Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Voting

Who Should You Vote For? My Best Case for Each Choice

When they write about what you should do with your vote, most people pick one side and make a case. But there are a lot of arguments for different courses of action and I think it’s more interesting to lay them out and let you decide which one you think is strongest. These are the very best arguments I can think of for any political choice you might want to make on November 8, consistent with what I know about how policy and political institutions work–I’m not going to pretend that Gary Johnson’s tax plan makes sense or that climate change is a Chinese hoax.

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The Limitations of Proportional Representation

About 23% of Americans don’t like both Trump and Clinton. Many of these people are considering third parties, or would like to be considering them but don’t feel they can safely do so because of the American voting system, which makes it very difficult for third parties to win and ensures that people who vote third party get no say in the choice between the two major party nominees. Some people have talked about wanting to switch to proportional representation (PR) to break the stranglehold of the two parties on politics. Under PR, if 8% of the population votes for a Green or a Libertarian, 8% of the legislature is comprised of Greens or Libertarians. If no party is able to put together a majority of votes, parties have to cooperate in coalitions to get things done. PR is in Jill Stein’s platform and some libertarians have expressed enthusiasm for it as well. PR cannot really be applied to the presidential race, because the president can only be one person–he or she cannot be 8% Green. But for presidential races we could employ a ranked ballot system allowing for an instant-runoff. On this system if you voted for Jill Stein your vote could be transferred to Clinton after Stein is eliminated. This may sound intriguing, but PR is not a magic bullet and it can produce some very bad situations that we should consider.

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Who is the Most Qualified Presidential Candidate Ever?

Many Hillary Clinton supporters respond to accusations from Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump that Clinton is “not qualified” by counter-asserting that she is the “most qualified candidate ever”. Now, these people are often using “qualified” to refer to very different things–Sanders said Clinton was not qualified because she takes money from Super PACs and Trump says she’s not qualified because of her judgment, but when Clinton supporters use the term “qualified” they aren’t denying that she took Super PAC money or even necessarily arguing that she has good judgment. The claim that Clinton is most qualified is made as if it were a statement of obvious fact–it reads not like a nuanced argument about judgment but more like a fact claim about experience. Clinton is said to be “most qualified” because she has the most and the best experience of anyone, and the people saying this do so with a confidence that indicates they don’t think it’s close. This strikes me as a pretty bold historical claim, so I decided to investigate to see where Clinton ranks for experience and to see whether experience has a significant effect on the way historians think about a president’s performance.

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The DNC Didn’t Screw Bernie–The Voters Did

The New York primary was an unmitigated disaster for Bernie Sanders. Polichart’s updated victory targets called for Sanders to win 54% of the vote and get 133 delegates. He got 42% and 108. This puts him 36 delegates behind schedule, and he still trails in the polls in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and California. Sanders failed to do better than the polling data in New York indicated he would do, damaging the comforting theory that polls in northern states underrate him. As regular readers know, I am very sympathetic to Sanders, but I cannot in good conscience mislead you about the realities of the political situation. In the last few days, many well-intentioned people have tried to make arguments that Sanders can still win or that Sanders would be winning if the DNC were not corrupt–I wish these arguments were true, but they’re not. Sanders is losing because most Democratic primary voters do not support him.

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Democracy Discriminates Against the Young

Young people overwhelmingly support Bernie Sanders in this election, but many of them are not showing up. He crushed the demographic in Massachusetts, but still lost the state narrowly:

Young voters are just not keeping up with older folks:

This has been true for a long time–Millennials did not invent low youth voter turnout:

Many people see figures like this and their knee-jerk response is to scold young people for failing to show up, often attributing it to the laziness or lack of civic virtue of the current crop of young people. But as we see above, young people have been less active in politics since long before Millennials came on the scene. There are larger reasons why young people tend to feel disenfranchised by democratic politics–it’s because the system discriminates against them.

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