We (speaking as a U.S. person) need to do away with the electoral college and first-past-the-post voting not because popular vote and a better election system are nice-to-have features, but because our current system paints a giant target on the political process we all rely on to ensure accountability. When the outcome of presidential elections depends on a few hundred or thousand voters in one or a few of Florida/Ohio/Michigan/Pennsylvania/Wisconsin, that's a systemic vulnerability.
There are active exploits in the wild; this is less a matter of instituting reforms to make things a little bit better and more a matter of adapting to new threats in order to reduce the risk of a systemic collapse.
Other exploitable vulnerabilities in our democratic process that have been weaponized to varying degrees include: Winner-take-all primary states (on the R side), superdelegates (on the D side), gerrymandering, Congressional procedural abuse (like the filibuster in the Senate, or refusing to vote on popular measures if it's opposed by a majority of the majority in the House), congressional gridlock, and sloppy campaign finance regulations.
I think you only have a chance at implementing change if you're able to locate and leverage an exploit that the viruses within have either overlooked or can't completely secure against.
If things get too far off the rails, then the fate of the political process rests in the choices of a few powerful people whether or not to do the right thing, the level of engagement and organization of the resisting populace, the strength and independence of our various institutions, and plain dumb luck. There are many modern examples of failed democracies. We shouldn't think that "the pendulum will swing the other way"; sometimes it does, but if it doesn't then it's to late for a do-over.
My thoughts on this are greatly influenced by a recent book called "On Tyranny; Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century" by Timothy Snyder.
I live in one of the top 20 countries, and have experience in countries in the lower half. The difference is like night and day. Imagine having to “tip” the EMT to take you to a hospital when you’ve been in a car accident. I had a local friend in Asian country who pretended to be unconscious in such a situation because they didn’t have any money on them.
I can’t say why this kind of corruption isn’t prevalent in the west(yet), but I don’t think it’s a fair comparison to the kind of corruption OP was describing.
Modern corruption vehicles include things like speeches, book publishing fees, movie/documentary fees, consulting fees, and real-estate deals where an expensive property is sold or rented for much less than market value.
Money laundering is done through complex derivatives, charitable foundations, and so on.
Basically modern day western corruption is based on the premise that 'work compensation' is 'discretionary' -- so any kind of 'work-like' engagement of a corrupted politician, or his/her immediate family members is easily turned into a bribe.
Even accidental (or minor) corruption of politicians, also adds to the rise of 'black mailing'. So there are politicians who have 'dirt on others', and that's their trading currency.
And so on, the swamp is continuing to snowball.
I am sure others can find more.
Justice based on 'selective outrage 'cannot fix corruption.
Justice that's corrupt itself cannot fix corruption.
Western countries have, mostly, the former.
Eastern Europe, and most so called developing nations, have both problems.
Somewhat separate topic...
But, to be honest, dislike the 'developing nations' moniker. I use it, but I wish there is something better...
As if inhabitants of those nations have 'less developed cognitive abilities, or 'less developed appetite for honesty'.
That of course, is not true.
In reality the 'developing nations' are, mostly, intentionally suppressed nations, intentionally enslaved nations, intentionally brain-washed nations.
Where the suppressors are, often, their own leaders.
So, where is the root problem of all these? It is collusion of power(politics), media(intellectuals, think tanks), money(capitalists, wealthy bankers). These powerful classes constitute 0.5% of any society, but these classes are colluding in order to advance their own interests. Yes, we have elections. What happens then? It is another fight between one group of colluders and another group of colluders. In many cases, the powerful classes bet on the both sides.
How can one ban collusion? Look at office politics in any large organization. Think of banning collusions at work place.
What you do, to solve this problem, is empower the lower classes.
We've just observed how two unions - air traffic controllers, and flight attendants - have accomplished, with the threat of a work stoppage, something that both the Republican, and the Democratic party failed to achieve - a re-opening of the government.
The 99.5% have all the power. What they need to do, is to use it in solidarity.
The article directly references the broad systematic attack on 2 and 3 that's actively underway.
> This decline comes at a time when the US is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power.
So the ethics of a leader determines how corrupt a government is? How also are the ethics of leaders in power worse than they were before? We are seeing a rise in companies and corporations taking tough actions against things like sexual harassment, racism, etc. I disagree that people in power are getting less ethical.
So a politician responding to what the "populace" (i.e. the demos) wants ("populism") is a threat to democracy. Hmm.
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
This is, of course, happening right now.
Cynics argue, but the idea of democracy is that those who appear most capable get put in charge. If you strip the most competent people of their ability and incentive to take control the system for productive use then the results are likely to be bad for everyone.
If you have a free and fair ballot, whether they get a majority, a plurality, or just a not-first-place minority of the ballots cast does tell something about the degree of popular support, by definition.
Not all balloting is free and fair, and not all electoral systems choose a winner the candidate with the most support as measured at the polls, such as systems that incorporate anti-democratic features designed to give certain voters more power per voter than others, like the US electoral college.
With electoral systems in which a candidate can win with ten percent of the vote (because nobody else scored more than ten percent), or where a party can win 12% of the vote and end up with 0.15% of the seats (as a specific example from recent western history), a politician being elected is simply not a measure of speaking for the people.
There’s more to it than that. For example someone could be elected though not desired by the majority (as has happened in US presidential elections a few times, and also happens in various places where more than two candidates vie for a seat).
Also there Re situations where the majority will egregiously violates the rights of minorities.
Or when there is a muddy signal, where Brexit is a good example: some people wanted any possible Brexit, others wanted it assuming certain conditions that are now clearly not going to happen; what is the popular will in this case?
I’m not saying that being elected isn’t the most important element, but it’s not only not sufficient, but it can actually be wrong.
The person that responded to you employed a classic "anti-rightward" trope equating populism to vicarious elite control. I fail to see the difference between Populism and Democracy on the "people" side of the equation, rather the difference is in which elites are pulling the strings.
„Populism is a range of political approaches that deliberately appeal to 'the people', often juxtaposing this group against the "elite".“
There is plenty of left-wing populism, by the way. Jeremy Corbyn, Chavez/Maduro, Yannis Varoufakis, etc.
And no doubt it applies to leftists, absolutely. That's the basis of a lot of right wing views: that the left is simply being populist and doesn't give a shit about actually improving life, but instead staying in power.
Of course, that's about the left's view of the right as well. Hmmmm.
If one had to align them left to right, they would look like:
Sanders -> Clinton -> Bush -> Trump .
> I fail to see the difference between Populism and Democracy on the "people" side of the equation
Democracy is a system of government, Populism is a manner in which a hopeful leader (often a candidate for leadership position in a democracy) attempts to appeal to the public. They aren't even in the same domain.
What most of us want when we say we want to live in a democracy is not a true (absolute) democracy, but a limited democracy. We want a democracy within limits. In particular, we don't want 51% to be able to vote to take away the rights (or the lives) of the 49%. In an absolute democracy, they could; in a limited one they cannot.
Populism is, essentially, turning the democracy into mob rule. If you don't have limits, then the mob rules. If you do have limits, populism tries to erode them so that the people can do what they want.
Note also how populism is often associated with authoritarianism. Someone who wants to be the authoritarian persuades the people that he will get them what they want/need, if they just remove those pesky limits to his power. He encourages them to tear down the limits to government power in the name of the people getting what they want - that is, in the name of democracy. But when the people want to reign in the authoritarian's power, they find it's not so easy, because they gave the new power to the authoritarian...
They all, to various degrees, are also interested in tearing down the limits to their power over me.
The two most obvious features here are elections (not referenda), and the judicial system. The latter adds an element of “village elders”, while the former makes decision-makers confront hard choices and their consequences.
That’s why direct democracy is considered rather harmful: just look at the clusterfuck that is Brexit for an idea of what happens when people are allowed to make fantasy decisions while disregarding their actual implementation.
As an analogy, consider trial-by-jury (managed by a competent judge) with having all of the locals decide all criminal cases once a month based on what they read in the (disappearing) local paper and on nextdoor. Who would you want to decide the punishment when the neighbor boy accuses you of touching him in funny places?
Brexit wasn't direct democracy; the public vote was a non-binding referendum submitted as an electoral strategum by the elected government, which then quit in favor of a new government of the same psrty, which decided—though in no way legally compelled to—to treat the vote as if it were a binding order in order to pass responsibility off onto someone other than itself.
In an actual direct democracy, the people would vote on the actual policy details, not vague generalizations only if and when it seemed likely to serve the political strategy of the ruling officials.
Brexit is not a failure of direct democracy.
But in any case, in a direct democracy, if enough people want to vote on something, they can, regardless of how stupid it is. That would include Brexit etc.
Otherwise, if it's to survive, it does so by compromise, tradeoffs, bargaining, and leaving many people at least a little unhappy but not enough people unhappy enough to dismantle the system.
Here, Wikipedia has a decently long article on it to get you up to speed.
When you're done reading, maybe you can stop prevaricating in this thread and just state whatever case you're trying to make.
I've noticed people tend to draw the line at "too much democracy" when it starts doing what they don't want it to, and they draw the line of "not enough democracy" when it doesn't do what they want it to do.
That seems like an even mobbier mob than a 51%. At some point, though, you'd figure the numbers alone grant the political fiat to turn the "mob" into the "people". Otherwise, that's one quite "limited" democracy. But, if so, I wonder what the magical ratio is.
Alternatively, they introduce an involatile shared fiction into the public conscious, that justifies their position - such as the divine right of kings, or the sanctity of the feudal contract.
Like democracy=good, populism=bad ?
There's difference between appeals to certain groups vs. what is in the best interests of certain groups. No doubt Patricia is saying that those with populist tendencies also have a tendency to weakening democratic institutions.
Democracy, in the modern sense of the word, isn't the unrestrained rule of the mob, it's a system of checks and balances that represent interests of various groups of people in order to make a more perfect union.
No, it’s just less surprising of a finding in that case. Remember Godwin's Law is: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1”.