Dec 25, 2023·edited Dec 25, 2023

A "simple selfish ignorant retrospective" voter as you describe them would be far BETTER informed than the average voter. The average voter is hypnotized by tribalist rhetoric that has no connection to empirical results at all.

People mostly vote party line regardless of whether they are better off or worse off. Carter had the best jobs creation record in his first four years of any president since, and he was not re-elected. Biden has the best jobs creation record by this point in his term of any president after Carter, and his polls don't look good. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jobs_created_during_U.S._presidential_terms#/media/File%3AJob_Growth_by_U.S._President_-_v1.png

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You argue that the result would be skewed, but why would that skewedness necessarily be for the worse? "Maybe" it's better for policies to swing towards some kinds of voters on reasons other than numeric?

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How would this apply to sortition-based democratic systems? My understanding is that the appeal of them is that they neither encourage nor benefit from voter awareness campaigns, with the idea being that the selected electors are expected to become educated on the candidates only after being chosen. It would seem that this circumvents the issue of voters getting sucked into coalitions but still involves them becoming much more educated on the election.

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The objection here is specifically to *partial* altruism (i.e. towards a mere subset of other voters), right? So one solution would be to stress that "altruistic" voters are only good if they are *impartial* in their altruism.

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Let us consider the two failure modes of voting:

1) Maximal Short Term Selfishness Voting (Third World, Black Machine Politics Urban Government)

2) Maximum Altruism (Woke Philosopher Kings trying to built perfect society)

Each fails, both because they make coordination impossible. The first rather directly. The second because accurate information on peoples preferences is obscured by altruism and signaling.

The ideal would be someone that tried to show some altruism towards things they know and some degree of long term planning, without descending into ideological fancy.

The main virtue of democracy is that it provides feedback when political leaders fail badly and provides for a peaceful transfer of power. Narrow political power is subject to insider abuse that can get out of hand because the costs can be externalized beyond the narrow political power players with impunity.

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Yes, you can construct some models where creating more informed voters are bad. But it's easy to see that purely retrospective voting gets you into lots of trouble.

For instance, the purely retrospective voter will always favor the canidate who raids future benefits to offer benefits now (eg enter into long term deals with costs in the future once out of office).

Clearly to avoid this kind of impact you want at least some intelligence in a voter. At the very least enough intelligence to understand that if a policy makes stocks plunge, even if they aren't invested in them, it might not be ideal. So sometimes more intelligence is good sometimes bad. The hard question is what situation we are in and I'm not convinced you give us much reason to suppose we are in the case where it's harmful not helpful.

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Am I right in taking from this that these problems only arise from there being asymmetric distributions of information and altruism across (groups of) voters?

If so, should these campaigns not be seen as beneficial provided that they reduce those asymmetries relative to the status quo?

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Dec 26, 2023·edited Dec 26, 2023

There's too much noise in your ideal system. If most of the variation in the electorate's status over one election cycle is due to factors outside the control of the officeholder (probably true), and if (hypothetically, in your ideal system) the electorate is voting for the incumbent based on whether they saw an improvement during his term, then what we'd see is that roughly 50% of the time the incumbent would be kicked out of office for factors independent of his performance. If there are two parties that means they would change place randomly every term. The party with better performing policies would hold office only *slightly* more often than the other party. That's not a good system. The pressure on a politician to adopt the best policies for their electorate would be very small.

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Well, in my voting experience, those whose soi disant efforts are to "help voters become better informed" are generally rent-seeking hucksters, well-meaning fools, or politicians interested in gaslighting away their disastrous (or corrupt) choices -- so yeah no, I have not admired such efforts at all.

The best kind of voters, among who I'd live if I could, would be a surly skeptical lot, who found voting a tiresome form of necessary self-defence, like participating in a neighborhood watch, who more or less instinctively voted against any new-fangled scheme unless it were obviously and transparently in their self-interest. The only things government could then get done would be stuff about which hardly any rational person could cavil -- build a bridge across this river between two polities, defeat this Gorn invasion, hang that murderer. Anything else that seemed good to some majority could only get done by a social mechanism that didn't require the application of violence (or threat of same) to coerce the minority. It baffles me that it isn't generally understood that government is violence: if you wouldn't personally put a gun to someone's head to force him to do X, then you shouldn't be asking goverment to do X, because there is no significant moral difference.

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Typo: "yet more wasteful rest-seeking efforts". - I agree with Dmitrii: it is sweet and dandy (not 'less laudable') if better informed voters are more relevant to politicians than ignorant ones + why should voters be "altruistic" ever - not even the rich are really accused (by most) for voting in their best interest (buying extra-influence is another story) - And happy Xmas/solstice everyone!

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Interesting example of how "logic is a hindsight" can give rise to bad worldbuilding. Possibly, all is not lost. The frame is important.

"Logic is a hindsight" is a type of bias. Developing or suggesting worldbuilding based on gamey theory like this is all very well, and I am not arguing against the truth of the matter here (hindsight is so 2020) but there can be no hindsight without the exact issues you are using hindsight to criticise. If you look only backwards perhaps no one would have children, then there would be no one to make these errors. Survival is a trade-off of bias against bias against hindsight against the just-so story of #ourownlives. Overcoming bias is to be dead.

"Democracy tempts each voter " no that's life not democracy, or least where democracy is an outcome of being alive among others, which gives rise to "democracy" not so much in the first place, but is part of its founding.

Now we need to know about bias, knowing about biases… —that's a gateway drug to enlightenment….

But, what your are describing is more like how accents develop, than how we talk in the first place. And that there is some ideal of elocutions to be found through proper practice and the right traditional techniques, to some perfect neutral schwa we can all say, but then there will be no vowels at all and we would be back grunting, spitting and gesticulating .... pointing back over our shoulders... Generally some capital with an army decides what is the neutral schwa is (despite IPA) and everyone else has a dialect. That morality by other means.

But using what you have said more positively, I would argue that it would be good for politicians (by which I mean anyone engaged in political processes) to use the hindsight gained here in discussion, to look forward (guess/trialanderror/iterate) to actively police against narcisissts and psychopaths, which is what our moral processes are geared to police in the first place. However they seem particularly bad at keeping those OUT who are attract to those exact same positions. And who exploit exactly what you are talking about, the fact we cannot even say their name in this discussions except briefly and in passing with a rather economic "free-rider" term, when it should be a headline is how they have us completely conned. "they"of course being us.

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