False Choices Aren’t Choices: What If Athens Had the Internet?

Coke is better than Pepsi.  The National League is superior.  Heinz > Hunts.

The Democrat and Republican brands at the national level?  Both unappealing.

The populist, rational elements in the Tea Party and Occupy movements?  More aligned than everyone who benefits from the “your two choices are” narrative wants to admit.  (Everyone like both national parties and much of the media).

The efficacy of Americans Elect remains to be seen, but they’re right: Iowa and New Hampshire shouldn’t have the biggest say in which major-party candidates survive to other states. And we shouldn’t only have major-party options in the first place. )Sorry, Campaigns and Elections class in college.  You were right about almost everything else.)

This is closest we’ve ever gotten, practically, to a direct nomination process.  Remember when Ross Perot said we’d have townhall meetings and direct democracy via computers in the future?  Will we?  Only if we want to.  Sure, he thought he’d get the contract to build our civic Cerebro, but that’s another story.


4 thoughts on “False Choices Aren’t Choices: What If Athens Had the Internet?

  1. The system is certainly flawed…. a multi-party system where coalitions often need to be formed is more reflective of the public and a simple A or B option, particularly when candidates A & B are usually determined by two to three states (IA, NH, SC), whose collective population amounts to less than 3% of the US Population… Although I’m sure candidates selected via the internet, would also only reflect a certain niche of the American population, even if a much larger demographic than IA/SC/NH… many of our nation’s poor and elderly citizens lack internet access, as well many folks from rural America…. But reform is indeed necessary…. implementing “alternative vote” mechanisms for Congress and state legislatures to replace our current “first-past-the-post” system would foster the growth of third parties…. and making election day a federal holiday with expanded polling hours would allow elections to more fairly reflect the will of the people. If the Tea Party and OWS would push for changes like those, I think they’d see their issues and stances more readily incorporated into national and state policy. Once you have established third parties in the legislative branch, they will be a good opportunity to be elected executive and to govern effectively once elected. After all, a President with no party in Congress could find it tough to advance an agenda.

  2. Thought: historically, our political parties adapt and incorporate reform proposals into their platforms. Perot’s platform was largely incorporated by Bill Clinton and the D’s (budget issues at least). My guess: the party that recognizes its future is directly tied to the incorporation of a new ethos for government probably holds the key to long-term realignment. Only once, in our history, did an established political party not incorporate a new ethos and fall by the wayside. It’s why we don’t have a Whig Party. Right now, however, I wonder what that new ethos actually is. OWS and Tea Party will each tell you what they want it to be, but I’m not sure either of them have a firm handle on it.

    It’s fantastic to think of more choices politically, but the narrative and the means of delivering the narrative need to change dramatically. Even in other direct democracy exercises in our society (think American Idol or Dancing with the Stars), we ultimately boil it down to an “either/or” scenario.

  3. speaking of Athens and Internet…. I would’ve definitely have followed Socrates on twitter, had he had an account…. or for that matter Benjamin Franklin….

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