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Debate:US Voting 2020

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Information icon.svg This debate was created by Glitch (talk) 21:13, 1 August 2020 (UTC).

This is a place for attempting fruitful discussion of why one may choose or not choose to vote for Biden in the US 2020 presidential election. Being SEEN as "right" is not the goal here. The primary goal is to understand and address the concerns of those who disagree with you in order to make whatever position you ultimately hold a more robust and well reasoned one. A secondary goal may be to change the mind of those you are talking to. But in either case, getting angry yourself or provoking someone else is counterproductive. I hope we can all agree on that much, at least. Glitch (talk) 21:38, 1 August 2020 (UTC)

On the matter of voting for Biden in 2020[edit]

Okay, I'll open the discussion. I'm going to try to give a mile high view of what I *think* the position of those pushing Biden is. I'll do my best to be fair and honest in representing it. Then those who are actually pushing Biden can point out my mistakes.

From what I have observed, those who support voting for Biden are operating from the premise that the Democratic party is mostly full of good intentioned people who have mostly good policies, but because of the nature of politics and GOP dirty tricks, they have been prevented from implementing those policies for decades. But if we just hold on and keep voting Blue, we'll hold out and one day those good policies will become good legislation that is faithfully executed.

Is that a fair general assessment? Have I misunderstood something critical? Glitch (talk) 21:38, 1 August 2020 (UTC)

Pro-Biden side[edit]

Trump is an existential danger to the planet. While I don't like Biden at all (I supported Bernie in 2016 and I supported Bernie in 2020), he is not Trump (a fascist). — Godless Raven SDAPOe logo.svg talkstalkwalkbalk 🌹 Flag of Europe.svg 21:48, 1 August 2020 (UTC)

Basically this. I don't expect a Biden presidency to produce many or any good policy decisions, but Biden is at least less likely to incite hate crimes or destroy the republic. Pizza SLICE.gifChef Moosolini’s Ristorante ItalianoMake a Reservation 21:55, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
Plus, the Supreme Court is about two seats away from having an un-principled reactionary majority. Pizza SLICE.gifChef Moosolini’s Ristorante ItalianoMake a Reservation 21:56, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
Okay, if I may, this is the problem I have with the "Pro Biden" side. No one you're talking to disagrees that Trump is a worst case nightmare scenario for humanity. You don't have to keep proving a point that is not in dispute. The question is what to DO in light of that. And "Get every single voter in the nation to vote for Biden" is NOT a trivially obvious response. There are good, rational reasons to follow a different strategy. It's like... Let's say Stalin was still quite awful, but quantifiably better than Hitler, for the sake of argument. That doesn't mean the only rational course of action during WW2 is to recruit heavily for the Red Army. It is quite possible to accept that Hitler must be destroyed without concluding that means you must support Stalin. Some might well conclude that supporting Stalin is the right course in that scenario. Others might want to find alternative strategies. Support Trump or Support Biden is the very definition of a false dichotomy. Glitch (talk) 22:10, 1 August 2020 (UTC)

The question is what to DO in light of that. [...] There are good, rational reasons to follow a different strategy.

There will be two options for a president: Trump or Biden. If you think the green party or the libertarians have any shot at this, you would be incredibly naive to think that. In order to get rid of Trump, you have to replace him with Biden. That's it. Anything else is meaningless larping. — Godless Raven SDAPOe logo.svg talkstalkwalkbalk 🌹 Flag of Europe.svg 22:15, 1 August 2020 (UTC)

Again no one is questioning that. Any vote that isn't for Biden or Trump is a protest vote. Can you understand, in principle, that many people's votes are symbolic anyway due to the way the Electoral College works? Further, that even among those whose votes are more than symbolic, once a certain threshold of people are locked in for Biden, because of diminishing returns each additional vote for Biden is worth less and less, and that at some point it might become more valuable to register a protest than to continue piling more votes behind Biden? In principle, mind you. You may very well conclude that we're not nearly at such a point. But it's important for discussion that you understand the very basics of the reasoning of those you disagree with. Glitch (talk) 22:20, 1 August 2020 (UTC)

Can you understand, in principle, that many people's votes are symbolic anyway due to the way the Electoral College works?

A: No, because there is no symbolism behind it. You vote. It gets counted. Then the state goes to the person with the highest number of votes IF the EC electors (who may be faithless and thus vote in the other direction) of the states vote for that option. The system is massively being damaged by Trump and the GOP; don't forget Gore v Bush in 2000. Don't fall for symbolism bullshit, just vote and get it done.

[...][ [O]nce a certain threshold of people are locked in for Biden, because of diminishing returns each additional vote for Biden is worth less and less, and that at some point it might become more valuable to register a protest than to continue piling more votes behind Biden?

A: What does a protest vote do in practice? Nothing. It is naive at best and at worst gross and stupid larping. Protest votes don't mean anything and nobody takes them seriously either. At best, voting for Biden in California means nothing because Biden might win by 90%; but in states like Michigan, it could be the tipping point, added to all the electoral schemes of the GOP, such as using "poll watchers" that intimidate democratic voters. Don't be a fool. — Godless Raven SDAPOe logo.svg talkstalkwalkbalk 🌹 Flag of Europe.svg 22:31, 1 August 2020 (UTC)

...I'm not sure what to do with what you just told me. You claim to reject the idea that a vote can be merely symbolic and then proceed to show you understand the idea of a merely symbolic vote very well by your example of California. Is it a problem of terminology? Fine, I don't care what you call it. When you know that there are 1000 voters and 999 of them are locked into voting for option A, no matter if you prefer option A or option B, your vote is irrelevant mechanically. All you deciding between is if the official record shows 1000:0 or 999:1. And the only value of that is symbolic. If we can't agree on that much, I don't know how we can possibly proceed to more debatable parts of this topic. Glitch (talk) 23:05, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
Protest votes are a luxury handed to residents of many US states whose votes will not matter much. Here in Indiana, for instance, it's very likely that Trump will carry the state whether I vote for Biden or not. I voted for Sanders with the Democrats this time around, knowing that was an empty gesture. But voting for Biden in the general election is just a gesture of endorsement for the milquetoast and strategically incompetent Democratic establishment, which remains addicted to corporate money. Which is why they keep handing us centrist milksops like Biden. Voting for him now just sends a message I approve. I will vote for him only if Indiana is in play. Smerdis of Tlön, wekʷōm teḱsos. 12:44, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
A protest vote is also a privilege to those who will generally be unaffected by the results of an election (ie White Men). Frederick Douglas initially pushed for the rejection of the Republican party for not fully embracing abolition, before reversing course after understanding that even a weak partner is still a partner.[1]
Yes, those who have less at stake can act with more freedom. Certainly this is true. However, while I'm white, I'm not a man, so clearly it's not only white men who can come to the conclusion that a protest vote is worthwhile (even though I've since changed my position in this particular instance). Frederick Douglas may have come to that conclusion, but after Douglas' time W.E.B. DuBois was quite invested in electoralism until late in life abandoning it in disgust and penning a scathing critique of it.
"In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no 'two evils' exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say." Intelligent people, even those with much at stake, can come to different conclusions on the matter of how best to proceed. I have already been convinced in this particular case that, for those whose votes actually matter, they should be encouraged to cast them for Biden. But that is mostly due to how extraordinary a threat Trump poses to all. Yes, those with less at stake can act with more freedom, again I concede that point. However I know plenty of people who have a great deal at stake, including myself, who have observed that as a general strategy, the "lesser of two evils" approach has accomplished nothing at all. Following that strategy is how we ended up with Trump in the first place. You don't have to be a white man to come to that conclusion, or that continuing to follow that strategy is doomed to continue failing in the future. In fact of the people I know personally who have concluded that, white men are the definite minority. Glitch (talk) 17:18, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
I don't think I will be unaffected by the results, as a disabled American. But voting for Biden also sends a message to the Democrat brass that I am entirely OK with the way they are running things. So if my state is contested I will vote for Biden. He is a bit better than Hillary was, I'll give him that much, But it will be with zero enthusiasm. 17:22, 4 August 2020 (UTC)


View from across the pond[edit]

I think that there can be only one way for anyone to vote: anti-Trump. If that's for Biden then so be it - if Trump gets re-elected then The USA is finished as a nation. (Much as the UK is with our present PM) Scream!! (talk) 22:07, 1 August 2020 (UTC)

(to be clear) I am Swiss. I can't vote in US elections. I still support Biden, emotionally. — Godless Raven SDAPOe logo.svg talkstalkwalkbalk 🌹 Flag of Europe.svg 22:12, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
The question is not to vote for Trump or Biden. The question is out of the infinite possibilities of human behavior, which ones most effectively lead to our desired outcome. No sane person is going to vote for Trump. Hence every sane person who decides to vote is voting Biden, or a protest vote. But voting is not remotely the only way to engage politically. If you truly think getting out the vote for Biden is the only way humanity survives, you should be donating all your funds to Biden's campaign instead of arguing on the internet. You'll get far more Biden votes that way overall. Glitch (talk) 22:15, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
We can't donate to Biden, that would be illegal campaign donation. Also, what do you propose? — Godless Raven SDAPOe logo.svg talkstalkwalkbalk 🌹 Flag of Europe.svg 22:17, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
For a non-US citizen? At the least, the very least, you could focus your arguments on those who are undecided in swing states, although with as polarizing as Trump is there are precious few of those. But you could offer your services to organizations in those swing states who are trying to find every last one of them. I think it's legal for you to phone bank for Biden, although I could be wrong.
Obviously Trump has to be stopped. A reelection would be a disaster. The trouble is that he didn't come from a vacuum and unless the Dems are seriously held to account for their role in his rise, it's just going to happen again. Stopping Trump in 2020 is essential, but if he (or someone like him) comes back for a win in 2024 it's worthless. It's not enough to stop Trump in 2020. The factors of his success are systemic. They are part and parcel of the US government and enormously exacerbated by the two party system. We must stop the GOP AND fix the Dems. Or we must replace the government entirely. If there is another path to even medium term success, I can't see it. Glitch (talk) 22:27, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
No, I meant what do people like you propose as an alternative to voting for Biden in order to remove Trump? — Godless Raven SDAPOe logo.svg talkstalkwalkbalk 🌹 Flag of Europe.svg 22:40, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
Sulking at home to fantasize about “Revolution”. Pizza SLICE.gifChef Moosolini’s Ristorante ItalianoMake a Reservation 23:00, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
Please refrain from speaking for me, much less to give an insulting strawman. It is antithetical to even the most basic principles of civilized discussion and having a civilized discussion is all I'm interested in here.
This is part of the problem. I do not propose an alternative to voting for Biden in order to remove Trump. I propose that sufficient numbers of people vote for Biden to remove Trump, but that an excess of votes for Biden is counterproductive. Consider Scylla and Charybdis. Yes, running right into Scylla would be a disaster. Let's not do that. But turning all the way to run directly into Charybdis is ALSO a disaster. There is doom on both sides. The trick is to turn in such a way that the needle is threaded and the danger is passed. The analogy is not perfect as Trump and Biden represent different kind of threats and the threat of Trump is more obvious and short term. But some of us see that an ascendant, indolent, self-satisfied Democratic party at the helm is still an existential threat, just not as urgent of one. If there is any chance of salvaging a functional democracy from the government we have now, both threats must be dealt with. At least, that is how I and many others see it. If you can't even acknowledge that we HAVE such concerns, even if you think they're misguided, you're going to do a very poor job persuading any of us indeed. Glitch (talk) 23:14, 1 August 2020 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Can you explain how "an excess of votes for Biden is counterproductive"? — Godless Raven SDAPOe logo.svg talkstalkwalkbalk 🌹 Flag of Europe.svg 23:17, 1 August 2020 (UTC)

Absolutely. Thank you, sincerely, for asking a good and honest question. I think, and I admit I could be wrong, but it jives with what I've observed both in my life time and looking at history, that the more votes for Biden are counted, the more the Democrats (and especially their leadership) will conclude that they have no changes, no reforms they need to make. That everyone loves them and will continue to support them just on the basis of their not being the GOP. That all they have to do to remain in power is stay somewhat noticeably to the left of the GOP, and thereby lock in the support of everyone to the left of the Democrats themselves because in a two party choice there is no viable alternative within the system. In this way, it doesn't matter how far right they themselves go, and in fact it's advantageous because it puts more and more people on their left, who "have" to vote for them, as long as they leave enough gap between themselves and the GOP. I think they've been following this strategy for a very long time, and it's why they have consistently moved to the right over time. If all you're interest in is maintaining political power, it's a very good strategy. Now I don't believe that all Democrats with power are just in it for the power and have no principles. I don't need to believe such a thing to observe that whatever their motivations, their behavior is more and more right wing. Glitch (talk) 23:33, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
Personally I think the stronger the rebuke of Trump, by a clear electoral and popular majority, the better. It would send a clear message that the Republican party and conservatism is on the wrong side of history-Hastur! (talk) 23:36, 1 August 2020 (UTC)
I certainly understand that argument. I am empathetic to it, and I see how you got to that conclusion, even though I arrived at a different one. I'm certainly prepared to go through the details of WHY I arrived at a different conclusion and compare notes with your own reasoning process, if you like, and I think that is exactly the sort of thing that is useful to both of us. If I have made an error, I want to correct it. And if you have made an error, I want to help you correct it. In the end, if approached honestly, I think we both gain value. Glitch (talk) 23:46, 1 August 2020 (UTC)

Here is the deal: No malarkey no more[edit]

the more votes for Biden are counted, the more the Democrats (and especially their leadership) will conclude that they have no changes, no reforms they need to make.

This doesn't seem to resonate with what happened in 2016. Hillary was arguably less on the conservative spectrum of the democratic party than Biden (at least in regards to political positions, as I perceive it); her campaign focused most of their ads on personality attacks against Trump rather than policies. Many people didn't vote for her when the general election came by. What was the conclusion of the democratic party? To go more to the right! If the younger more left leaning people won't vote, why the hell would they try to appeal to them? Not voting only shifts the democratic party to the right. Biden was even more conservative than Hillary in my honest opinion, and that's the conclusion they gathered from the protest voters. Now, what actually changed the democratic party was the ascension of social democratic politicians like AOC and Bernie. Primaries are the best way to shift the democratic party to the left. Compare how the primaries in 2016 were vs. how they were in 2020; much more focused on climate change, policy substance, healthcare proposals. Not voting doesn't signal anything. If you were a democratic party official, you can only read the numbers that were cast; either for R, D, G or L (and maybe C, but eh). There is no guarantee that going more left wing will attract the green party voters and there is no guarantee that going more to the right wouldn't attract libertarian voters. But what does actually inform them is a youth that votes for AOC, Bernie, etc., because that signals to them that there is a large faction in the democratic party that desire a more left-wing and progressive party. This is how the sausage is made: this is realpolitik. Voting "your conscience" doesn't help anyone and it's nonsensical to imply that democrats will care about your protest vote. What they will do instead is blame you for Trump's victory like they did in 2016. If you want to shift the US to the left, there are two methods (which are not mutually exclusive, you can do both):

  1. ) Electorally:
  • Primary conservative democrats; when the general election happens, even if it is a conservative, centre-right democrat, do damage control; vote the fascists (republicans) out.
  1. ) Direct Action:

Anyway, let me know what you think. — Godless Raven SDAPOe logo.svg talkstalkwalkbalk 🌹 Flag of Europe.svg 00:16, 2 August 2020 (UTC)

You know it's funny, I agree with almost everything you just advocated. And I'm already doing it. I didn't get to vote in the 2016 or 2020 primary (I'll skip the reasons why) but I would have if I could have. Instead, even though I live in poverty, I donated $200 to Bernie's campaign. Because, and this is critical to understand, I WANT the solution to our problems to come through the electoral process, even the deeply warped one that we have. If we can swing it, it's much better. I don't think it will, but it's still worth trying! I favor a multi-pronged approach--if there's (for example) a 5% chance that electoral efforts can fix this mess, that's 5% I want in play, not squandered. Now I do think that there's a limit--IF it's only a 5% chance, we shouldn't spend 90% of our resources chasing it. That's just inefficient. But debating how much of the resources to allocate to the existing process is a debate worth having.
In fact, and I want to hammer this point--I do not WANT a revolution. The resources wasted there would be enormous, and it would be extremely dicey what the result would be. My fear is that nothing BUT a revolution has a reasonable chance of real success, of fixing the underlying systemic problems. But that's not immediately relevant. I think the THREAT of a revolution can be a very useful tool to drag the Democrats to the left. After all, that's basically what got us FDR's New Deal, as far as I can tell. And that was by far the most substantial thing the Democratic party has ever done. Minimum wage (etc) didn't happen because the Democrats felt bad for starving folks--it happened because starving folks start bashing heads and there were starting to be a whole LOT of starving folks looking around for which heads to bash. Now maybe I've taken the wrong lessons from history, here. But that's how I see it for now.
You correctly point out that the DNC went further right after 2016, while just insulting everyone who didn't vote Hillary. That's not really in dispute. And you give a reasonable interpretation of WHY that happened. However, there are alternate reasonable explanations as well. Which one is correct? Like most things, it's probably complicated. But because the party has been drifting right consistently long before Hillary was a factor, I'm inclined to think the reason goes much deeper than the circumstances of 2016. I hope you can see why I might suspect that. Glitch (talk) 00:58, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
One book length argument about the causes of the Democratic rightward shift was provided in 2016 by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?. It’s well worth a read and is available as an audiobook as well (narrated by Frank himself). ScepticWombat (talk) 11:21, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
Can you point to a decent summary of the argument made? Ideally I would love to read it, but unfortunately I don't know when I can. Glitch (talk) 18:37, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
It basically points to a takeover by a “professional” class of well educated (or more provocatively “well graduated”) that Frank also denotes as the “10%” (in parallel to the “1%” elite of wealth). He then points to the constant focus on “merit”, whether it be means testing (to be sure that only those who “merit” it receive benefits), education as a panacea, or a hatred of unions (because your standing as a union member doesn’t stem from any particular “merit” other than your membership, unlike the various accolades found in professional associations).
This, to Frank, comes with a built in disdain for ordinary workers who are seen as unworthy of living comfortable lives unless they “earn” them through advanced education. It also includes a wholesale adoption of the US parallel to Margaret Thatcher‘s fatalistic TINA (There Is No Alternative) narrative, which sees “globalisation” and similar developments as necessarily and inexorably entailing the decline of unions (and ultimately the, in this optic well deserved, emiseration of the working class who fail to get proper education).
Frank also connects the emphasis on “professional consensus” and “professional courtesy” to the love of “centrist” Democrats for the broader status quo, conformity, bipartisanship and obsession with “tone” (rather than what we might term “substance”).
Concurrently, you get the almost sickening sycophancy towards and fetishising of “innovation” (often just shortened to “inno”) and a worship of such “innovators” and “entrepreneurs” as those found on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, not coincidentally associated with advanced education and “professionalism” (for a lesson in the brutal reality of Silicon Valley, try Corey Pein’s 2018 book Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley).
This is why, Frank claims, you get Democrats eager to be very progressive on narrowly defined culture war aspects, while abhorring any talk of broader, economic equality, because the former supposedly “levels the playing field” to allow “careers open to talent” to flourish, while the latter “risk” rewarding those who don’t “deserve” it by way of demonstration of “special talent”.
Not coincidentally, this approach also make Democrats very attractive to the “donor class”, which generally doesn’t like economic redistribution, but some of whom like to be feted in the “karma circuit” where they can hang out with various (other) celebrities and talk about how “entrepreneurship” can be used to help impoverished women in the Third World or what have you (you know, the kind of shindigs likely to feature Bono or Malala Yousefsai or whoever is the icon du jour and be hosted by the Clinton Foundation or similar groups).
Frank also cites the personal backgrounds of the two latest Democratic presidents (Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) in furthering this narrative as they were “plucked from obscurity” by “prestigious educational institutions”. Hence they were personally amenable to this view of society, because they themselves had succeeded in it. Similarly, Pete Buttigieg basically embodies all of Frank’s thesis in one person, while another (albeit brief) 2020 primary contestant, Deval Patrick, is covered by Frank (think Buttigieg, but black instead of gay and a generation older) in the book. ScepticWombat (talk) 20:26, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
Wow, thanks for the detailed summary! Most of the accords pretty well with my understanding. The only thing that stands out is this idea of a "takeover"--I think it's more likely the seeds for that were always there, and it progressed over time. But without knowing the details of the claim, I can't begin to really refute it. And, it's somewhat academic anyway. Either way, on a practical level, we need a fundamental shift in AT LEAST the Democratic party. I would say we have to go beyond that to address the systemic issues in the US Constitution that lead to the Democratic party developing in such a way, but that's more debatable. Glitch (talk) 20:53, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
”Takeover” shouldn’t be understood as, say, a hostile takeover in the business sense of the term, but a result of a series of discussions and choices from the 1970s onwards in which the Democratic leadership turned decisively away from the “New Deal coalition”, with its prominent place for labour unions (but also, mind you, for segregationists) and heavily influenced by an idealisation of 1960s and ‘70s student movements as the future of left wing politics.
Frank cites, among other things, the report of the McGovern–Fraser CommissionWikipedia, which, although it brought open primaries, also left no place for unions, which had until then played a key role in internal Democratic Party politics (New Labour later did a similar number on the UK unions, but received a nasty surprise when their version of “open primaries” for party leadership produced Jeremy Corbyn).
Basically, working class politics became associated, at least in the minds of those wishing to change the Democratic Party, with conservatism (e.g. support for the Vietnam War and Nixon, opposition to bussing etc.), while the young and well educated (who were soon to get their own abbreviation as yuppies) were seen as the true vanguard and future of the party. By contrast, the working class was seen as one (deservedly and inevitably) in decline and also cynically viewed as having “nowhere else to go” and thus being irrelevant in terms of need appeal and appeasement by the party.
Later, the idea that “people vote their demographic” (but curiously not one involving class...) led to the wistful notion of the Democratic Party automatically being “the party in the ascendent” because demographic changes would in and of itself make it the majority party, which again became an argument for not turning away from “centrist” policies (because there is no need to change course if demographic destiny has decreed that you will inevitably win, eventually). The mirror image was the cottage culture of “the death of the New Deal coalition” prognostications in the 1970s and ‘80s to bolster the claims that change was necessary.
Frank also points out that these changes had an aspect of a generational conflict as a rebellion against the older, New Deal Democrats. In recent interviews,he has linked the absolute hatred of Bernie Sanders and AOC by “centrist” New Democrats and their like to a sort of fear of a “revenge of history”, as the line of Sanders and AOC deliberately harkens back to the kind of “New Dealism” that the New Democrats have made it their lives’ work to extirpate from the party and especially from setting the party’s course. ScepticWombat (talk) 21:46, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
You're making a suspicious amount of sense, are you sure you're not a Russian plant? Er... Let me put that another way. This all seems to add up to me, which makes me suspect I'm falling prey to confirmation bias. Real truth rarely makes such a clean case for itself, I find. Is there counterevidence to consider? Is there a way we could make this falsifiable, at least in principle? Does anyone out there in reader-land see an obvious flaw that is being overlooked? Glitch (talk) 22:13, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
Of course I am Russian plant, comrade; we in glorious Motherland love to play 21-dimensional chess to break your feeble Western minds! Muahahahahah! ScepticWombat (talk) 01:06, 3 August 2020 (UTC)
Only 21 dimensions? Pshaw, I was worried for nothing. Glitch (talk) 13:14, 3 August 2020 (UTC)

Simple election maths[edit]

The US election system is a pretty good argument to vote in favor of Biden. It's... a bit difficult to explain, but I'll try to put it as straightforward as possible (and hopefully get y'all to understand that it kinda sucks).

First things first, the US election system is First Past The Post. What this means is that when voting, you have one vote for only one candidate. This seems and sounds logical, until you realize that this will incentivize eroding every election until only two parties remain. (Take for a really simple example 5 parties starting out. 1 for each extreme, 2 moderate parties and 1 centrist party. After the first election each extreme party gives up because they're not viable and their more strategic voters simply went to the moderates, after the second the centrist party gives up since the votes for the extremes went into the moderates and now only the 2 moderates remain). This is... really not good, for reasons beyond the current topic. It means that you effectively only get two choices and the rest might as well be pissing in the wind/giving half a vote to the party opposite to you.

So if the goal is to oppose Trump, why not vote for say, Jill Stein, or say write in Bernie Sanders? Well, for the first, what you're doing is essentially causing the spoiler effect. Let me for a moment assume that Trump is the absolute worst outcome. Biden is by no means great (I can find a shitton of issues with Biden, the internet has made that pretty easy), but he's not gonna be as terrible as Trump. So what happens when you vote for Stein? Well, first you voted for an unviable candidate, so that will not get you anywhere this election. Second, you managed to make Trump's victory a bit easier. A fairly small model could be as follows: You have 3 people running for a mayor's seat in a small village, in which 100 people live. The seat is done with first past the post, and everyone votes in their best interests. The results are as follows:

  • Person 1: 43 votes
  • Person 2: 47 votes
  • Person 3: 10 votes

Now, Person 1 really wants to win the election, but he knows that he can't do that if everyone would vote in their favor. So instead, what he's gonna do is badmouth Person 2 in public, and insinuate that Person 2 is mentally unfit to be a mayor. Even if only 6 people in the village think that Person 1 isn't lying and since they'll still have to vote in their best interests, they might as well vote for person 3, you get the following results:

  • Person 1: 43 votes
  • Person 2: 41 votes
  • Person 3: 16 votes

And now Person 1 has won the election, even though the majority of the voters would rather have preferred Person 2 or 3. This is what is known as the spoiler effect. To apply this to Biden, just uh... well, swap some names around here. (Also, for small side reference, the Republican party has this same issue with the Libertarian Party, but since the Republicans have an advantage compared to the dems due to Gerrymandering it's less of an issue for them).

So what about the second reason? Why not just write in Bernie? Well, you get what amounts to a wasted vote for starters. For a vote counter, you might as well have doodled a dick on your ballot and called it a day. Beyond that, you manage to achieve what amounts to the previous version of the spoiler effect, except now the voters for Person 3 aren't even considered in the count. This is far worse, since it means that you haven't just managed to piss away your vote, you also managed to skew the amount of votes needed to win the election, which in the previous example would end up being in favor of Person 1.

There also is the very basic, simple fact that when the Democrats get lower turnouts, Republicans win. This has to do with a few reasons, such as the fact that the average US voter tends to be older (since older people have more free time to be invested in the elections), who as an age group tend to favor Republicans. Democrats rely on the minority vote (which does reliably vote for them, since the alternatives are the Republicans), but need their advantage from well, the workers vote (I hesitate to say the Youth vote, although this would be accurate if we define youth as 18 to 50, which I don't think most of you would agree with). It also has to do with Gerrymandering (linked before) and so on and so forth, which makes it far more crucial for Democrats to turn out for an election than for Republicans since the way the state districts are laid out often tend to favor Republicans.

I will end this on saying that I am not a US citizen, but that from a purely selfish perspective, I would really like to see Trump gone since the man is a walking disaster in the field of international politics, and Biden, for all his faults is at least not a narcissistic idiot who approves China's "re-education" camps. Techpriest (I am Alpharius! / Pencil.png / Tux icon.png / Shield.png) 09:23, 2 August 2020 (UTC)

Thank you for your analysis! It's a nice brief summary of the problems inherent to "First Past The Post". However, it doesn't really apply to this case because it doesn't consider the Electoral College. We don't have a single "First Past The Post" election, we have 50 simultaneous ones. And since most of those 50 elections can be predicted at a very high degree of certainty, it's only those who are going to be participating in elections that are reasonably in doubt that this analysis applies to. Do you see a flaw in my reasoning? Glitch (talk) 18:44, 2 August 2020 (UTC)
Fundamentally, the electoral college doesn't quite change this system. All it does is make the system a bit easier to game for politicians (which is why it sucks), since they only need to focus on a few core states (the "swing states") in order to be able to score their victory. All but two states (Maine and Nebraska) use a more localized version of FPTP and simply award all the electors to the local majority. (Maine and Nebraska reward by congressional district and give their 2 seats to the local majority.) Adding the electoral college only really simply adds a gameable factor since the amount of ratfucking you'd need to do in order to get people to vote for a worse option is much smaller (you'll find much more anti-Biden/anti-Trump ads in the swing states than out of them).
As for the "elections that are reasonably in doubt", the big reason I keep pointing this out is because of two very important reasons. The first is that these states are well, safe for a reason. They have a Democratic majority, but that one can be fragile, most notably in the Rust Belt, which saw Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin turn Red even though the last time they were Red states was in 1988 (the reason for this can be explained due to Clinton's... rather brain dead behavior within regards to the Rust Belt). In essence, pushing writing in unviable candidates or not voting risks those states specifically getting a Republican majority again, which given that those states played a role in Trump's victory is well, a bad thing (right now Biden leads them by a few points in all but Michigan). The second reason is the simple idea of the ripple effect. Yeah, if you're in say, California and you write in Bernie or vote for Stein, who gives a shit right, it's a safe state? The problem comes when you start proclaiming that people should be doing that. People in swing states are on the internet too, they read those messages too. Someone going all "Bernie or Bust"/"if it's not Bernie, I'll vote Green" in a safe state might be harmless, but the resulting effect does bleed through to people in swing states who absolutely cannot take that risk since they're the state where it matters. Techpriest (I am Alpharius! / Pencil.png / Tux icon.png / Shield.png) 11:23, 3 August 2020 (UTC)
That... is a reasonable position. Perhaps more reasonable than my own. Mostly on the strength of the second point. I don't WANT people in the swing states to not vote, and never did. And in the rest, to not vote only in proportion to how 'safe' their state was to either side. My ideal outcome is to have sufficient votes to secure a Biden victory but not an excess of them, so as to goose the Dems into real change. But the general populace isn't capable of that (small) degree of nuance and even if they were, the precision necessary is probably beyond us on a practical level.
I will stop advocating non-voting in this election, because I can't keep that message from influencing those in the swing states. My own vote is still entirely pointless in my state, so I get to keep my conscience intact by not voting.
I still maintain, strongly, that Biden pushers need to abandon this shame and outrage based harassment of non-Biden voters. It doesn't work. At all. In fact, I have no evidence for this, but I suspect there are more non-voters who are pushed to vote for Trump by such tactics than to vote for Biden. That's how incredibly badly it comes off to those being targeted, I can tell you from experience. I would never consider voting for Trump no matter how badly the left treated me, but not everyone is like me.
I'll do what I can to share the danger of influencing swing state voters into not voting among my social circles. Honestly I don't feel good about this though. We are in a car heading for a cliff. Trump and the GOP want to drive directly towards it at 80 mph, Biden and the libs at 30 mph. Neither will even consider changing course. On a personal level I'm already eyeing the door to bail out (trying to move to Sweden), but I have a lot of friends and family who are stuck in the car and even if I didn't, the collateral damage when it goes over will be immense. I thought I had a strategy which offered some small pressure for the libs to turn, at least. But alright, it's too dangerous to be used. What then can be done? How can we force the Dems to be better, because they surely aren't going to suddenly improve on their own? Maybe all that can be done is to prepare for the crash and be ready to pick up the pieces... Glitch (talk) 13:13, 3 August 2020 (UTC)
In my eyes, I think that as long as we run on the assumption that (sadly) First Past The Post isn't going away anytime soon, there are still a few ways to improve the Dems. One of the strongest is by actually getting Progressives in places that make them viable as election candidates and get them worked in the ranks of the Democratic Party. That way they can influence the party platform and push it further to the left. Maybe that feels a lot like working with the enemy, but take a moment to consider that it's already happening. I'll point for this to The Squad (United States Congress)Wikipedia. These are four democratic senators who espouse explicitly progressive policy positions, but also are firmly aligned with the Democratic Party. Contrast them with the historic progressive candidate from 2016 and 2020: Bernie Sanders. Bernie has gone on record several times that he doesn't see himself as a Democrat, which has led to friction between him and members of the Democratic Party, which has pushed his policies and ideas out of the minds of many politicians, and makes his support from the Democratic Party lukewarm at best. The problem is that while progressives certainly always have been a part of the Democratic Party as a base, they never were a part that had to be considered because very few representatives for the progressive side really made their voices known, and who else would they vote for? Republicans?
2020 is in that regard somewhat unprecedented: There were a ton of candidates in the democratic primary, several of whom at least accepted the progressive platform at least in part, with two clear standouts (Warren and Sanders). No matter which way the candidate would end up, the progressives would at least have to be considered. And guess what, they did! While Biden's own platform visibly seemed to initially rely a lot on "remember me from Obama", recently he's been adopting several progressive plans into his platform. Is it somewhat sad that there's no real progressive candidate who would push for their entire platform? Yeah, I'm not gonna lie, it's dissapointing. But the dumb cudgel that a lot of Biden stans like to use: that he's running the most progressive elective platform (not nominated platform) in recent history? There's truth in that.
Sure, he doesn't explicitly run on the big thing that progressives care about, Medicare4All, but he also doesn't run against it either (the thing a lot of Bernie supporters like to use as him claiming he'd veto it is him dodging a question meant to coax something out of him. What he actually said was that as long as it's properly set up and nobody loses their coverage in the transition that he'd accept it, which makes sense. The ACA is something he worked a lot on with Obama and I get that he doesn't want to lose that, hence his push for adding a public option to the ACA. But since well, it's not a resounding "yeah I'm gonna run on M4A", they took it as "Biden is gonna veto M4A".)
On the other hand, he explicitly adopted Warrens education loan forgiveness plans, her suggested increase to social security, her bankruptcy plans and so on. Let me be clear, while they aren't the prize horse that M4A is, these are big wins for progressives, given how they all directly tackle the poverty issues that the US has.
The second thing you can do is at least keep pushing for better life outside of politics. Politics (suprisingly) isn't everything. People are more willing to take your side if you demonstrably can make their lifes better, and you can do a lot of that outside of politics as well. Working in soup kitchens, helping MSF if you're a medical professional, I can think up so much more. Underline that with a general push of "hey, if we vote for this guy, your lives will get better thanks to the government as well" and you can make a lot of progress. It needs to work in tandem with the first part of getting people in place. Politics is in that regard a tool, not the be all end all.
I hope uh that makes sense. Techpriest (I am Alpharius! / Pencil.png / Tux icon.png / Shield.png) 16:31, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
Sort of. You yourself pointed out that progressives have no viable alternative but to vote for the Dems, so the Dems don't need to consider them. The party is filled to the brim with insanely entrenched establishment center-right politicians who are adept at using the rules and procedures (and deep pockets) to hamstring and "outcompete" progressive primary challengers. Okay, so 4 progressives made it into Congress. Out of 535? At that rate we'll all be dead before we see meaningful change. A recent, seemingly reputable poll put support for M4A at 69% in the general populace and 88% among Dems--yet it was rejected 130-something to 30-something from Biden's platform. If a progressive policy is THAT popular and still can't get the party behind it, what does that say about how hostile the Dem leadership is to progressives? And, frankly, "progressive" is the COMPROMISE position. I'm way to the left of "progressive". A lot of us are. Why should we fight tooth and nail in a battle of inches on a battlefield miles long? Is that really the best use of our energy and resources?
Direct action like volunteering is great, but our problems are overwhelming systemic and without systemic solutions we can't even make a dent in them. Even if we could, they'd just come back as strong as ever as soon as we got exhausted fighting them on an individual level. I don't know. I'm trying really hard to believe the situation isn't hopeless, but the preponderance of the evidence seems to suggest that this isn't going to be solved by anything except flipping the whole game board. What a mess. Glitch (talk) 17:38, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
The entrenchment of the democratic party as center right on the international scale of politics is true and an issue, I agree. As far as the "don't need to be considered", as I pointed out right now they do have to be. Sure, the sacred cow of leftist/progressive politics got shoehorned off the table by a bunch of shitty white guys, but at the same time there's a lot of other rather progressive policies that did get in (again, Biden copied a lot of plans from Warren straight up). Just because you didn't get a sacred cow doesn't mean you're not gonna be able to make a steak with your regular cow so to speak. (Unless you're vegan in which case this analogy falls apart.)
Support for M4A and that support not getting reflected in the platform has to do with the fact that the "general populace" mostly isn't the electorate. Rather, "the electorate" is mostly made up of 45+ people. Young people as a general rule aren't turning out for the vote. Even in 2018, the turnout for young people was only 36% contrasted with the over 50% turnout in age groups that are 45+. Unfortunately I cannot find the statistics for who supports medicare by age range, but when I look at say, FiveThirtyEight's analysis of the early Sanders primaries, the demographic support for Sanders does overwhelmingly sway a lot younger, meaning that it's not an unlikely conclusion that M4A for whatever reason doesn't hit well with the elderly who from what I know overwhelmingly supported Biden, who didn't run on that platform.
Progressive as a compromise position is a stance I frankly don't... quite get? Outside of the internet bubble, which more or less gives every political ideology ranging from the nazis to the luxury space communist anarchist [this one is a joke] equal weight in presence, and gives undue presence to loudmouths, most people don't end up super far to the left as you say. It may sound somewhat... banal? But most people end up as either liberals or social democrats (and if you want a real brain teaser, social liberals also exist and are in the space between social democrats and liberals). I get being further to the left in your stances, but do realize that you're existing in the fringes of the spectrum of political ideologies. It might be a compromise to you, but the thing is that if you're only treating it as a compromise, you're not gonna get very far because a compromise demands your beliefs have the weight to be an issue. Progressivism on the other hand isn't a fringe mindset (since it overlaps highly with social democrats and social liberals) and encompasses a much wider set of beliefs that make it a stance that can really put it's weight on the discussion table when challenged.
I agree that you need systemic changes for systemic problems. The problem is that systemic changes are well, slow, especially in a country the size of the US. It might be easy to overlook, but the US is the size of a fucking continent. What this means is that when you deal with an issue as large as healthcare, it's gonna take a while to get that support in the mainstream. For a look on the other end, consider the election of Trump. Trump is a symptom of a larger problem (I'm not the first one to point this out), and is the specific product of the Republican Party's past decades of eroding social safety nets (which more or less started with Nixon and got into full swing under Reagan) in order to push racist rethoric, to keep the rich richer and to demonize the Democratic party (as well as a good deal of flubbing from Clinton in 2016, again not ignoring that, but the guy got the Republican nominee for a reason). If you want to mainstream an idea, it's gonna take a few decades to get there. Medicare4All as a plan has existed since only 2003, and one can reasonably say that support for it only really kicked off in 2016 when the average public started hearing it because Bernie Sanders made it a major policy position. The ACA, maligned as leftists find it is a decent stepping block to getting that support there. It might be painful to hear, but you wouldn't have support for Medicare4All if the ACA didn't exist.
As for the question as to why you should fight tooth and nail instead of "flipping the board" (which I take as a desire for a revolution)? Frankly, I think a large part of it is that most people don't really want a revolution. Life isn't great for a lot of people right now, sure, but most can still get the money to feed their families and live in their houses. Yeah, life sucks, but it's not reaching the point where people literally aren't able to eat anymore. Revolutions need that support from the general populace to work, otherwise they just get squashed. Creating the conditions for a revolution I would consider neglection to the point of it being an artrocity, accelerationism is a terrible ideology.
Those are just my 0.02, perhaps you disagree, perhaps you don't. Techpriest (I am Alpharius! / Pencil.png / Tux icon.png / Shield.png) 12:54, 5 August 2020 (UTC)
Well, you asserted that the Dems now have to take the progressives into account--but I don't think you sufficiently supported that assertion for me to agree with it. Again, as your yourself said, what are progressives going to do if they don't? Vote GOP? They only have to dangle the prospect of meaningful change in front of them enough to keep them from abandoning electoralism entirely, they have no need of actually delivering anything at any point. 4 progressives in Congress is hardly a force to be reckoned with. M4A is only the first, least controversial and easiest reform we desperately need. If we can't even get that...
I say progressives, which I mostly peg as social democrats, ie proponents of welfare capitalism as exemplified by the Nordic model, are the compromise position because it's as far left as you can go while remaining fundamentally capitalist. I know a fair few people who won't even support it, because anything that isn't fundamentally socialist is just kicking the can down the road. Honestly I agree it's kicking the can down the road, but I think at this point we could get a lot of value out of space to breathe. Now, to the best of my knowledge, we are all subject to bias that makes us overestimate the amount of people who agree with us and the degree to which they agree with us. Furthermore, we tend towards self-selecting to interact with those who are most like us. So I try not to put a lot of faith in conclusions derived from my own estimations of the feelings of my social circle. That said... Over the last 20 years, the people in my social circle have consistently and dramatically moved to the left. There are a couple of outliers that went to the right and are no longer part of my social circle, but I grew up in a deep red state and was raised right wing, and virtually all of my social circle 20 years ago was firmly right wing. Of those same people, I think only a couple could be described as liberals. Everyone else is at LEAST progressive if not further left than that. Obviously in 20 years my social circle has expanded as well, and overall I would say the two biggest categories are anti-authoritarian socialists and social democrats. Maybe 40%/40% with the remaining 20% being everything else. And I'm not talking about internet buddies, but rather people I met and formed relationships with personally, in meatspace here in the deep red South. Yeah, it's not a random sample by any means so it's not scientific and is of limited utility, but it does IMPLY to me that maybe socialism only seems like a fringe position because the giant media conglomerates that define "respectable" public discourse have a vested interest in making it seem that way.
Universal healthcare was not an idea that sprang into being with M4A, and it's been not just discussed but implemented by many many countries, decades ago. As far as I know, not one of those countries has reversed course and went back to anything like our model. It's not remotely radical. Again, if we can't even get the Dems to give the idea lip service, we are well and truly fucked. We have much harder reforms that we MUST achieve, and soon, or the US is done for. We don't have decades to waste on "mainstreaming" M4A.
Sometimes in frustration I might express something which can reasonably be taken as desire for revolution... But except for moments of unreasoning anger, trust me when I say I sincerely hope we DON'T have a revolution. The concept is frightening enough to keep me up at night. What I meant by flipping the board is using the THREAT of a revolution to force a new Constitutional Convention and redesign the government from scratch. A realized revolution would be... very bad. Not as bad as continuing on as we have been. But the next down the line. I believe in the principle of least harm, which means doing what I can to address the critical problems we have in the least harmful manner that is still sufficient to the task. I'm on the fence as to how much effort to spend on salvaging the Democratic party into something actually useful to stave off catastrophe. It would be the least harmful solution, but is it sufficient to the task? And what are the odds it can be done? I don't know.
Some things I agree with, some things I don't, but I generally get more value out of being exposed to ideas that I disagree with, anyway. Reaching a consensus is nice, when possible, but I find the healthiest way to conceptualize the goals of a discussion like this is not in terms of who can be convinced of what, but rather (ideally) giving each participant more knowledge than they had before and allowing them to improve their reasoning, not worrying about what conclusion they use that knowledge and reasoning to come to. I believe that with more knowledge and better reasoning the conclusion will be improved as a matter of natural consequence. If my own conclusion is faulty, I would much rather be made to see that and hence change it, as opposed to convincing someone else of my faulty conclusion. The former is a service to me, the latter a horror. Glitch (talk) 17:36, 5 August 2020 (UTC)

Didn't "Liberals" Lose[edit]

I preface this by saying, that as my moniker states, I identify as liberal, both in the classic and the American sense. Didn't support or vote for either of the final two candidates in the 2020 Democratic Primary (Warren was my choice). But something I've noticed amongst the internet's and a wee bit on this platform, is that liberals need convincing to support Biden. Now besides all the other arguments that many others are making (i.e. It is binary choice and not choosing Biden is the same as supporting Trump, Biden and Trump are not actually equivalent, choosing a protest vote is a firm of privilege that many underrepresented groups cannot make), I wish to make a pure argument on one thing alone: Biden won the argument.

Among the 20 or so candidates that ran on the Dem side, it is safe to say that 3/4's of them embraced a host of wildly liberal positions. Though Bernie was still to the left of virtually everyone, save Biden, Bloomberg, Klobouchar and Buttigiege, moved hard to the left. And that message resonated with NH and NV (close in IA but not quite), but almost every other state after SC supported Biden. The clear thing I would point out, is that Biden firmly plants himself in the center of the Democratic party, where honestly, most Democrats are. And while liberals and leftists moved to the left, they have shifted the party, and the center of the party to the left. Biden has the opportunity to be the most policy progressive president since LBJ and FDR. If you hope to shape the Democratic party, and indeed move it to the left, your voice is required in the party, but failing to vote for Biden, excludes your involvement at all. -RipCityLiberal (talk) 22:23, 4 August 2020 (UTC)

First of all... The argument that not supporting Biden is tantamount to supporting Trump is flatly false. By that same logic, not support Trump is tantamount to supporting Biden. So by not supporting either you're really supporting both of them? Who knew you could vote for both candidates by choosing not to vote for either?
I'm also pretty confident you're incorrect that "failing to vote for Biden, excludes your involvement at all". I didn't vote for Hillary in 2016 (missed the registration deadline for the state I was living in at the time, among other reasons, like the fact that state was Texas so it would've been pointless on the face of it), and yet by donating a significant sum (for me) to Bernie's primary campaign I'm pretty sure I was still involved in the party. Can you support your assertion that voting for Biden is a necessary precondition to being involved in the Democratic party? It would seem given that we have a secret ballot, no one can verify how I voted at all, so I'm not sure how it can prevent me from participating if I didn't do it the "right" way. Glitch (talk) 00:34, 5 August 2020 (UTC)
Not gonna butt in for the rest, "not supporting Biden is tantamount to suporting Trump" is based on the election maths thing + spoiler effect. Just saying. Techpriest (I am Alpharius! / Pencil.png / Tux icon.png / Shield.png) 13:22, 5 August 2020 (UTC)
From my perspective, the strategy for this election IMHO has to be to straight-ticket Democrat vote, in order to send a clear rebuke to the 1/3 of the country that actually want white nationalist authoritarianism, and have taken over the Republican Party. The type that actually cheered on goons beating up / tear gassing / whisking people away in Portland because, to them, Portland is Not Truly America for some reason. I also am of the opinion that America will be severely harmed if this crowd gets more power than just Trump's wannabe authoritarianism -- hell, Trump's done a lot of damage already, but it could get worse.
I don't mind if this makes some strange bedfellows. Yes, the Lincoln Project attack ads are from a bunch of Reagan / Bushites, I've heard complaining about this from some lefties due to these being the same folks who created the strategy that created Trump in the first place. This is not wrong, but Trump is *far* more dangerous then the Dubya crowd ever was, and if some now see just what the end game of this sort of strategy is, well, I welcome those that realize the error of their ways. At this point, the Republican party needs to be purged of this element. A strong electoral rebuke might do it.
Places which are progressive can elect progressive Democrats in the primary. That's happened in several places. Not everywhere is progressive, keep that in mind. But at least moderate Democrats and progressive Democrats will talk to each other. Trump Republicans at this point will stonewall pretty much anything. Joe Biden's agenda includes a minimum wage increase to $15/hr, improvements in access to education, health care improvements (which have been modest so far, but with COVID-19 showing just how shitty this country is regarding health care, who knows), improvements in climate change, union organization, immigration, etc. Maybe not always as far as the progressives wants it, but without taking back all three chambers, what will happen is nothing. And I haven't even gotten to the Supreme Court yet...
Incidentally I also think this same applies at a state and local level, unless the Republican is unusually not following the national party trend of embracing Trump style bullshit. Soundwave106 (talk) 15:11, 5 August 2020 (UTC)
@Glitch When I refer to influencing the Democratic party, my primary argument is getting people in the room to decide on policies, like the unity platform [1]. And you are missing the critical point, the choice for president is binary. And it isn't enough to not vote for Trump, you have to vote for Biden. Trump is already governing with a minority, failing to support Biden, helps Trump.
@Soundwave106 I feel is spot on here. The entire Democratic party has moved to the left, so the center of the Democratic party is to the left of what it was. The Lincoln Project serves the purpose of allowing Biden to avoid going negative, and as Republican operatives they know how to target messaging to those type of voters. I think Republican Voters Against Trump is more helpful[2], they make their message more personal. But they need to be challenged if they try going back to the same bullshit after 2020. Hopefully they all have the epiphany that Stuart Stevens had.[3] -RipCityLiberal (talk) 16:03, 5 August 2020 (UTC)
Not voting at all is more helpful to Trump than voting for Biden, sure, that's trivially obvious. But it's also trivially obvious that not voting at all is more helpful to Biden than voting for Trump, for the exact same reason. Saying the neutral position is "supporting" Trump, even though it is by definition neutral and supporting both equally, is at BEST misleading. Yes, yes, I've already been converted on the matter of supporting Biden. But that doesn't mean I have to give a pass to poorly reasoned and bullying arguments on the topic even if I agree with the conclusion. If you're confident in your conclusion, you don't need to lead other people there with fallacies.
Yes, I'm certainly aware of the argument that sending the clearest anti-Trump message possible is the best strategy. And it might be. But defeating Trump and the GOP is not enough. Necessary but not sufficient. We have to go much, much further than that. And I fear that a reactionary whole-hearted embrace of the Dems jeopardizes everything ELSE we have to do. We can't threaten the Dems with voting for the GOP, obviously. So the only threat we have against them is to not vote at all. If we abandon that, they rightly conclude that we can be safely ignored as voters. Of course, they already pretty much do that and have for decades. So clearly they're unlikely to suddenly start caring now. I don't know. This is all probably pointless. I should just focus on getting me and mine the hell out before it goes critical mass, and hope the rest of the world can survive the violent collapse of the United States. Glitch (talk) 17:55, 5 August 2020 (UTC)

Democracy is not a binary choice[edit]

First of all, I have to say that ScepticWombat's book report won this debate, handily. I learned so much. So my contribution is going to be a pale shadow of that greatness.

This reply is going to focus on the hidden, second question of this debate. Alternate strategies for winning politics other than voting for Biden.

I understand the frustration. You feel trapped in a box of a binary choice. Which gives you no power, and no ability to do anything. I don't know of any problem that can be solved with a single bit flip. So we need to do some engineering.

There is a common misunderstanding that people have over what democracy is. Democracy is not a system that grants you the right to vote for a politician. It is a system that places the people at the head of the government. Thus, there are four great democratic rights.

One. You have the right to vote in your democratic representative.

Two. You can phone up your representative and shout at them angrily. (Don't actually do this.) After all, they are your lawyer, representing you in the government. Or maybe E-mail.

Three. Like your boss can storm into your cubicle when they learn about something bad you did and yell at you, you can storm over to the town hall and yell at your government when you learn something bad they did. Bring some big signs and megaphones.

Four. You can talk to other people, on social media, or form a meatspace community. You can influence their opinions, or they can influence yours. Form a new consensus. Then go out and do things to force the government to recognise your position. A couple examples I heard recently are people filling in pot holes themselves embarrassing the government that they didn't do it, and fixing a playground themselves, embarrassing the government that they didn't do it. This will get you a lot of political capital.

Five. In the US, you also get a bunch of important down ballot decisions on election day. Some of them might even be situationally more important than the president decision.

Next we need to talk about strategy for taking back the American democracy. I can identify four things to target, that will help.

One. Money. Money is always enemy number one. Get as much money as possible out of politics.

Two. Jerrymandering. Get square districts back. Otherwise, it's the politicians who ultimately decide who gets elected. I might even personally propose getting rid of districts altogether, but the world's not ready for that.

Three. This one is a guess on my part. There are some cultural problems in the US. For example, the tendency to speak with great confidence about what one has not studied at all. Who's to say how much impact this has had on the US economy?

Four. We have learned from the great wars that democracy always carries the risk of fascism. Thus, keep your antifa club sharpened and at the ready in your closet.

Last, I want to address a point on whether the democratic party is a writeoff. No group is a monolith. It is a collection of individuals, and you can individually replace them by voting them out, often in primaries. Though, it makes it very hard to defend them when they decide to vote as a monolith. Tulpa001 (talk) 14:25, 15 September 2020 (UTC)