Sunday, January 8, 2017

Assessing democracy in the aftermath of Trump's victory, Part XVII: Mechanistic voting and democratic theory

I promise, I'm almost done with this.  It's been a stalling tactic until stuff started happening again.

When I left off with part... fuck... 16 in this series, the basic observation was that while political science models built around spatial theory and valence characteristics would have given the edge to Clinton, not just in a predictive sense, but a normative one, the mechanistic patterns of how people actually vote in presidential elections gave 2016 to the Republicans.  DDRRDDRR.  Democrats had won two in a row.  The economy was growing, but only tepidly.  The Republicans were due to win next.  The Republicans won.  Everything else just... canceled out.

At the end of the day, it really is amazing how mechanical presidential elections are.  And that leads us to a basic theoretical question about the nature of democracy.  Hence... "assessing democracy!"  If the mechanistic nature of voting in a presidential election gives the White House to someone the electorate knows is grossly unqualified for the job, who is more dishonest than his opponent, and likely to govern in a more ideologically extreme manner, then in every respect, something screwed up.  Badly.  Why?  For the sake of maintaining DDRRDDRR.

The electorate is charged with making important decisions about who will make important decisions.  On what basis?  Well, policy platforms, personal characteristics, all of that good stuff.  It is really hard to make the case that the most important thing to do is to maintain the sanctity of DDRRDDRR.

The electorate chose an unqualified fuckwit who does not understand nuclear weapons.  I'm playin' this again.

It is important to note, here, that Scarborough is one of Trump's allies in the media.  That, itself, is the subject of regular scrutiny.

So, what are the implications of mechanistic voting?  It really depends on the winnowing process before we get to the general election.  To quote Boss Tweed, "I don't care who does the electing so long as I get to do the nominating."

As long as the choices for D and R are winnowed down to people who aren't Trump-level unqualified fuckwits, the mechanistic nature of DDRR and the Abramowitz "Time for a Change" model, which adds in the economy and presidential approval to moderate it, won't cause the kind of objective failure that 2016 was, and yes, I will call 2016 an objective failure.  When the electorate gives the White House to someone they know is unqualified for the job, something screwed up.

Of course, this brings me back to my favorite book to bash.  The Party Decides!  Yes, that's the book that I basically started this blog to smear.  I never liked that fuckin' book.  It basically argued that party elites control the nominating process by signaling to voters who the right choice is, through endorsements, so unqualified fuckwits like Trump would never have a chance!  Yeah, I've never liked that book, I've never bought their model, and I've been picking on them for a long time.

But if their argument were right, we wouldn't be in this mess.  DDRRDDRR would have given us Marco Rubio or someone like that.  If you are reading a political science professor's blog, you probably don't like Marco Rubio much either, but cut the crap.  Marco Rubio wouldn't have to ask three times why we can't just go around nuking everyone.  That's special, Trump-level stupidity.  We wouldn't be asking right now whether or not the incoming president is in Vladimir Putin's pocket.  Marco Rubio is a generic Republican.  Trump is a special kind of disaster, and it is the failure of the winnowing process that gave us this disaster, combined with the mechanistic nature of general election voting.

How problematic, then, is the mechanistic pattern of presidential elections?  Well, it would be a hell of a lot less problematic if The Party Decides were right.  Too bad that book was always, obviously, bullshit.

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