The Instigator
peacenow
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
bsh1
Con (against)
Winning
14 Points

People should vote on issues and not candidates

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
bsh1
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/24/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 759 times Debate No: 49839
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (4)

 

peacenow

Pro

The premise we will be debating is this:

Instead of voters choosing between candidates for a particular position, voters would vote on a variety of issues on their ballot (similar to the "Big Issues" section of a Debate.org profile). Each candidate would then choose a stance on each of the same issues. Each ballot would then be counted for the candidate that matched the voter's selections most closely. Some mechanism for indicating issue importance could be added as well.

Pro (me) will be arguing that this would be an improvement over what we have today in the United States, with voters voting for candidates directly.

Con will be arguing that this would not be an improvement over what we have today in the United States.

Con may start in Round 1 or use it for acceptance.

Note: This is not a debate on representative democracy versus direct democracy. Read the premise above.
bsh1

Con

I gladly accept this debate, with the understanding that in the hypothetical proposition advanced by Pro that voters would NOT vote for the candidates themselves, but rather would cast their ballots for issues.
Debate Round No. 1
peacenow

Pro

I believe that the new system would be preferable to the one we currently have for a few reasons:

1. No voting based on superficial aspects of the candidates

This new system would prevent people from voting for a candidate without taking their policy positions into consideration or at least not putting them as a top priority.

2. Candidates forced to take positions

No longer would we have wishy-washy candidates who never take a solid stance. This system would require candidates to elaborate a stance, pro or con, on a given issue.

3. No more two-party system

This new system would allow a more wide variety of parties to participate in the electoral process, allowing voters' views to be represented more specifically and therefore more accurately.

4. Less money involved in elections

This new system would make it much more difficult for special interests to have their way, since advertising on behalf of candidates would be futile. Instead, they would have to advertise on behalf of specific policy positions, which would actually open up an arena of discussion around the issue which would be beneficial to the system.
bsh1

Con

I thank Pro for this extremely interesting topic of debate. It's not something I have ever thought about prior to this moment. It should be a fun, engaging discourse! In this round, I will present several reasons why this hypothetical system should be rejected, and then I will refute Pro's case. Thanks, again!

CON's CASE

Observation One: The Plan

As clarified in R1, Pro is arguing for a system that does the following: (1) lists positions on the ballot rather than candidates, (2) has voters vote/choose a stance on positions rather than candidates, (3) the candidate most closely resembling the voters choices would receive that ballot, and (4) issues can be sorted by priority.

Pro is arguing that ONLY the issues should appear on the ballot/be voted on.

Pro cannot change or modify his plan from this point forward. Doing so would be changing the goal posts of the debate, and would place an unfair burden on me for two reasons: (a) it would allow him to dodge problems with his system after I've pointed them out, and (b) it would force me to respond to any and all changes in the very last round, when I may already be heavily constricted by the character count.

Therefore, these four points are fixed. No addendums, amendments, expansions, or changes of any kind may be made to these points. Moreover, since Pro does not specify the level of government this type of voting would be used for, we must assume it is for all levels.

Observation Two: BOP

The BOP is on Pro. He is making a positive claim that he must defend, and is arguing for a very substantial change in the status quo. In lieu of any information otherwise, we must assume Pro bears the entirety of the BOP given the aforesaid facts.

Contentions

1. Viability

Consider how many issues of importance a voter takes into consideration. This upcoming election season, I will be voting for the next Governor of Maryland, and I have myriad issues on my mind going in. Here are some of those issues:

Gay marriage, the Chesapeake Bay, funding for HoCo schools, the gas tax, crime in Baltimore, infrastructure development, funding for education, electoral transparency, abortion, animal rights, Supreme Court appointments, subsidies for cleaner cars, green energy, coal and chemical producing plants, transit system overhaul, Obamacare, real estate, fracking, determining the official state sandwich, increasing manufacturing and unskilled labor opportunities, the minimum wage, fishing controls, park maintenance, cyber security, anti-bullying legislation, healthy food in schools, corruption, harsher laws against domestic violence, alcohol and tobacco use, marijuana legalization, agriculture restructuring, building new schools in Baltimore, ESOL expansion, etc.

Those are just 34 issues that happen to be on my mind. I am sure other Marylanders have concerns that could be added on to this list, such as creating a pro-entrepreneurship environment or traffic taxes.

The point I am making here is that if I am voting on issues that matter to me, there are more issues that I care about than could feasibly fit on a ballot. Consider, that in a presidential year, you might be voting for President, Senate, House, Governor, State Senate, State House, County Executive/Mayor, Comptroller, Attorney-General, County/City Council, School Board, and Sherriff. If we estimate that with each race there about 30 issues of importance, we could have up to 360 issues to read over and vote on. Frankly, most voters do not have the patience to stand in a cramped booth after waiting in line, and check off 360 items. A ballot should not be comparable in size to a small novel. It would discourage people from actually voting.

And what if an issue was left off? For example, what if "Fracking" were left off? Would my opinion on that issue simply not count? Especially if I am a one-issue voter. If the issue I care about, such as internet freedom (e.g. the Pirate Party) were not on the ballot, how could I vote? I couldn't really.

Finally, some issues are extremely complex. Take "School Funding," for example. I think everyone wants schools to have more or adequate funding, but the question is how should those funds be raised and distributed. Let's say there are 10 candidates in a race, and each one has a slightly different, nuanced answer to that question. Would voters be forced to read through paragraphs of information describing the various possible stances on how funding could be increased? Some issues are just too complex to boil down into a few brief and convenient blurbs. This would make it harder to include a range of stances on the ballot, it would make it harder to match stances to candidates, and, if the long paragraphs were used, voters could become confused.

There are (a) too many issues to put on to a reasonably sized ballot, (b) so many issues of interest, that the government will inevitably out issues that voters may want to be included, and (c) so many complexities in issues that they cannot be so easily condensed. Therefore, Pro's suggestion is not viable.

2. Candidates

Consider that a voter does not just want a candidate that agrees with them based on issues; they want someone who is trustworthy, has a good work ethic, has integrity, and is capable to fulfill the duties of the office.

I had a friend who wanted to vote for Ron Paul in the last election, for example. They had almost 100% agreement on the issues, but my friend ended up voting for Romney instead. Why? Because he felt that Ron Paul was too frail and infirm to fulfill the duties of the office of President.

There are so many factors besides issues that go into making a choice for a candidate. You could agree with them 100% of the time on the issues, but still feel that they are too old, sickly, lazy, untrustworthy, or dishonest to do a good job in office.

I will not be voting for Doug Gansler in Maryland's Gubernatorial election because, having personally met him on several occasions, I think he is a royal a$$ who is not only a sleaze, but who is dishonest, willing to use public office for personal benefit, and lazy. But, if I voted just based on the issues, and not based on those personal factors, he would probably get my vote.

There is also the ineffable "likeability factor. Voters want to have someone they feel comfortable with in office, and that sometimes means voting against your issue preferences. I will, for example, be voting for the GOP Candidate for HoCo Executive, because I feel more comfortable with him, and place greater trust in his leadership credentials and experience.

For these reasons, I must urge a Con vote. Thanks!

PRO's CASE

1. No voting on Superficial Aspects of Candidates

Sure, some people vote based on superficial qualities, but I think most voters try to cast sincere, and well-reasoned ballots. Moreover, voters do oftentimes take issues into account, but issues aren't the whole picture. They are only a fragment of it. Experience, trustworthiness, health, etc. all come into play too.

2. Candidates forced to take positions

Candidates do take positions all the time. Look at Obama and his promise of healthcare reform, or Romney and his unwavering promise to undo that reform.

The danger here is that Pro's system would encourage candidates to take only the popular positions. Let's say you know that there are 10 issues on the ballot. By doing extensive polling, you figure out where most voters stand on each of those issues. You then release a platform that is identical to what the voters want. Because you chose the popular side of each issue, you win the elections. Unfortunately, you don't believe in any of those issues, and just took those public stances in order to get elected. Each year thereafter, you could repeat that, where you just take the popular side, and you'd never lose.

Pro's system therefore does not just incentivize candidates to lie about their positions, but it would discourage meaningful debate, because candidates would never take unpopular stances. Candidates would all look virtually the same.

And what if candidates tie? If all the candidates are gravitating towards the same stances, the likelihood of a tie increases exponentially.

3. No more two-party System

Without a two-party system promote unity and orderliness. It creates and organization that helps keep things running, while not always smoothly, at least functionally. If Congress was populated by 500+ individuals with absolutely no organizational ties or affiliations, they are even less likely to cooperate, and more likely to be obstinate and dysfunctional.

4. Less Money

Special Interests would still spend millions of advertising. Instead of touting candidates, you'd get commercials promoting specific issue stances, like "Vote For the Keystone Oil Pipeline." Pro even acknowledges this, saying, "they would have to advertise on behalf of specific policy positions." Any candidate who supported the pipeline would then owe the advertiser for helping them get elected. So, the dysfunction continues.

Thanks! VOTE CON!
Debate Round No. 2
peacenow

Pro

peacenow forfeited this round.
bsh1

Con

I extend all arguments. Please VOTE CON! Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by peacenow 2 years ago
peacenow
ack, got caught up in real life things. Sorry about that Con, you win
Posted by LittleBallofHATE 2 years ago
LittleBallofHATE
I don't see how it would make a difference. Politicians would simply lie about the issues to get elected, then do what they want once they're elected.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by iamanatheistandthisiswhy 2 years ago
iamanatheistandthisiswhy
peacenowbsh1Tied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: I am super sad the last round was forfeited as this had potential as one of the more interesting debates I have read so far on DDO. I was not sure how Con could win this debate, but the complexity issue (i.e. voting taking an hour) is reason enough to not change the system. Arguments and Conduct to Con. Great work.
Vote Placed by Juris 2 years ago
Juris
peacenowbsh1Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: The burden of proof was not satisfied by Pro. His arguments were rebutted sufficiently by Con. Though Pro has great concern for the country, Con managed to counter by attacking the practicability of the proposal. Also, Con made a good argument that voters voting for people is a lot more easier and beneficial as he pointed out that voters need to scrutinize candidates' trustworthiness.
Vote Placed by YYW 2 years ago
YYW
peacenowbsh1Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.
Vote Placed by imabench 2 years ago
imabench
peacenowbsh1Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF