Politics and Voting Systems

 

Politics

Politics is a religion with really shitty gods, but at least you know those gods probably exist. 

There's nothing about politics that is an honest for truth and I'm inclined to say the same about Christianity. They both make virtues of confirmation bias and believing what you're supposed to believe instead of actually wanting the truth.

Any faith in those mythological caricatures of humans painted by the world media circus, the flotsam and jetsam of our political systems, would be utterly misplaced.

I'm outraged, livid and incandescent, that the way we do politics in the UK (and a lot of the world but our first past the post system creates a two party system which creates a system where the main goal is to attack the enemy rather than any integrity or commitment to truth) ensures that there is zero way of telling on any topic we hear about how much of it is true, how much is manufactured outrage, what should specifically have happened, what even has happened, how those decision were really made. Every thing you read is from a political perspective and trying to sell you a story, people care more about whether the news is on their side than about the truth.

I despise politics and politicians. Those who, for money and power, will compromise instead of doing the right thing. Politics is all about being compromised. And they're the ones who could change things and choose not to, because of "political reality".

For me it's getting to the heart of the matter that brings me peace. Knowing what exactly I'm angry with. It's not just anger at injustice and compromise and corruption, it's confusion caused by deception. That so few people care about truth, that agendas are more important, and the lies that causes. That makes me angry and makes me hate. I hate politics and politicians. I'm not afraid to hate these days.

Be angry with all sides that this is the case. All politicians are complicit in the corruption and compromise of the system. And all who espouse politics and feed off it and identify with it and put their aspirations and dreams into it are also complicit in it and sullied by it. The great polluter of minds and corrupter of hearts, political power. The idea that telling people what to do is a good idea is another great evil shared between politics and Christianity.

And in fact, I'm more and more convinced that this authoritarianism is not just a great evil but is the great evil. The Jesus Army was a living demonstration of how authoritarianism perverts and devours beauty. Authoritarianism (*) always has a place for those who willing to be aggressive, authoritarianism is the pecking order. So any authoritarian structure will always be corrupted and perverted by ugly people getting power and wanting to keep power, alongside the once good people compromised by that same system because the only way to keep power is to be compromised by it.

In her seminal work "The Origins of Totalitarianism" Hannah Arendt identified the conditions needed for totalitarianism to arise. The othering of a section of the population, scapegoating, was one of the things she identified. In her day it was the Jews, today how we as a society treat refugees and Muslims springs easily to mind. The antidote she suggested was a politically engaged populace, where politically engaged meant involved in the community and involved with people. This is against politics and the politicians and the established power structures not being hoodwinked by a shallow opposition to the things we hate into supporting politicians. 

Care about issues and care about people and care about the environment and all these things. And despise politics and politicians with a fierce and burning passion.

(*) Authoritarianism is the philosophy that authority, backed by force, should be obeyed and respected just because it is authority. Authoritarianism allows evil to hide in the dark.


Voting Systems

Ranked choice voting reinforces a two party system. Votes for a third party become votes for the main parties as they are discarded. Approval voting is better, and is used by the Python Software Foundation so it must be fantastic.

First past the post as a voting system creates a two party system, it incentives opposition over collaboration. It brings out and amplifies the worst aspects of human nature. Which of course is what politics and advertising have in common, being the science of the worst aspects of human nature; how can we manipulate people for our own profit. A pox and a fie on all their houses, along with the religious.
Some commentary by Tim Peters, the creator of the Timsort sorting algorithm used by Python and an expert on voting systems:

For single-winner elections, the most informed research is summarized on pages reachable from here:
Plurality (the most used method) is bottom of the barrel. IRV ("Hare", confusingly named "ranked choice" in much of the US) is a step up, but still low. "Approval" is much simpler and better than that. Approval is what the PSF uses.

Beyond those are "cardinal" systems, which allow some measure of expressing _intensity_ of preference among multiple candidates. For example, give each candidate a score of 1 through 10, and the candidate with highest total score wins. They generally do better than approval, but are somewhat harder to explain.

On the referenced page, the two highest-scoring systems shown (3-2-1 and STAR) are hybrids, mixing aspects of cardinal and ordinal voting schemes. They try to counteract the worst aspects of cardinal and ordinal schemes by mixing in the best aspects of the other kind. But by mixing paradigms, they're also that much harder to explain.

Hardest of all to explain are, of course, the "Condorcet" methods often favored by computer geeks. Group voting preferences may not be transitive (it's quite possible for a group to favor A over B one-on-one, and B over C, but also C over A), so geeks think it's great fun to invent Byzantine rules purporting to "fairly" break such preference cycles when they occur. And some of these schemes do very well indeed in large-scale voting simulations - but you need a solid grounding in graph theory to explain how cycles are broken.

One virtue of cardinal schemes is that cycles can't occur. Voters don't have to understand anything beyond addition by 1, and integer comparison, to understand everything about how approval voting works.

"Ranked Choice" voting is - in reality - a way for a 2-party system to more easily cement its stranglehold. It gives an illusion of choice (your 1st-place vote for a 3rd-party loser will be thrown out early, and eventually magically "transfer" to the major-party candidate you ranked higher).

Indeed, it was invented in Australia a century ago precisely to stop 3rd parties from "spoiling" elections for a major party at the time. At which it succeeded spectacularly.

BTW, far as I know, 3-2-1 has never been used in the real world. But in simulations it's the most resistant of all schemes to "strategic" voting (lying about your true beliefs to try to game the outcome - which is almost the _norm_ under plurality voting! whenever someone votes for "the lesser of two evil" major-party candidates instead of the 3rd-party candidate they really want, they're "lying" in this sense).

3-2-1 is devilishly clever. A voter gives each candidate one of three scores: good, meh, or bad. Or think of it as geekish +1, 0, -1. Then every ballot participates in each of 3 stages:
  1. "Keep the most loved". The 3 candidates with the highest number of +1 votes are retained. Everyone else is thrown out.
  2. "Toss the most hated". Of the 3 candidates remaining, throw out the one with the highest number of -1 votes.
  3. "Pick the more preferred". Of the 2 candidates remaining, the winner is the one that ranked higher on more ballots. Toward that end, it counts exactly the same if, e.g., a candidate wins +1 to -1 on a ballot, or +1 to 0, or 0 to -1. This stage is purely ordinal (the specific scores don't matter).
The last stage in STAR is also a purely ordinal pick between 2 surviving candidates. But because 3-2-1 and STAR don't apply ordinal schemes until only 2 candidates remain, ordinal transitivity paradoxes can't arise, so a doctorate in graph theory isn't required to resolve them 😉



"I'd rather have a fox and a pie than a pox and a fie."

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