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Re: supermajority options

Please forgive my late reply. I'm on vacation, and haven't had access to email since Friday. I should bow out of this discussion until I am back from vacation and have more reliable email access.

Branden Robinson wrote:
On Fri, Nov 22, 2002 at 03:42:12PM -0500, Buddha Buck wrote:

Obviously -- The paper defines "neutrality" as "all options are treated
the same".  If we are asserting a supermajority requirement on certain
actions, like constitutional amendments, then we are not treating all
options the same, and therefore lose neutrality.

The remaining question:  Do we want "neutrality"?

"Neutrality" isn't always a desirable condition.

I argue that we do want neutrality.  It's the same thing as arguing
against supermajorities.

In which case, arguing against supermajorities because of neutrality is fairly circular, don't you think?

Personally, I think it should be harder to change the DFSG, the Social Contract and the Constitution than to do most other tasks that can be done by the General Resolution process. As such, I do not favor neutrality (i.e., treating all possible options equally), but specifically *want* to treat certain options more differently.

(Nota Bene: I am certain that supermajority procedure implies a lack of neutrality, but I'm not certain that a lack of neutrality implies supermajority procedure. But it may be a matter of definition. If a non-Amendment GR passes if it is the CpSSD winner, but an Amendment is required to be the Condorcet winner (vote to be held again, after a discussion period, if an Amendment is the CpSSD winner but not the Condorcet winner), is that a supermajority procedure? It is definitely a non-neutral procedure).

Most of my argument you quoted below was directly related to the McGann paper, and not customized to deal with Debian Politics at all.

"Can lead...to" is very open-ended, wishy-washy words.

You should read the whole paper, including the examples.

Likewise majority-rules can lead to situations where there is no
stability, and adapted positions flip-flop back and forth between

Why would they flip-flop between in extremes under our system, where we
can have multiple options on the ballot, and rank-ordering by the voter?

My statement was intended to be taken as a similar open-ended wishy-washy statement as McGann's, conveying an equally true issue, but contrary to McGann's thesis.

It is very likely that Debian's ability to have lots of ballot options on one ballot, and using rankings for all the options by each voter individually to determine the outcome will sucessfully short-circuit extreme positions -- if people are aware of how easy it is the place amended version of a ballot on the ballot against the original proposal.

On the otherhand, it might also short circuit debate and compromise, since there is less impetus to convince people of your version over another before the ballot is drawn up. I suspect that that won't be a problem with Debian, but you never know. I have been tempted to simply suggest to you that you propose the "neutral majority rule" version of the changed voting procedures as another ballot option running against whatever the supermajoritarians finally suggest.

Witness, for instance, the recent US Congressional elections, and the
declared "conservative mandate" from a very narrow majority for the
majority party.

You're claiming this is evidence for what, exactly?

In support of my wishy-washy, open-ended claim that majority rule can cause a rapid flip-flop from extreme position to extreme position without.

Actually, it is stronger evidence against McGann's thesis, that majority rule provides the best protection for the minority. As you point out, if the majority can, before the minority opposition has a chance to reorganize into a majority, entrench its position, then the problems caused by the majority can be long-lasting. Since there is no recall provisions for Senators and Congresscritters in the US system, there will be no way for the voters to effectively challenge what the very slim majority in Congress does for two years. If the opinions of the voters change based on the actions of Congress, acting on their illusionary "Mandate", the new majority can't "promptly repeal" those actions.

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