When Conspiracists Psychoanalyze

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LilWabbit

Senior Member
But I stil find the metaphor useful. I'm not a practitioner or dedicated fan of NLP but I routinely find the metaphor a useful explanatory tool.

52.654 says this pretending "left-brainer".

A haggler! You're an Aussie, you surely have haggled in Thailand? I'm always surrounded by Aussie tourists when I visit Thailand. End up in the same tour groups. Although I've stopped using tour groups altogether.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Let's just agree that you are 100% right and i am wrong. I'm good with that.

Ok. I can be good with that also.

because men don't actually listen when women talk?

If that actually means "past personal experience" and "accumulated beliefs (tested and otherwise)" then I can only speculate but...maybe?

I did read "men are from Mars and women are from Venus" when young

Ditto. Many times. That's one of the reasons I can safely say to this:

let me demonstrate masculine chivalry and officially say sorry if I bombarded you too harshly earlier

No no no: not sorry "if".

I know you all have wives or gfs, so it's not like me speaking in a way y'all can't comprehend is an alien issue to you.

To be fair my girlfriend is perfectly comprehensible and reasonable. She doesn't even care about you abdicating responsibility and blaming it on the sisterhood. ;)

[LilWabbit's] reactions are always 0 to 60 in .05 seconds and extreme.

Only lately. ;)
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
It might be very iffy from a scientific perspective (it's more descriptive than actually explanatory), but you guys really need to read /Games People Play/ by Eric Berne. The last page or so of this thread looks like you've been opening the book at random pages and saying whatever sentence is under your thumb.
 

econ41

Senior Member
It might be very iffy from a scientific perspective (it's more descriptive than actually explanatory), but you guys really need to read /Games People Play/ by Eric Berne. The last page or so of this thread looks like you've been opening the book at random pages and saying whatever sentence is under your thumb.
Years since I read it. And I don't seem to remember it being on my bookshelf. I probably loaned it to someone.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Nobody wants to talk more about all the misunderstandings about the words "republic" and "democracy" - so that's what I'm going to do, since I feel I may have learned something more about it.

Going back to the beginning, the tangent started here, when Deirdre twice posted a phrase I found curious:

OUR democracy, as a republic

This was in response to FatPhil and talk of reports of people saying things like "Trump is a threat to democracy", which was explained to us as actually meaning "a threat to American democracy".

For me, I had no interest in that discussion, I was merely interested in why Deirdre appended "as a republic" when clarifying that the supposed threats were specific to US democracy, given that it seemed curious and irrelevant. So I asked:

What's the practical difference between democracy in a republic and democracy in a non-republic such as the UK or the Netherlands or Sweden?

I suppose with the benefit of hindsight I should have simply asked "why did you append 'as a republic' to that?" but it seemed to me that Deirdre was implying there was some difference between democracy in a republic and democracy in a non-republic (aka monarchy) and as far as I can tell there isn't, which is what I was getting at. I think this is where the confusion begins. Deirdre replied:

our "popular vote" is state specific, not federal. Like Connecticut votes who we want for president, then whoever wins the popular vote our electors then cast a federal vote for president that reflects what Connecticut decided as a state.

I personally don't think there is any practical difference. I only specified republic vs democracy because i know most posters here have small countries and straight votes. so i was just acknowledging when i say 'democracy' i'm talking about America's democracy set up vs european set ups.

Now, to be honest, I read the first paragraph and ignored it since it seemed irrelevant to the question and somewhat confused, just an odd little tidbit of information. Now, however, I think it's probably quite relevant (as explained below).

I read the first sentence of the second paragraph and figured, oh, okay, we're on the same page. And then I read the second sentence of the second paragraph and, rather than the red flag of "republic vs democracy" and recognising what Deirdre was actually saying, I focused on her mistaken belief that European countries elect their governments by popular vote (what she calls "straight votes").

And what was she actually saying? And I think this is the key to the whole thing. She was saying (and I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong):
  1. A republic is a country that elects its government by a system such as the Electoral College one
  2. A democracy is a country that elects its government by popular vote
A big clue is obviously the sentence "republic vs democracy", implying that the two are different (even opposing) expressions of a similar operation. Also the focus on popular vote - and to a lesser extent Electoral College - in answer to a question that had nothing to do with whether votes are tallied "popularly" or how they're delivered or otherwise.

Like I said, because I failed to recognise what she was actually saying - I didn't understand that someone would define those words in that way - I merely focused on her mistake of thinking European countries used popular vote and sought to address that. And suddenly there was all sorts of confusion since we hadn't addressed (or even recognised) our differing definitions of the key words, with mine being:
  1. A republic is a country that doesn't have a monarch
  2. A democracy is a country that elects its government by voting
Also, for me, any talk of "federal vs state" or "popular vote" or "electoral college" was merely a side issue unrelated to trying to understand why she thought "republic vs democracy" was a thing. For her, however, it appeared to be a key component - which is understandable if she thought by "democracy" some people meant "a government elected by popular vote, like in Europe, and you guys don't do that and even put the loser in charge, which is stupid".

For the record, it doesn't look like there are many countries that use popular vote to elect their governments and the ones that do mostly use the two-round system, which I suppose could be debated as to whether it's really by popular vote (ie, if your candidate doesn't pass to the second round your only option is to vote for somebody else).

Countries that do use popular vote are mostly in South America and Africa. In Europe, as far as I can tell, France uses it to elect the president (with caveats) but I'm struggling to find other European countries that use it (finding a simple list isn't as easy as I expected).

Most European countries (including the UK - the only system I'm really familiar with) seem to use systems where one votes locally - within a municipality or district or county or borough - and the winner of this area is said to have won a "seat" within the parliament. The party which wins the most seats (in the UK at least, where there are 650) wins the election - and if they win the majority of the seats then they form a majority government without needing to form a coalition, as happened in 2010.

(Coalitions are uncommon in the UK but much more common in other European countries where more than two or three large parties are usual and winning a majority is therefore very difficult and even unlikely.)

The main point is that most European elections are not vastly different to US elections but there appears to be some sense in the US that they are. Not only is this due to people perhaps thinking that Europeans elect by popular vote and that they couldn't elect a leader who lost the popular vote - which is exactly what happened in the UK in 1951 - but because of the peculiarity of the US "Electoral College", which I have often heard pointed to but which, in my opinion, doesn't really seem to be anything other than an unnecessary ceremonial addition - a glorified mailman.

In my understanding (put simply):
  1. Citizens of the state vote for who they want to be president
  2. These votes are counted and a party wins the state
  3. But wait! It's not as simple as that
  4. Each state has electors who look at what the people have decided and then they get to decide whether to follow the people's vote or not
  5. That is, the people's vote doesn't go directly to making the final decision, these electors actually cast the votes that make the final decision
  6. The reason I say it appears unnecessarily ceremonial is that in the 31 elections since 1900 only 27 electoral college voters voted unaligned ("faithlessly") with the result of the public vote
  7. Out of these 27, 8 were made because of death (ie, the winning candidate died and the elector cast their vote for the replacement); 3 were invalidated; 2 would have cast their vote aligned with the public if it would have made a difference; and another was presumed to be an error. That leaves 13 genuinely faithless electors over the course of 120 years
  8. In the entire US history there have only been 165 instances of faithless elector voting (90 for president, 75 for vice-president) with 43% of them being because a candidate died just after the election and 84% happening before 1900. They have never swung an election and it looks like only twice have they affected anything (in 1796, when the "wrong" vice-president was placed in office because of a rumour; and in 1836, when the vice-president's appointment was delayed by a few hours).
So taking US and UK elections as a comparison, in practical terms they're really not that different:
  • They're both democracies ("representational democracies" if you want to get technical)
  • They both vote locally for the party of our choice
  • The party that wins the most votes within that area wins the seat/electoral college vote
  • The party that wins the most of these wins the election
  • The party that wins the election may be the one that lost the popular vote
  • If you happen to live in an area where you are vastly outnumbered by supporters of a different party your vote is pretty much worthless
To be honest, the only real difference appears to be that voters in the US focus more on the leader (ie, the president) whereas voters in the UK focus more on the party (eg, the Conservatives or Labour or Lib Dems) - which I imagine is also the case in most (if not all) European countries.

(I wonder, for example, if Deirdre and our other US contributors are aware of the fact that 5 of the UK's last 7 prime ministers resigned/were ousted from their jobs and were therefore replaced as the country's leader by someone voters hadn't actually elected?)

EDIT: In addition, as added by econ41 below, there is the difference that an entire state's electoral vote goes to the winning party - up to 54 votes - whereas in the UK seats are always individual, meaning there's slightly less chance of a large number of votes being rendered "meaningless". I guess this is primarily what people are complaining about when they mention the electoral college system, not that there's a pointless middle man who can theoretically change his mind but almost never does.

Anyway, so what did I learn?
  1. Some people define the word "republic" in ways other than "a country that isn't a monarchy" - and in particular in the US, where it appears to sometimes have political connotations and sometimes mean something like "representative democracy"
  2. Some people also define the word "democracy" in ways other than "a country that elects its government", perhaps meaning it as "pure democracy" or "direct democracy" or seeing it as different to "representative democracy" ("standard democracy")
  3. I shouldn't dismiss sections of a reply as an irrelevant tangent just because they don't address my question in terms that I'm expecting: they may give clues as to what the other person sees as relevant, even if mistaken, as well as potential sources of confusion
  4. Some people are a bit prickly and confused around things like "popular vote" and "democracy" and differing election systems, perhaps based on misunderstandings, false assumptions, and having been on the receiving end of criticisms of their own particular electoral systems. This may be due to the election of leaders who lost the popular vote and who many see as being kind of disastrous and idiotic, or because they're sick of nosy foreigners telling them how they should run things and also not being aware of how things are run elsewhere
  5. Communication is tricky when we're using very different definitions of the words that make up the conversation and doubly so when not realising we're using different definitions
  6. It may be better just to tell someone they appear to be using a term in an unorthodox way - as well as introduce the orthodox definition - rather than ask them why they're employing the term in a particular manner (since, to them, it's normal). Assuming, of course, that the unorthodoxy is recognised.
  7. The EDIT above
I also wonder if wikipedia may be partly to blame in some of this. I went there and looked at the page for "republic" and the very first line is:

a form of government in which "supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives".

This would seem to put me in the wrong - that to me a republic is a nation, not a government, and that it has nothing to do with how power is administered - but what I notice is that this headline definition is actually a misrepresentation of the entry from a very basic online dictionary:

Screen Shot 2022-10-05 at 11.13.08.png
https://web.archive.org/web/20200606025252/https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/republic

Contrast this with the Oxford English Dictionary (supposedly the #1):

Screen Shot 2022-10-05 at 11.15.44.png
https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/163158

So according to that a republic is a state and - conspicuously absent from the wikipedia definition, which I suspect has been edited somewhat subjectively and with an agenda - "specifically a state without a monarchy in which power rests with the people or their representatives" (not and). And while democracy was sometimes implied (especially in the 17 and 1800s) nowadays the term is "chiefly used to denote any non-monarchial state headed by an elected or appointed president."

I also notice that another citation for the wikipedia definition is from a book published in 1849!

Someone really should update that. ;)
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
@Rory "Republic" is the form of government of a state. When Germany switched over from being a monarchy to a republic, the state did not change, its form of government did.

"popular vote" indicates the votes by the citizens. In the US presidential elections, the distinction is between the popular vote and the electoral vote, because of the 2-step system.
Each state has appointed electors who look at what the people have decided and then they get to decide whether to follow the people's vote or not
Actually, each party appoints electors, and most States only let the winning party's electors cast that state's vote (winner-take-all), with Maine and Nebraska being the exceptions.
So in practice, the people elect the electors with their vote. You've written it as if there could be a predetermined set of impartial electors, but that's not the case.

It's easy to mix up "popular vote" and "proportional representation". The British House of Commons is elected by popular vote (i.e. everyone in it is there because they were voted in by the citizens), but due to the nature of the election process, that may not result in proportional representation (i.e. the proportion of seats in the Lower House may not match the overall proportion of the popular vote).

For comparison, Germany also allows districts to send their own representatives to the legislature, but then the process gives surplus seats to some parties until their proportion in parliament roughly matches the proportion of the popular vote: that means we have proportional representation. Chancellor Olaf Scholz was not elected by popular vote, he was elected by the parliament, so ours is a two-step process as well, with our "electors" being the members of parliament proportionally representing the popular vote.
 

Ann K

Senior Member.
...the peculiarity of the US "Electoral College", which I have often heard pointed to but which, in my opinion, doesn't really seem to be anything other than an unnecessary ceremonial addition.
It's completely unnecessary now. It's an anachronism, left over from the days when the few electors made the arduous trek to the capital to cast the people's votes on behalf of their states.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Changed a few things based on what you wrote @Mendel. As for:

It's easy to mix up "popular vote" and "proportional representation". The British House of Commons is elected by popular vote

I purposefully didn't bring proportional representation into it, since that seemed it would only complicate matters further. And since I don't see anyone mixing up those two things here probably no real need to get into it.

Of course you're right that each British MP is elected by the popular vote within their local area - but the government as a whole isn't. Hence how Churchill's Conservatives were able to take power in 1951 despite receiving less votes than Labour.

("Popular vote" does have other meanings, but for the purpose of this thread I think we've all been on the same page: ie, what Deirdre called "a straight vote" where the people vote for who they want to run the country and all the votes are counted together and whoever gets the most votes wins: no boroughs or districts or electoral men in wigs on horseback or seats.)
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Of course you're right that each British MP is elected by the popular vote within their local area - but the government as a whole isn't.
I'd say it is, it's popular but not proportional.

I'm seeing "popular vote" used in this discussion as if it implied proportional representation (everyone's vote has the same weight), but it doesn't.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
For the record, it doesn't look like there are many countries that use popular vote to elect their governments
you did teach me that in the thread which i am very grateful for.

(Note: why would you assume i would have any idea if Sweden or Netherlands has a Monarch? :) I did think you added those super small countries to affirm uk uses some sort of popular vote. )

(I wonder, for example, if Deirdre and our other US contributors are aware of that fact that 5 of our last 7 prime ministers resigned/were forced from their jobs and were therefore replaced as the country's leader by someone voters hadn't actually elected?)
eh. didnt that just happen to Boris Johnson? The truth is i barely pay any attention to other countries. so even if i know this now, i will likely forget it in the near future because i dont care. that whole Parliamentary set up and your multiple parties is too weird to fill up my brain cells with. it is unnecessary to my life. no offense.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
I'd say it is, it's popular but not proportional.

See UK election 1951:

The 1951 United Kingdom general election was held twenty months after the 1950 general election, which the Labour Party had won with a slim majority of just five seats. The Labour government called a snap election for Thursday 25 October 1951 in the hope of increasing its parliamentary majority. However, despite winning the popular vote and achieving both the highest-ever total vote and highest percentage vote share, Labour won fewer seats than the Conservative Party [and therefore lost the election].

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1951_United_Kingdom_general_election
Content from External Source
It's completely unnecessary now. It's an anachronism, left over from the days when the few electors made the arduous trek to the capital to cast the people's votes on behalf of their states.

The US does seem to have a peculiar fascination with the past and a resistance to change. It's like how almost all countries have a constitution and amendments but none of them refer to it in the way the US does or treat it/them like some sort of holy book that can't be altered or improved.

I have no idea why this is, other than perhaps it actually is a manifestation of the country's religiosity, long since passed elsewhere.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
I'm seeing "popular vote" used in this discussion as if it implied proportional representation (everyone's vote has the same weight), but it doesn't.
note: as an AMerican if you see me use "popular vote" i mean it as "Biden won the popular vote, by 4 million votes". and im not changing my usage because i'm not interested enough in this subject of what global everyone calls everything. :) no offense.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
you did teach me that in the thread which i am very grateful for.

That's nice. :)

why would you assume i would have any idea if Sweden or Netherlands has a Monarch?

I wouldn't. But I know you're very good at googling and researching and learning.

I did think you added those super small countries to affirm uk uses some sort of popular vote.

Number one, the Netherlands may be relatively small geographically (Sweden isn't) but they're not exactly obscure countries.

Number two, I didn't.

And number three, the UK doesn't use popular vote to elect its government - nor Sweden, nor the Netherlands.

(Though we did for leaving the EU and considering Scottish independence, via referendums - two examples of "direct democracy".)

didn't that just happen to Boris Johnson? The truth is i barely pay any attention to other countries. so even if i know this now, i will likely forget it in the near future because i don't care. that whole Parliamentary set up and your multiple parties is too weird to fill up my brain cells with. it is unnecessary to my life. no offence.

Yep, Johnson resigned after being heavily pressured to do so.

And no offence taken - in all honesty I think the discussion over the last several pages has simply been nothing more than a wonderful answer to the question asked by Woolery way back in the beginning. :)

note: as an American if you see me use "popular vote" i mean it as "Biden won the popular vote, by 4 million votes". and i'm not changing my usage

No worries there: I think Mendel's on his own on that one. But no more 'definition debates' for me for at least another week.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
I wouldn't. But I know you're very good at googling and researching and learning.
:) yea im not gonna research that.

Number one, the Netherlands may be relatively small geographically (Sweden isn't) but they're not exactly obscure countries
i dont recall any threads on MB about them. I'm admittedly American-centric, just like MB. I can never even remember which one is Switzerland and which one is Sweden. maybe i'm thinking of Switzerland.

(and that's not as rude as it sounds, i often online say New York (vs Connecticut) because i imagine most global people would have no idea where Connecticut is or anything about it. )
 

Rory

Senior Member.
I'm admittedly American-centric, just like MB.

Cos that's where all the bunk is/comes from. :D

And I like that you admit that unashamedly. Better than pretending or being defensive. "Ignorance is bliss," as they say.

i don't recall any threads on MB about them.

Cos those places are (relatively) incredibly sane. :)

I can never even remember which one is Switzerland and which one is Sweden.

Let's see if we can help with that:

Sweden is Bjorn Borg; blonde hair blue eyes; vikings; yellow cross on a blue flag; IKEA; northern Europe; Scandinavia; near Norway and Denmark and Finland; cold winters and long summer days where the sun doesn't set; socialism and high taxes that people don't really mind because it makes things better for everyone.

I've lived there a couple of times; got a lot of good things going for it.

Switzerland is Roger Federer; Martina Hingis; white cross on a red flag; the Alps; The Sound of Music; neutrality in war; Swiss bank accounts; skiing; central Europe in amongst Italy, Germany, France and Austria; Heidi; Lindt chocolate; one of the world's highest levels of happiness and mental well-being according to some studies; incredibly expensive.

Only driven through it. Beautiful, but too pricey for my dollar.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
Let's see if we can help with that:
nope. that's not gonna work. for this context. have you been sliding on your meditation lately?<right brain activation.

maybe the little name is the big one, the big name is the little one. but i'll likely forget that trick too as how often do i need to think about them?
 

Rory

Senior Member.
have you been sliding on your meditation lately?

Yep. :D

how often do i need to think about them?

Fair enough. I'm pretty sketchy on some of my South and Central American countries, as well as large parts of Africa. I only know the US somewhat well because I've been to 47 states and spent lots of time looking at maps. But when I first arrived (in '96, aged 20) I didn't even know LA was all the way over on the other coast, probably thought it was somewhere in the middle or about where Pittsburgh is.
 

econ41

Senior Member
note: as an AMerican if you see me use "popular vote" i mean it as "Biden won the popular vote, by 4 million votes". and im not changing my usage because i'm not interested enough in this subject of what global everyone calls everything. :) no offense.
You are both correct and clear on that specific issue. Others are not. There are several causes of confusion.

The term "popular vote" as you and all the Americans I know use it and how I understand it refers to the process of electing a President.

Some members appear to be unfamiliar with the US system. Specifically the role of the "Electoral College" in making the final choice of who becomes President. (And VP....)

So the US system differs from others in a combination of three ways:
1) the US, like Australia (And Germany but I won't go there), is a Federation of States and has elections at both State and Federal levels. UK does not.

2) The US election is for a President who is Head of State. There is no such election in UK or AU etc where Head of State is an hereditary monarch. The US president is also the Head of Government which is a separate role under UK, AU arrangements - we don't need to go to other differences at this stage.

AND - the big issue relevant to the confusion about the "popular vote".

3) The actual "vote" which determines President is via an electoral college. Each state is entitled to nominate electors. Those electors cast the votes for their state in proportion to the population of the state.

So two stages. First the citizens vote for their preferred candidate for President within their states. THEN, second stage, "electors" take their state's results o the final vote in the "Electoral College".

BUT Electors are not bound to allocate their State's votes in the proportions that were actually voted in their State. The tradition followed by most states is "winner takes all" So, if a candidate gets the first past the post majority and wins within the state ALL the State's electoral college votes go to that candidate.

So the popular vote which @deirdre and Americans refer to is the actual sum of the votes as originally cast by citizens in the election for President. And the Electoral College vote, which actually is the decider, in most States sees all the votes for that State allocated to the candidate who won "first past the post" in that state. So a Dem voter in a state won by the GOP in effect sees their Dem vote allocated to a GOP candidate. And vice-versa.

There are some exceptions. A few states (two from memory??) allocate votes for President proportionally to that state's input to the selection is a popular vote. But overall "winner takes all" dominates the state's electoral college voting.

And there is an overriding possibility of "faithless electors" - because electors are not legally compelled to follow state guidance or numbers... we needn't go to those details.

E & OE - those are the key points AFAICS but I'm a foreigner - ;). No doubt somebody will correct my errors or tell me about the details I've left out. :rolleyes:
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
What did I miss? :)

I've been distracted by coding and writing. I see a few threads are popular, but I really don't have the time to read all of them. I'm assuming everyone's reasonably polite, etc?
 

econ41

Senior Member
What did I miss? :)

I've been distracted by coding and writing. I see a few threads are popular, but I really don't have the time to read all of them. I'm assuming everyone's reasonably polite, etc?
There seems to be a consensus to bury the hatchets.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
There are some exceptions. Some few states allocate votes for President proportionally to that state's input to the selection is a popular vote.
you might have worded this correctly but im not sure
Article:
Maine and Nebraska, however, appoint individual electors based on the winner of the popular vote for each Congressional district and then 2 electors based on the winner of the overall state-wide popular vote.

Even though Maine and Nebraska don't use a winner-take-all system, it is rare for either State to have a split vote. Each has done so once: Nebraska in 2008 and Maine in 2016.
 

econ41

Senior Member
you might have worded this correctly but im not sure
Article:
Maine and Nebraska, however, appoint individual electors based on the winner of the popular vote for each Congressional district and then 2 electors based on the winner of the overall state-wide popular vote.

Even though Maine and Nebraska don't use a winner-take-all system, it is rare for either State to have a split vote. Each has done so once: Nebraska in 2008 and Maine in 2016.
Thanks. I thought it was two but wasn't sure and couldn't remember which two states. I edited my comment to make it a bit clearer without digging into details too much. We crossed in posting.
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
@Rory "Republic" is the form of government of a state. When Germany switched over from being a monarchy to a republic, the state did not change, its form of government did.
Properties of the state changed. Does the state change when it changes its properties? - that's a discussion for philosophers who have nothing better to do with their time. Does my monitor change when I turn it off? It's different, certainly, but it's the same monitor. Different and the same at the same time!

Or as I worded something else earlier:

The state didn't change when it changed properties. The state changed when it changed properties. Fight!

(And if you haven't worked out that's a shortcut for "don't waste time or effort heading down this line of discussion, it will lead nowhere productive", here's a hint in that direction.)

Edit: TL;DR: this boils down to equivocation on "change"
Edit^2: Obligatory Theseus reference
 

econ41

Senior Member
@Mendel bbbb
Properties of the state changed. Does the state change when it changes its properties? - that's a discussion for philosophers who have nothing better to do with their time.
Germany was a monarchy. It became a republic. That is a change.
Does my monitor change when I turn it off? It's different, certainly, but it's the same monitor. Different and the same at the same time!
I suggest "review your analogy" << a diplomatic way of saying "I think you are wrong!"

The State did not change. Its form of government changed. I was wearing a green tee shirt this AM but changed it to a yellow one. I haven't changed - my tee shirt has.

And, with my usual lack of subtlety. I did NOT use "red" or "blue" in a thread where the topic under discussion is US politics
Or as I worded something else earlier:

The state didn't change when it changed properties. The state changed when it changed properties. Fight!
Now that has the potential of another 400 posts where the rest of you disagree with me. My preference - meta-process preference - would be that you nominate ONE of them for discussion. AND abandon the generic - specify a scenario. :rolleyes:
 

Rory

Senior Member.
The US system differs from others in a combination of three ways:

1) the US, like Australia, is a Federation of States and has elections at both State and Federal levels. UK does not.

True. But the UK does elect at local (constituency) level. Obviously MPs don't have anywhere near the same amount of power as the states/provinces in a federation such as Canada or Australia (or the US) but in practical terms for how a person's vote leads to electing a government this aspect of it doesn't seem massively different to me: ie, voting locally for something national, which has the pitfall of many people's votes being rendered meaningless and the potential situation of the less popular candidate/party ending up in power ("lost the popular vote, won the election").

NB: This has happened twice (3.5%) in the UK in 57 elections since 1801 and five times (8.8%) in 59 elections in the US since 1824 (though personally I wouldn't count Adams/Clay, which would reduce it to 6.8%).

2) The US election is for a president who is Head of State. There is no such election in UK or AU etc where Head of State is an hereditary monarch. The US president is also the Head of Government which is a separate role under UK, AU arrangements

But really that's just a technicality, no? In practical terms...

3) The actual "vote" which determines president is via an electoral college. Each state is entitled to nominate electors. Those electors cast the votes for their state in proportion to the population of the state.

Kind of that but kind of not. Every state (plus DC) gets a minimum of three votes and then more votes are added mostly based on their population. But it's more than a little arbitrary and convoluted - for example, California has around 700,000 people per electoral vote while Wyoming and Vermont have around 200,000 people per vote. This means votes in some places are worth more than votes in others.

Formulae explained here: https://www.everycrsreport.com/reports/R41357.html#_Toc363831984

User-friendly video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wC42HgLA4k&ab_channel=CGPGrey

For some, this "my Vermont vote is worth three or four times your California vote" is a problem and I'd agree. But, again, it's not like the same thing doesn't happen in the UK. The Isle of Wight, for example, has over five times the number of voters of Na h-Eileanan an Iar in the Outer Hebrides - 113,000 per seat versus 21,000.

Population discrepancies though seem a much smaller problem than the "winner takes all" allocating done by everywhere except Maine and Nebraska, as you say below. And, yes, your main point about the clumping together of votes by state vs the individuality of seats is a little different - but again, not massively different, as I'll show in a moment.

Electors are not bound to allocate their State's votes in the proportions that were actually voted in their State. The tradition followed by most states is "winner takes all" So, if a candidate gets the first past the post majority and wins within the state ALL the State's electoral college votes go to that candidate.

In some ways this is similar to what can happen in a UK constituency, like how in the last election (2019) 67 of 650 seats (10.3%) were won by a margin of less than 5% and 12 by a margin of less than 1%. So a candidate can come within a whisker and walk away with nothing while the "winner takes all" and notches a 'point' for their party, sometimes with a literal handful of votes more than the runner-up, and sometimes with less than 30% of the total vote.

There is the difference that when a party wins a state in the US they walk away with up to 54 points, which seems like a bad way to go about things, being as the "all" is vastly bigger than a single solitary seat but even then it may not represent that much of a difference if we consider a state as a "clump" of constituencies.

Another way to demonstrate that the difference isn't great is by quoting the seemingly startling statistic that it's mathematically possible to win a US election with only 21.9% of the popular vote (assuming only two parties and 100% voter turnout for simplicity) by winning all the states where votes are worth the most.

That seems unbelievable and ludicrous: but in the UK the same measure returns a figure only slightly higher (22.8%) and even in a hypothetical electoral college/seat system where all populations are equally represented and all votes are therefore worth the same it would still be mathematically possible to win an election with just over 25% of the popular vote.

So maybe the Electoral College system really isn't as different to other countries' systems as people think.

So the popular vote which @deirdre and Americans refer to is the actual sum of the votes as originally cast by citizens in the election for president. [She is] both correct and clear on that specific issue. Others are not.

I'm pretty sure that's how everyone is this thread (and in other discussions I've seen on metabunk) has been using that term. Certainly I don't recall a post where someone used it otherwise. 'Cept I guess Mendel, but only to tell us that he has his own definition for it.

And the Electoral College vote, which actually is the decider, in most States sees all the votes for that State allocated to the candidate who won "first past the post" in that state. So a Dem voter in a GOP won state in effect sees their Dem vote allocated to a GOP candidate. And vice-versa.

Same as how the vast majority of Lib Dem voters "see their vote allocated to a Labour/Conservative candidate" - in 2019 they represented 11.6% of the population but won only 1.7% of the seats; and in 2010 there were 6.8 million of them (23%, just 6% less than Labour) and yet they returned only 8.8% of the seats - a whopping 30.9% less than Labour.

Also the same as how Labour voters living in Tory constituencies (and vice versa) "see their vote allocated to the opposite side". Or how the Greens only returned one MP in 2019 - representing 0.2% of seats - despite winning 2.6% of the vote.

I'll agree that the Electoral College system is kind of rubbish and much in need of improvement - but I really don't think it's as different from the systems of countries like the UK as others think (systems that could also be much improved, imo).

Some members appear to be unfamiliar with the US system...

Don't be shy about naming names and referencing unfamiliarities (mistakes) directly; it's much quicker to improve one's learning that way.
 
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Ann K

Senior Member.
What did I miss? :)

I've been distracted by coding and writing. I see a few threads are popular, but I really don't have the time to read all of them. I'm assuming everyone's reasonably polite, etc?
Best not dive in here, then. There's a lot of quibbling going on. :)
 

econ41

Senior Member
True. But the UK does elect at local (constituency) level. Obviously MPs don't have anywhere near the same amount of power as the states in a federation such as Canada or Australia (or the US) but in practical terms for how a person's vote leads to electing a government it doesn't seem massively different to me.
But my comment was about ONE specific issue of DIFFERENCES.

There are many topics in your post. Too many to comprehensively debate in this thread which should be about "When Conspiracists Psychoanalyze" and, somewhat ironically, the off-topic discusion is giving us data on the social dynamics and psychology between members who are not "conspiracists". We could be psychoanalysing us. ("we" not the U S)

So I will limit my comments to a couple of points that are relevant to the current topic.
Ie, voting locally for something national - which has the pitfall of some people's votes being meaningless and the potential situation of the less popular candidate/party ending up in power ("lost the popular vote, won the election").

NB: This has happened twice (3.5%) in the UK in 57 elections since 1801 and five times (8.8%) in 59 elections in the US since 1824 (though I would personally discount Adams/Clay)

But really that's just a technicality, no? In practical terms...
It is not relevant to the single point under discussion - the confusion over "popular vote" versus "electoral college". I'm not shy about discussing diverging topics but I am mindful of the one thread one topic requirement.
Kind of that but kind of not. Every state (plus DC) gets a minimum of three votes and then more votes are added mostly based on their population. But it's more than a little arbitrary and convoluted - for example, California has around 700,000 people per electoral vote while Wyoming and Vermont have around 200,000 people per vote. This means votes in some places are worth a lot more than votes in others.

Formulae explained here: https://www.everycrsreport.com/reports/R41357.html#_Toc363831984

User-friendly video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wC42HgLA4k&ab_channel=CGPGrey

For some, this "my Vermont vote is worth three times your California vote" is a problem and I'd agree. But, again, it's not like the same thing doesn't happen in the UK. The Isle of Wight, for example, has over five times the number of voters of Na h-Eileanan an Iar in the Outer Hebrides - 113,000 per seat versus 21,000.
I'm familiar with most of the details
Population discrepancies though seems a much smaller problem than the "winner takes all" allocating done by everywhere except Maine and Nebraska, as you say below:
Yes. That is the biggest problem that many see with the arrangments.
Imagine winning the presidency against an opponent who won 78% of the vote! :D

Yeah, you've convinced me: it is rubbish and much in need of improvement.
Me the Brit-born Australian and you the UK citizen may think it needs improvement. We - UK and AU - don't have it. We - at least I - don't want it. BUT it is a matter for the US people to consider and deal with. I have no problem discussing it but, bottom line, it is not for us to choose.
Don't be shy about naming names; quicker to improve one's learning that way.
I'm not shy but I'll err on the side of caution. And courtesy.
 

econ41

Senior Member
Best not dive in here, then. There's a lot of quibbling going on. :)
I'm tempted to try humour but it is risky. Play on words and similar bits of fun often don't survive crossing the Atlantic or the Pacific...

BUT I'm reminded of one of my father's sayings. Stated in the "Yorksha" dialect of my northern England birthplace and working-class origins.

"Thems all queer 'cept me and thee. And am not allus sure abaht thee!"

For those who are not multilingual:
All the people other than you and I are confused thinkers. And I'm not always sure that you are not confused sometimes.
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
What did I miss? :)

I've been distracted by coding and writing. I see a few threads are popular, but I really don't have the time to read all of them. I'm assuming everyone's reasonably polite, etc?
There may need to be a pop quiz on the Politeness Policy, in the next day or two...
 

Rory

Senior Member.
There are many topics in your post. Too many to comprehensively debate

Yeah, let's not debate. I'm just looking for corrections really since I'm obviously far from an expert. And really I suppose I did meander from my original point of "ah! now I get why the whole republic/democracy/popular vote misunderstanding happened".

But, in any case, I do appreciate your input and have updated my thinking, as well as that post. Seems like the big thing I was missing was when people moan about the weirdness of the electoral college system it's not only because some pointless middle man delivers the votes on their behalf, it's because of "winner takes all" and large discrepancies in representation. So thanks for that: that is somewhat different to the UK.

BUT it is a matter for the US people to consider and deal with. I have no problem discussing it but, bottom line, it is not for us to choose.

That's one place we differ: I would say they're just as powerless to do something about it as we are, so fruitless discussion is the best they've got too. And I probably value informed outside insight greater than internal in this case: the middle schoolers surely know more on the subject than the kindergarteners, no?

But if it was up to me I'd just put the Swedes or Dutch in charge of everything (including the UK).

Just my viewpoint: unless one is directly involved and actively working for change all we're really doing is sharing opinions, filling time, and expelling hot air. I don't affect the government and the government don't affect me. ;)

It is not relevant to the single point under discussion - the confusion over "popular vote" versus "electoral college".

I haven't noticed any confusion over those two terms. I also wasn't aware that was a point being discussed.

I'm not shy but I'll err on the side of caution. And courtesy.

Well, just be assured in my case I appreciate directness. :)
 
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econ41

Senior Member
Yeah, let's not debate. I'm just looking for corrections really since I'm obviously far from an expert. And really I suppose I did meander from my original point of "ah! now I get why the whole republic/democracy/popular vote misunderstanding happened".
The derails are all interesting topics but best addressed in separate threads.
But, in any case, I do appreciate your input and have updated my thinking, as well as that post. Seems like the big thing I was missing was when people moan about the weirdness of the electoral college system it's not only because some pointless middle man delivers the votes their behalf, it's because of "winner takes all" and large discrepancies in representation. So thanks for that: that is somewhat different to the UK.
Exactly. "Winner takes all" is the overall problem. There are a lot of details and related problems.
That's one place we differ: I would say they're just as powerless to do something about it as we are, so fruitless discussion is the best they've got too. And I probably value informed outside insight greater than internal in this case: the middle schoolers surely know more on the subject than the kindergarteners, no?
No - we don't differ on what the problem is. I haven't commented on how difficult it would be for US folk to solve it. THAT is a whole debate and a half of its own
But if it was me I'd just put the Swedes and the Dutch in charge of everything (including the UK).
Nah. Give the job to the Aussies. "She'll be right mate. No worries!" "Have another beer!"

Just my viewpoint: unless one is directly involved and actively working for change all we're really doing is sharing opinions, filling time, and expelling hot air. I don't affect the government and the government don't affect me. ;)
Next time you utter some ridiculous stupid load of crap you want me to tell you?
Well, just be assured in my case I appreciate directness. :)
Understood.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Next time you utter some ridiculous stupid load of crap you want me to tell you?

Of course! How else will I know and be able to update my thinking unless someone points it out?

Maybe be a little more specific and constructive (and dare I say "courteous") than that though. ;)

Have I "uttered some ridiculous load of crap" in the past?

Nah. Give the job to the Aussies. "She'll be right mate. No worries!" "Have another beer!"

That could work. Not often you guys [do x bad thing] and as far as I know your [x aren't doing x bad thing] and you don't have the [x] like [x] does. ;)

Have you just spent a month in NY? or did they come out with some kind of sarcasm pill...you're killing it today ;)

Thanks!
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
The derails are all interesting topics but best addressed in separate threads.
There's no way @Mick West is gonna go through and separate these 4 or 5 topics. He should just add a "Chit chat gish gallop moved to:" post, and start a "Misc Political crap and Left Brained Men" :) thread in Rambles (because literally no outside reader cares what "republic" means in different countries or to watch a long argument about April's comment.)

split start here
https://www.metabunk.org/threads/when-conspiracists-psychoanalyze.12536/post-280426
 
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