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Hackernoon logoIs the United States the Best Democracy in the World? by@Limarc

Is the United States the Best Democracy in the World?

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@LimarcLimarc Ambalina

Editor @Hackernoon by day, VR Gamer and Anime Binger by night

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In this Slack discussion, Dane, Austin, Linh, and Jamie Finney educate me on the intricacies and faults of the US democratic system.

This informative conversation occurred in Hacker Noon's official #slogging-beta channel, and has been edited for readability.

Lead image is courtesy of Aaron Burden on Unsplash.

LimarcNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Is the United States the best Democracy in the World?

DaneNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

The US might not be a Democracy in 12 hours.

austinNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

the us isn’t even the best democracy on this continent. i think canada has us beat at this point, easily

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Lol

DaneNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

As far as I know, all democracies are representative democracies which minimize the power of individuals and maximize the power of special interest groups with deep pockets.

Jamie FinneyNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

A quick but relevant distraction on this question

LimarcNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

I know it seems like I added this ironically, but I think the discussion is relevant and important.

Some people do believe America is the best country in the world. I think at Hacker Noon we want to democratize publishing and we should also make people comfortable to voice these opinions.

To make change in people’s minds, we need real conversation without judgements.

DaneNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

With the representative democracy in the US, citizens participate about once every 2 years. I find this to be absolutely unacceptable.

Paticipation should be continuous and as frictionless as possible.

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Limarc of course it’s an important question and i don’t want to minimize it. However, in no way is the US a good democracy, even relatively to others. For one, in the past 6 or so elections, most people have voted for someone else and the loser of the popular vote has gone on to run the country. This means, most people did not get their choice of candidate.

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

agreed with Dane. The highest participation rate in the US was around 60%, and we haven’t got over 55 in a while. Relatively, france’s lowest participation rate was around 55.

LimarcNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Linh

1.Can you explain this a bit “For one, in the past 6 or so elections, most people have voted for someone else and the loser of the popular vote has gone on to run the country. This means, most people did not get their choice of candidate.” People who aren’t American (me) don’t know much about the intricacies of the system.

2.I think you have to remember all the progress America has made as well. There are still countries where gay people are executed and religous groups are put in camps. For all its faults, America is still a place that has freedom in some form.

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

sure Limarc. Americans actually dont vote directly for the candidates. it’s the electors. whoever gets 270 electoral votes win. So in the past few elections, losers of the popular vote (those with least number of citizens votes) actually gone on to win the electoral votes and become the president.

DaneNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

I don't think any of us are anti-American. I love American and we can all be proud of some of the progress we've made when it comes to freedom. But we've got a long way to go.

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

now, why electoral college, you may ask? it’s an archaic, painful legacy of america’s slave holding past. when black americans were counted as 3/5th of a human.

DaneNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

It would really be so disasterous if Trump is reelected though. I just heard him call into Fox news and he openly critized them for airing anything Biden related. He isn't interested in continuing to grow our democracy. He is a self-serving authoritarian.

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

the last president to actually get close to do something meaningful to abolish the electoral college and the winners take all system was Richard Nixon. but the proposed legislature was killed in the Senate.

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

american democracy is a beautiful concept. but it’s fragile. and we are facing risks of losing it altogether after one presidency.

DaneNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

The electoral college is an absolute joke. Is that really our solution to empowering individual votes to make sure they have adequate representation. It's a really shameful solution.

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

yep. it was the “bothsidism” mindset back in the day. it was the only way to have the slaves still less powerful than their masters. if black americans were counted as full humans, then all southern states will have a lot more electoral votes because of their giant black population. so in their “infinite wisdom”, the northern leaders propose the 3/5th thing. It was meant to be a compromise, a balance. But now it’s just stupid. and it’s the furthest thing from representative democracy.

austinNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

damn, i was in a meeting and i missed out on the fun 😅 but yeah, i agree with Linh, we’re not anti-american. personally i consider myself a patriot! part of that, in american tradition, is criticizing leadership and processes in this country that are oppressive or otherwise flawed. i love the american people. even the trumpers, bless their hearts (that’s a southern american saying btw, if you’re not familiar. lots of meanings but basically i mean i love them even though they’re misguided). what i don’t love is authoritarian, jackbooted thugs doing things like making prison camps for hispanic people because they’re hispanic. or forced sterilization of those hispanic people. or secret federal police snatching people in portland and philly. to quote an old favorite, “the dude does not abide”

but to catch up a bit, on the electoral college stuff: JFC Linh going straight for the jugular with the 3/5 reference… i love it ❤

austinNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

as a point of reference: i believe the entire state of wyoming, all 12 of them, have more power than certain metro areas due to the electoral college. wonder why 🤔

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

hahaha “all 12 of them”

austinNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

had to throw it in there 😂

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

I love America. But she’s fucking flawed. And we need to fix her instead of pretending that she’s perfect. (that is to respond to the second part of your question Limarc)

austinNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

yes!! absolutely 100% this ^ and also, we should stop pretending we’re loved around the world. i mean that was more of a belief in the bush years, post-9/11, but it’s still a common belief that america is just the bee’s knees around the world.

austinNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

that said, we should also appreciate what we do have. and fight for it, for dear life, because things like freedom to assemble, freedom of speech, freedom of the press…those are on the way out if we don’t hang onto them and fight

LimarcNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Linh Wow. That sounds crazy. But if you don’t vote for the candidates who are the individual citizens voting for? I know nothing about this but when Trudeau was campaigning I realized we have a somewhat similar system in Canada which is incredibly confusing and annoying.

DaneNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

I believe we need to use relatively recent advancements in technology to start moving away from a representative democracy towards a true democracy. I think there is value in having representatives. I'm mixed on removing representatives entirely. But citizens should be much more directly involved in voting for policy changes.

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Limarc you technically vote for electors who then go on to vote for whoever the majority of voters choose, hence, “winner takes all”

austinNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Dane i’d argue for a distributed democracy. self-sustaining self-organizing small communities (i don’t dare call them “communes” but basically communes). but then you run into the same issues the states ran into from 1776-1789, pre-constitution — no coordination between “states” under a “distributed” system. therefore texans can just…start executing gay folks, for example, and there would be no federal recourse as we know it today…the system needs work, obviously

LimarcNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

So citizens need to know which electors will vote for the presidential candidate that they support? Is that information on the ballot? What a convoluted system.

austinNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Limarc basically it means if you live in a blue state, the electors all vote democratic. if you live in a red state, they all vote republican. and in a “purple” state in between, the winner of the popular vote generally takes all electors except in nebraska and maine i believe

LimarcNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Well how do you know if that’s even true? Can’t your electors just lie if they received a bribe behind the scenes or something?

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

on citizens’ ballots, you still see all the candidates from the president to the state reps to local leaders as though you vote for them directly. but the states actually count the vote and then send electors to vote for real.

DaneNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

austin we sort of have a distributed democracy state and federal legislation.

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

and YES, EXACTLY Limarc. we all expect electors to vote “in good faith” but there have been numerous times each cycle where they just go rouge.

austinNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Limarc sure, fraud is definitely a potential problem, especially after the Citizens United decision, which basically allowed unlimited “dark money” in politics

austinNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Dane sort of. i guess what i’m arguing for is a direct democracy, just with more frequent local elections making local decisions collectively. at least, the ones you care about

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

and in those times where they go rouge, the states have to go on to send new set of electors to re-cast the votes. which by the way is one of the very legit ways someone can steal an election in a very close election.

LimarcNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Oh God. It’s worse than I thought. You have a system that is “Vote for me. I promise to vote for X person you support”

No wonder people don’t want to bother voting. IF they’re going to count literally all the votes why not just tally them up for each candidate. (it would also make it more intense watching the votes come in)

austinNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Linh it gets worse. in some states, if there’s a tie in the popular vote, methods range from flipping a coin (yes seriously) to picking a name out of a hat (also serious)

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

so yes, america democracy is flawed as can be. and has been. and people know about the problems. but because of the filibuster system (don’t even get me started on the flaws of the 3 branches) prevents us from getting any meaningful legislatures pass.

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Limarc it disenfranchises a lot of people, making them feel that their votes don’t matter. and it makes politicians only pander to the so called purple or swing states. that is why they fucking talk about fracking all 3 of the debates despite it affecting roughly a few thousands people in Pennsylvania only.

austinNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Linh i mean, fracking is bad. but i agree they should talk about fucking covid. the economy, and all the unemployed people about to be evicted very soon without any aid. healthcare and its current glaring flaws. pretty much any other issue is a safe bet, shit’s on fire yo

LimarcNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Well no doubt about it. The voting system is flawed. It takes 800 words to just understand the beginning of it.

austinNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

Limarc lmaooo tbf i write absolute novels on slack threads 👀 but yes, it is overly complicated and desperately needs an overhaul. or a teardown and rebuild

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

yeah. ask me about the filibuster and gerrymandering next time LOL.

LinhNov 3, 2020, 6:19 PM

america and her quirks.

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