Does Your Vote Really Matter in Presidential Elections?

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In summary: Interesting fact: There is four times in US history where the electoral vote was not in sync with the popular vote, not just in the 2000 election.Apparently , the founding fathers thought most americans of their time were not fully informed on the political issues of the day and thought the voters might not be intelligent enough to make an informed vote relevant to the political positions of that presidential candidate, and rather vote on something inane like what the presidential candidate looks like, what party he is affiliated with , what kind of personality he has, or what kinds of religious beliefs he holds. Apparently , this sentiment still holds today and that is why the electoral college is still in placed.This is quite inaccurate. The electoral college was established at a time when
  • #106
Evo said:
I didn't say that you "supported" them. If you say you don't care who gets elected, and you do absolutely nothing, you have basically agreed that either will do. That's not the same as active support.

Except I do care, and by not voting I am expressing my malcontent for the two party system. By resigning yourself to vote for one of the candidates in the two party system you are expressing approval of the current system, just like a fanbase continuing to sell out the place despite an incompetent front office giving them a **** product year after year. You think going with the lesser of two evils is going to change the current system? I highly doubt that.


I don't care if there are 10 equally strong parties, if all 10 candidates are bad, what have you accomplished by adding to the number? I guess then you can not vote for all ten. Then the next election there are 20 that are not "good" choices, then you can avoid voting for 20. :rolleyes:

My point about a third party being in the race is that it will rid ourselves of the false dichotomy that so many people have fallen for. People have vast political views that pigeonholing them down to either a "liberal" or a "conservative" is oversimplifying everything. The point is there should be more options.
 
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  • #107
Evo is right about the scoring. It's like in baseball: If you win a game, the standings report it as having gained a half a game on the competition, except for the team you beat, which you gain a game on. By voting for neither, neither gets the benefit of your vote, but also, neither gets the penalty of not getting your vote. The penalty only happens if you voted for the other candidate. So voting for neither works the same as giving half of your vote to each candidate.
 
  • #108
I would prefer to see just one party that includes all people.
Purdy simple really.
 
  • #109
russ_watters said:
Evo is right about the scoring. It's like in baseball: If you win a game, the standings report it as having gained a half a game on the competition, except for the team you beat, which you gain a game on. By voting for neither, neither gets the benefit of your vote, but also, neither gets the penalty of not getting your vote. The penalty only happens if you voted for the other candidate. So voting for neither works the same as giving half of your vote to each candidate.

I see your point (I love baseball analogies), but like I've stated, continuing to vote for the lesser of two evils because people think it's preordained that it will end up being a Democratic candidate vs a Republican one is only expressing approval of the current system. Just like a fanbase continuing to sell out a place despite an incompetent front office giving them a poor product on the field year after year. To say that continuing the course in your voting is going to change the current system is being pollyanna.
 
  • #110
castlegates said:
I would prefer to see just one party that includes all people.
Purdy simple really.

Except the world isn't that simple.
 
  • #111
LightbulbSun said:
Except the world isn't that simple.

But it can be.
 
  • #112
castlegates said:
But it can be.

No, it really can't. The world and the universe are so complex. It's time to embrace the complexity and to stop oversimplifying things.
 
  • #113
LightbulbSun said:
No, it really can't. The world and the universe are so complex. It's time to embrace the complexity and to stop oversimplifying things.

If a system of government follows logical principles, simplicity shall rule the day. The current US system is not logical.
 
  • #114
castlegates said:
The current US system is not logical.

What would you replace it with?
 
  • #115
cristo said:
What would you replace it with?

A one party system that includes all people.
 
  • #116
It seems to me that there must be some natural tendency toward a two party system. Parties in power create a coalescence in opposition, because the majority in power can only in a majority rule situation be turned from power by a subsequent majority.

That seems to imply that a more stable configuration to absorb, and or facilitate, oscillations of power would be between just 2 mostly equal factions. That 3 mostly equal factions result in a situation that likely results in the majority being more or less twice the minority, and the greater the majority the more likely the tendency to coalesce a greater opposition that would serve to end the majority in power to bring things more in balance again.
 
  • #117
castlegates said:
A one party system that includes all people.

I don't understand: this sounds like a contradiction in terms. Do you mean you just want a free-for-all, and anyone can run for president, under the heading of some "one party"? Or would you rather have a party, that puts up a couple of candidates that you then vote for? That is just a glorified dictatorship.
 
  • #118
Well, the USSR, China, Cuba, and North Korea run/ran one-party systems and it seems to work well for them. :biggrin: The election season isn't all that exciting, though, since there is very little argument about policy. :smile:
 
  • #119
cristo said:
I don't understand: this sounds like a contradiction in terms. Do you mean you just want a free-for-all, and anyone can run for president, under the heading of some "one party"? Or would you rather have a party, that puts up a couple of candidates that you then vote for? That is just a glorified dictatorship.
Dictatorships work from the top down. I'm talking about a pure democracy here (bottom up), at least at the outset, it must be a pure democracy. From that point the system can morf into whatever the people want, because it would in fact be the peoples choice. I worked on a system of this nature back in the day, because I cared enough not to vote anymore. :-)

Here is my preamble to it.

We as a people
In sincere effort to demonstrate moral fortitude
Do hereby offer
What is within our acceptance
The thoughts that impel greater good
Let us manifest verity in the concept
Through embrace of a foundation
Wherein public service is maintained
To a loyal reflection of the total exemplary
Earning it's principled authority from a concent of the faithful whole
So as to essentially function
For the will of it's people
We therein pledge allegiance to our conscience
Vowing a solemn attempt to further establish the strength of soul
As we perpetuate a God given spirit
It is then in general agreement of this constitution
We express a devotion to ourselves and our posterity.



The word God in this preamble could certainly be stricken, but this is my preamble, and what I say goes, at least in this version. All that is needed here as far as a constitution is to stay within the boundries of this preamble.
 
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  • #120
russ_watters said:
Well, the USSR, China, Cuba, and North Korea run/ran one-party systems and it seems to work well for them. :biggrin: The election season isn't all that exciting, though, since there is very little argument about policy. :smile:

I suppose they constitute majority rule countries then, though I might argue that they were a degenerate case - singularities as it were.
 
  • #121
You k now what else I despised about the Presidential election ? I despised the fact that the major news networks allow the two major candidates to decide who joins in the presidential debate. Ross Perot would not have been allowed to participate in the presidential election without the approval the Bush and Clinton campaigns. That tells me that the major news networks are in colllusion with the two party system. Ross Perot was unable to participate in the 1996 presidential election because the Bob dole campaign did not want Ross Perot to be able to participate in the presidential debates. Why do the two major candidates get to decide who to debate and who not to debate?
 
  • #122
On two occasions that I can remember, I have given a reason for voting and I will repeat it here. But before I do I would like to comment on a couple of ideas expressed in this thread. I have not read the entire thread.

1. I prefer [your third party candidate here] but will not vote for them until they become more viable.
No comment.

2. I don't like the winner take all system.
This comment is directed against the electoral college system, but could be taken to mean that the writer voted in a previous election, their candidate lost, and this has turned them off to voting. Perhaps the weakest part of our system is that it requires compromise from people who are not capable of it.

The reason for voting is rooted in the phrase 'all politics is local'. I don't know what that phrase means, but I have a local reason for voting. Politicians have their hands on public money and can spend it at their discretion. They will spend it in a district that voted against them in the last election and probably will again in the next election, sooner than they will in a district that doesn't vote at all. When you don't vote, you are letting your neighbors down.
 
  • #123
jimmysnyder said:
Politicians have their hands on public money and can spend it at their discretion. They will spend it in a district that voted against them in the last election and probably will again in the next election, sooner than they will in a district that doesn't vote at all.
This is very pertinent. I would tend to react the same way: why waste money in a district that doesn't vote? These constituents are of no interest to me.
 
  • #124
Benzoate said:
You k now what else I despised about the Presidential election ? I despised the fact that the major news networks allow the two major candidates to decide who joins in the presidential debate. Ross Perot would not have been allowed to participate in the presidential election without the approval the Bush and Clinton campaigns. That tells me that the major news networks are in colllusion with the two party system. Ross Perot was unable to participate in the 1996 presidential election because the Bob dole campaign did not want Ross Perot to be able to participate in the presidential debates. Why do the two major candidates get to decide who to debate and who not to debate?
They get to decide for the same reason you get to decide what threads to join in here: it's a free country.
 
  • #125
jimmysnyder said:
When you don't vote, you are letting your neighbors down.
I'd broaden that (and probably change your intent a little) to: If you don't vote, you let your country down. I consider voting not to merely be a priviledge, but a responsibility.
 
  • #126
I don't vote because I want the system to fail as soon as is possible. The system will fail eventually however, because it is flawed to begin with. My hope is the sooner the better. The current voting system includes all people at the voting both, then procedes to ignore large chuncks of them after the voting is over. This is one of the main reasons Iraq is having trouble getting on it's feet. A system that does not represent all peoples all of the time, will eventually fail.
 
  • #127
The United States is the longest lasting representative democracy in the modern world. If it fails, I doubt it will be because of how we set up our democratic system.

As for Iraq, I think that any political system would have had a lot of trouble being created, unless that political system involved arming one many with unlimited power, and the death squads to ensure that no one disobeyed him.
 
  • #128
The United States is the longest lasting representative democracy in the modern world. If it fails, I doubt it will be because of how we set up our democratic system.
The US is only a representative democracy when you pull the lever to vote. So you have it for less than 2 seconds, it's out of your hands before and after. I'll give you some representation between lever pulls though, as politicians pander for your next vote, that does not necessarily mean they actually represent you though, for they always push their agenda over yours after the votes are cast. That agenda usually follows a payday from special interest. :-)
As for Iraq, I think that any political system would have had a lot of trouble being created, unless that political system involved arming one many with unlimited power, and the death squads to ensure that no one disobeyed him.
You apparently have a low regard for people that wish to be heard. These people have no say either, once their finger gets stained.
 
  • #129
castlegates said:
The US is only a representative democracy when you pull the lever to vote. So you have it for less than 2 seconds, it's out of your hands before and after. I'll give you some representation between lever pulls though, as politicians pander for your next vote, that does not necessarily mean they actually represent you though, for they always push their agenda over yours after the votes are cast. That agenda usually follows a payday from special interest. :-)
You apparently have a low regard for people that wish to be heard. These people have no say either, once their finger gets stained.

That is the key idea behind representative Democracy; we elect politicians to represent our interests, and if they fail to, they get fired. It is a lot like hiring an employee, not to mention that on the State and local level, voters can often pass measures they consider important directly, and most of the issues that impact voters most directly are made on the State and local level, not on the national level.

There is no "better" system that exists, in my opinion. If the majority of the population feels ill-served by their current representatives, they are free to elect someone else, or even run for office themselves. Everyone has an equal chance to influence the direction of their nation.

Take special interest money, since you mention it. As special interest can be anything from the local chapter of the Sierra club to an organization representing the interests of small farmers. Everyone has an opportunity to influence their candidates and representatives through donations, or through participation in lobbying groups like the NRA or the Sierra Club. If an overwhelming number of Americans found it important that their candidates not be allowed to receive any campaign money, then they would vote for politicians who would pass those priorities into law.
 
  • #130
russ_watters said:
They get to decide for the same reason you get to decide what threads to join in here: it's a free country.

But why would the News corporations give special privileges to the candidates of the Democrat and the republican parties, but not any other presidential candidate not affiliated with either two parties? Like every other program on tv, shouldn't the viewers get to decide who participates in the debates, not the presidential candidates?
 
  • #131
Benzoate said:
But why would the News corporations give special privileges to the candidates of the Democrat and the republican parties, but not any other presidential candidate not affiliated with either two parties? Like every other program on tv, shouldn't the viewers get to decide who participates in the debates, not the presidential candidates?

Why can't you get your home movies of your dog screened at Cannes?

Neither candidate, nor most of the American people are really interested in hearing a non-viable candidate debate the other two. If the networks invited a third party, the two viable candidates would likely not show up, so why would they bother? It is the Democratic and Republican candidates, not the networks, that determine the condition of the debate.

And, by that token, why am I not invited to the debates? It might be interesting to hear what I would say, but since I have no realistic chance of becoming President, all I would do is distract from the main purpose of the debates, which is not to hear how someone with no realistic chance would run the country, but how the viable candidates would run the country.
 
  • #132
we elect politicians to represent our interests, and if they fail to, they get fired.
Which in some cases takes years to do, lest you go through the very very arduous task of a recall. There is no path by which you can hold their feet to the fire on an ongoing basis.
Take special interest money
Lets not take special interst money, and just say we did. Special interest is a scourge on the current system. It goal is to circumvent the very nature of representative government.
If an overwhelming number of Americans found it important that their candidates not be allowed to receive any campaign money, then they would vote for politicians who would pass those priorities into law.
I could be mistaken here, but I think that is the case. They do find it important, yet we still to this day have no law that prohibits this. A good example of the end around comes by way of the health industry, especially the drug companies, as they have entered the realm of drug pushers, with inflation through the roof on a yearly basis. In a nutshell ... they have your representatives by the balls.
 
  • #133
castlegates said:
Which in some cases takes years to do, lest you go through the very very arduous task of a recall. There is no path by which you can hold their feet to the fire on an ongoing basis.

But that completely ignores the fact that most politicians are interested in being re-elected, so even if the election is many years off, the opinions of their constituents have a significant influence on them, so I think your argument is factually inaccurate. You will not find too many instances where a Senators (the longest tenured politicians) will vote in opposition to an overwhelming majority of their constituents.

Furthermore, the founding fathers set up Congress the way it is for a very important reason. If you get tired of the way your country is being run, you can throw every single congressman out of the House every two years, which protects the short term interests of the voters. By contrast, the Senate, which only has a third of its voters up for election every two years would take a total of six years to completely evict everyone, something that helps protect the long term interests of the voters from short-term vicissitudes.

castlegates said:
Lets not take special interst money, and just say we did. Special interest is a scourge on the current system. It goal is to circumvent the very nature of representative government.
I could be mistaken here, but I think that is the case. They do find it important, yet we still to this day have no law that prohibits this. A good example of the end around comes by way of the health industry, especially the drug companies, as they have entered the realm of drug pushers, with inflation through the roof on a yearly basis. In a nutshell ... they have your representatives by the balls.

But, by the same token, you could join or create a special interest to support your views on healthcare, and if a lot of people feel the same way, they would contribute membership and money, both of which politicians pay serious attention to.

Most politicians will care more about an organization with fifteen million members that donates $100,000 to them than a pharmaceutical lobbying group that donates $500,000 to them because the first lobbying group gives them money and voters while the second gives them only money.

I am not really going to take a position on whether this system is good or bad, just state that if it were a huge issue with the vast majority of the population, then we would elect people who would change it.
 
  • #134
Most politicians will care more about an organization with fifteen million members that donates $100,000 to them than a pharmaceutical lobbying group that donates $500,000 to them because the first lobbying group gives them money and voters while the second gives them only money.
It really shouldn't matter what the purpose of the money is used for, it still represents a detour of from the vote you cast in an election.

I am not really going to take a position on whether this system is good or bad, just state that if it were a huge issue with the vast majority of the population, then we would elect people who would change it.
But it is a huge issue, and we elect people who would change it. Money talks and BS walks. The whole idea that a representative needs money to be, or maintain their representative statis, is a very sad commentary indeed.
Furthermore, the founding fathers set up Congress the way it is for a very important reason. If you get tired of the way your country is being run, you can throw every single congressman out of the House every two years, which protects the short term interests of the voters.
You call two years short term interest?
I'd be much happier with a few days, if not sooner. The current system does not provide for this, and that is the problem.
 
  • #135
castlegates said:
It really shouldn't matter what the purpose of the money is used for, it still represents a detour of from the vote you cast in an election.

But it is a huge issue, and we elect people who would change it. Money talks and BS walks. The whole idea that a representative needs money to be, or maintain their representative statis, is a very sad commentary indeed.
You call two years short term interest?
I'd be much happier with a few days, if not sooner. The current system does not provide for this, and that is the problem.


We live in a society that values free speech and capitalism, so I really doubt that too many people have the same feelings as you. Most of them would like to see any blatant abuses of money in politics stopped, but are not going to go so far as to outlaw the use of money and free speech in an election, and even if they tried, it would probably be found to be unconstitutional.

And two years is very short in terms of the attention span of most people. Most people have jobs and lives. Even with an election averaging only once or twice a year here, the majority of people cannot be bothered to vote. If you were constantly having popular votes, then you would end up with a small, select elite who have the time, desire, and money to spend all of their time voting on the issues deciding the fate of the nation while everyone else led their life and went to work, and generally ignored the constant voting.
 
  • #136
Benzoate said:
But why would the News corporations give special privileges to the candidates of the Democrat and the republican parties, but not any other presidential candidate not affiliated with either two parties? Like every other program on tv, shouldn't the viewers get to decide who participates in the debates, not the presidential candidates?
Voter apathy and indifference. If millions of people registered as independents or some third party, and if people would write/email or otherwise contact the media, then the media would change. But as long as people accept/buy the nonsense/garbage, then the media will provide the nonsense/garbage.

Sign up with "United We Stand" or some other alternative, and go out and organize voters or offer an alternative.


Too many people expect someone else to do the work for them, so all they have to do is show up on voting day and push a button or pull a lever.
 
  • #137
We live in a society that values free speech and capitalism, so I really doubt that too many people have the same feelings as you. Most of them would like to see any blatant abuses of money in politics stopped, but are not going to go so far as to outlaw the use of money and free speech in an election, and even if they tried, it would probably be found to be unconstitutional.
Not sure where you are getting all this. When did I say free speech would be barred from a system of government? What I'm getting at about the money is that in a different format, our representatives don't need the money to attain a level of prominence in government, they attain high marks by doing what they are supposed to do ... represent, and above all ... being smart.
If you were constantly having popular votes, then you would end up with a small, select elite who have the time, desire, and money to spend all of their time voting on the issues deciding the fate of the nation while everyone else led their life and went to work, and generally ignored the constant voting.
Who said anything about popular voting all the time? Thats what I'd like removed from the system. Thats why I don't vote ... it's a popularity contest. I do want a select elite however. I.E. They are selected because they are the best of the best, and this cream of the crop is only as powerful as the people allow them to be, and they only serve as the people allow them to. There are no term limits, in fact there are no terms. You seem to be stuck in the mindset of our current system.
 
  • #138
castlegates said:
There are no term limits, in fact there are no terms. You seem to be stuck in the mindset of our current system.

You'd have been jiggy with 16 years of Bill Clinton?
 
  • #139
castlegates said:
Not sure where you are getting all this. When did I say free speech would be barred from a system of government? What I'm getting at about the money is that in a different format, our representatives don't need the money to attain a level of prominence in government, they attain high marks by doing what they are supposed to do ... represent, and above all ... being smart.

Because, when you ban money from being donated to support a political campaign, you are clamping down on free speech.

The McCain-Feingold bill already severely limits how much hard money special interest groups can donate, so other ways are found to get around the limits by large monied interests. For instance Exxon or the Teamsters could donate money to a third party to run an advertisement on television. The more you limit that, the more you limit the ability for groups to use money to express their opinion, and the more likely you are to run afoul of the Constitution's First Amendment right to freedom of speech.


castlegates said:
Who said anything about popular voting all the time? Thats what I'd like removed from the system. Thats why I don't vote ... it's a popularity contest. I do want a select elite however. I.E. They are selected because they are the best of the best, and this cream of the crop is only as powerful as the people allow them to be, and they only serve as the people allow them to. There are no term limits, in fact there are no terms. You seem to be stuck in the mindset of our current system.

I am not certain exactly what you are advocating, but I think I already made my point clear. The more elections there are, the fewer people who will actually participate in the Democratic process.
 
  • #140
This is as good a place as any to shut this down.
 

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