Not direct democracy, not the rule of the people

Michael Allan mike at
Thu Jun 25 19:11:41 EDT 2009

Hi Fred,

> Does your Figure 8 not make precisely the point I'm making?  There is
> no opposition.  The node's representative or leader builds a power
> base ... within leader's node ... with no ameliorating influence.

We are speaking here of an elected executive, such as a Mayor or head
of state.  The powers of an executive are a matter of constitutional
law, and they include the power to appoint subordinates.

People can change the law if they wish to, but that's a separate
issue.  Until they change the law, all powers of the executive are in
force.  This is a fact.

> Your very neat flip-book says it more eloquently than I ever could!
> The node on the right ... which must represent the people who are not
> a part of the node on the left, and, consequently, must be (in spite
> of the size difference shown in the diagrams) immensely larger than
> the node on the left ... is excluded from the power structure.

They are the people who did not support the election of the executive,
who did not vote for her, and are not now voting for her.  They are
the opposition.  At the very moment of election they are also (by
definition) a minority that is outnumbered by the winning voters (on
the left).  So no, the right cannot possibly be larger than the left.
> That is not a good thing.  It is the people who need a mechanism that
> lets them influence the government.  The organized elements of our
> society already have that.  The rest of us don't.

I would agree, but there's no sense in which the mechanism caters to
"organized elements".  It is strictly for the public as *separate*
from the organized elements (governments, parties, and so forth) who
ordinarilly dominate all political decisions.
> You point out in your argument (1) that, under the present system, the
> executive makes the appointments to certain offices at the executive's
> discretion.  You don't mention that the choices are made from the 20
> or so principal supporters who directly accomplished the executive's
> election.  When you show in argument (2) that the executive makes the
> choices from among the "20 or so principal delegates who voted
> directly for her", you make a distinction without a difference.

The difference is that the supporters in (1) are the "organized
elements" who mostly operate behind the scenes, wheras in (2) they are
the public who operate entirely in the open.  Every one of the 20 or
so principal delegates is a principal delegate *only* because she has
the support of a large fraction of the primary voters - the public.

> The arguments that purport to show a change in the power structure
> only show that the difference between (1) and (2) is that the power of
> the vested interest represented by the leader's node is more
> concentrated and effective under Votorola than under the present
> system.  It does not improve the lot of the people, it improves the
> lot of those in the successful node.

By the successful node, you mean the winner of the primary election,
and subsequently of the general election - the elected executive.  By
those "in" the successful node, you mean the tree of voters and
delegates whose votes cascade down to the successful node (the
winner).  That tree is a plurality of the electorate - either a
majority, or the largest of the minorities.

You maybe don't realize this because the diagram is unrealistically
small.  It shows only 30 or so voters and 3 principal delegates voting
for the winner.  In reality there are (say) 300,000 voters and 20
principal delegates in the winning cascade, depending on the
population of the city/region.

> re: "So here (from 1 to 2) decision making is transferred to the
>      voters.  Speaking more precisely, they take it upon their
>      own initiative to make decisions regarding the structure of
>      post-election power."
> To say "decision making is transferred to the voters" is misleading.
> It is only transferred to the voters ... IN THAT NODE.  It gives no
> decision making power to the rest of us.

As mentioned, the voters in the winning tree outnumber those in any
other tree.  Otherwise the winner would not be the winner.

> re: "Your Practical Democracy takes a slightly different
>      approach ... it does not constrain her to follow that
>      structure when delegating power to her subordinates."
> I don't recall whether our earlier discussion of Practical Democracy
> advanced to the point of discussing appointive offices. In case it
> didn't, the concept is that the Practical Democracy process
> establishes a pool of people who have been carefully evaluated by
> their peers.  At the highest level (which is determined by the number
> of elective offices to be filled), some of those people are selected
> as representatives.  The rest constitute a pool of tested pople for
> appointive offices.  Thus, appointees are selected by the people, not
> by the executive.

I wish to distinguish between a representative who sits in an
assembly, and an executive who commands a power structure.  When I
speak of the communicative structuring of power (i.e. by cascade
voting), I speak only of the latter.

In the case of applying PD to the election of a Mayor then - not a
representative but an executive - you would constrain her to choose
her official lieutenants from among the runners up?  That does not
sound plausible.  Are you assuming a prior constitutional change?

> However, this discussion is less about Practical Democracy than about
> finding ways to make Votorola a viable means of giving the people
> control of their government.  Or, rather, I should say that is my
> purpose, since you already think it does so.

My thoughts are open to critique, of course.  If you find faults in
the theory, then I'm fully on your side.  We'll either fix it or we'll
throw it away.

I would offer my own critique of PD in return, but I see no internal
systematic faults.  What I see are merely differences of external
application.  PD is not scoped as widely as cascade voting.  So I will
not critique PD in this context.

Mike Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521

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