors—and the public will accept it if it is superficially fair. “Most votes wins” is clean, understandable, and traditional (and nothing is wrong with that).

            • I’d argue a child could understand ranked choice voting. That’s been proven. However, if we’re talking about what’s transparent to the average American voter, how many average American voters understand how the electoral college affects how people’s ballots translate into results? As long as they understand how to fill out the ballot, they can watch educational materials if they’re confused as to what happens to the ballots after they’re cast, just like they do now.

              Regarding your second paragraph, I would certainly hope that the outcome of an election might be different based on how people rank the candidates; otherwise the election would have no point. However, it sounds like you’re worried that the election results would also be different from what we’d expect based on voters’ actual preferences. Every version of RCV has edge cases where the algorithm handles people’s preferences differently from how another version would do it. There can be no perfect version, because even if we took away the voting and just looked at everyone’s preferences, there may be no way to reconcile all of them objectively. There may be multiple equilibrium states with no clear way to rank them. (“If he’s in, I’m in.” “Great, if he’s in, I’m in too.” “Wait, if he’s in, I’m out!” “Oh, boy.” –paraphrasing from a Ryan George skit.) That’s why I think we could randomly select an RCV algorithm from a curated list once the ballots are cast, so that nobody could possibly game the system and everyone could just fill out their votes honestly.

              If we have to pick one system, though, it comes down to how realistic each configuration of preferences is, what consequences we’re willing to accept in those situations (including what behavior we’re incentivizing from voters and candidates), and the occasional random coin flip between candidates when one option can’t be said to be more correct than another. If we get to the point where two candidates can’t be objectively ranked against each other, either we have healed as a country and would be fine with either candidate, or we’re so polarized that we have no common ground, in which case we have bigger problems.

              I understand that your experiences of ranked choice voting yielded results different from what you expected, but you must realize that the goal of voting on the best baseball player is different from the goal of voting on political candidates. With baseball players, you want exceptional people to win, because they’re supposed to receive awards. With political candidates, sometimes you want the least disliked person to win, because they’re supposed to make policies for everyone. Politics is supposed to be about compromise, after all, though most humans seem to have forgotten how that works. Right now the humans are playing tug of war, with each side fielding candidates that the other side hates. Why would it be a bad thing for an election to result in a winner both sides can accept? Why wouldn’t that be exactly what we want right now?

              Again, most of the work of democracy must take place before anyone casts any kind of vote. If we need “transformative” then we should be able to get that without being “polarizing” or “extreme.” We do want politicians to be thought leaders, but to do that they must actually lead. They must convince their constituents that a new idea is worth pursuing before they start making it a policy. If politicians create a policy that their constituents don’t like, on the justification that the politicians know better, that’s called authoritarianism, and I was pretty sure we considered that a bad idea. That’s a bad way to be “transformative.”

              Does that all make sense?

              • Makes sense—I just disagree on this key point:

                With political candidates, sometimes you want the least disliked person to win, because they’re supposed to make policies for everyone. Politics is supposed to be about compromise, after all, though most humans seem to have forgotten how that works. Right now the humans are playing tug of war, with each side fielding candidates that the other side hates. Why would it be a bad thing for an election to result in a winner both sides can accept? Why wouldn’t that be exactly what we want right now?

                That’s asking for mediocrity, and weak leaders. I think that’s exactly what the last presidential election resulted in—someone who was seen as the “least radical” and “least harmful” while promising compromise and collaboration. That same leader just accused everyone on who opposed him of being fascists and dangerous. Presidents can’t be weak and effective. If ethics is part of the package, I would always argue that the most remarkable, singular, talented and unusual candidate is the one we want to lead.

                • That is an understandable argument. If you have five candidates, and one of them gets fourth place in the first round, that candidate could still win if enough people list them as the second choice. All the strong candidates could drop out, leaving only the blandest option.

                  However, I’d argue the current system is actually more prone to that problem. Right now parties already run mediocre candidates because they don’t have to compete; all they have to do is demonize the opponent. FPTP allows the parties to win based on mostly fearmongering and some shiny slogans. “Vote for us or the enemy will win.” Everyone has to pick the popular candidate for fear of wasting their vote and allowing someone they fear to win. That means the popular candidates can’t be held accountable. They have neither the incentive to be a transformative leader, nor the incentive to find compromise and reconciliation. That’s how we get the presidents who are bizarre combinations of bland and extreme, whom we’ve seen for the past several presidential elections. They are willing to do anything to create the appearance of effectiveness, just so long as they don’t have to actually be effective. They’re all flash and no substance.

                  Conversely, RCV allows some very good things to happen.

                  With FPTP, if you have a third party candidate whom most people like, but nobody’s sure how popular that candidate is, nobody wants to risk voting for them because they’d risk spoiling the election for whichever of the two mediocre candidates they fear less. They feel compelled to dishonestly vote for a mediocre popular candidate instead of a transformative third party candidate.

                  But under ranked choice voting, people can list a “spoiler” third party candidate as their top choice, secure in the knowledge that if the third party candidate is not popular enough, their votes will go to the second choice, and nobody wins until they get a majority of votes.

                  In brief, RCV allows people to feel secure in voting more honestly. If the majority wants a particular transformative candidate, they’ll vote for them and that person will win. That candidate has more opportunity to run and a greater chance to win than they would under FPTP.

                  Does that make sense?

  4. 4) I have to disagree in part on your observations regarding the Alaska special election. As far as I know, this was _not_ a runoff. This was simply the special election to replace the congressman who died earlier this year, and there apparently was no primary. Now why the Republicans had two candidates running in the election — no idea. Probably not a smart thing.

    What a lot fewer people talk about was that on the very same ballot, they did hold a ‘jungle’ style primary for this same House seat. The top four vote getters in the primary go on the ballot in the general election in November. There were 10 candidates who got 2% or more of the vote — 5 Republican, 2 Democrats, 2 Others, and S. Claus with 4.7% came in sixth.

    Here are the percentages from the special election versus the primary:

    Palin 31% vs 27% (primary)
    Begich (the other R) 28% vs 19%
    Peltola (the D winner) 40% vs 10(!)%
    Gross (other) n/a vs 13%
    In the primary there was another Republican with 6% and S.Claus with 5%.

    So what does that tell us about Alaskan voters? Danged if I know. Stay tuned for November.

  5. #1 About President Biden’s speech…

    I’ve written a few times around here that 21st century Democrats’ have four tenets of “truth”…

    1. The Democrats are right.
    2. Everyone else is wrong.
    3. Wrong is evil.
    4. Evil must be destroyed.

    …that’s the dead end of the 21st century Democrats’ ability to think critically.

    What could be a better piece of direct evidence to support my statement than the President of the United States of America stating it.

    Well folks, are you all finally willing to openly admit that what I’ve been writing is true?

    NOTE: It seems to me that President Biden and much of the political left, even moderate Liberals, are actually advocating for bastardizing the Constitution and instilling a Direct Democracy form of totalitarianism. These people they actually want mob rule and I don’t honestly think that this kind of cultish brainwashing that’s been culturally indoctrinated into these people from a young age cannot be deprogrammed.

  6. #2 Again…

    Forgiveness is a very powerful thing even if the person being forgiven is not aware of it.

    By Matthew West

    It’s the hardest thing to give away
    And the last thing on your mind today
    It always goes to those that don’t deserve

    It’s the opposite of how you feel
    When the pain they caused is just too real
    It takes everything you have just to say the word…


    It flies in the face of all your pride
    It moves away the mad inside
    It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
    Even when the jury and the judge
    Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
    It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’

    Forgiveness, Forgiveness
    Forgiveness, Forgiveness

    Show me how to love the unlovable
    Show me how to reach the unreachable
    Help me now to do the impossible

    Forgiveness, Forgiveness

    Help me now to do the impossible

    It’ll clear the bitterness away
    It can even set a prisoner free
    There is no end to what it’s power can do
    So, let it go and be amazed
    By what you see through eyes of grace
    The prisoner that it really frees is you

    Forgiveness, Forgiveness
    Forgiveness, Forgiveness

    Show me how to love the unlovable
    Show me how to reach the unreachable
    Help me now to do the impossible

    I want to finally set it free
    So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
    Help me now to give what You gave to me
    Forgiveness, Forgiveness

    Don’t forget what you’ve learned but forgive and let go of the part that’s causing you stress, set yourself free.

  7. #4 Jack wrote, “I detest ranked choice voting”

    I detest it too, in my opinion it’s a complete bastardization of the one person, one vote rule and it should be illegal within the confines of the United States of America for all national elections that are to fill positions for both houses of Congress or for the President of the United States. If individual states want to use this kind of bastardized election rules for their own State or municipal offices, that’s their choice.

    • I thought the point of “one person, one vote” was that elections should be fair, that nobody should wield disproportionate influence over elections by virtue of wealth or social status. If everyone gets to fill out a ranked choice ballot and the same rules are applied to all ballots and all candidates, how is that not fair? Everyone still only gets one ballot and all ballots have the same weight.

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