Americans agree on more than you might think. We’re actually pretty chill.
This is (Part 2) We’re All Pretty Reasonable.
It started with (Part 1) Are we finally ready for direct democracy?, the initial “think piece”.
Some might want to jump to the action: Part 3: Three Degrees of Representation, for a breakdown of what specific practices and laws we could change in this country, like ballots, ranking, etc., ranging from slightly to much more direct. All are rather moderate, with precedence.
We must acknowledge that we’re overwhelmed by the rhetoric. We’re distracted from the fact that we do agree on most things…
Everyone freaks out when things get weird, or worse.
Sometimes some of us choose a battle and set ourselves upon those with different priorities, when it feels too difficult to find common ground or a manageable solution. Some of us do have very different narratives.
But on the whole, if we weren’t being vicariously pitted against each other through public figures, we wouldn’t get in each others’ way or cause any harm.
Here is a long list of references, from supposedly opposite organizations, which show this to be true. Most people agree on most issues.
Several Issues/General:here, here, here and here.
Environment: here, here.
Justice: here, here.
Gender: here, here, here.
Guns: here, here and here. I explain this further, below.
Immigration: here, here, and here is a right-leaning channel discussing widespread approval of immigration.
Native Americans: Unsurprisingly, data on this topic are rarer. The First Nations study shows, despite the silenced injustice to this day, that the majority of Americans do think we should do better by the Indigenous. More often than not, it’s about not knowing how.
Disclaimer…I say these things as someone who has traveled this country by foot and by car for several years. When I was 18, I took a “sabbatical” from college to travel the 48, and didn’t stay in any one place for more than a few months until I was 25. I’ve moved and traveled intermittently since then too. Of course I’m limited like everyone in my subjectivity. I merely wish to illustrate that this comes from a place of experience, physical and mental effort, and awareness — not naivete.
It usually goes like this: “My #1 is your #3, so let’s have it out”. Instead we could say, “My #1 is your #3, let’s get it all done”.
Whether I look at pop news, pop culture or micro-cultures (alternative and sub-cultures of all kinds), it seems most Americans are unhappy with government actions nearly all of the time. And for very similar reasons. We all have similar fears — fears of that which the government is meant to protect us from, and not inflict upon us.
We are each wary of persecution, (sometimes we’re convinced it will be by different parties).
We fear violation of our freedom, (sometimes we’re convinced our freedoms conflict).
We fear violence upon us, (or we’re stoked to fear each other). Locally and nationally.
We fear partisan politics (because that isn’t us, really).
And, we all fear differential access to everything, (because we all seek survival and peace, of course).
It’s not always easy to think of most people as reasonable, what with the repetitive soundbites of hate and all. A few people are offensive or disrespectful, and we lump their whole group in with them.
Let’s go back to that lobbyist issue, shall we…
When it comes to lobbying, we’d all prefer to limit the funding disparity between different candidates and issues, so that one of the wealthiest individuals doesn’t have more influence in government than the lower-half of us combined.
One idea is that each voter is allowed to give, say, $1-$200 (just a random idea, I’m not attached to these numbers)— something most people could manage every four years, but makes some kind of dent in aggregate.
While even that amount would hurt some individuals, a much lower class of people could have a fair say. The wealthy would probably still give additional funds indirectly, but only if someone else agreed with the politics enough, or was otherwise willing to make that donation in their name. Instead of convincing a select few (whose signified elected input they already pay for), they would have to convince a great many more. The key change is that the process would have to be more transparent than politicking is now, all in a publicly accessible record. It would be much easier to root out bought votes. It would be limited by that scale, at least.
Alternatively, after every single candidate has qualified through signatures, as all independents have to do now, the candidates would each be given a small and equal budget. The same minimal funding designated for each presidential candidate. That way, when we count the votes, all else is equal (or as close as can be). It makes for a more precise and accurate measurement of the candidate themselves, when each is working with equal resources. Americans already plan to spend money on this; why not make it fairer?
Personally, I think it makes more sense right now, in terms of rights, if we limit contributions as in the first scenario.
However, I know the second option will have the more economically equalizing effect with a designated budget for each candidate — and probably cost us pennies on the dollar compared to other methods private or public.
Personally, I’d agree to either. Most importantly, we should decide this, and not those who benefit from the current way.
With a more direct democratic republic, if we stop listening solely to these two parties, we can do what we’re all thinking.
Since other parties will most likely arise, proportional voting would ensure all voices are heard, and no one is silenced. Yet, even with majority rule we would all be better off than we are now.
Next I’ll review a few of our most contentious issues…
For example, maybe you care about the lives and quality of life of Black/African-American people (I do)…
Most people polled (especially independents, our best indicators of how non-voters feel, those who didn’t care enough for either party to vote), are supportive of improving practices that act on our ideals of equality, are against stop and frisk, and support criminal justice reform. Issues that affect Black Americans disproportionately and unjustly. The current problem is knowing how to distribute access without racism; we’ve already decided as a country that we should.
Given the chance for majority rule or proportional voting, most people would vote to make things better for Black People in this country. We can debate the pros and cons of Affirmative Action all day, but we shouldn’t forget that the vast majority of Americans would voluntarily vote for laws which reduce hate crimes, persecution, and police brutality. We would do well to prioritize these while we debate other issues like Affirmative Action.
Compromises like that save lives.
Increased improvements are far more likely than increased suffering, if we made our voting more democratic.
The issues which contribute to this domain also happen to affect others who are on the left when it comes to preventing social persecution like this, but on the right for other reasons. When we split up the voters from both parties, an undeniable majority lean “racially liberal”.
In response to the small racially conservative group that does exist, we (the racially liberal) will be more willing to be pragmatic about what a productive conversation looks like, when we feel represented in government and less fearful.
We’re each more successful when we focus on our common ground. Majority rule (a form of democracy that many advocates often fear), would in clear probability make this country safer for black people. Not the other way around. There will be less to fear.
In proportional voting, both voices would be heard (which might not sound fun to you); but each would be unable to harm each other. Racial conservatives would have an outlet in their representation, and embody it in their local cultural demeanor as much as it already is; but we wouldn’t have to fear the way we do now for our fellow human, because majority sentiments indicate that it would be easier to make federal improvements that save and protect lives.
Most people, in the several parties that would likely arise, would choose representatives who could improve conditions for black Americans. Our representatives could work together on this, without agreeing to list every other priority into one platform when they vote.
Someone could be Pro-2nd and Pro-Equal Rights.
Someone could be Pro-Protective Tariffs and support Black Lives Matter.
Black Americans would be better off if we didn’t lump all the issues of hate in with the rest of the Democratic platform.
Americans come in so many more kinds than the Two Party system would have us believe.
In a proportional government, radical voices of all kinds can be heard, and better balance each other out — without silencing anyone!
Alternatively, in a party-less government, things would still go better for everyone who isn’t on top right now, based on these majority sentiments. Either way, it’s so much easier to make this place better than we think!
Maybe you have some more “right-leaning” opinions about guns (I do)…
Maybe you fear being out-gunned if the state abandons you in a crisis; or never shows up in the first place. There are plenty of reasons to desire arms in a world where arms already exist. Most Americans are rather moderate on this issue. We don’t need to lose the second amendment in order to make schools and peaceful places safer. There’s plenty of middle ground.
More to the point, nonviolence has to come from within, it cannot be forced.
We can make sure we institute gun-related and other laws which really do have an effect, and not waste our time with unnecessary and ineffective limitations that make some of us more fearful.
Americans’ apparent views on this very much depend on how and what you ask.
Rhetoric tends to focus on differences in polled voter opinions on impractical ideas that gun owners would say are illogical. Even Pew, a left-leaning poll maker, found that the majority of non-gun-owners agree: whether you own one or not, it seems silly to announce to visitors that guns are in the house. On the supposed other side, when we look at these partisans, we see that most people polled wouldn’t shorten the waiting period either.
The most contentious ideas wouldn’t get put through anyway — neither side of a given issue has a majority. That’s how we define moderate in the first place. A proportional or majority rule government would be able to move forward on the agreeable moderate actions, while the debate goes on about the more contentious ones in the meantime.
Instead of debating a generalized idea of “gun control”, we could agree on reasonable, specific, moderate laws. Like banning bump stocks. The more “extreme” proposals can be tabled, while we act on our agreements.
We could also address the underlying community health and structural problems that express themselves through whatever weapons are available. Then we could focus on where guns come into play there, rather than generalize all gun owners.
There’s plenty of evidence that caliber and private carry laws don’t correlate to lower homicides or firearm homicides. There are other factors at play, other ways to deal with violence and massacre — including specific federal production laws we could instantiate that prevent unauthorized use. We could also improve and better enforce background check laws for violence and extend it to those at risk for domestic violence.
Tactics that target underlying issues, and not common ownership.
Another point Pew polled about is whether to store ammunition separately. This makes the gun completely useless in self-defense, and only useful for premeditated actions — so the reasoning is flawed. Anyone who can get into one place can get into the other, so it doesn’t prevent unauthorized or teen use either. It’s a strange idea, proposed to garner heated debate. It wouldn’t get put through in the new voting system because enough people realize that. Another case where lumping things together is counterproductive.
Instead, look at what we do overwhelmingly agree on.
Other gun-related issues can be similarly resolved. As a random example, we could trade out (lethal) metal bullets for (nonlethal) tranquilizers in public (or at minimum US domestic) use, such as by police forces and similar authority-role users. Their targets are supposed to be going to a holding cell, right? Not the morgue. (This one was my mom’s idea.)
Actionable compromises that don’t violate our second amendment, but do make the people and our children safer.
Fairer voting practices, and referendums in local or state situations, will prove most fruitful. We’re all better off if legislation suits the local people’s preferences, because it makes each community responsible for the parameters they live by.
Problems arise when local people don’t agree with local laws, and turn instead to federal avenues. Those avenues should be easier to navigate no matter your opinions.
We can’t all have the same priorities and solutions, but we can make mutual agreements. We have to learn from the past’s mistakes, and not make them our own.
Or, maybe you’re concerned for immigrants (I am)…
Turns out, most people are moving in a similar direction — becoming more empathetic to the horrors of the current system and the complexity of what immigration is.
Here’s a Gallup poll, an Ipsos statement that shows party lines are blurred, even a Rasmussen statement with results that are rather moderate, and a Pew study. Polls like these are not absolutely objective of sources, but all signs indicate we’re overwhelmingly in approval of immigration.
Also, don’t forget that these are usually partisan-leaning numbers to begin with (the most staunch of Americans), and most of the country are not loyal partisans. It’s a narrow view in a certain pool, of the most extreme.
Even still, they mostly agree.
At minimum, we’re very likely to vote to open more avenues for legal immigration, reducing the need for an amnesty in the future (time that will pass anyway while we argue over current potential amnesties for various groups).
It’s also likely, if we had a referendum right now, that we would be voting at this very moment to send medics and basic supplies to those immigrants who need it. We at least agree that there’s no reason for those kids to die and suffer while they wait for their legality to be determined.
Compromises like that save lives, without overturning or debating long-term policy.
Our timing would always be better.
We’re way past group blame. It’s tempting, and it might be justified, but it isn’t productive.
Overall, it’s important for all of us to remember that most of what we’re missing in life — both tangible and intangible — is due to a broken system, not other Americans.
I could easily point out the ten individual people benefiting the most from this system, at the expense of the rest of us. Some psychologist has probably labeled each of them as a sociopath. But we can’t just go after them. It’s impractical, and not our best bet.
We have to change the mechanisms by which they were able to do this in the first place. We have to redirect the cycle, reformat the process, the way we exchange our currency, the power over our time and the material expression of our values. The most severely harmful parameters of these configurations must be addressed, by shifting the political system we currently uphold, the one granted permission to moderate it all.
Re-format. Restructure our decision making, so we don’t even need to redistribute nor revolt. Changing the government happens every day. It’s easier than you think. One vital change can define a century.
Before we can solve our actual problems, we need to change the game that our political system has become. Direct democracy (little d) is all about getting things done that we can agree on, because each group will feel less of a dire need to defend themselves once those mutually beneficial changes have been made. Once we know our voices are being heard and respected.
It’s about making everyone’s voice heard, and recognizing our conflicts are often purelyabstract.
On each side of every spectrum, we forget that the biggest blockades to our many thriving identities, each with our own values, are our shared economic and legal barriers, reinforced in our political system every time a systemically skewed ballot gets counted.
Agreeing on a government format that better represents us, making mutually interested changes, would satisfy those of us who are currently dissatisfied in other ways. It would open roads to work on our other issues.
We won’t become one big happy family, but we can move forward on making room to be productive at all. Which in clear probability won’t conflict with your primary concern, whatever it is, even if it’s not the first thing we do together.
More to the point, our widely overlapping concerns are the root of the injustices we fight in smaller movements. We can help solve our own problems when we focus on our shared problems.
We need to recognize that whoever we’ve been fearing or hating is only the scapegoat. No matter where your loyalties reside, or how big or small you think the group is that you fear, most of us would not support hurting you — whether physically, financially, socially, organizationally or otherwise.
If we live in a country where we decide together, where we don’t feel so duped by the system, we’ll stop trying to blame entire groups for the system itself or their most contentious representative.
Wherever it goes from here, it will get more personal across greater distances. Let’s allow this personalizing momentum to build bridges.
We’ll focus on what can be done and move on to the harder problems more quickly and smoothly.
Maybe you fear incompetency, because we’ll ignore and lose what you feel are crucial minorities:
Innovators and leaders (class minority), an ethnic group (racial minority), or an academic perspective (educational minority), geographic or occupational minorities. Whoever you are, you would be safer. We’ll be able to simultaneously express our individuality and be ever-better at working together each time we attempt it. We just need to make the key changes which allow us to respond more productively.
Perhaps, we’ll no longer have to fight so hard for the good in the first place. The enemies of whoever you’re worried about protecting are also a minority. By all accounts — statistical, anecdotal and theoretical — we don’t need to fear majority rule.
I’ll say it again in a slightly different way. We have the ingredients for peace between Americans — we’re just distracted by an idea we’ve been fed, that we’re getting in each others’ way.
Most people don’t want to stop you from getting the justice you want and need. Don’t let flawed communications convince you that one voice, curated to be offensive, is the voice of their entire state or region. We are in no way defined by who won an election in our county — don’t hate the ‘other side’.
Whoever you are, whatever color your county polls, these ‘others’ may not be mobilized moderates and allies, but they’re not people you need to contend against either.
What those polling maps tell you is the effectiveness of professional campaigning. Not where people stand on all the issues. Each of those towns were told a different story about that candidate, lump-sum and with omission. And very few of those stories go national. Very few votes hinged on opposing your most important concerns. Many were reluctant, under ultimatum.
Most people don’t know what you know. You don’t know what they know. Information is funny like that.
Yet, even with all the miscommunication we have had, majority opinion isn’t something people have to fear; and a proportional government isn’t a threat to anyone.
Imagine how good it can be when we aim at clarity, and grow beyond these two parties.
If we focus on one issue at a time, not the act itself of prioritizing them in order, or lumping them together into one platform, we mostly agree. Most people are willing to stay out of each others’ way and support justice in their favor, and the others will do the same.
There’s plenty of room in American minds and our economy, for all of us to get what we want and need. We’re basing our concerns over who voted for which candidate — in an extremely limited and inarguably rigged game.
We measure hundreds of millions of people, based on a vague understanding in the first place about why the most partisan group of people voted, with a long list of parameters that make the conditions of voting completely unreasonable, when we barely know anything about most people at all.
A popular vote is most likely good for your cause. Proportional voting even more so.
My main point is, if we really do this, it definitely can’t make it worse, so give it a shot.
A real shot.
Whether the result is that we have many parties or none, we have to end this centuries-old standoff. I hope we’ll build issue-by-issue coalitions in a proportional system of several parties or more. Everyone’s voices can be heard that way, and we can stop wasting everyone’s time with redistricting, exhaustive platforms and the like.
I also think a popular majority in national elections and appointments, with ranked ballots or no parties, would be more effective and less divisive than what we have now. If that were the case, it would take a lot more to win than either Two Party candidate had in the last dozen presidential elections. This would of course entail removing closed (if not all) primaries.
Increasing multi-party options and variety is key to voter engagement and overall success.
Either way, we will be better off when we’re more directly involved with, and our votes fairly counted within, our national government.
Read more about the changes we could make to increase the directness of our democratic republic in (Part 3) Three Degrees of Representation.
Please explore the following micro-library!
Top 40 links, with the bare bones info at the bottom. Let me know if you’re looking for more…
Top 5 Links + 1 Documentary:
“The Paradox Of Proportional/Party Voting Vs. Winner-Take-All Voting”:
A thorough summary of the bare dynamics of the issue. Nonpartisan.
FairVote page on low voter turnout:
This site is nonpartisan.
A left-of-center case for proportional voting:
Also from Vox: https://www.vox.com/2014/4/18/5624310/martin-gilens-testing-theories-of-american-politics-explained
A right-of-center case for proportional voting: https://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-case-for-proportional-voting
Also from National Affairs: https://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/a-center-that-can-hold
Voter Study Group:
Extensively breaks down current partisan voter politics in this country in a useful way. (It has a Dem bias in analysis, but the data is clean enough).
They also found support for a 3rd Party is near 70%, and reaches about 80% with near-center responses (which is a better indicator of non-voters):
Fail State (movie):
Documentary on education poli-economic corruption that virtually indicts both parties, and is a good example of how things go with most, not allissues.
Logistics of fairer voting, proportional voting, etc., can be found here:
Ranked-Choice Voting, Open Ticket Voting, Cumulative Voting, Proportional Voting Options, Single Transferable Vote. (The best outcomes require removing closed primaries, or primaries altogether.)
Interesting Ideas to Explore:
Scarcity versus abundance in politics: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/12/opinion/trump-republicans-scarcity.html
A 3D Map of the US Economy:
The ACE Project:
ACE on Minorty Systems: http://aceproject.org/main/english/es/esc07b.htm
Supposedly this counts your vote:
Hillary Clinton never helped women’s lib, nor feminism:
Ballotpedia: Initiative, Referendum, Populist and Progressive Eras, US:
Libertarians Aren’t That Bad:
Progressives Aren’t That Bad:
A couple isms worth revisiting, of near-infinite isms recorded in English:
Economic democracy — Wikipedia
Proponents of economic democracy generally argue that modern capitalism periodically results in economic crises…en.wikipedia.orgPost-capitalism — Wikipedia
Postcapitalism is said to be possible due to major changes information technology has brought about in recent years. It…en.m.wikipedia.orgMutualism (economic theory) — Wikipedia
Mutualism is an economic theory and anarchist school of thought that advocates a society with free markets and…en.wikipedia.orgMarket socialism — Wikipedia
For the left-libertarian proposals sometimes described as “market socialism”, see mutualism (economic theory). For the…en.wikipedia.org
A considerate perspective on Market Socialism (which is not libertarian, if you’re confusing it with Mutualism):
The two-party system (oh yeah, that ridiculously limited thing we live by):
EdGate/USA Today on the basics of the two parties:
Another take on the two-party system: http://origins.osu.edu/article/breaking-hard-do-americas-love-affair-two-party-system
Examples of how we agree on more than you think:
Several Issues/General:here, here, here and here.
Environment: here, here.
Justice: here, here.
Gender: here, here, here.
Guns: here, here and here.
Immigration: here, here, and here is a right-leaning channel discussing widespread approval of immigration.