Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
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Monday, November 06, 2006

Does Democracy Work?


A few weeks back, I posted my election predictions.

Sadly, it looks like I was right on. There was no big October Surprise - because the Republicans don't really, from a strategic point of view, need one.

All they needed to do was raise the costs of voting ever so slightly for the 10% of marginal voters who will decide the outcome of the election.

How will they do that? Two words: voter suppression (don't miss either of those links).

Impersonation and misinformation - seriously dirty tricks which absolutely sabotage the very essence of a democracy.

By now, you know that phone calls are the weapon of choice in this dirty war. It costs between 6-10 cents a call. So when you read reports of hundreds of voters being robo called - multiply that by at least 3-6 orders of magnitude. The real numbers are gonna be at least in the mid hundred thousands (statewide, not nationwide).

Now, there's a double whammy here. Marginal voters are often undecided because they're...shall we say...less effective at processing information than the rest of way.

Put another way, their expectations and preferences are far more malleable than everyone else's.

More simple: they're easier to reach with lowest common denonimator tactics...like robo calls pretending to be from the other candidate.

This is a big problem with democracy. Economists and psychologists haven't talked about it yet, but they will do...especially after tomorrow.

In a nutshell: What happens when the democratic game devolves to a bad equilbrium - one where the outcome of elections is always in the hands of the margin - but the margin is marginal exactly because it's dumb?

Note, I'm not trying to be "anti-American" etc. I'm just trying to point out the logic behind my election predictions.

-- umair // 11:55 AM // 4 comments


Comments:

Sounds like the Roman mob. Perhaps the education system is partially to blame?
// Blogger Harold Jarche // 1:56 PM
 

Of Tide and Presidents

Yes, elections are a hard look at marketing effeciencies and/through targeting. Sad but true, except that the beauty of democracy is that the result reflects the people.

Overtime there should be a correction. Humans can't be put into a 'production-ops' equation forever because they change. For example, Unions, Blacks and the South don't have the block voting mentality they used to.

Perhaps the margin always decides the outcome because the system itself adjusts the points of demarcation to that point.
// Anonymous Lloyd Fassett // 7:42 PM
 

lloyd writes "Overtime there should be a correction."

Very probably, just as gorging on junk food is self correcting; the over-eaters suffer from a range of terminal diseases at ever younger ages till the last group of offspring fail to breed.

The alternative is that we eat ourselves out of resources and we all starve. Or as JM Keynes might have said, "over time, we are all dead".

Responding to the problems in sufficient time is critical, those societies that wake up just after their vehicle flies off the cliff can rearrange the deck chairs all they like, but they are going to join Jared Diamond's failures all the same.
// Blogger Earl // 4:51 AM
 

Well put : between the know-it-alls and the plain-out-wrong-headed lie the easily-confused. And it is they who determine the fate of the planet.

The issues of governance are complex and obscured even for brainy people with doctorates. For the really big issues coming in the next decades — this world is completely unprepared.

Look for further private sector take-over of basic services. Corporate and market interests are already in control via lobbying.

Anyway, it hasn't been a real democracy for more than a hundred years. Its just continuing to simulate one so that people don't freak out.
// Anonymous felix // 3:57 PM
 
 

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