Stranger in a Dagland

    I'm currently reading Stranger in a Strange Land, by Heinlein, and ran across this gem:

      "Jubal, are you saying I ought not to criticize the administration?"

      "Nope. Gadflies are necessary. But it's well to look at the new rascals before you turn your present rascals out. Democracy is a poor system; the only thing that can be said for it is that it's eight times as good as any other method. Its worst fault is that its leaders reflect their constituents—a low level, but what can you expect? So look at Douglas and ponder that, in his ignorance, stupidity, and self-seeking, he resembles his fellow Americans but is a notch or two above average. Then look at the man who will replace him if his government topples."

      "There's little difference."

      "There's always a difference! This is between 'bad' and 'worse'—which is much sharper than between 'good' and 'better.'"

    I'm not sure if I completely agree with that last sentence, but I find it an interesting claim, nonetheless. I really appreciated this bit however for all of the important points it makes:

    • Gadflies are necessary.
    • Democracy has flaws.
    • Democracy is better than the alternatives.
    • Our leaders reflect us.
    • There is an important distinction between 'bad' and 'worse'.


    Any book with a protagonist named Michael Smith is A-OK with me.  

    There may be little difference in the rascals we replace with other rascals, but as the French would say, Vive la Difference.  It's within that tiny range of difference that everything doable gets done.

    It's funny, since I typed it up, but when I read that, I missed that he was comparing the difference between 'bad' and 'worse' to the difference between 'good' and 'better'. In my mind, I thought he was comparing the difference between 'bad' and 'worse' to the difference between 'good' and 'bad', which is why I said I wasn't entirely sure I agreed. Now that I've properly grokked (a word brought to us by that very book) what he's saying, I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment.

    I just had to look up the word grokked the other day.  It is used often in the science community.  Now I know were it came from.  

    8 times better.

    I look at two states, and those states involve Wisconsin and Minnesota.

    Minnesota expanded voting for the masses and Wisconsin has attempted to limit voting.

    Hell, Minnesota has a limited amount of 'minorities' and Wisconsin has far less 'minorities' than Southern states.

    But the hate is there.

    Wisconsin decided to hurt the poor and the disenfranchised and governmental workers and...

    Minnesota went the other way, thanks to the genius of Governor Dayton.

    Minnesota cut its debt and Wisconsin increased its debt.

    Minnesota cut its unemployment and Wisconsin increased its unemployment.

    The right wing hurts people in this 'democracy'. 

    It is sooooo very clear to me.

    But republican/democracy is all we have available.

    More people will purchase the products of Tide and McDonalds and Taco Bell when the ads run.

    And more folks will vote for the 'bad people' when they are inundated with political ads.

    I have no answer.

    We just must pursue the advertising markets in order to pursue the better course.

    God bless Minnesota and God bless America.


    What we see is the combination of a binary electoral system with the matters of degree built into humanity. 

    As we are set up, one or the other of the two major participants in an election will win.  Third parties muddy the waters, and more often than not function as spoilers, drawing protest votes away from one side or the other.  (See Perot, Ross, and Nader, Ralph as illustrative examples.)

    To pretend otherwise is, at this point in our history, foolishly naive.

    So if Bernie Sanders, a Senator I respect, does run in 2016, I hope he has a solid enough grasp on both reality and, more importantly, his adherents, to urge, in the strongest possible terms, that they do in fact choose disappointment over malevolence once he falls short of the nomination.

    A President Clinton may not be my ideal, still, the damage a President Paul, Rubio, Cruz, or other denizen of the right-wing clown car would do would be absolutely catastrophic.

    And yes, a choice between disappoointment and catastrophe is not anyone's ideal, still, we always need to start from where we are.  And legislative elections, both at the Congressional and state levels, are far more significant than most people seem to take notice of, which is the failure of our system. 

    The world is indeed run by those who show up, and the nation by those they elect.

    I would argue that the binary electoral system is an effect rather than the cause. The cause, IMNSHO, is our voting system. What we need is some sort of ranked voting system so as to allow instant run-offs. That way, you can vote that you prefer President Sanders, then President Clinton, then President Satan (I josh), and finally President Romney (or whoever the Republican candidate is). Then, assuming that Clinton and Romney end up as the top two candidates, your vote of Clinton over Romney still stands.

    Alas, ranked voting is possibly too complicated for our electorate. (sigh)

    The binary electoral system is the reality.

    Working with it is what we have to do, irrespective of our feelings/hypotheses.

    Improvement is thus set up to happen, if at all, as a matter of degree rather than instantaneous change.

    And there is a problem inherent in the binary model that third-party candidates, and their supporters, tend to overlook: 

    No one builds a house from the roof-peak down.

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