1 Thing Thursday : Un-Sexy Primaries

Welcome to our weekly breakdown of political issues within a post-partisan context that puts our well-being over political loyalty, today’s topic is primaries.

TL;DR: A Better Way To Primary

The way we choose presidential nominees is like using a flip phone in the iPhone era. Statewide elections held at different times that require voters to pick one candidate lead to shitty outcomes. Don’t fret, there is a way to make primaries sexy: have each state vote on the same day using ranked-choice voting.

How Primaries Work

Honestly, it’s a mess. In simple terms, delegates are chosen by the voters, and the candidate with the most delegates wins. Voters chose delegates in state primaries which are held over the course of four months from Feb to June.

Alas, it’s not that clean (of course), because how states do delegates is weird. First, the number of delegates a state gets to award is based on population and voter turnout (weird). You can also get “bonus” delegates if you hold an election the same day as other states (hence “Super Tuesday” where 14 states held their primary on March 3rd). Some state delegates are awarded based on how districts within the state voted while others are awarded based on how the state voted overall.

Here’s a great breakdown of the primary process. 

Sketchy tiebreaker: Superdelegates

If no candidate has been awarded more than 50% of delegates by the end of primaries, the Democrats have a sketchy tiebreaker process using super delegates. Super delegates are roughly 400 party elites (wealthy donors, former politicians, etc.) who get to award 15% of all delegates to whoever they want to. This last happened in 1952.

Primaries Don’t Work So Good

The main ways in which primaries are flawed:

People don’t vote for who they think is best. 

We are more likely to vote for the candidate who other people voted for, rather than who we individually think is best. We do this because social influence undermines our ability to make independent decisions. When we learn lots of other people made a specific decision, like voting for Joe Biden, we become far more likely to vote for Biden. This is a well-studied behavior in humans. Having states vote at different times amplifies this effect.

States who vote later have fewer choices

Staggering when states vote for candidates leads to fewer choices for voters in later-voting states. Voters in South Carolina had 12 options in the Democratic primary. Only three Democratic candidates for President are still running. This is after less than half the states have held their primaries.

Primaries

Image Credits

Some votes don’t count

Approximately 2 million ballots were cast in the Democratic primary in advance of their state’s election day in various states. Judging from polls, somewhere between one-eighth and one-fifth of these voters chose Amy Klobuchar or Pete Buttigieg, and then learned that their favorite had dropped out of the race after they sent in their ballot. In other words, at least 240,000 people’s votes around the country now don’t count. Woof.

People don’t vote in primaries

Less than 30% of eligible voters vote in primary elections. Our guess, voters don’t feel like spending their valuable time participating in something that doesn’t make sense to them.

USA Primaries

Image Credits

Post-Partisan Take

Sexy Primaries Use Ranked-Choice Voting

The confusing, drawn-out way we do primaries ain’t a good look, but there’s hope. What is sexy is using ranked-choice voting where each state votes on the same day and voters rank candidates in order of preference.

Ranked-choice voting explained

Voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, the last-place candidate is eliminated and those who marked that candidate as No. 1 get their second choice counted instead. That can go on for several rounds until a candidate emerges with a majority.

Ranked Choice Voting

Here are more reasons why it’s great:

People vote for who they think is best

We increase the likelihood people vote for who they think is best by having every state vote on the same day. Voters won’t see the results of other states and be influenced by whose winning elsewhere.

More choices

Voting on the same day means all voters across the country would get the same candidate choices rather than candidates dropping out after early state results.

All votes count

Ranked-choice voting ensures that people have at least one of their preferences counted in the final tally. Also, voting on the same day ensures no candidates are on the ballot that are no longer running.

Increase voter turnout

Eliminating multiple rounds (days) of voting and allowing voters to better express their preferences using ranked-choice voting increases turnout.

Increase civility / reduce negative campaigning

Under ranked-choice voting, candidates vie for non-core voters to rank them second. Therefore candidates don’t want to offend voters who might rank them second by attacking voters’ preferred candidate.

Reduce polarization

By increasing turnout and incentivizing candidates to earn second place ranks by voters leads to a reduction in polarization in elections using ranked-choice voting.

Sounds too good, why aren’t we using it?

The people in power were elected using the current system, so they are scared of something new. It’s like that friend who refuses to download the latest Apple update…their battery drains super quick and their apps don’t work, but they’re too scared of change to update.

The operating system of our democracy is outdated, we need an #upgrade.

What can I do about it?

Glad you asked. On the ChangeRoots app, we calculate a post-partisan score for each politician. Politicians who support ranked-choice voting get mad points. So, go to the app, find politicians with a good score, show them some love by micro-donating to their campaign.


This article was originally published on Changeroots.com

Featured Image Credits: Changeroots

Simply put, bipartisanship is working with the other party to get something done. It’s opposite, partisanship is working only to get done what your party wants, at the expense of the other party.

Zero-Sum Partisans

Partisans believe the world is zero-sum, meaning they believe there is a fixed amount of prosperity to go around and they need to fight to capture as much of it as possible for their team. Zero-sum thinking is dangerous because it splits the world into groups at war with each other. In a zero-sum world, attacking those in other groups becomes ethically acceptable because you are protecting your own. In our modern world, this mindset has evolved into the idea that it is better to sabotage the other party than to compromise in order to get the W for your side.

Positive Sum Bi-partisans

Those who believe in bipartisanship believe the world is positive-sum, that prosperity can be increased for everyone if we work together. A positive-sum mindset believes that the best ideas come out of a process where different perspectives are taken into consideration and an entirely new solution arises that neither group thought of. It sees the other party as an ally in making the world a better place.

In practice, bipartisanship can look like a Republican Senator voting on a bill introduced by a Democratic Senator. It can be a Democratic President nominating a Republican judge to the Supreme Court. Bi-partisans support the best solution for all people, regardless of who the idea came from.

Notable Bipartisanship

While we mostly focus on how bitterly partisan the country has become, as a nation we have a rich history of bipartisanship. A few notable examples include:

  • Abraham Lincoln’s team of rivals. Lincoln beat three Republicans to win the nomination and then the presidency in 1860. Once elected, he appointed all three rivals as well as a Democrat to his cabinet. It would be like if Elizabeth Warren was elected president and appointed Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden and Mitt Romney to her cabinet.
  • Democrat Harry Truman appoints Republican Supreme Court Justice. Three months after FDR’s death, new Democratic President Harry S Truman was faced with an open Supreme Court seat. Truman broke with his party and chose Republican Ohio Sen. Harold Burton for the Court. It was an olive branch to congressional Republicans—and a chance for a new president to find common ground with the congressional opposition.
  • Civil Rights Act. The landmark civil rights law that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin was passed with over 60% of both parties voting for it.

So How’s Bipartisanship Lookin’ Today? 

Acts of obstruction by each party are increasing. Fewer bills are being passed each year. Political revenge has become normal. We have seen an increase in gridlock over the last decades at a time when the problems we face – climate change, healthcare, debt, immigration – threaten our republic.

What Can We Do About it? Get Nerdy

There are a number of technical democracy reforms – changes to how we elect politicians – that are proven to decrease partisanship, increase bipartisanship, boost voter turnout and decrease gridlock. Let’s get nerdy for a second.

Expanded and Multi-member Districts

One of these reforms is called multi-member districts (nine states use this method today). Today we have a system where one congressperson is elected per district. We have 435 congresspeople and 435 districts. In an expanded and multimember district world, we’d reduce the number of districts, increase the number of congresspeople and elect multiple members in each district. See the example below.

Bipartisanship

Ranked Choice Voting

Today we have a winner-take-all system where we can only vote for one candidate in the primary and general election and whoever wins the majority of votes wins. Under ranked choice voting, voters to rank candidates on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If not, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated, and second preference choices are allocated to the remaining candidates. The process is repeated until someone obtains a majority.

Will These Really Help? 

Research shows that if we passed multimember districts and ranked-choice voting the country would have far more competitive elections, fewer extreme candidates and more bipartisan politicians. If these sound technical and weird, I get it. One way to think about it is to think of Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We have been using the same voting methods over and over, and we have a bitterly partisan country that won’t pass any meaningful solutions. We need to try something new and the truth is that these reforms have been researched and tested for decades. They work.


This article was originally published on Changeroots.com


Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

  1. Deep thinkers are more likely to be blind partisans

There was a study done to determine which type of people are most likely to blindly follow whatever the leaders of their political party tell them. To start out they measured two things in each of the participants; how tribal you were, meaning how much you cared about voting and being part of your political team, and how deep of a thinker you were.

The researchers predicted that people who were very tribal, but not- so-deep-thinkers, would be the ones most likely to blindly follow their party leaders. They were surprised to find out that it was actually the deep-thinkers who were the most likely to blindly follow their party. They concluded that the deep-thinkers were more blindly partisan than their not-so-deep-thinking peers because they were able to convince themselves with lots of fancy reasons why whatever their party was telling them to think was the right thing to think. Armed with many reasons why they are right, deep-thinkers become more attached to their positions and sometimes delude themselves into thinking their positions reflect rational consistency rather than blind party loyalty.

  1. How Different Values Lead Conservatives and Liberals to Judge Each Other

New research has shed light on how liberals and conservatives prioritize different values. According to Jonathan Haidt, there are five fundamental values people prioritize when it comes to politics: Compassion, Fairness, Loyalty, Respect for Authority and Purity. Liberals typically prioritize Compassion and Fairness and don’t really care about the other three. Conservatives tend to prioritize all five values equally.

As humans when we see someone violate one of our core values we tend to judge them less morally good. To use an example, when a conservative perceives a liberal to violate their sense of Loyalty, often they will think less of the liberal because they don’t respect their world view. This could look like a liberal wanting to spend less on the military to better fund social programs. The conservative might perceive this as disloyal to the troops whereas the liberal believes it would be fairer to distribute funds differently. The liberal doesn’t care about Loyalty and can’t understand why Loyalty would outweigh Fairness. On the flip side, the conservative can’t understand how the liberal could be disrespectful to the military.

Fundamental values shape our world view. Understanding our own values and recognizing that others have different values than us gives us a better chance of finding common ground and compassion.

  1. Experts predict record-breaking voter turnout in 2020

Experts on both sides of the aisle think voter turnout may reach new heights in 2020. Signs of political interest, from the number of small-donor contributions made to presidential candidates to the viewership for cable news, are all spiking. But the clearest sign that high turnout may be approaching in 2020 is that it already arrived in 2018. In last year’s midterm, nearly 120 million people voted, about 35 million more than in the previous midterm. The 2018 level represented the largest share of eligible voters to turn out in a midterm year since 1914.

  1. Young Americans are voting in record numbers

Turnout among voters under 30 last year jumped to about 36 percent of eligible voters, compared with just 20 percent in 2014. This is an unusually high number of voters under 30 coming out to vote in a midterm election. If this trend continues we could see a record number of voters under 30 actually voting in the 2020 election.

Partisanship and Voting Behavior

 

Summary

To recap, deep thinkers are more likely to be blind partisans, fundamental differences in values lead liberals and conservatives to judge each other, we could see record voter turnout in 2020 and younger Americans are voting at the highest rates in decades.


This article was originally published on Changeroots.com

About the Author:  Jake is the CEO of Changeroots.

 

It’s easy to feel powerless given our politics today. It feels like the media, big money and the elite are manipulating the system to their benefit at the expense of everybody else. You’re not wrong. But we can’t let that continue. Each of us can do our small part to make our republic better so that we can all live our best life.

Understand toxic partisanship

There’s nothing inherently bad about being a proud Democrat or Republican. However, it can quickly become damaging when people consider those in the other party to be their enemy. Learning more about how we became so partisan and what forces make us feel that way gives you the skills to prevent yourself and others from becoming dangerously partisan.

For the bookworm: Love Your Enemies 

For the article reader: No Hate Left Behind

For the data wiz: HiddenTribes

For the podcaster: More Divided Than Ever: Excavating the Roots Of Our Political Landscape

Define what matters to you

Some of us have a specific idea of what we want in a politician, most of us do not. We don’t know what things we should value. Should we care about policy? Experience? Effectiveness? Character? How should we compare which factor matters more than another? If I think a candidate is smart and honest, but they support policies I don’t like, how should I feel? Unfortunately, there is no objectively right answer, but there is likely the right answer for you. Thinking about this in a structured way can help.

Since our brain likes to feel like it is consistent and logical, it’s best to come up with a framework that makes sense to you, before inserting any real person into it. This way, you may feel like you’ve picked someone with a bit more thought than who you’d rather have a beer with (but, hey we’re a democracy, so do what feels right boo).

Because it’s complicated and nuanced, most people feel overwhelmed about the prospect of figuring out who they should support. This is a big reason why we tend to ignore the political process until there are only two options left to choose from…which has not turned out so well for us.

If you need a place to start, I created a one-page(ish) framework to evaluate the 2020 presidential candidate’s. It can be found here: What matters in a President: A framework for evaluating politicians.

Micro donate to your favorite candidate

Adding money to politics may not seem like a helpful thing on the surface, but political contributions are a fundamental part of our democratic process, at least right now. We can use it for good or opt-out and let the big companies and the elite wield it for their self-interest.

Once you have an idea of which candidate you like, sending them a small donation has an impact beyond just helping them buy more cheesy TV ads. It sends a signal to the candidate and to other people that this person is worth supporting – social scientists call this social norming. Take two candidates, Ashley and Will. Ashley has received donations from 20 million people while Will has received donations from 100,000 people. If we have no other information about either of them, we will have a more positive view of Ashley because more people support her. This is why likes and views dictate everything in the social media world.

If there’s a political candidate you support and you can spare the change, send them a small donation and tell your friends – you’ll be helping them more than you know.

Donate to Democrats: ActBlue

Donate to Republicans: WinRed

Donate to Independents: The Google Machine

Small steps add up

Politics is simply the name for how we – as a country – try to take into account the opinions of over 300 million people. Looking at the United States from that vantage, it’s pretty bananas we’re able to get anything done. If we each take a little time to understand what we want a bit better, life can get better for all of us. Remember, you have influence, you just need to claim it.


This article by Jake (CEO of Changeroots) was originally published on Changeroots.com

Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

There are still people out there that believe that bitcoin transactions are anonymous. However, the Bitcoin blockchain can be used to trace cryptocurrency transactions to specific actors and money laundering networks. Last month’s indictments against the 12 suspected Russian individuals who hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers is a testament to how authorities can use the blockchain to track down offenders involved in scandalous cryptocurrency activities.

According to the indictment, the 12 suspects used bitcoin during the 2016 election period to buy the dcleaks.com domain, which was later on used to post emails pilfered from the Hillary Clinton campaign. The group also paid for the server in Malaysia that hosted the site using Bitcoin, and purchased a Virtual Private Network (VPN) using the same pool of funds.

The suspects, who allegedly worked for the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU) unit, specialized in cyber-security operations that obtained invaluable documents through computer intrusions. They were apparently involved in large-scale operations designed to sway the U.S. presidential election, and hacked emails of volunteers and employees connected to the Hillary campaign, including its chairman’s.

Using the alias Guccifer 2.0, the Russian hackers contacted a U.S. reporter and gave him access to the stolen files on the dcleaks.com site, leading to widespread news coverage. The compromising information is believed to have had an indirect impact on the elections.

Genesis Mining Platform

Tracing Transactions Back to the DNC Hacker Group Was Easy

Tracing the Guccifer 2.0 bitcoin transactions to the culprits was relatively easy as demonstrated by Tim Cotton, a blockchain developer. He was able to trace back the purchases to the GRU unit, which hacked DNC servers while using only publicly available information. By analyzing the blockchain, which underlies bitcoin, it is possible for law enforcement and users to access the public ledger and identify a node indicating where a purchase was made.

Data found about transactions that take place on cryptocurrency exchanges is especially invaluable for law enforcement as such services usually require personal information to allow users to transact. This information can be traced back to an individual and is much more reliable than bare numbers and letters.


This article by Elizabeth Gail was previously published on Coincentral.com

About the Author:

Elizabeth Gail is crypto-enthusiast and a blogger. Her specialties include cryptocurrency news and analysis. When not writing about crypto, she’s out taking part in humanitarian endeavors across the world. You can reach out and engage with her on Twitter and Google Plus.


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