A Different way to Vote

A take-off from this thread and this one (the second containing the idea I will present here.)

Any competitive system will select for those best suited to win. Those will rise to the top, those who aren’t will shuffle around at the bottom. Our political system selects for, essentially, popularity. There are some checks in place to make sure that some modicum of intelligence and a basic ability to get things done without entirely screwing things up are both present, but these aren’t really built into the system. These checks exist solely in the form of wiser heads spreading information via newspapers and so on.

Now I could go on to describe such regular events as politicians being unaware of the basic issues and sides in topics that they sit on the committee of, or the prevalence of the “easier to understand” side winning arguments versus a preponderance of scientific evidence. But let’s proceed on to the specific proposal.

We assume that there are certain categories in which a particular politician (for instance) the President must have a decent familiarity with. Not an expert, by any means, just well versed enough to be able to understand briefings by the specialists and discourse with them in a meaningful way. These categories might be:

Foreign Relations

Now we can decide what group could be considered the “specialists” of any of these topics.

Economics - Economic majors, CEOs
Science - Science majors
Foreign Relations - ?
Military - Military officials above X rank
Law - Bar members

Now, the core idea of the popular vote is that the person being elected foremost needs to represent the people as a whole. So you can’t just relegate the vote to the specialists, but there’s also no valid way to decide how much the specialists should have a say versus the populace. except to let the people decide how important they think their own vote, and that of any subcategory of specialization, are worth comparatively.

So say that I decide that my vote should count for 50% and the specialists at 10% each. If then all 5 groups vote against me, my total vote is split evenly for both candidates. If three vote with me and two against, then 80% of my vote is for my preferred candidate and 20% against.

But I could also decide to cast my vote as 100% what I decide, or 0%. I could decide to rank economics as the single most important issue and give the economists 100% of my vote. It would be up to me.

Would specialists need to vote separately from their vote as a citizen? I’m not sure.
Who would decide what specialties are needed? The electoral college, perhaps? Different positions in the government might require different specialties, and different regions might feel that the primary ones that need to be included are different.

Possible results from this method of voting:

A general improvement in a politician’s knowledge in at least a few specific categories. Assuming that these will tend to then be included in committees which specialize in related topics, an overall higher level of output should be expected.

A tendency for one particular issue to decide elections. This could possibly be good, possibly bad. On the one hand, it makes it more likely that things would get accomplished, on the other hand the newest and most exciting idea currently floating around might see itself being put into effect at the top levels–which could be fairly extreme. It could also lead to all secondary issues being ignored.

This idea works in theory but in reality will just give more power to fewer people to select who runs the country.

Career diplomats. Plenty of them to be found at the State Department.

How does your system account for issues such as abortion or gun control? These are very important issues to many and not directly answered by your experts (sure they may have some detail to offer but it is about more than when a zygote becomes a fetus).

Yes. How is that bad? If people are willing to cede their vote, that’s their choice. Everyone could choose to not include the specialists in which case the specialists would be superfluous that year.

The non-specialist segment of the vote is the “Morality” or “Trust” vote. So you’re balancing how much your view of the person (i.e. the candidate) is worth relative to their qualifications for the job. If the #1 issue for you is a moral issue like pro-choice/pro-life, you can vote the Trust vote all the way 100% since that’s what you’re electing the person for.

I don’t think I’m quite understanding the system here. So I get one vote, but I get to apportion my vote as I see fit to various colleges of experts, whose decisions will provide some fraction of my vote? :confused:

I rarely resort to this kind of argument, but in a world where we can barely count paper ballots and there’s confusion about electronic voting, figuring out how to count fractions of votes as dictated by every single voter seems unduly complicated.

Besides, if you thought the opinion of scientists/teachers/soldiers/whomever was so important, why don’t you just vote for the guy that’s endorsed by the various associations representing those professions? What’s wrong with that approach?

That we can’t have computerized voting is stupid. It’s perfectly easy to make secure machines that leave a “paper trail”, if anyone really wanted to do so. The problem with computers is that they have those pesky fields like “Name” and “Address” which you have to fill in first or they won’t budge. That problem exists paper or computer except the people up front might let you through to cast your vote anyways when it’s paper.

a) People aren’t aware of who of all the talking heads on TV are the ones who know what they’re talking about. For the sake of “interesting” TV, it’s just as likely for them to put people with oddball beliefs up there.
b) Who decides who knows what they’re talking about? Who decides which of all of them is the representative for them all? Who is to say that there isn’t some politicking going on to influence that one representative towards a particular candidate? The idea is to give the people who know what they’re talking about a voice in regards to that subject. The more of them you include, the safer you are that no one can complain that you aren’t getting just that. It’s easier for a candidate to come up with a realistic plan that satisfies that group than it is to bribe them into going along with him.

Mark Twain raised the idea of “plural voting” in “The Curious Republic of Gondour,” where everybody (that is, every man, it was written when the suffragettes were just getting started) gets one vote but you can get additional votes for wealth, education, or contributions to society. But that’s kind of redundant, when you think about it. We already live in a society where the rich and the educated and the professionals wield political influence far, far out of proportion to their numbers. Even more so than in Twain’s time, the “Gilded Age.”

a) You’ve not made any particular argument for why this is a bad thing. I’ve already granted that by a democratic viewpoint, this is a step back. We are however not a democracy. There are two reasons that we aren’t. Firstly, the average person doesn’t have time to familiarize himself with the issues. Secondly, so that people we respect as being fair and levelheaded can counter the tyranny of the masses and protect the minority opinions.

b) You’re lumping in a whole lot of people with (who I presume to be) the wealthy. I don’t believe you’ll find a lot of people saying that physicists are a large voting block, nor a major lobbying group. At the moment, who is supposed to be the people protecting the ecology of the planet? The populace might vote for it, they might not. During the eighties, certainly they would have when it was a popular issue. These days, not so much. The mass populace is always going to be blind to real world issues and irrational over others, all for no particular reason than “fad”. But climate scientists aren’t going to be happy if a candidate comes up who is fully willing to ignore reality.

c) Establishing ways for groups of specialists to have a larger say diminishes the need for a lobbying system. Not enough that you could dispense of it, but enough that it could be reigned in some. At the moment, businesses which are willing to play politics are the ones which will be able to assert more power in the government. Most businesses are neither of the size nor interested in playing politics. Most businesses are fairly innocuous and would just as likely try to stop the more sleezy members of their group from wriggling into government as any other watch group. Likely, they would be more effective at it.

Huh? Who said anything about talking heads? I’m referring to associations of folks, like the National Education Association, or the Fraternal Order of Police. There’s tons of groups representing professionals who endorse candidates. If someone is concerned about the law, why shouldn’t they be guided by the endorsements of police officers, rather than handing your vote to them?

If you don’t recognize that the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, and other organizations like them routinely engage in policy debates, public outreach, and political activities, then I can only think you’re just not paying attention to them.

No, it is a lobbying system. You’re just proposing that instead of lobbyists trying to convince lawmakers of some policy or another, you’d have people share their votes with lobbyists.

And furthermore, the President doesn’t need to know a whole lot about science, health care, the military or the law or whatever to be an effective president. One would expect that to be the job of the cabinet secretaries and the leadership of the relevant committees of Congress.

At the end of the day, when those people get on TV, they’re just another talking head.

I’d venture to guess that the majority of voters do not particularly follow policy debates, nor understand most of them. Quite often they would probably be unable to follow different policy recommendations since they aren’t qualified in that area. When, later, they get to hear TV’s talking heads discussing the debate, one pro one negative, how are they to know which talking head to go with or why? Many probably just go by which one seems like the nicer person.

In a sense. Why do you feel its a worse lobbying system than what we have? It doesn’t encourage shady policy like pork barrels, and it doesn’t encourage businesses to play politics. “Economics” as a lobbying group is a lot different from “Exxon”, just as “Scientists” is different from “Greenpeace.” I think you’ll find that the main issue with current-day lobbying isn’t the act of lobbying, it’s the people who feel drawn to participate (on either side.)

You would expect him to know the names of the top terrorist groups killing his troops, though, yes? More importantly, he does need to be able to make rational decisions based on what his advisers say to him. You can never expect anyone to be good at and know everything, but that’s going to be equally true for all of the candidates in a particular race. It gives an advantage to the guy who has been able to work with his advisers to come up with policy that passes muster. If, unlike modern day, you have politicians passing economic and science legislation that’s fairly well universally panned by economists or scientists on either side of the political spectrum, that’s just not very encouraging.