Obedience to the state

Discussion in 'Faith, Devotion & Formation' started by bwallac2335, Oct 25, 2021.

  1. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    The electoral college is necessary to prevent regional fictionalized. If the president was elected on a straight popular vote he would cater to a handful of major cities and ignore the rest of the country, basically disenfranchizing large swaths of the nation. Much like the Great Compromise, which created 2 houses of Congress, one which was popularly elected and distributed based on population, the other which gave equal representation among the states; the president government through 2 election, the general presidential preference election and the electoral College, to balance democracy with equality among states.

    Two reforms I would like to see would be 1) the replacement of the winner-take-all system with a proportional system of divvying out electoral Ccollege votes; and 2) offering instant runoff, where you list your favorite secondary choices in descending order.
     
  2. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    The Electoral College is fine as long as it produces the same result as the national popular vote. (The alternative assumes that some votes arbitrarily count for more than others.) Its symbolic function in our system is analogous to that currently had by the Royal Family in the British system, i.e., by adding a degree of reverence and unifying mystique to the result of a hardball political process. The notion that a national popular vote system would be subject to the whim of the major metropolitan areas is mathematically impossible. The support of a large number of rural and suburban voters would still be necessary to cross the 50% threshold in that scenario. As a matter of fundamental justice, the rural vs. urban argument is entirely irrelevant. It doesn’t matter where people live; it matters what they want. Republicans don’t like the idea of a national popular vote for an entirely self-serving reason: the current system makes it possible for them to win a majority of Electoral College votes on the basis of only about 42% of the popular vote; the majority of the country could vote against their candidate and yet their candidate would still win. The simple fact is they would be unelectable at the national level (for the Presidency) if it were a simple matter of just counting the votes cast.

    If we’re going to have a presidential system, the example of Latin America demonstrates conclusively that the adoption of proportional representation would further weaken the legislature (by fragmentation) in relation to the executive and would ultimately result in regime collapse. There is no need (or even place) for instant run-off in a proportional system, since in the latter there is more than one seat per district. The ideal arrangement for a federal republic is the German system rather than the American one, or a unicameral proportional-parliamentary system for unitary nations like New Zealand.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2021
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  3. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I am not really sure that the 1688/9 Bill of Rights could be seen to be providing Australians with freedom of Speech. The Bill of Rights appears to give members of parliament freedom of speech. We have generally accepted that as a signatory to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Australians have a right to expect that such freedom will be accorded them.

    The US Constitution is remarkable for many things including meaningful language and succinctness. I think that the First Amendment to the US Constitution should be in every Constitution. The Second Amendment, which seems to be more loved by US citizens is something I could live without.

    The problems of Constitutions is that they are drawn up for an unknown future. I believe our High Court has taken some interpretations so far as to redefine (and thereby essentially change) things in the Constitution which is not something that are charged to do.

    As Australians we act like we have free speech, and in the main we do, and it would be difficult to imagine a court not upholding. Clearly there are some limitations to free speech, such as Discriminatory Speech, Slander and the like.

    The thing that concerns me about the US System is that people seem to spend a long time fighting each other and then become running mates. I think the systems does a lot lf damage to good people.
     
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  4. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It’s because of the second amendment that we have the first.

    When we say we have freedom of speech, we aren’t asking.
     
  5. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Yet the victims of second amendment rights seem to be deprived of their first amendment right!
     
  6. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I think that's an unfair characterization because the electoral college can cut both ways depending on the circumstances. It may have benefited the GOP recently, but it may benefit the Dems in the near future. It's not possible to predict. Our founders put the electoral college into place for reasons they considered important. Any debate on whether it has outlived its usefulness should be based on an analysis of those reasons and what changes may have occurred to minimize them over time, not on partisanship.
     
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  7. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    No one is victimized by a right. People have been victimized by people of violence, ill will, hatred, etc., but the firearm was just the tool of the perpetrator. Those tools are used for good more often than for evil, as our founders knew they would be. Fundamentally, the firearm is an extension of a person's right of self defense.
     
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  8. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    I read recently that people are 6 times more likely to be killed by their own government than by an enemy nation.
    We must remember that governments are the greatest mass murderers in history.

    Randy England points out in Free is Beautiful :

    "Even war cannot match the most prolific murderers of history: government against its own citizens. R.J. Rummel, in Death by Government, estimated that in the 20th-century, mass murder, genocide and political murder by government caused the death of more than 212 million souls, not including combat deaths. While other scholars give lower estimates of the number of killings by Communist regimes (60–100 million vs. Rummel’s 148 million), the numbers are still staggering."
    I bring that up to make the point why the 2nd Amendment is so important to Americans now and was so important to the founding fathers, who had just thrown off the shackles of an unsympathetic monarch. An armed, vigilant citizenry is the most effective check against tyranny and, therefore, the best defense of liberty.
     
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  9. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I agree, but the Electoral College established by the Framers is also not the Electoral College that exists today. It’s been officially amended heavily, and it serves a very different purpose from what they envisioned. The Founders and Framers also didn’t envision universal suffrage, but I would hope the vast majority of my fellow countrymen would not want to turn the clock back on that. Extension of the franchise changed everything. I think the Electoral College in principle serves a useful purpose, but it loses all legitimacy when it defies the popular vote. It would be like the British Monarch refusing to appoint the leader of the parliamentary majority as Prime Minister. Ceremonies and symbolic acts have their place. We Anglicans, of all people, understand that aspect of human nature. :cheers:
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2021
  10. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    GunDeathsByCountry.jpg

    I was not assuming that anyone had been victimised, simply that it seems a number of people die as a result of gunfire. and as such might be described as victims. Numbers of these are of course suicides, and I am well aware that there are many other ways a determined soul might go about that. None the less the difference in the numbers between the five jurisdictions shown here might indicate that the right to bear arms is indeed a costly privilege.

    I am not sure what conclusions to draw from your argument. Is it that you have proportionally more people of ill-will that the other countries? Does this mean that there is an amazing amount of good being accomplished in the United States that we are unaware of? Or is it that ill-will is reasonably distributed across all five countries, and in those places where people of ill-will have ready access to firearms, they use them for ill-purposes more often?

    Government in each of these countries is the only organisation permitted to take money under false pretences! I think I understand why the 2nd Amendment came to be, and of course that was valid and licit. Naturally enough, it was not drafted with the kind of supercharged high powered weaponry that is available today. And please understand that people have firearms in Australia, for good purpose, and there is a range of safety issues involved in getting a licence and how you care for your weapon. We have something like 8 guns per 100 people, and the US has something like 120 guns per 100 people.
     
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  11. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    The pro-Constitution party in the 1780s - the so-called “Federalists” - did not want a Bill of Rights. Hamilton believed the very existence of such an enumerated list would serve as a pretext for infringing those rights. It’s hard to argue that history hasn’t shown his fear to have been well founded. The Anti-Federalists, following the classical republican tradition, did not trust professional, permanent militaries. They felt that the national defense was the proper duty and responsibility of all able-bodied citizens. State-run militias, organized and maintained at the local level, and answerable to the State governors except in time of war or insurrection would, the Anti-Federalists believed, remove any need to ever maintain a professional, standing army. The Federalists disagreed with this, but nevertheless agreed to support the 2nd and 3rd Amendments if the Anti-Federalists would support the new Constitution, which dramatically increased the power of the national government beyond what it had possessed under the Articles of Confederation. A militia system assumes that its members keep their weapons at home and then bringing them when reporting for drill. The experience of Lexington and Concord taught them that a hostile force cannot seize an armory if there is no armory to seize. By the 1820s, however, the mobility of American society in general, rapid urbanization, and the constant westward movement of the national borders, rendered the old militia system obsolete. While the 2nd Amendment certainly assumes that members of the general population would form the militia and that these members would keep their weapons at home, the parts of the Constitution that protect the keeping of such weapons as property are the 4th and 5th Amendments, not the 2nd and 3rd. They are not held under license, as they are by contrast in the UK, Australia, Israel, and elsewhere. They are private property and are protected by very strict due process requirements. The main way the government can intervene in this area is via regulation of new sales, which falls under the powers granted to Congress under the Commerce clause of Article 1. The ability of law-abiding citizens to own, possess, and control weapons that conform to the requisite legal standards is protected both legislatively and judicially as an individual right, and that’s probably never going to change.

    That being said, there are plenty of areas where reform and improvement are feasible, necessary, and warranted. People should not be allowed to carry in public without a permit. Carrying in public should be concealed; only officers of the law should be allowed to carry openly. Safe storage should be mandated. In the abstract, limiting the number of firearms one may own and the amount of ammunition one may possess are reasonable goals that do not infringe the right.

    We as a society also have a major mental health problem (and more specifically a men’s mental health problem), that has intersected with the liberalization of our firearm laws to produce an unacceptably high suicide rate. That needs to be addressed. In terms of homicides, however, America is nowhere close to being the chief offender. It is also unrealistic to compare the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, which are all island nations, to a country like the US that has both porous land borders and a far larger population. The range of possible legislative remedies is far narrower in the US than in those other countries.
     
  12. ZachT

    ZachT Well-Known Member

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    I think that's a silly claim. The US is at no risk of regime collapse. Ireland, Portugal, India - all examples of proportionally represented presidential democracies. The US is not less stable than India. The Presidential system is inherently unstable, that the US has lasted so long with its system shows you've got the foundation to keep a country together.

    There must be instant-runoff voting in a proportional system - anything less creates a fundamentally flawed proportional system vulnerable to strategic voting. Voters need to be able to indicate their preference for the system to work without flaws, and there's absolutely no logical reason to not allow them to express that preference. Proportional FPTP systems are outdated, and they should be removed everywhere they remain in Europe. Ironically the great flaw with the New Zealand MMP system is that they don't have preferential voting, and it's something they constantly debate reforming (they even had a referendum to remove the whole thing because of it). In New Zealand you have twisted campaign tactics where candidates actually tell voters to vote for another candidate - that wouldn't happen with an instant-runoff system. I don't think MMP (that being the German/New Zealand system) would work very well in the US, you're too divided (I understand that's why it was brought in, but they also split Germany into separate parts, had the Allies military run the country initially, and purged the Nazis from the system). Any stable reform would need to bring proportionality and compromise in gradually.

    If you want an example of a proportional and preferential voting system you can look at Tasmania's Hare-Clark System. It's quite old (it was brought in, in 1909 - well before proportional voting was a norm) and could do with improvement, I'm sure another country has a more modern implementation.

    If I was made supreme dictator for a day in the US I would keep your current single-member districts, but remove state legislature control of district boundaries (abolishing gerrymandering), abolish the electoral college and implement an instant-runoff preferential voting system. This would go a very long way to removing some of your radical partisan divide without totally upending your political traditions, and relegate to electoral obscurity the elements of the Democrats and Republicans that send people crazy. Then your extremist social-left and right could stop infecting the rest of the world with your insane political exports. Might even solve the schism in the Episcopal Church too.
     
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  13. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Proportioning the number of electors according to the popular vote in a state (rather than winner-take-all) seems much more fair. No state actually does that AFAIK; the (couple of) states which aren't winner-take-all proportion the electors by a district system rather than by straight percentage of vote received in the state as a whole, and I've read that the district system could encourage gerrymandering of district lines.

    The question in my mind is, if all the states divide their electors up to the candidates by the percentage of popular vote in their state, is there even a significant difference between that result and what would happen in a purely popular vote (no electoral college) system?
     
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  14. ZachT

    ZachT Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. Then you really should just abolish it, it's just a popular vote election with more steps.
     
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  15. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    @Botolph I agree that the technology has changed over the last 2 centuries but the premise underlying the Amendment has not.

    "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."

    As Supreme Court Justice Alito put it in his 2010 opinion (McDonald v. Chicago), the individual right to keep and bear arms is "the central component" of the fundamental right to self-defense and the American ideal of liberty from government infringement.
     
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  16. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Well, seems to me that the suicidal Americans prefer to use a gun, while the suicidal Aussies like to use a rope (hanging), but the effect is the same.

    As for how many people of ill will there may be, this review of murder rates is somewhat indicative, I suppose. Australia seems to have an amazingly low number of murders. The US is relatively high in comparison to Australia, but relatively low compared to Mexico, Brazil, China, and some others. It's all relative. I don't think we can correlate it very well to firearms availability, though; how many Chinese citizens own guns?

    As for "supercharged, high powered weaponry," it's not as though US citizens have the right to carry bazookas, bombs, or .50 Barrett full-automatics. Maybe that's because those types of weapons aren't very practical for self defense. A 9mm semi-auto is hardly what I'd call "supercharged" or "high powered," and that's what most people seem to carry around in the US. I'm willing to conjecture that if our founding fathers had possessed pistols with 8 or 12 round magazines, semi-auto shotguns, and AR .223 rifles, the 2nd Amendment would still have passed; but I suppose we'll never know for certain.
     
  17. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." -- Mao Zedong

    We don't want to wind up like the Chinese people. Or the Russian people. Or the Jews who lived in Germany under Hitler's regime.
     
  18. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I can’t fathom why you would think that conclusions drawn from mainstream political science and comparative constitutional analysis are “silly”. Let’s get the facts straight first. For starters, India does not use proportional representation, and neither India nor Ireland are presidential republics. The head of government/executive in both countries is a prime minister who both commands and is dependent upon a stable parliamentary majority to remain in office. Israel and Germany also have presidents yet neither is a presidential system. France and Russia both have prime ministers yet neither is a parliamentary system. Portugal and France both have a split Executive, and the latter uses a double ballot system (i.e., “two-round”), rather than PR. The only presidential systems that have used proportional representation for their legislatures are in Latin America, and every single one of them has experienced regime collapse at least once. Turkey just adopted the same system a few years ago and we all see how well that’s going. In fact, the US is the only mature presidential democracy that hasn’t (yet) experienced regime collapse - at least not since 1861, the beginning of the bloodiest conflict in our history to date - though we did fail to peacefully transfer power 10 months ago, which, although not regime collapse, means we have now failed a critical benchmark to be considered a stable democracy at all. A significant portion of the American population does not want majority rule and does not believe in the democratic process. You’re welcome to explain to me how democracy in such a scenario is sustainable. Those of us who have studied history and political science enough to actually recognize what we’re seeing right in front of us have been observing the slow-motion destruction of everything we took for granted a mere decade earlier. What’s actually happening over here has no analogue in today’s Australia. “Silly”? Hardly…
     
  19. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Dunno, I think maybe Brandon... I mean, Biden could manage to collapse his own regime all by himself! :facepalm:

    No, it wouldn't. That would require a miracle from on high! :p
     
  20. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    The US is not a democracy and has never pretended to be. It is a constitutional republic. It was founded by people who were distrustful of "mob rule", and let only one house of one of the three branches of government be chosen directly by the people. The rest were either appointed or elected indirectly.

    That distrust of democracy has led the US to become one of the longest surviving and most stable republican forms government.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2021
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