Sunday, October 23, 2016

David Duke, Meet Clay Shirky

I've been saving this screen snapshot of a David Duke tweet:

In it, Duke conflates "Western civilization" with a doe-eyed blonde gal, the classically virginal white woman who must be protected from rape by black and brown men. "This,"  he says with an unclear antecedent, is worth preserving.

The words superimposed over her photo say Western civilization, but the image says white womanhood, especially when Duke continues by saying he plans to "guide our people up the evolutionary stairway to the stars." Jeez louise. The evolutionary stairway takes us to being blonde and porcelain-skinned? And here I was hoping it would take us to more empathy and the ability to get along with everyone who doesn't look like us.

More recently, Clay Shirky responded to a Vox first-person story that has this headline: I’m voting for Jill Stein. It’s a moral choice. It reflects who I am as a person.

This is everything wrong with third-party voting, in one succinct headline.

A vote is a choice to join a power-seeking coalition. It is not a personal affirmation of a coherent ideology. It is not a moral choice.

Voting can never be a reflection of any individual voter's preferences, because those preferences are too varied between voters. There is no correlation among voters' ideal policy choices for economic vs. social vs. international issues.

If you want legal marijuana, I have no idea what you think of Syria. If you want a Syrian no-fly zone, I don't know what you think the top tax rate should be.

An imaginary world with only three issues — Legalize / No Fly / Raise Tax — and only Y/N preferences would still need eight parties to represent voters. A world with six issues and a moderate position between Y and N would need over 700 such parties, each representing ~0.1% of the electorate.

Even multiple parties can't represent most voters' preferences most of the time, and the U.S. system limits viable parties to two at a time. A strong Presidency and winner-take-all voting has cemented two-party politics since before the first competitive election, in 1796. This is a Constitutional issue, not an electoral one. A third party could only succeed if the Constitution were re-written.

Since democracy prevents the government from being run by a coherent ideology by design, it can only ever offer choices among lesser evils. Under these circumstances, all a Presidential vote can say is "This politician will use power in ways I marginally prefer over that one."

And all a third party vote can say is "Whatever everybody else decides is OK with me." It's a refusal of political engagement altogether.
"This politician will use power in ways I marginally prefer over that one" doesn't make for much of a slogan that appeals to our evolution-derived brains, however. Our brains vastly prefer a simple story with a clear moral, and tribal thinking like that displayed by David Duke.

One more piece of evidence against the idea of a divine creator.

1 comment:

Gina said...

"A third party could only succeed if the Constitution were re-written." Hmmmm. What if the third party candidate managed to get an overwhelming majority of the vote? Wouldn't that be a success for a third party?