Do you think democracy is the best political system? Can there be a better system in the future?

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Post by RedOranje Thu Nov 19, 2015 10:47 pm

@sportsczy wrote:I agree with RWO... but it has to be something very basic so you just test minimal understanding. For the US, i'd ask things like:
- When was America founded
- Who was America's first president
- Who was the only president to ever get impeached
- Who are the current candidates
etc.

Also ask basic literacy questions so you know the person can read and write... hence educate himself/herself.

So it's not elitist at all.... very very basic. You're forcing people to work a little bit for their right to vote.


Bit unfair to ask a trick question (ignoring the inherent unfairness and unconstitutionality of a voting exam to begin with). And the candidates running? So the exam would not only have to be taken for every single election, but also within a very specific time limit since the candidates jump in and drop out at random intervals, even after the primaries.

Voting qualification exams are, in the United States at least, inherently unconstitutional and have very nasty historical implications.

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Post by sportsczy Thu Nov 19, 2015 10:57 pm

Well i mean if you don't know who's on the ballot, how can you pick the right candidate?  At the time the constitution was written, you were dealing with a very different set of circumstances than today.  The Bill of Rights can'e be touched... but the rest can.  The Founding Fathers allowed the constitution to be amended and it has been amended several times subsequent to the original document being signed.

I'm not asking for a pop quiz lol.  It's a quiz where you know the questions in advance.  So all you need to do is make sure you know the answers when you come in.

If you can't do that, you shouldn't have the right to vote imo. Voting is as much a responsibility as a right... so asking people to vote responsibly is not unconstitutional from my perspective.
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Post by sportsczy Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:02 pm

In any case, there are bigger electoral problems than this in the US anyhow... like how the electoral college votes get manipulated. It's pretty shameful imo.
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Post by sportsczy Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:04 pm

I love that question btw because everyone gets it wrong... even the most educated Laughing
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Post by CBarca Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:39 pm

@BarrileteCosmico wrote:Of course it is, but it's worth reminding that not all democracies are equal and that democracy is not simply voting but also having a system of checks and balances, protection of minority rights, etc


Pretty much this.

Besides, how much does dictatorship and tyranny even work? Not often. Even when you look at Russia who people seem to point as a great example of a dictator doing good things...things aren't going so great right now but even besides that a more in depth look will find a lot of corruption over some of the things it seems people hold in high regard here (rule of law, for example).

Democracy is working better than anything else atm, even with its flaws.
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Post by RedOranje Fri Nov 20, 2015 12:21 am

I find it weird that people want to "protect" a democracy by undermining its most fundamental principles (given we're using the US as the example for discussion here).


"If people can't read and write, they shouldn't be allowed to vote. Literacy tests should be required for all voters. Oh wait, you mean that's been tried? And it didn't go so well? Ah, oops, my bad."
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Post by sportsczy Fri Nov 20, 2015 1:12 am

Different times RO....  very different times.  Racial minorities were obstructed from getting an education in many states and, therefore, one couldn't reasonably expect them to gain literacy if the system tried to stop them from becoming literate.  There is no such obstruction that exists today.

Although the Supreme Court upheld the Voting Rights Act because of the circumstances (and very rightly so), it doesn't mean that when the circumstances leading to such a decision change, the Act shouldn't change either.
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Post by sportsczy Fri Nov 20, 2015 1:31 am

In any case, it's unnecessary in the US today. There isn't a literacy problem. So this would be just a waste of time.

Just to follow up... i think the only way you can allow for literacy tests for voting is when the education system is free and compulsory. Then OK. But if there's segregation and/or education is difficult to obtain, it's a non-starter.

The issue for developing countries is education... everything else is far behind including what type of political system they live in.
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Post by RedOranje Fri Nov 20, 2015 1:34 am

Except that many of those very same groups would absolutely be disproportionately impacted by any such test system put in place, as they are still far more likely to receive substandard education than their caucasian counterparts. Any such exam system is inherently skewed against several of the key demographics that rely most heavily on the federal government's assistance and work.


On a more basic level, however, the entire idea contradicts the basic principles of the Constitution as established by the Supreme Court and the 15th, 19th, and 26th Amendments at the most fundamental level. Such a change, be it legislative or constitutional, is a direct attempt to disenfranchise a portion of the citizenry of the nation and bar that group from the most direct version of participation. The qualifications for this are subject to factors outside of a person's direct control (unlike, for instance, becoming a felon). It is fundamentally, and indisputably unconstitutional for the US.
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Post by sportsczy Fri Nov 20, 2015 1:51 am

The Voter Rights Act of 1965 is legislation that was upheld by the Supreme Court as they ruled that it didn't violate the constitution.  In terms of the constitution itself and voting rights... Initially, complete discretion was given to the States in terms of figuring out voter qualifications for residents.  Later, the 13th, 14th and 15th  amendments and others were added to curb the States' authority.

The ones you quote:
-15th amendment:   the "right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."  If the education is compulsory and available to all, i don't see how a basic literacy test is against this.  Back in the 60s when schools were segregated, i agree.  They aren't anymore.  Nobody today is precluded an education based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude. I'd actually argue that affirmative action makes it far easier for minorities to get into higher education than your average Joe.
-  19th amendment gives women the right to vote.  Again, how's that relevant at all in today's context in terms of literacy?
-  the 26th amendment prohibits the states and the federal government from using age as a reason for denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States who are at least eighteen years old.  Again, how is this relevant to this discussion?

The US is a bad example anyhow.  Literacy is not an issue... so requiring a literacy test would be a waste of time.
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Post by RedOranje Fri Nov 20, 2015 2:09 am

Again though, education quality and availability is still clearly affected by economic, geographic, and yes (unfortunately still) racial factors among others. Minority groups and the poor would be disproportionately affected by any test or exam for voting... thus bringing it into direct contention with the Amendments.

Beyond that though, I reiterate, the very concept of disenfranchising a group like that is fundamentally against the principles established and upheld by the aforementioned amendments and Supreme Court rulings (with some rather rare [and unfortunate, IMO] exceptions).
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Post by sportsczy Fri Nov 20, 2015 2:21 am

A better debate RO is the electoral college system and how it gets shamelessly manipulated... but that's not for this thread.
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Post by El Gunner Fri Nov 20, 2015 2:31 am

FFS I just wrote a good piece with some sources going against sports' idea that SA is a good example of how an efficient democracy and how one should work.

But i am posting on my phone and while I quoted and submited the post it somehow did not go through. So f it, cbb typing all of it all over again.
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Post by sportsczy Fri Nov 20, 2015 2:48 am

I'm not say SA is a "good" democracy.  It's in its infant stages (yeah, 20 years is not a lot of time) after coming out of a brutal system which segregated heavily. Only used it as an example of a democracy that is creating wealth and stability relative to the rest of the countries in the region.

Heck, SA is still highly racial even today and, frankly, has major major issues.  Given time though, i think they'll work themselves out of it and improve.  They're committed to democracy as a concept.  Economically, it has served them well as they are Africa's wealthiest nation and steadily grow...  from what i've read, their growth rate has ranged from 2-8% since Apartheid.  Nothing earth shattering...  but very study.  Sectors such as finance and real estate have become more and more important too as it has become a financial hub for the region and an attractive tourist destination.
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Post by Lucifer Fri Nov 20, 2015 3:56 am

So whats ur take on Largest democracy in the world? It's been 65 years old and barring maybe 2-3 years when emergency was in effect it has been doing reasonably well. Mind u we have each and every religion in world plus round about 6000 castes living with considerable harmony. Am not saying its perfect though. There have been major Hindu-Muslim riots but these clashes are bound to happen in country that has second most Muslim population in world.

Demographics of India
Just to give idea of how big India is let me put some population figures:

France - 67 million ( 2013)
Germany- 80 million (2013)
UK - 64 million (2013)
Maharashtra ( one of the 35 states in India and my home state)- 110 million(2011)
We are not rich and prosperous like European countries still am sure majority of us prefer democracy even if some hypothetical Monarch were to give us prosperity and employment and better standard of living. Why? Because we have been ruled for thusands of years by Kings and Priests and Colonists and that has taught us that no amount of wealth and good standard of living can be worth of giving away Our freedom of living, freedom to think and Freedom to act.

Economic facts:
1.India has the ninth-largest economy in the world by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP).

2.India is today one of the world’s fastest growing economies. By 2030, India will become the world’s third largest economy with projected GDP (PPP) at $13,716 bn.

3.India is one of the fastest growing retail markets in the world

4. When the supper economic powers of world were facing depression India continued its economic growth at 7-9 %

5. The annual growth rates are only rivalrd by China which by the way is now slowing down.
Am not saying all is rosy rose because clearly its not. Very Much is to be achieved yet. My point is would any other form of system say Monarchy would have been able to match this in large country like India? I highly doubt it

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Post by El Gunner Fri Nov 20, 2015 5:08 am

@sportsczy wrote:I'm not say SA is a "good" democracy.  It's in its infant stages (yeah, 20 years is not a lot of time) after coming out of a brutal system which segregated heavily.  Only used it as an example of a democracy that is creating wealth and stability relative to the rest of the countries in the region.

Heck, SA is still highly racial even today and, frankly, has major major issues.  Given time though, i think they'll work themselves out of it and improve.  They're committed to democracy as a concept.  Economically, it has served them well as they are Africa's wealthiest nation and steadily grow...  from what i've read, their growth rate has ranged from 2-8% since Apartheid.  Nothing earth shattering...  but very study.  Sectors such as finance and real estate have become more and more important too as it has become a financial hub for the region and an attractive tourist destination.


They are not in such a good economic place as you make it out.

Sure, they are by far the most beautiful and Westernly advanced country in the continent. Therefore their tourist industry will of course flourish. But they're not the only one benefiting from that. Many other countries like us, Namibia, also benefit largely from the tourist and trade industry.

Besides their international relations which is what puts them ahead of other countries in Africa, if you look inside the country they have not gone much further from the apartheid days. Sure people are getting along better and some citizens are really trying, but you just have to go as far as back as a few months ago and look at the xenophobic attacs. Okay, they were mostly against Zimbabaweans and other small country Africans who come in and start businesses etc etc. But this still shows the tension among the people in SA and the small minds that they have. Whites still mostly keep to their own, and blacks the same. It doesn't help that the general education and awareness isn't improving a lot, so there's not much promise coming through in the youth of the country. This is however not restricted to SA as this is still unfortunately a major problem in Africa. Our only hope in the youth is the few genius kids, but then even he/she needs to be nurtured in the right way.

Their main politcal party, the ANC, has mostly slowly built the country around the foundations which was left by the Brits back when they was in charge. Many people are growing tired of them however, but somehow they still win elections by a landslide. The country is one of the most corrupt countries in the continent and they have the highest crime rate I think iirc.

Their economy has actually been hit in recent times, and it's been a while coming tbh. And with stupid people in charge I don't see much changing in the next 50 years at least tbh. They're just going to stay in one place, if not get worse in some aspects/sectors.

Sources to support me: www.africaranking.com/richest-countries-in-africa/
6th richest. 2nd biggest economy behind Nigeria. But big economies doesn't necessarily mean happy times do they. Money and resources mostly serve for the state, while a lot of citizens are still suffering. Just look at Nigeria. Biggest economy, shit currency, shitty living for half the country. No progress. Stagnant. Won't be surprised if SA goes the same route.

http://qz.com/492352/south-africas-economy-is-facing-headwinds-but-these-five-sectors-could-help-stabilze-it/

The latter one actually shows that there is hope for the country's economy, and of course there is, but like I said too many stupid and very very stubborn people in charge. But if anything it gives just a tiny indication of how and where there economy is currently at and where it is going.
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Post by Art Morte Fri Nov 20, 2015 5:38 am

One thing I'd change in every democracy right now is economic decision making.

There is an awful conflict of interest there. On one hand sometimes the best macroeconomic decision is to sacrifice short-term economic performance to put yourself in a stronger position in the long-term. On the other hand politicians often need short-term results to help them and their party do well in elections.

Imagine you're a member of parliament with two years left before the next general election. You have to vote in the parliament on a major economic decision. You know that the best course of action would be to tighten the belt for a couple of years, so that in a four years' time the economy would emerge healthier. Now, the masses don't have such economic knowledge. What the masses see is the news right then and there and base their conclusions solely on that. Unemployment is rising / economy isn't growing / cuts are being made / taxes are being raised. Sometimes these are the necessary short-term sacrifices to set yourself for long-term growth. But politicians need the short-term fix even if it means that in the long-term you're just going in circles.

I think this might be the biggest problem in current democracies. That often macroeconomic decisions need to be made with a longer time scale than what the politicians have time for if they want to keep their careers going.

Every democratic country should spend a few million annually on an independent panel of economic experts who would decide the nation's economic policies. Politicians would still, of course, decide how the available monies are spent, but they are not the ideal people for economic decision making.
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Post by rwo power Fri Nov 20, 2015 6:39 am

As I still have a problem that many people seem to vote without being properly informed, I pondered a bit about a possible solution still.

Maybe I should explain a little about German elections, so you understand why IMO here it is pretty necessary for people not to vote without having a clue what exactly they are doing.

After all, we do not have only one election here to "get the politicians we deserve", we have several. The elections are
- "Kommunalwahlen", (= local government elections), where you vote the councils of towns, municipalities and administrative districts), where the local government election laws (?) differ from federal state to federal state
- "Landtagswahlen" (= state elections), where you elect the representative assembly of the federal states and thus the composition of the Bundesrat (= Federal Council).
- "Bundestagswahlen", where you elect the members of the parliament and thus determine the Bundeskanzler (=Chancellor), who is the head of the government.
(We also have a Bundespräsident (=President), that is the head of state, but the Bundespräsident is elected by the Bundesversammlung (=Federal Assembly) which is a different thing altogether.)
- "Europawahlen" (European elections), where you elect the members of the European Parliament.

As Germany has a "personalisiertes Verhältniswahlrecht" (= personalized proportional representative system) where you have two votes. A first vote ("Erststimme") and a second vote ("Zweitstimme"). The first vote goes directly to the candidate in your electoral constituency, who then gets into the parliament when s/he gets the majority of the votes, no matter whether his or her party is elected or not. The second vote is actually the more important vote as it determines the strength of the party you vote (that is the percentage of seats a party has in the parliament).

Quite some people don't realise that the second vote is actually the more important vote, and smaller parties try to capitalize on that by advertising stuff like "Vote the candidate you like, but the second vote should go to party XYZ".

As you can see this is quite complex, and so people should be informed a bit better than only know "Well, make a cross somewhere".

Another thing that annoys me is that most people don't really know what exactly they are voting as very few read up the manifestos of the parties.

So what I thought might improve things would be letting people vote the heads they want (Erststimme) as those are mostly due to sympathy anyway, but for the Zweitstimme, they might answer questions of a tool like the Wahl-o-Mat, where the content of the parties' manifestos are entered and it spits out the fitting party for you depending on what you want and the importance of the issues to you.

BTW, for those who want to read up the full info on how things work here - I just discovered there is a nice Wikipedia article that would have saved me a lot of work XD
Here you go: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Germany

Wahl-o-mat: http://www.bpb.de/politik/wahlen/wahl-o-mat/
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Post by rwo power Fri Nov 20, 2015 6:48 am

@Art Morte

That's a very good point.

BTW, in a way I still think it is astonishing that the government here actually tried to tackle the thing about the "Energiewende" (energy transition) with the gradual exit from nuclear and fossil fuels in Germany even though it means quite some detrimental effects in the short term (higher energy prices, big companies being not so amused etc), although it is very likely extremely beneficial farther down in the future. (Okay, we are still not even half way there, but at least we have quite a head start by now ^^)
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Post by BarrileteCosmico Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:33 am

In Argentina we have a lot of people who want to institute a voting qualifying test in order to avoid the pitfalls of the populist vote. I think it's a very dangerous idea to exclude a certain portion of the population, especially because if they are failing this test it is because the state has failed to see that they get a decent education in the first place. Not to mention that in order to decide "I have the power to vote but you don't deserve to" undermines a building block of democracy, which is equality before the law.
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Post by iftikhar Fri Nov 20, 2015 11:08 am

If there's any option for tests/exams, that should be for the candidates. I think all 'democracies' already have certain screening parameters like criminal record, mental health etc. There should be more parameters (for tests) which will screen candidates for basic decency (Trump Razz ), racist tendencies as well as for their grasp on economy etc. I don't mean probable candidates have to be economists but they should have basic competencies for running an economy.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand, there should be stringent enforcement of the competencies. It's simply mind-blowing how many bonafide criminals get elected to our parliament.
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Post by RedOranje Fri Nov 20, 2015 7:05 pm

@sportsczy wrote:A better debate RO is the electoral college system and how it gets shamelessly manipulated... but that's not for this thread.

Agreed. We've probably derailed the thread enough in any case.


As for the original topic at hand, I will not go so far as to say that any single political system is universally or absolutely "the best." There are simply too many factors at play and I feel it would be the utmost arrogance for me to make such a judgement. I will, however, stick my neck out to say that there are some universally or absolutely bad (in both the moral and functional sense) systems. Any form of autocracy is inherently unstable and prone to abuse of its citizens (subjects?). Oligarchies have also historically been unstable, and prone to evolving or devolving into autocracies or chaos. A government must, in some form, be held accountable to its citizens. Democratic participation is the most widely accepted and employed method of this.
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Post by VivaStPauli Fri Nov 20, 2015 9:35 pm

What RO said imho. In every single of his posts.
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Post by El Messico Sat Nov 21, 2015 12:16 am

@RedOranje wrote:
@sportsczy wrote:A better debate RO is the electoral college system and how it gets shamelessly manipulated... but that's not for this thread.

Agreed. We've probably derailed the thread enough in any case.


As for the original topic at hand, I will not go so far as to say that any single political system is universally or absolutely "the best." There are simply too many factors at play and I feel it would be the utmost arrogance for me to make such a judgement. I will, however, stick my neck out to say that there are some universally or absolutely bad (in both the moral and functional sense) systems. Any form of autocracy is inherently unstable and prone to abuse of its citizens (subjects?). Oligarchies have also historically been unstable, and prone to evolving or devolving into autocracies or chaos. A government must, in some form, be held accountable to its citizens. Democratic participation is the most widely accepted and employed method of this.


Do you an envision an improvement on democracy in the future? Could be modifications to the current system or just a new school of thought entirely.

I would imagine that the former is far far likelier as democracy is inherently the stablest system available to us. Given the awareness and consideration of equality as a universal human right, it will be difficult to convince citizens to give up some of their rights in exchange for a system that guarantees prosperity and happiness for all.

Have any of you guys read Brave New World? Would you guys consider such a sci-fi world even a remote possibility in the future? More interestingly, would you be in favour of it?

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Post by RedOranje Sat Nov 21, 2015 1:23 am

Would I like to be a genetically mass-produced assembly-line baby who's kept sated by a constant drip feed of drugs or
Spoiler:
forced into exile on some remote island or preserve
? Nah, think I'll pass.
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