Politics: October 2015 Archives

From the Left Coast:

Concerns raised over lack of diversity in SF school election results

There's a bit of controversy surrounding student elections at a San Francisco middle school after the results were immediately withheld by the principal because they weren't diverse enough.

The incident happened at Everett Middle School in San Francisco's Mission District. The voting was held Oct. 10, but the principal sent an email to parents on Oct. 14 saying the results would not be released because the candidates that were elected as a whole do not represents the diversity that exists at the school....

According to Principal Lena Van Haren, Everett Middle School has a diverse student body. She said 80 percent of students are students of color and 20 percent are white, but the election results did not represent the entire study body.

"That is concerning to me because as principal I want to make sure all voices are heard from all backgrounds," Van Haren said.

The story quotes the mother of a 7th grader who is unhappy about the principal's decision:

Parent Bianca Gutierrez said the experience has made her son, a 7th grader, rethink his run for class representative. She said he is discouraged and does not want to be a part of the process anymore.

"That should have been something [discussed] prior to elections and prior to the campaigning process," Gutierrez said.

I wonder what voting system they used. Were representatives elected by grade or by homeroom? Was it first-past-the-post or some form of runoff? When constituencies are geographic, a certain amount of diversity is built in, but grades or homerooms at a school are all likely to have about the same proportion of different groups as the overall population. With such a homogeneous population distribution, a voting system designed to produce a plurality or majority result will likely give the most popular faction in the school all the seats.

If geography isn't a factor, and you're trying to produce a result representative of the diversity of the electorate, the Single Transferable Vote method may be the best method. With STV, if the council has M members elected by V voters, a faction of V/(M+1) voters (a number known as the quota) is sufficient to elect a representative.

It sounds like Principal Van Haren would like to classify students by ethnicity and have each ethnicity elect a proportional number of representatives, an approach that brings the final years of apartheid South Africa to mind. What makes STV superior to other forms of proportional representation is that it allows each voter to decide what kind of diversity is most important to him or her, and it also allows the voter to decide which candidate will best represent his or her priorities. A voter could decide that she cares more about having a student council representative who shares her love of Tolkien than having a representative who shares her ethnic background or her year in school. Instead of being assigned a constituency by some bureaucrat, in STV each voter effectively selects his own constituency.

Like instant runoff, in the STV system each voter casts a preferential ballot, marking "1" next to his first choice, "2" next to his second and so on. In instant runoff voting, counting, elimination, and transferring continues until one candidate has a majority of the ballots cast, because the aim is to produce a single candidate acceptable to a majority of voters. In STV, candidates are elected as soon as they can reach the quota of ballots -- V/(M+1).

Ireland uses STV to elect members of parliament from multi-member districts (each with 3, 4, or 5 representatives), which provides a combination of local representation and proportionality. It's also used for European Parliament, Assembly, and local elections in Northern Ireland, where the system ensures that both Unionists and Nationalists are represented, along with a range of opinions within each broader group.


CJP Grey has a "Politics in the Animal Kingdom" video which illustrates the process of STV in multi-member districts.

Politics is about change. If you don't believe change is possible, you're not an advocate for politics; you're simply a guy taking a check, discussing which other guys should get checks.

Ace posted this over a week ago, in reaction to John Boehner's resignation, but it's still worth your time and attention. He explains why Boehner's entire leadership team should be purged and urges Freedom Caucus members and other House Republican outsiders to block them from remaining in leadership.

...Under no circumstances should the Freedom Caucus permit McCarthy, Scalise, or Cathy McMorris Rogers -- all the Boehner Warriors who have brought GOP morale to all-time lows -- to serve in any leadership position. A purge is a purge. To permit any of this crew to profit from their disasters would show the GOP to be what many of us strongly suspect it is -- basically, the Teachers Union for RINOs, an organization devoted to protecting its members jobs and not to serving its alleged constituents.

4. And on that point, note that if McCarthy, Scalise, and McMorris Rogers merely advance one step each in the leadership, then the only person to have paid any price here is Boehner; the rest of them will actually benefit from the Freedom Caucus forcing them out.

They should not benefit. We keep saying, of Obama, that failure ought to have consequences; how can this team be characterized as anything other than complete failures?

Are we rewarding Republican failures while claiming Obama should be held accountable for his own?

At the heart of the GOP failure is the failure to offer Republican voters any hope that things can be better. Congressional Republican leaders offered a great deal of hope in 2014 that GOP majorities in both houses could block and reverse Obamacare and executive amnesty; voters responded enthusiastically, giving Congressional Republicans a clear mandate to block Obama's lawlessness, and the Congressional GOP leadership proceeded to let them down, offering one excuse after another and acting like we were fools to believe their promises of action and resistance.

The fecklessness, failures, and flat-out betrayals of the current GOP leadership has destroyed all hope in the GOP. And a political movement without hope is not a political movement at all; it is simply an advocacy organization for getting a very small number of people cush jobs in the federal government.

If there is to be any hope permitted to the rank and file of the Republican Party, then we need big changes that permit us the illusion and fantasy of hope, without which we are nothing at all, just dejected former Republican voters.

Hope requires a change -- Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, and Cathy McMorris-Rogers are no change at all; they are simply John Boehner's less accomplished inferior employees.

Ace concludes:

I find it increasingly difficult to write about politics now, you may have noticed; it's because I can no longer even pretend to care which a[-----]e is in which federal sinecure.

I think many people feel the way I do.

And if you want to entice the alienated back into the fold, you have to at least let us dream of the possibility of actual change.

That requires allowing us hope -- and not simply doubling-down on the current crop of failures and fainthearts we are obligated, sourly, to call our "leadership."

Hope is a silly illusion, but it is a necessary, sustaining silly illusion.

Faint heart never won fair lady, fellas. Nor have fainthearts ever contributed anything to society, except cowardice and inertia.

Read the whole thing, which includes an analogy involving the Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from October 2015.

Politics: July 2015 is the previous archive.

Politics: November 2015 is the next archive.

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