Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Silver Linings on 2016 November 8

Silver linings:
  • The half of the country that feels despondent is largely based in factual reality, thoughtful, and lightly armed compared to the half that voted our next president in. Of the likeliest outcomes of this election, this may have been the outcome with the least immediate physical violence; over the next presidency, the methods of dissent and protest will hopefully be constructive while in the other likely scenario, the methods of dissent and protest would almost certainly have been destructive.
  • The structure of the economy is inadequate for the information age and has been trying to bottom out for at least most of my life. We may have just ripped off the Band-Aids we had on the economy and sped the process along. The bottoming out will be painful but possibly also necessary.
  • Relatedly, Obamacare was never a cure to the healthcare industry; Obamacare was a catalyst to alter the structure of the system in such a way as to prevent a return to the dreadful state American healthcare was in immediately prior to Obamacare. Like the bottoming out of the economy, the bottoming out of our healthcare system my be a necessary and painful experience. We may have sped this process along with this election as well.
  • Also relatedly, the news media and political machines proved themselves to be more responsive to the market economy than to the information economy. This election could be a belated wake-up call to two of the most important and influential institutions in American democracy: we, all of us, need reliable and trustworthy information even more than you need money.*
    *This one gets an asterisk because we've missed a lot of wake-up calls generally in my adult life; plenty occurred about this election before yesterday. Over the past several hours, I have seen a lot of coverage saying no one saw this coming, but I know at least Matt Taibbi, Amy Goodman, Bill Maher, Michael Moore, and Ann Coulter predicted last night's outcome.
  • The next presidency could be a series of learning moments for supporters and dissidents alike.
  • The internet giants have hopefully also learned from this election season. A fractious information environment with no weight attached to verifiable truth is good for the finances of advertising platforms and sales of marketable products but bad for everything else in the world. The lesson is roughly the same as the lesson that news media and political parties need to learn. I hope Google and Facebook et al. can figure out a more civically responsible business plan relatively quicker than our traditional institutions have been (un)able to.
  • While our next president's campaign promises are horrifying, he has, over the course of the campaign, verifiably lied at least 3 times as often as he has told the truth; perhaps his promises are as untrue as the rest of his statements.
  • The window of applicability has not passed on a fiction horror project with demagogic villains that I have had on the back-burner for a decade. I would rather the alternative be true, but if I ever finish the project, the messages might be usefully resonant.
Dark clouds on which I can't find a silver lining:
  • The surmountability of the fight against climate change seems to have reversed course.
  • People have been routinely categorized and dehumanized over the past year-and-a-half more publicly and extremely than I have previously seen in my lifetime.
  • The threats of violence, large-scale and small-, are ever-present in America and have likely increased throughout the campaign season with few (if any) signs of reducing.
  • The various hate groups in the United States have coalesced and elected a president through synergy with die-hard straight-ticket Republican voters.
  • A lot of Republican voters were duped by a non-Republican candidate running on the Republican ticket in a year in which a pair of two-term Republican governors ran on the libertarian ticket.
Good luck to us all.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Tired of Hillary Clinton & Donald Trump? What About Gary Johnson & Jill Stein?

A common theme this election cycle has been that Clinton and Trump are luck to be running against the other least-popular candidate to win a major party nomination. I keep wondering why we're still only considering these two party's candidates when there are two others on enough ballets to win the general election if we weren't married to the idea of only electing the Democratic nominee or the Republican nominee.

Particularly strange this time around is that the Republican nominee has never actually been a Republican while the Libertarian nominee and his running mate have both served as Republican governors of their respective states.

My curiosity got the best of me, so I nated the primary results without regard to party.

To start, I came up with a list of everyone that I could remember running for president this election cycle: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Martin O'Malley, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, Gary Johnson, Jim Gilmore, Rick Santorum, Jill Stein, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Bobby Jindal, Vermin Supreme, Lincoln Chafee, Lawrence Lessig, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, and Jim Webb.

Then I divided each of these candidates by 1, 2, 3, or 4 to pair up their support, based on issue positions, with the remaining four candidates: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein.

If each candidate began with equal support and if that support transferred equally to the remaining candidates that share issue positions with the initial candidates, polling among the four remaining candidates would look like this:

I was not surprised that Johnson came out ahead of Trump, but I was surprised that he came out on top of Clinton as well.

Using Wikipedia's popular vote counts from the primaries, I then multiplied each candidate's popular vote count by their relative issue position factors to the remaining candidates.

In this case, Clinton and Stein benefit from splitting the Sanders supporters, and we can see that Johnson's positions are much more resonant than Trump's. Compare actual opinion polling (figure 3) to an approximation based on voters following issue positions (figure 2) and the corrosion of a political party duopoly is apparent.

What's particularly dissonant to me this time, though, is that the Libertarian candidate is much more of a Republican than the Republican candidate. Trump has nearly triple the support he should have disregarding party labels and Clinton has nearly one-and-a-half times the support she should. Johnson and Stein have roughly 1/9 and 2/15 the support they should have, respectively.

Recent news reports have claimed that 13% of Americans would prefer a meteor crash to a Trump or Clinton presidency (presumably that's the missing piece in the figure 3 pie). We already have better options in Johnson and Stein (at least better options than Trump or a meteor. Clinton's a real candidate who I would like to see debate Johnson and Stein without Trump or the meteor in the room).

Here's my appeal, and my call to action: if you are asked who you are voting for by a pollster, say Johnson. If he gets to 15% in a poll, he gets to attend the debates. Stein will likely not have enough support to get into the debates, so without Johnson, there will be no real conservative or real Republican in the debates, which is particularly unfortunate for the balance of power after 8 years of a Democratic White House.

One final note to Republican party loyalists: Johnson has to be a better top-of-the-ticket face for downticket races than Trump. #nevertrump, right?

Friday, January 1, 2016

Our Economic Era

Our current economic system is inappropriate for the era in which we are living due to two particular shortcomings: its inability to fairly price free-flowing information and it's insufficient pricing of ecological waste.

Happy New Year!