Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Open Source E-Voting

One of the (many) issues for Unity08 -- and the larger question of electoral reform -- is how to trust the software. Open Source may not be a panacea, but it definitely seems like a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Harder Questions: Beyond The Litmus Test

I must confess, I am a bit embarrassed at airing my theological dirty laundry on this politically-focused blog; still, I figure it is only fair to let people know where I'm coming from. More importantly, though, I do think the religious Right and Left have both become victims of their own "success." That is, they've found issues that resonate with their "base", and have let those issues (effectively) determine their entire concept of God -- and what He wants!

If our goal is to provide a Unity platform, then I believe it is crucial to re-ask those foundational questions, to see if we can shift the debate onto areas which God (and probably the most people) see as even more important than the many squabbles of yesteryear. Of course I realize I don't have a complete understanding of God (can anyone?), but hopefully these insights can help "move the needle" a little bit closer to what God actually does want.

In this particular case, I've been wrestling with what God wants from "democracy." That's a difficult question, since God has never seemed partial to majority rule (though He does work through randomness, which our democracy often feels like!). However, after reading through I Timothy 3 yesterday, I realized:
God is glorified by a leadership selection process that rewards godly character.
Now, that may seem obvious to even the most casual observer, but I found it deeply significant. In particular, it implies that God cares about the process, not just the result. Further, it emphasizes that God cares about a leader's character far more than his or her beliefs -- the exact opposite of litmus-test politics!

Given that, I've come up a few questions for Unity08's American Agenda that address the issue of character in terms of my so-called 'radical' virtues: humility, justice and love.

  1. We value both tenacity and flexibility in our leaders. When do you think it is appropriate -- perhaps even virtuous -- to "flip-flop" on a publicly held position? How and why?
  2. The President is supposed to serve all the people equally. What will you to do ensure you don't give preferential treatment -- even unconsciously -- to those who happen to share your background, beliefs, or biases?
  3. What obligation does the government have towards those on the margins of society (e.g., the disabled, homeless, illegal immigrants, criminals, etc.)?
Again, I don't presume to have all the answers -- or even all the questions. But at least I have a few more than I did yesterday. :-)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hard Questions

While pondering whether to ramp up my involvement with Unity08 -- specificially around voting methods -- I've been forced to ask the question: does Unity08's philosophy align with my core beliefs? Or, more bluntly, do my political preferences align with what I believe God wants?

At the risk of speaking out of turn, I did manage to identify four things I believe God does want from our leaders:

  • Integrity

  • Justice

  • Concern for Poor

  • Humility before Him

The question is, how do I translate that -- especially the last! -- into a secular context?

Well, Unity08 does have this concept of a New American Agenda, where the delegates pose what they consider the most important questions for potential candidates to address. So, here's my best attempt to address the issues I feel are on God's heart (and I'm hoping will be on mine):

  1. Tell me about a time you were forced to choose between integrity and expediency? How about one where you made the wrong choice?

  2. What is the best long-term solution to reducing both the crime rate and our prison population?

  3. Do you believe is possible to eliminate structural poverty in the United States? How? When?

  4. How does your understanding of "God" (whatever that means to you) shape the way you make decisions?

To be honest, I don't how to answer those questions. But I do think we as a people would be much better off if we had leaders who did.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Question for "Live Chat" on Unity08 Rules

Dr. King and Mr. Turk,

Q: Will the Rules Committee consider adopting "Preferential" (ranked-choice) or "Approval" (one-vote-per-candidate) voting methods for either the initial or final rounds, in order to:

i) reduce the need for strategic (vs. sincere) voting

ii) increase the likelihood of finding a consensus candidate (vs. the one with strongest partisan support)

as described in the online discussion thread.

Thank you,
Ernest N. Prabhakar, Ph.D.

Unity08 Live Chat with the Rules Committee, Thursday, April 12th at 9 AM Pacific Time

Monday, April 02, 2007

Why Major Parties Need Unity08 (?)

The Decoy Effect.
In the actual world, however, third candidates regularly have the unintended effect of making one of the front-runners look better than before in the minds of undecided voters.

Hmm. The tricky question, of course, is whether any "major" candidate feels that they would be better off with an appropriate third-party candidate for comparison.