Steven Den Beste Comments (sort of) on the Wisdom of Winner-Take-All Primaries

USS Clueless was one of the first blog I read. When he was blogging, his site was my first blog check each day.

While he doesn’t blog like that anymore, he recently made this comment on Winner-Take-All Primaries:

I explained it in greater depth, via round-about means, in this post five years ago. The bottom line: winner-take-all systems can tolerate a much broader range of political speech. Proportional representation systems tend to be much more nervous and tend to implement content-based restrictions on political speech.

The link to his old post says this:

Each individual voter makes an independent decision on an issue, using their unique brain which doesn’t work exactly the same as anyone else’s brain, using a different knowledge base than anyone else has based on their culture and their education and their environment, and comes to a decision on the issue. All the voters consider the same issue, but because of the incredible variety of different points of view being applied, it’s inevitable that there will be different results. But usually there’s a consensus, and that’s treated as signal, while the dissenting voices are noise. The noise is rejected, leaving only the clean signal in the form of an electoral result, and the system acts on that.
The same thing goes for electoral systems. No matter which you consider, it is always possible to construct a scenario where it fails and clearly gets the wrong answer. Arrow proved it. What you do, instead, is to try to make sure that failures are rare, and the consequences of them are not serious. Ideally you’d like to engineer the electoral system in such a way that structurally it is resistant to critical failures, but that may not be possible and it may be necessary to get above the level of signal processing and start applying semantic filtration.
In a system with a lower noise threshold, which permits minority viewpoints a greater chance of rising about the noise rejection threshold, you’ll find a distinct nervousness. There will be a fear of the common voice, the worry that extremists may somehow manage to influence the system all out of proportion to their numbers. I think you’ll find that in such nations there are always going to be more restrictions on free expression in at least some areas. That means that they’re being forced to use explicit semantic filters to eliminate things which their election process permits through structurally. We do some semantic filtering too, but we haven’t had to modify ours in response to transient political movements. We don’t ban Nazi symbols, or suppress hate speech, because we don’t have to. Our filtration is implemented as court challenges to election results, not as suppression of freedom of expression.
One of the canons of the Transnational Progressivism ideology (you knew this was coming, didn’t you?) is the idea of a guarantee of the inclusion of minority groups (especially those officially designated as “victims”) in the decision making process in government and industry. I strongly disagree with that because that represents a deliberate attempt to drop the noise-rejection threshold to the point of uselessness, where nearly everything is designated as signal, and the most loony of loonies will still get some say in how things are run. In such a system, those who have been demanding reparations for slavery might actually have a chance of prevailing, which would be a disaster for the nation. And if it were actually done evenly across the political spectrum, then the substantial number of White Supremacists out there might well be able to get a voice to resist our efforts at reducing discrimination.

I miss his regular blogging.


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