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In the U.S. primary voting system, caucuses ought to be abolished.
in United States

Position: For
By whiteflamewhiteflame 423 Pts edited April 10
DebateIsland.com March 2018 Tournament | Finals
someone234agsrWilliamSchulzwith_all_humilityaarongblamonkey



Debra AI Prediction

For
Predicted To Win
56%
Likely
44%
Unlikely

Details +


For:

55% (54 Points)


Against:

45% (44 Points)



Votes: 8


Debate Type: Traditional Debate



Voting Format: Moderate Voting

Opponent: someone234

Rounds: 3

Time Per Round: 24 Hours Per Round


Voting Period: 24 Hours


Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Voting


Arguments



  • Round 1 | Position: For

    I’d like to start by congratulating @someone234 for getting to this final round for a second time. Given his performance in the last tournament makes him a sort of incumbent champion, I’m sure I have my work cut out for me. But, then again, so does he.

     

    To start us off, a quick set of definitions to provide a basis for this debate:

     

    Primary voting: this is a process by which the general public can indicate their preference for a candidate in an upcoming election, thus narrowing the field of candidates.

    Caucuses: A meeting of supporters or members of a specific political party or movement.(I’ll detail this further at the top of my case)

    Ought: Expresses an obligation, advisability, natural expectation, or logical consequence.

    Abolished: To completely do away with something

     

    Onto some burdens analysis.

     

    First, I carry the chief burden in this debate, which is to explain why caucuses ought to be abolished in our current system. If Con opts to support the status quo, then my burden is to show that abolishing caucuses is net beneficial over the present system. Con could then choose to either show that this would be a net harmful policy choice, or that it simply would not be net beneficial, meaning I would not have met my burden. However, the only reason I’m bearing the burden in this debate is because I’m seeking to alter the status quo. If Con chooses to propose a counter plan of some kind, he would then choose to bear a similar burden in support of that counter proposal because he would also seek to modify the status quo. In that case, it would simply be a comparison of the net benefits of our two cases.

    Second, while we are talking about primary voting, note that this resolution is solely about caucuses and their function within that system. As such, it would not be within the grounds of the debate for me to argue that the primary voting system should be abolished, even though this would also end the caucuses for said system. Con can take any position that negates this resolution, so if he wishes to propose changes to the system in general, he may do so. However, he must maintain caucuses within that system, otherwise whatever system he proposes would not be mutually exclusive.

     

    With all of that out of the way, I’ll now present a model on which my argument is based.

    As I stated earlier, my burden in this debate is to propose a system where caucuses are abolished in the US primary voting system. The means for doing so are simple: the federal government would require states to hold primaries during national elections, and all political parties involved in these primaries would be required to affirm this change by adding a plank to their national conventions.

    I’ve already stated that the chief means I will use to support my side in this debate is net benefits. The lens through which those benefits will be analyzed is, what best ensures that our government upholds its basic duties to its citizens and functions in a more representative capacity?

     

    Now, I’m going to provide a bit of background on caucuses first to ground everyone in the realities that we currently face, and then dig into the question of what the consequences are of using caucuses.

     

    How does a caucus function, how is it distinct from a primary, and why do political parties use them?

     

    “A caucus… is conducted as a special election. Those who are registered with the party all meet up with other members of their precinct, where they vote for their nominations for local government, vote for presidential candidates, and select delegates to further represent them as the party moves forwards.

    A primary, on the other hand, is conducted as more of a traditional election, all people who wish to vote simply attend the polls during the hours that they are open, and vote for whichever candidate that they think is correct.”

    There are few key differences. A caucus has a shorter time frame, usually limited to the length of a single meeting set at a specific time in a specific location. A primary is extended out over a longer period of time and can have multiple polling sites, meaning that it inherently has higher capacity. Caucus votes are sometimes “conducted by a show of hands or tallying of people as they move into groups,” whereas primaries are done with the usual secret ballot. Caucuses are also far more limited in their usage, as “only 13 [US states] still use the caucus system over the primary.”

     

    What is the actual effect of having these caucuses?

     

    The harms all result from restricting voter participation, and those effects are quantifiable. The following images tell a clear story regarding how suppressed voter turnout is in states with caucuses as compared to states with primaries.



    Note that, with the exception of Idaho, every state with a caucus has by far the lower turnout when it comes to selecting candidates for each political party. That’s particularly staggering considering that voter turnout for the general election was a lot higher in all those states.


    "The caucus method of voting consistently produces lower voter turnout than the primary election method of voting," the committee notes in a press release. "The comparisons are striking." This is not new information: “As far back as 1976, turnout across all of the presidential primaries was 1.9 percent for caucuses and 28.2 percent for primaries.”[1]

     

    Why are caucuses getting such low turnout?

    In part, it’s because of how restrictive they are. They’re often “closed to independents,” and voters are required “to show up at specific time – often at night and during the work week. The process can take hours.” They “traditionally do away with absentee and other early voting options,” removing options that make primary voting in other states more accessible. That’s a problem for anyone with kids or a boss that requires them to put in their hours at work. And for those who do make it out to vote, their decisions are “often public to everyone who attends the caucus”, which means they lack the basic voting privacy that primaries afford them.[1] And it doesn’t help that the facilities used to run these caucuses are extremely limited in size, so even in instances where more people show up, they “experience long lines, crammed voting rooms, and an overall unpleasant experience.”[2]

    All of this ensures that only certain portions of the population will vote in a caucus. “The caucuses favor turnout among people who have time on their hands, like students who have yet to return to college from winter break.” As a percentage of people attending, students have an out-sized level of control over the results of a caucus as a result, though I should note that turnout is still far lower (even among students) than in states with a straight primary, mainly because it’s less burdensome. The same holds true for the elderly, which “traditionally constitute a larger share of Iowa caucus attendees than of primary voters.” And the data shows what kind of effect this actually has in elections. “When candidate support among the different ages of Iowa caucus attendees are applied to the age distribution of the 2004 New Hampshire Democratic primary electorate, support for Obama and John Edwards rises, while support for Clinton actually decreases.”[3] So, while primaries may experience these issues to some degree, caucuses clearly exacerbate them, sometimes to incredible degrees. Again, the numbers are clear. In 2004, only 6% of eligible Iowans caucused while 30% of New Hampshire citizens voted in their primary that same year. In 2008, those numbers were 16.1% and 53.6%, respectively. This repeats, year after year.[4]

     

    Why does all this matter? Why should we care about low voter turnout in caucuses?

     

    Democratic governments function under the assumption that they represent their constituents. Not some subset of their constituents, but all of them. Expanding voter participation is essential because it ensures that that government is more representative of the people. Groups that don’t vote won’t be represented by their elected officials because they provide no incentive to do so, and when the system actively excludes them, it’s actively seeking to reduce the overall level of representation symbolized by the government. And let’s be clear: a caucus is exclusionary in essential ways that primaries are not. Have children and can’t find a babysitter? Have an elderly parent that needs consistent help? Working extra hours just to make ends meet? You can’t participate, and there is no recourse. If you're disabled, then good luck voting in one of these, as "studies show that people with disabilities rely disproportionately on absentee voting and turn out less when there is no absentee option." Voting by mail can be essential for many of these people, though their disenfranchisement falls on deaf ears. Perhaps most egregiously, the members of our military who are active abroad are unable to vote because they cannot submit an absentee ballot.[5] 

    Having a lower number of people voting doesn’t just reduce the diversity of those voices, it actively skews the process towards the interests of voters that are willing to spend the hours in the middle of a work day to come to a caucus, and those people are “the most committed and ideological.” This regularly polarizes candidates. Nominees are using the skewed participation to their advantage, speaking to very specific audiences to boost their odds. “In 2012, former Senator Rick Santorum was able to capture a surprise victory in the Iowa caucuses by appealing to the evangelical base of the state party, promising to visit every county in the state and holding numerous meetings with Republican caucus-goers.”[3] By playing that kind of out-sized role in the process of nomination, these people are effectively shunning other voters, which is a problem when the general election will feature a lot more of those who were excluded. They won't get much of a choice.

     

    So, we functionally have two major problems.

     

    First, this process leads to the nomination of different people that do not represent a substantial portion of their voting constituents. This can result from the nomination of an individual who would not receive a majority vote in a primary. However, even if the same candidate would have won in a primary, the process of going through a caucus alone is enough to ensure that they are beholden to a select minority of voters. They essentially owe those voters for putting them in a position where they could win an elected office, and as a result, their platforms remain heavily biased by that very same selective crowd. It doesn’t help that states like Iowa have an out-sized amount of power as a result of their position in the primary voting process, capable of making or breaking campaigns before any other state gets a say.[6] That makes their influence dramatically out-sized, and turns what could be a small, local problem into a large, national one.

     

    Second, this fundamentally damages public perception of democracy. When voters feel excluded from the process of selecting a candidate, they have little reason to invest themselves in a general election that affords them the least amount of options from their party. They also have little reason to trust any other part of that same voting system when they’re excluded from any steps in that process, viewing their votes as relatively meaningless compared with the out-sized voices that were represented in the caucuses.

     

    As I’ve stated before, it’s a basic part of US government to seek input from as many Americans as possible. Doing so legitimizes the government by providing meaningful input from a broader subset of Americans, and lacking that input delegitimizes our representative government. As a nation, we should never seek to reduce our own legitimacy, particularly in such a direct way as this. This is the reason that higher courts across the country have been striking down laws that make it more difficult for people to vote. In fact, some of the same problems (like reducing early absentee voting opportunities) are markedly akin to those caused by the caucus system.[7-9]

    Like these failed voting laws, the caucus system is inherently disenfranchising by making it more difficult for certain people vote. It is long past time that these outdated rituals faded into obscurity.

     

    1. https://www.vox.com/2016/5/2/11535648/bernie-sanders-closed-primaries-caucuses

    2. https://sahsponyexpress.com/41783/uncategorized/abolish-the-caucus-instate-the-primary/

    3. https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/the-generational-turnout-war/

    4. https://www.thenation.com/article/caucuses-will-still-lack-absentee-voting/

    5. http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.roa.org/resource/resmgr/LawReviews/2012/12013-LR.pdf

    6. https://www.cnn.com/2016/01/29/politics/iowa-caucuses-explainer/index.html

    7. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/07/20/voting-rights-photo-id-supreme-court-texas/87349070/

    8. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/15/528457693/supreme-court-declines-republican-bid-to-revive-north-carolina-voter-id-law

    9. https://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2014/10/15/arkansas-supreme-court-strikes-down-voter-id-law


    agsr
  • Round 1 | Position: Against
    someone234someone234 606 Pts
    edited April 10

    Hi there, whiteflame.


    So let’s ignore the shenanigans that went on to extend the timer previous to him posting that Round. Let’s ignore that I saved him Round One and that both my opponents were both too terrified to post a single word in their debates against me (I won’t link them, that’s what ignoring means).


    I’m just incumbent from Round One apparently, not because I’m so flawless and terrifying… Yeah, let’s stick to that story. You’re not too bad yourself, Whiteflame. I like your intellect if nothing else, you process information very well for a human being. So let’s also ignore that I’m the incumbent champion, there’s just here right now and one of us is leaving here the victor.


    I like the respect you show me because it isn’t fear, it’s actual respect as you know I’m an impressive debater and I will show you the same respect because I know the same of you.


    Best of luck, opponent.




    Foreword


    From this point on, I will refer to the user ‘whiteflame’ (my opponent) as Prop because they represent the side of proposition of this debate. They refer to me as ‘Con’ because I’m the contender but if I refer to myself in the third person, I will refer to myself as ‘Opp’ because I represent the side of opposition in this debate.


    While it’s not ever said to be ‘right’ in a dictionary, I strongly believe that it’s ‘right’ to capitalise ‘Caucus’ and ’Primary’ as in this debate they are most certainly a proper noun for something and not a common noun (especially not Primaries). I will be using British English (the real English, yes it is you cannot deny it) and if anyone votes me down for spelling and grammar due to either of these, they are trolling and should be banned permanently from voting. I have put a huge amount of effort to have extremely good grammar regardless of what Debra AI says in this debate and would request that you scrutinise every nook and cranny for correct or incorrect spelling and grammar before voting.


    I will like to quote Prop on how they view this debate in terms of angles that can be taken:


    “I carry the chief burden in this debate, which is to explain why caucuses ought to be abolished in our current system. If Con opts to support the status quo, then my burden is to show that abolishing caucuses is net beneficial over the present system. Con could then choose to either show that this would be a net harmful policy choice, or that it simply would not be net beneficial, meaning I would not have met my burden. However, the only reason I’m bearing the burden in this debate is because I’m seeking to alter the status quo. If Con chooses to propose a counter plan of some kind, he would then choose to bear a similar burden in support of that counter proposal because he would also seek to modify the status quo. In that case, it would simply be a comparison of the net benefits of our two cases.”


    I will now say what I agree on:


    • Prop has ‘chief BoP’ in this debate. [G1]

    • Prop must explain why caucuses ought to be abolished.

    • The burden includes proving that abolishing caucuses is net-beneficial as well as explaining why it’s net beneficial enough to alter what the current amount of states that opt for Caucuses is.

    • The ‘counter plan’ I would offer that would involve increases the amount of states that host Caucuses, results in me having a secondary BoP that Prop then must attack and the form of BoP I’d possess would be extremely similar to that of the Chief BoP that Prop has.

    • If I opt for that approach, this becomes a comparison debate about who met their BoP stronger and defended it better against the other meeting theirs. This is how the voters should ‘measure’ one against the other.


    I will now say what I disagree on:

    • It’s not an ‘or’ matter that Opp must opt to either offer a counter-plan or to simply negate that altering  the status quo by abolishing Caucuses is net-beneficial, Opp should (not can, should) do both in this debate.

    • There is a system I can propose that will alter how the BoPs compete. This system is how I will destroy you, sorry Whiteflame.



    What Was WhiteFlame’s Case and What Was Wrong With It?


    The first issue, WhiteFlame never explains why both shouldn’t be hosted. Why are the States making it one or the other? This is never answered in his entire debate. If he can’t answer this, then all the point she brought supporting Primary-only methodology can be included in my alternate system where the States are only mandated to host primaries (yes mandated to, even in current Caucus states) and I will explain later why it should be strongly encouraged to host Caucuses and how Caucuses dying out is exactly why politics has ended up with two candidates that many passionately like more than the other into Trump vs. Hillary (I know that seems like an emotive insult but I will explain why these two candidates are pretty much the blandest, least passionately backed pair of candidates in the entire history of U.S. elections[1][2][3] and this is directly linked to... Not necessarily caused by but directly correlated with) the decline of Caucuses in politics and the culture of an uninformed, widely-appealed voting base and not a well-informed, specifically targeted one.


    The second issue with his case is that he falsely associates the statistics with being caused by not getting rid of Caucuses. The real issue is that Caucuses are being held as an opposing option to Primaries rather than a combined one. If you read the fine-print of his charts, they are not even including Republican voters for some states and Nevada has the opposite issue of not including Democrat voters. I’m unsure which exact ‘turnout’ this is referring to and from what amount the percentage is being drawn. The charts seem to ignore the fact that these people were having Hillary vs Trump and the states that have many Caucuses were being neglected by them as Primaries are much easier to win if you appeal to the masses (I will explain why later).


    I would say that Whiteflame has issue with getting rid of primaries but I ask him why on Earth both are not hosted and compared for the party to truly see if the more-tryhard voters that are clearly more informed prefer the same candidate as the masses in Primaries in the same state.


    Let me reiterate. Nowhere in the entire case that WhiteFlame makes (which is not his fault, it’s the fault of the way US politics is pitting one against the other) does he argue against a three-stage election process whereby caucuses are compared with primaries to really hone in on the best candidates to represent parties for the general election.


    Another aspect Whiteflame fails to mention is why don’t we amend Caucuses to be longer than they currently are (at least a full 24 hours so busy people can make it there and genuinely hear part of the speeches, and perhaps even have recorded Caucus footage with ‘highlights’ playing for people walking in later (yes I know I’m amending what a Caucus is physically but this is not cheating and I will explain why later) and just basically he doesn’t explain why Caucuses are the wrong option, only that they are too short and specialised (which is due to the time-frame and how many topics one can cover during those few hours).



    Why Caucuses should, if anything, be combined with Primaries and the mistake was dropping them rather than fixing them


    As Prop agrees, Caucuses are too short. All issues with Caucuses are due to their timeframe of 2-3 hours.[4] It’s because they are for no real reason held so short and in such bursts that not nearly enough questions across enough topics can be asked to make them accessible to all voter groups and help them get informed. It’s rushed, because they realised less people were turning up maybe and bothered less with them and focused much more on appealing to the widespread uninformed masses who could easily vote over a phone app (yes including the disabled, I don’t deny that) and stand for very little on many topics rather than very much on a select few that they can be questioned in-depth about. Whatever you say about Trump and Hillary, they are the epitome of what a nation of non-caucus-Primary-dominant states end up bringing into the finals. All politicians that had any depth to them got eliminated but it is wrong to say that is due to how restrictive Caucuses are. The issue with Caucuses is that the time-frame was so small that people got fed up with them. Politicians saw less benefit to bother investing into their performance at them which perpetuated the cycle that resulted in everything seeming to justify itself in a nonsensical outcome of getting rid of the best event to inform the populace of who they are voting on.


    Caucuses should have been made longer and bigger events with a variety of topics in them and much longer questioning time. This would undoubtedly have helped even the masses find some time to walk in and get more informed when making their vote. If Whiteflame is going to negate how important having many informed voters is and say that many voters is more important than the quality of information the voters have, he is welcome to try and present that and I will negate it in round 2 with the fundamental philosophies upon which democracy and voting itself are built.


    The fact is that Caucuses have been depleted because they were too short with too little funding going into their broadcast and even into the amount of seats and overall size of the venues (I’m assuming here). It was a vicious cycle where the time frame eventually spiralled all ther way into ‘doom’ and no state with high voter turnout (yes this caused the Caucuses to get replaced, not the other way around) ended up opting for the option that seemed better for most because Caucuses were made into such a hard-to-access event when it’s actually the responsibility of the parties to host as good-quality and in-depth Caucuses as they can that can inform so many voters on what they really do stand for and hear attacks from voters and defend against them so as to improve their own party’s policies if nothing else.


    Caucuses are a brilliant tool, both for the politician to improve their own promised policies by hearing critique from more passionate voters who will interact more heavily during the Caucus and by teaching people a lot of things about topics they may otherwise not have known.


    The fact that US politics made every state choose either a tiny 2-3 hour gap where you physically have to be there to hear it all and vote or a ‘regular primary’ where no event is really officially held to inform voters and hear them out is the real problem. This ‘2-3 hour Caucus or 24-hour Regular Primary where you can even vote from your phone’ ultimatum is why it looks as if Caucuses are so hideous. Caucuses are brilliant, the way they got restricted and made to turn into a pathetic 2-3 hour rushed event is why uncoincidentally states where more voters wanted to vote were pressured into switching to ‘regular primary’.


    I conclude that the Caucuses combined with easier access and bigger time-frame to vote is the ultimate US political system to aim for. Each State should indeed have an official even where voters can hear and speak to their preferred party’s candidate(s) and truly understand what they are even voting between when they cast their ‘primary’ vote.


    Glossary

    [1] Burden-of-Proof (BoP) 


    Sources

    [1] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/19/hillary-clinton-donald-trump-unpopular-polling

    [2] https://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/most-hated-american-politicians-all-time.html/?a=viewall

    [3] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2016/08/31/poll-clinton-trump-most-unfavorable-candidates-ever/89644296/

    [4]

    https://lifehacker.com/what-are-caucuses-and-how-do-they-work-1756362852


    agsr
    Be tomorrow's hero, not today's idol.
  • Round 2 | Position: For

    I’d like to thank @someone234 for presenting an intriguing opening round. He’s always been the pinnacle of humility, and for that I salute him. Presenting himself as Morpheus when he could have been Neo? It’s like selecting a young Anakin Skywalker when he could have been a Jedi Master. Makes it all the stranger that he's celebrating his victory so early. Well, I guess I'll have to break the news...

    I’ll start off with a couple of overviews.


    OV1: Hold my opponent to the counter plan he has presented. Con is welcome to clarify the vague aspects of his case in R2, but he may not add new planks now that we’ve moved beyond the opening round. Just as it would be incredibly abusive for me to add pieces to my case in this round and essentially invalidate arguments made by Con, it would be abusive for Con to add pieces that invalidate my arguments in this round.

    OV2: The reason you don’t see me providing reasons why you can’t do both a caucus and primary in the same states is rather simple: it’s never been done before. I guess that’s why Con provided absolutely no sources supporting his case. His case is entirely theoretical, and not just because of the fusion of primary voting styles. Mandating specific standards that every caucus state must follow, including requiring that they rent facilities of specific sizes and with specific audiovisual equipment, has never been done, either. For all Con’s attempts to make his case sound oh so simple, he’s pushing policies that go well beyond the normal and supporting them through little more than assertion.

     

    Onto some case defense.

    Con has done scant little to attack any portion of my case. He’s either conceded or dropped every single harm that applies to the current system of caucusing. As such, much as he contends that he can and should argue that my case is not net beneficial, he’s making it rather difficult to do so. His counter plan relies on the view that there are substantial problems with caucuses as we have them today, and that he can resolve them. So, either Con is eschewing the opportunity to argue that my case has no net benefits, or he’s resigning himself to accepting those net benefits and trying to outweigh them with the harms he’s presented. If he’s going for the latter, he’s not starting off very well.

     

    Con only has two “issues” with my case.

     

    The first is that states can run both caucuses and primaries together, and that removing caucuses from the system has effectively led to the nomination of “the blandest, least passionately backed pair of candidates in U.S. elections”. Let’s assume that he’s right about both Trump and Hillary being bland. The problem is that he doesn’t provide any support whatsoever for his “correlation” between “Caucuses dying out” and the rise of such candidates. He cites 3 articles and claims that they reveal a correlation, none of which even say the word “caucus” in them. That means that his sole support for this is the unsourced claim that “the decline of Caucuses in politics and the culture of an uninformed, widely-appealed voting base and not a well-informed, specifically targeted one.”

    And yet, Con provides no evidence whatsoever that caucuses do inform voters in any meaningful way. Remember those two candidates he despises so much? They were nominated in a system that is anchored by many important caucuses in states like Iowa. Con drops my argument that these states have an out-sized amount of power because of their position in the primary voting process, which means that they’re capable of making or breaking campaigns before any other state gets a say. Despite that, caucusing did not stop either Trump nor Hillary from being nominated. Caucus states failed to prevent their nomination, and Con isn’t implementing a system that will force other states to caucus, so even if caucusing could potentially have changed the outcome if it had been expanded, Con’s system doesn’t expand it.

    But all of this is besides the point because Con does not impact out this argument. What exactly is the harm of having bland candidates? He doesn’t say. Instead, he just seems to assume that because they were bland, they have been harmful to the US. Regardless of whether Con would have selected a separate candidate, these are the candidates that got nominated by the primary voting process. We can imagine all manner of possible different outcomes and formulate all kinds of alternate realities, but that doesn’t make their nominations net harmful because we can’t know for certain what those worlds would have looked like. We can’t reasonably compare reality to fiction, nor can we look back at previous nominees (almost all of whom just so happened to be rich white men, which seems pretty bland to me… just saying) as an indication of what the nominees could have been under some unknown system.

     

    The second issue targets my statistics, though Con goes nowhere with this. First off, he doesn’t explain why this matters. Even if my statistics don’t show what I’m claiming, he’s conceding the argument that caucuses in the status quo are flawed and do exclude voters. Whether you agree with the numbers or not doesn’t alter that conceded reality. Second, he’s just plain wrong. The first map image in my argument is solely based on Republican turnout, and the second is based solely on Democratic turnout. Yes, some states aren’t included, but the trends are clear: across both political parties, the number of eligible voters participating in the primary voting process (that’s what “turnout” is: total ballots counted divided by the voting-eligible population [10]) is significantly lower in states with a caucus system than it is in states with a primary system. This is during the primary process, which means they had a plethora of options available to them beyond Hillary and Trump. Nonetheless, when it came time to vote in the general election (when Hillary and Trump were the only options), these trends were reversed, with many caucus states showing up at the polls in larger numbers than other states. That’s an enormous difference, and it’s the result of a system that actively excludes many eligible voters.

     

    With that out of the way, I’ll point out the arguments that Con dropped.

     

    Con drops that caucuses usually occur during the work week. As such, Con’s case still disenfranchises many people, including those that work longer hours, particularly double shifts (they would have to choose between sleeping and caucusing, since they wouldn’t have the opportunity of attending on a weekend), poor parents or those with an elderly parent (they still have to be with their kids/parent), the disabled and those abroad, including the military.

    Con drops that a major problem with caucuses is the lack of absentee voting. This lack fundamentally excludes anyone who is out of state and anyone who is physically unable to attend the caucus. They don’t get a chance to vote in either the status quo or under Con’s counter plan.

    Con drops that caucuses require a very public presentation of one’s vote. People who prefer to be private with their voting, or may fear the consequences of presenting their vote among a group that may be dominated by voters with different opinions, will continue to feel left out by a system that forces them to publicly out themselves.

     

    Before I get into the substance of Con’s case and address how it works, I have to cover just how vague this thing is.

     

    Con’s case is missing some pieces.

    First, what is the actual plan? Con uses a good deal of his argument to examine potential fixes to the problems involved in holding caucuses in the status quo, all of which amounts to two key fixes: extending the length of caucuses and increasing the capacity of venues, both by broadcasting recordings of specific portions of the caucuses and by expanding the size/seating at those locations. The former is confusing. The reason caucuses run for a few hours is because voters are required to be there for a certain length of time, and then a single vote is called, during which hands are counted. Con hasn’t explained how he’s going to alter that to fit a longer time frame. He’s also encouraging states to run caucuses, though he doesn’t appear to enforce this. He just seems to push states to use a caucus system in tandem with their primary, which includes no carrot or stick to incentivize any such changes.

    The most important change he’s making is that he’s mandating states to host primaries alongside caucuses, and that’s where things become unclear. How would a caucus and a primary coexist? Con doesn’t explain how much each would factor into the selection of a nominee – instead, he asserts that both will play a role without explaining how they would compare. By not specifying, Con is effectively ensuring that the states that will be forced to run a primary will only do so for show. Their attachment to the caucus system ensures that they will effectively ignore the primary results, essentially just reverting to the caucus-only system. Remember, Con hasn’t provided a single harm to primaries, and actually steals a plank from my plan requiring that all states use them, so it’s clear that he finds them to be beneficial.

     

    Second, who, exactly, is implementing this? Con seems to jump around on this issue. At once, he wants the parties to be responsible for running a good caucus in each of these states, wants the states to be required to run primaries, and wants to require… someone… to use larger venues with substantial equipment for far longer for each of these. Let’s ignore the actual cost of all this for now (I’ll come back to that). Instead, let’s focus on who’s doing all this.

    Is the federal government setting down some kind of law that’s forcing parties “to host as good-quality and in-depth Caucuses as they can”? Is it the state government? Local? What sort of enforcement measure are they putting into place? How can you force parties to do a better job presenting at caucuses? Is the federal government forcing states to run these primaries? If so, who’s paying for them? Is it the federal government, or are individual states covering the excess costs? Who is reserving these venues? Who’s paying for them? Who is acquiring the audiovisual equipment required?

    Remember, unlike my case, Con isn’t simply replacing something that is already present in these states. He’s not toning down costs, he’s not paring down responsibilities, he’s simply making things more difficult by setting additional requirements on caucuses and requiring that primaries be run. And in the process, he’s not providing any means by which these resources can be collected.

     

    That just leaves us with what we can clearly derive from Con’s case.

    Con’s case is built on a few major assumptions, all of which are either blatantly wrong or simply far more of a mixed bag than he lets on. I’ll go through them one by one.

     

    1.       Caucuses afford clear benefits

    Con never supports this argument beyond assertion. His argument all seems to be that political parties should always provide “good-quality and in-depth” information at these caucuses, yet he provides no examples of a caucus providing meaningful information to any subset of voters. Meanwhile, as I pointed out last round, it’s clear that many candidates use caucuses as an opportunity to speak to a vocal minority within the state, securing the vote of the people who are likeliest to attend rather than seeking the approval of a majority of the state. Rick Santorum winning Iowa in 2012 is a perfect sample of this. He didn’t use the platform of a caucus as an opportunity to provide meaningful information about his candidacy, he simply focused his efforts on the evangelical base in the state, effectively ignoring other voters to get a majority of caucus-goers.[3]

     

    2.       All the problems with caucuses can be fixed with the counter plan

    The drops belie just how wrong this assumption is. Any caucuses that happen during the week, as they often do, would exclude a wide variety of people. The lack of absentee voting ensures the continued disenfranchisement of the disabled and active military. Lastly, the requirement to make one’s vote public excludes anyone who fears being shouted down or challenged on their vote.

    And all of this is just revisiting issues I talked about in the opening round. It doesn’t help Con’s case that discrepancies between tallies at a local level and numbers reported to the state parties are a significant problem. If Con wants to talk about issues that helped Hillary win the nomination, he should probably look to Iowa, where confusion over delegate equivalents led to a razor thin margin of victory for her.[11] A primary vote would have automatically triggered a recount at that margin using ballots, yet the lack of such ballots allowed the chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party to reject any review of the votes in this caucus system.

     

    3.       Running caucuses and primaries simultaneously is simple

    Not a stated assumption, but Con appears to believe this, as he doesn’t capitalize on the opportunity to explain how both would be run. Con will need to ensure that voters have some faith in either end of this system, which means they’ll have to be clearly and cleanly monitored, recounts will have to be available for both, and facilities will have to be clean, easily accessible and large enough to account for all the people who could come. For the primaries, polling places are already in place, as are recount systems. For caucuses, Con is talking about massively scaling up the available facilities in every state where these occur. They need to have substantial audiovisual equipment available (particularly if they’re playing recordings on repeat), as well as buildings large enough to house tens of thousands of people (though that’s only for states in which caucuses are currently being run – larger states will require more substantial facilities) and seating for all those people. There will need to be sufficient staff to run the show at each of these facilities, as well as staff at each polling place. They would have to be hired for longer and be required to do more (generate and re-run recordings, monitor and record the votes of a larger crowd).

    These expenses would have to come from somewhere. Costs currently come from the state, and they will now be required to run a primary, so there are two possible outcomes: either bite the increased cost of running both caucuses and primaries, or stop running caucuses. If they do the former, they’re likely to cut costs wherever possible, reducing trust in both processes. If they do the latter, then Con’s plan eliminates caucuses, making it indistinguishable from mine.

     

    4.       The combination of caucuses and primaries is better for democracy

    The assumption here is that more voice = better democracy, i.e. more chances to learn about candidates and vote based on that information fundamentally improves the democratic process. I’ve already shown that attendees don’t learn anything significant from the process, save that a candidate is or is not pandering to them to get a leg up in the primary process. The fact that most everyone attending a caucus is already very vocal and strongly decided in their views doesn’t help Con’s argument, either.

    However, the big problem is that we don’t know how caucuses and primaries interact in Con’s counter plan. We don’t know if someone can attend and vote in a caucus and then go to their local polling place and cast their vote again in the primary (doing so would give anyone who has the extra time double the voice). We don’t know if a vote made at a caucus will count for more, less or the same as a vote cast in a primary. If it counts for more, then Con is effectively making the mandatory primaries a useless waste of money because fewer people will participate in them and the results won’t be very meaningful. If it counts for less, then Con is effectively eliminating the caucus with his counter plan, since those votes are basically meaningless. If they’re equal, then Con’s counter plan is still basically eliminating the caucus because people aren’t going to spend the hours required to vote there if they have the option of the far more rapid and private primary process.

    Con’s shooting himself in the foot by providing the primaries as an option alongside the caucus. Regardless of how he chooses to implement it, he will be effectively eliminating one of the two for most of the states in which they’re implemented and providing an opportunity for people with more time on their hands to game the system even further in their favor by voting in both the primary and the caucus in their state.

     

    5.       Primaries alone are harmful to democracy

    This is more of an inherent assumption that underlies all his arguments, rather than a clear assertion made by Con somewhere in the debate. While Con does at several points argue that caucuses would be beneficial for voting in the US, he never clearly articulates where primaries are deficient. In fact, as his counter plan includes a plank that makes primaries mandatory in every state, he seems to be under the assumption that primaries are net beneficial for the US. So, perhaps Con is trying to argue that caucuses fill in gaps that the primary system leaves open, though it’s unclear precisely where those gaps are. Candidates make their platforms easily available online, and they run town halls separate from caucuses. Con’s argument implies that voters in states where caucuses don’t occur are somehow less informed than voters in caucus states, yet he presents no evidence of this.

    At the very least, Con’s assuming that these states have more political engagement, i.e. people who are willing to go out of their way to go to a caucus so that they can learn something. Yet, when correlation analysis was done on political engagement across each state, the states that have caucuses did not all rank at the top. While Colorado, Maine, Minnesota and Iowa are in the top 7, other caucus states like North Dakota, Nebraska, and Alaska run towards the middle or bottom of the list. Hell, one of those states (Hawaii) is 47th. Meanwhile, they’re all beaten out by the District of Columbia and Wisconsin, neither of which have caucuses.[12] So, despite Con's claims, there's not even a hint of the trend he's assuming exists.


    Conclusion:

    Con's case is an interesting idea, albeit one that doesn't appear to be fully elucidated. He seems more interested in finding a clever way to counter my case without actually engaging with the substance of it, though his efforts seem to have done him little good. He's still left with the unenviable task of having to explain why the inherently exclusionary aspects of caucuses make them beneficial for voting in the US, and his efforts to fix the problems, while admirable, are just poking new holes in his argument. At best, Con is resolving some of the superficial problems with caucuses, only to find himself facing a bevy of new problems that arise when you try to implement an untested, unsupported and ill-defined mishmash of a plan. In an effort to do everything, he's going to end up doing more harm than good. Only my case, all the advantages of which are untouched, provides a clear and clean benefit that does not exist in status quo.


    With that, Con, it's...


    10. http://www.electproject.org/2016P

    11. http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/iowa-2016-provides-yet-more-evidence-for-the-argument-against-caucuses/

    12. https://wallethub.com/edu/most-least-politically-engaged-states/7782/#main-findings

  • Round 2 | Position: Against
    someone234someone234 606 Pts
    edited April 11

    Why Morpheus and not Neo?

    You’re ‘whiteflame’ I’m your ‘black’ counterpart. ;)


    “Neo, energetic and self-confident, uses a very high technique to prove the capacities he has just acquired at jiu-jitsu.

    Contrary to his student, Morpheus, very quiet, knows how to use his power and easily beats Neo. At the end of the first round, the master is standing whereas Neo is lying on the floor. Morpheus helps Neo to find himself what his

    weaknesses are. He tells him, not without a sense of irony, that success has nothing to do with muscles. Neo has to search elsewhere for the clue to victory. During the second round, he seems to understand how to fight beyond his real capacities. He becomes quieter and the camera shows him in slow motion, as if his movements couldn't be seen at real speed with human sight. Neo seems to get the upper hand gradually until he manages to give a blow to his master.”

    http://languagelearningresourcecenter.org/anglais/read_films/matrix/synopsis/resources/morpheus_vs_neo.htm


    You’re learning… I am teaching…



    Let’s just recap who has the Chief BoP and who is demanding it.


    Throughout Prop’s Round 2 we see a lot of ‘where’s the proof?’ and ‘why is this true?’ toned rebuttals to Opp’s Round 1. So where is my proof, you say? I’ll prove it all in this round but just know that me providing proof here isn’t going to be the highlight of my Round 2, me pointing out how Prop has proven nothing is.


    You see, Prop lives in a glass house of fragile lack of proof and is throwing stones at my house of plastic. [https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/people-who-live-in-glass-houses-shouldn-t-throw-stones] While it’s all nice and cute, it’s not how one should win a debate. Any child learning to debate will soon take the strategy of ‘yeah but why? Where’s your proof?’ as a default response to every single valid point the other side brings but eventually the other side will prove what they say while the child will have proven nothing.


    The fact is that Whiteflame has the chief burden of proof in this debate to prove that the best approach to solving the issues with the current system is to abolish Caucuses. I have explained in depth in Round 1 why the solution that Prop should be logically going to is to improve Caucuses and that the problems with states that lack regular Primaries can all be solved by having the voting flexibility in both time-frame and accessibility as the Primary states offer while maintaining a much bigger, both time and space-wise event for supporters of a Party to go to. A day-long Caucus is the actual solution and it has been the 2-3 hour time-frame which has results both in politicians putting less effort into Caucuses as well as people in Caucus states encouraging the State to switch to regular Primary voting format. This doesn’t require any proof at all, this is an inherent fact because it’s the next logical step to go from when we analyse what the problems are with the “Primary” stage of voting today. I know that saying ‘it’s an inherent fact’ will result in Prop saying ‘where’s the proof?’ so I will prove that it is an inherent fact in this round of debate.


    The Broken Hairdryer Analogy



    Oh dear, the flames are not so white because WhiteFlame is not so right!


    Before I commence to prove what needs to be proven on my side of the fence, I wish to recap who has chief BoP and elaborate on why Prop has not met theirs, with regards to the resolution, in the slightest.


    In Round 1, Prop throws out a lot of problems with the current voting system including indeed problems with Caucuses. Nowhere, not even remotely, does Prop go from the accusation of Caucuses being flawed to the conclusion that we should get rid of them rather than improve them. When something is flawed, the next step is to try and fix it. If Prop can prove that fixing Caucuses will be too costly or too unfeasible then yes we should ‘dispose of’ this broken household item rather than try to fix and maintain it but even when we dispose of it that would imply we’re throwing out an old hairdryer to then go and purchase a new and less-broken one (the hairdryer being short and physically-limited Caucus-only Primaries).


    If you can either mend the system or ‘buy a new hairdryer’ in making a new system that includes Caucuses, this is then the solution and not disposing of the hairdryer and saying that we should leave them out of the household items permanently.



    Why is the solution combining the two forms of Primary Voting?


    In Round 1, here is Prop’s attack on Caucuses:


    “Why are caucuses getting such low turnout?

    In part, it’s because of how restrictive they are. They’re often “closed to independents,” and voters are required “to show up at specific time – often at night and during the work week. The process can take hours.” They “traditionally do away with absentee and other early voting options,” removing options that make primary voting in other states more accessible. That’s a problem for anyone with kids or a boss that requires them to put in their hours at work. And for those who do make it out to vote, their decisions are “often public to everyone who attends the caucus”, which means they lack the basic voting privacy that primaries afford them.[1] And it doesn’t help that the facilities used to run these caucuses are extremely limited in size, so even in instances where more people show up, they “experience long lines, crammed voting rooms, and an overall unpleasant experience.”[2]

    All of this ensures that only certain portions of the population will vote in a caucus. “The caucuses favor turnout among people who have time on their hands, like students who have yet to return to college from winter break.” As a percentage of people attending, students have an out-sized[sic][G1] level of control over the results of a caucus as a result, though I should note that turnout is still far lower (even among students) than in states with a straight primary, mainly because it’s less burdensome. The same holds true for the elderly, which “traditionally constitute a larger share of Iowa caucus attendees than of primary voters.” And the data shows what kind of effect this actually has in elections. “When candidate support among the different ages of Iowa caucus attendees are applied to the age distribution of the 2004 New Hampshire Democratic primary electorate, support for Obama and John Edwards rises, while support for Clinton actually decreases.”[3] So, while primaries may experience these issues to some degree, caucuses clearly exacerbate them, sometimes to incredible degrees. Again, the numbers are clear. In 2004, only 6% of eligible Iowans caucused while 30% of New Hampshire citizens voted in their primary that same year. In 2008, those numbers were 16.1% and 53.6%, respectively. This repeats, year after year.[4]”


    The only part of this that is an attack that holds any real ground is that they don’t allow independents into the Caucus and also don’t allow members of the other main party in. If Whiteflame has an attack on bipartisan party politics, he has yet to provide it and raising new points in the last round of debate is bad conduct as it allows the other side very little ability to fight back since the other side will have to commit equally bad conduct by raising (a) new point(s) to fight the new point(s). The fact that US politics has 2 parties that hold 98 out of 100 seats at present[1] is not something that I deny and also not something that Prop has proven we need to fight against. If it was only one party, that could be argued to be anti-democratic in nature but since no one party has a monopoly, there is still competition and thus still motive to remain excellent (yes, I just used economics theory to explain party politics).[2] What I think Whiteflame has forgotten is that even in regular Primaries (if closed), wait let me just quote something word for word:

    “Although it is up to the parties to decide who may vote in their primaries, generally only registered voters affiliated with the Democratic or Republican Parties may vote in that party's primary election.”[3]

    The reason behind this may seem hard to decipher but I am extremely sure it’s so that supporters of other parties can’t intentionally vote the worst candidate into leadership as a form of sabotage. This is also a lowkey justification for Closed Primaries.[G2] Nonetheless, I would like to note that the Primaries behind closed or open is not at all linked to the Caucuses vs regular Primary dynamic and so I do not need to justify this further and Whiteflame would be wrong to attack me via attacking closed primaries since I was merely explaining how the restriction of primary voting to only registered supporters of a party helps prevent intentional sabotage by voters who want nothing more than the ruin a Party’s chance of winning the election.

    Other than the restricting of independents and non-registered supporters of a party, the rest of Prop’s attack on Caucuses are all solved by combining the voting flexibility both time-wise and method-wise of regular Primaries with Caucuses as well as increasing the amount of time Caucuses run for as well as physical space of the events. Perhaps they could all be live broadcasted (made mandatory) and then have the highlights replayed for the remainder of the 24-hour period of voting available to all voters while still restricting the actual voting only to registered supporters of that party. The Caucuses only being 2-3 hours is perhaps due to elderly candidates struggling to physically stand for longer, this would be solved by letting them sit down during the Caucus. They only stand due to it being seen as lazy and untraditional not to do so. I am not bringing up new points other than the sitting down part, everything I say here I suggested strongly and/or even said explicitly in Round 1.

    So, in short, a system where the Caucus (that’s a bit longer and better broadcasted) happens at the start of the 24-hour period in which the primary voting happens is the ideal Primary voting system as it solves every single one of the flaws that Whiteflame has with the 2-3-hours be-here-or-no-vote Caucus-only system.


    My link between bland candidates and getting rid of Caucuses is directly linked.

    It’s true, I concede to Whiteflame that if you really do want to get informed as a voter, Caucuses are not at all necessary as there’s enough information online to do so (not that I denied it to begin with). The few voters who are that into politics and passionate about where each and every candidate in their party stands are going to indeed accurately vote the best one in Primaries. The issue is that, without Caucuses, I genuinely believe (and so do the articles I linked to in Round 1) that most voters are going to bring to power candidates that stand for very little across many topics rather than ones that stand for very much on a few. The only thing Trump ever seemed to stand for passionately was reducing immigration (both legal and illegal as refugees are legal immigrants). Other than this he had basically no clear stance on any topic whatsoever yet he defeated all his opposition in Primaries other than Ted Cruz who equally stood for very little when it came to depth on topics. This is nothing new in 2016 but it’s just that it’s the most obvious of the past elections in having bland candidates and since Caucuses are being gradually ditched over time and regular Primaries without any official speeches or events to inform the populace are becoming the norm, the candidates are standing for less and less in any clear manner over time. If Prop wants, I can even just drop this connection as a ‘true point’ but the correlation is undeniable and I do not regret suggesting it.


    Why is there an ultimatum?

    You may notice that throughout Prop’s entire Round 2, there is never an answer to what I asked in Round 1 about the ultimatum. I agree entirely with Prop that if you are either allowed to have 2-3 hour events that only the people who can turn up to for that State can have any say in who the candidate who leads their party’s campaign will be, that’s an inferior alternative to the option of no official speech or event at all and there being a nice and flexible 24-hour period to cast your vote in whether you can physically make it somewhere in time or not. What I then said is that it makes no sense at all that states have been forced into an ultimatum between the two. Caucuses are great events for informing semi-interested voters about what the candidates stand for. Why do I say semi-interested? There are indeed lazy voters who will stay intentionally uninformed and biased no matter what. These voters wouldn’t improve their vote due to a Caucus event but I truly believe they are a stubborn minority of voters. There’s a vast group in between the passionately informed and passionately uninformed that I dub the semi-interested voters. These voters don’t really know where to go online to read in-depth what every candidate stands for and would prefer to hear directly each candidate’s views against the other in one even or set of speeches so they can quickly find which one is closest to their outlook over the others.

    The real point here is that it isn’t me who has to prove this, it’s Prop who has to explain why it’s one or the other. Why is there an ultimatum? Why can’t we combine Caucuses with regular primaries and even have a comparison between the results of the two. If there’s a significantly different result between the Caucus vote and Primary vote, that would imply the candidates winning the Caucus are not doing enough to appeal to the masses and can then improve their campaign rather than letting the ones who are simply better at campaigning win with shallow stances (AKA Trump and Hillary).



    Glossary

    [1] The sic you see in quoted text marks a spelling or grammatical error. It means that the text was quoted verbatim, and the mistake it marks appears in the source. It’s actually a Latin word that means “so” or “thus.” https://www.grammarly.com/blog/sic/

    [2] A closed primary is a type of primary election in which a voter must affiliate formally with a political party in advance of the election date in order to participate in that party's primary. https://ballotpedia.org/Closed_primary



    Sources

    [1] https://www.diffen.com/difference/Democrat_vs_Republican
    [2] https://www.thebalance.com/monopoly-4-reasons-it-s-bad-and-its-history-3305945
    [3] http://www.elections.state.md.us/voting/primary.html



    Be tomorrow's hero, not today's idol.
  • Round 3 | Position: For

    I’m just going to leave the jibes behind and focus on the debate at hand.

     

    I have two issues to address off the top, then I’ll get into the three main questions that, I believe, establish who won this debate.

     

    Responding to Con’s R2

    I actually can respond to any points he made for the first time or fleshed out in R2, and Con does have the opportunity to respond to me in his final round. However, I will note that almost everything I use in this round is going to be extensions of previous points I’ve made, so I’ll be pointing out things that Con has conveniently forgotten to address, which often function as responses to his points. It would be abusive for Con to address them now, as I do not have another round after this.

     

    Burden of Proof

    Note: All this BoP analysis appears for the first time in R2, so this is my first opportunity to address it.

    Con argues that it’s my burden to prove that the only possible way to fix the problems with caucuses is to abolish them. This is absolutely false, running counter to the way I established BoP in the very first round, much of which Con accepted.

    Con had two options to tackle this debate. One of those options was to simply show that my case has no benefits. He hasn’t done that; he dropped the vast majority of my case, and left all of my advantages untouched, and concedes that my case is net beneficial compared to the status quo. So that just leaves him with the option of showing that his case, which also alters the status quo, is more net beneficial than mine. Note what I put in italics. His case alters the status quo. The only reason why I bore the major burden from the outset of this debate was that I was required from the outset to alter the status quo. By presenting his own changes, Con has forced a comparison of the net benefits of our two cases.

    That last bit is essential, and it’s the reason that Con’s characterization of the BoP is just plain wrong. It is not my burden to show that no possible case could exist wherein caucuses as a system could be fixed. That would require me to respond to an infinite number of possible changes. The only thing that affects a burden is what’s presented in the debate in terms of options, and Con has presented one counter plan as a separate option. The moment he did that, the moment he made clear that he wanted to alter the status quo as well, the burden split because the only basis for determining who has the burden of proof is who wants to shift from the status quo, which I stated in R1 and Con agreed with. He conceded how BoP functions, and is now trying to alter it to suit his purposes. It doesn’t help that Con’s making my case out to be some dramatic shift from the status quo while conveniently ignoring just how large of a change he’s making. He hasn’t challenged what I said in my OV2 last round, which showed just how unprecedented and harsh his case is. If my case is an ultimatum, so is Con’s. He requires states that run caucuses to submit to strong federal control, or else they may not have a caucus. He requires these states to juggle a primary as well, or be forced to drop the caucus if they cannot. These are ultimatums as well, and require just as much analysis to support them.

     

    With that, onto my crystallization of this debate.

     

    1.       What is Con trying to achieve with his counter plan and does he achieve it?

    How is Con’s case potentially beneficial? At best, he’s affording some benefit to a supposed “group in between the passionately informed and passionately uninformed”, a group that Con asserts is “vast” (he doesn’t support this), asserts will come to caucuses (not supported by the data I presented in R1, or any of Con’s sources), asserts that his modifications will bring them in (ignoring the fact that they will now have the much more convenient option of a normal primary, which does not require them to be present for 2-3 hours and vote publicly), and asserts will not read up on the candidates (despite the fact that reading up on them takes far less time and energy). Con wants these people to be engaged enough that they would spend several hours in a crowded facility listening to speeches, but disengaged enough that they would never Google search any information on their platforms. I can classify this group of people easily: they don’t exist.

    Con keeps arguing that people would learn something new about their candidates by going to a caucus, and thus would alter their choices to a less “bland” candidate. Setting aside the fact that Con has still failed to establish any harms of having these “bland” candidates (which means this point has absolutely no impact), Con has provided no reason whatsoever to believe that a separate set of candidates (much less an “improved” set of candidates) would be nominated because of having caucuses. Hell, Con drops my point that Trump and Hillary, the two candidates he’s been calling out as awful this whole time, were nominated in a system that has many caucus states. Remember, Con is not increasing the number of states that caucus. In fact, he’s putting more primaries in more states, the same primaries he purports are leading to nominations like Trump and Hillary. How is Con’s case going to solve for these terrible candidates? The articles he cited in R1 say absolutely nothing about his case, with the last one being the only one to mention the word “caucus” and simply stating how caucuses work instead of providing any basis for doing them. That means Con has not only presented a harm his case doesn’t solve for, but he hasn’t provided any support whatsoever for his assertion that caucuses significantly alter which candidates get into office, much less for those alterations being net beneficial.

    Con is still claiming that he can solve for each of the problems I presented in this round, yet he ignores the three issues he dropped in the previous round: the fact that caucuses take place during the work week, that no absentee voting is allowed, and that all votes are public. I don’t doubt (and I conceded this in the previous round) that Con can resolve some of the problems regarding how caucuses are run today with his counter plan. However (and I’m going to emphasize this again and again this round), Con can’t win this debate simply by showing that these harms can be ameliorated or even solved. He doesn’t automatically win the moment he shows that caucuses can be run better than they are. Con must show that his case is net beneficial, i.e. that it generates more benefits for the voting process and the US in general compared to mine. On that level, Con’s lack of response to my rebuttals of the previous round (which he can no longer address, given that doing so would abuse the fact that I cannot respond to him beyond this round) dooms him in this debate.

     

    2.       How does the counter plan’s vagueness and assumptions affect his solvency and outcomes?

    Remember in the previous round when I pointed out that Con’s plan is missing key pieces, like a clear means of enforcement or even a basic understanding of how caucuses and primaries would interact within a state? Con addressed none of these missing pieces, nor any of the implications. That’s important because one of those implications was that these states would essentially just run a primary for show. They’ve favored caucuses for a reason, and they won’t stop favoring them just because they’re running a primary. Everyone who votes in the primary will basically be disregarded in favor of votes cast in the caucus, which means Con’s case is actually worse than the status quo. At least the caucus only system is honest, and everyone casting their votes is equally represented. Con is relegating a large subset of the votes to obscurity.

     

    I really think this point needs to be hammered home, so I’m going to repeat it: by dropping my argument, Con has conceded the point that his case will effectively deny people access to a fair and equitable primary, meaning that he supercharges all the harms of disenfranchisement that he dropped on my case. This concession alone is reason enough to vote against him because there is no benefit on his case nor harm on mine that compares in either magnitude or likelihood. By dropping this point, Con has guaranteed this outcome, and destroyed any value his case may have had.

     

    Lastly, remember the 5 major assumptions I pointed out last round? Again, Con dropped them all. He provides no reason to believe that political parties will improve their messaging at caucuses. He provides no recourse for the disabled, those in the military, parents of young kids, people with elderly parents, or those that work multiple shifts. He ensures that primary voting is an exercise in futility while the making voting process far more time, energy and cost intensive, which will lead to cost-cutting measures, ensuring a decrease in public trust in the voting process. And he provides absolutely no reason why primaries cannot fulfill the same functional purposes as caucuses, which ensures that all his benefits are non-unique. The failure of these assumptions to pass muster feeds into my case, showcasing how the disenfranchisement of voters that Con says he’s solving for will remain after his counter plan is implemented.

     

    3.       How is my plan more net beneficial than Con’s counter plan?

    When it comes to outcomes, my plan is simply much clearer in establishing how it will achieve them and why they are net beneficial. Unlike Con, I’ve never argued that my case would solve for bad candidates (partly because defining what makes a “bad candidate” is subjective), only that candidates would be required to speak to larger audiences instead of directing their speeches at a vocal minority. Candidates would have to take a broader subset of the population into account if a broader subset is voting. That leads to a more representative government because it makes individual candidate more accountable to more people, which makes each elected official (regardless of how bland they are) better tailored to lead our country rather than a select minority.

    Con dropped this impact, as well as all the links that support it.

    More importantly, Con dropped my second impact. The legitimacy that the people afford to the election process is essential to ensuring that a larger number of people engage in voting. Every voter that does not participate is someone that the candidates don’t have to care about when they’re elected. When that legitimacy is damaged by the exclusion of individuals from caucuses (which would continue even with Con’s adjustments), the sentiment that it’s not worth voting spreads. Fewer people vote, government becomes less representative, democracy becomes less democratic. Even if you buy Con’s arguments about improving the knowledge of some imaginary subset of voters, these effects far outstrip them.

    All of Con’s responses to my case fail to address the logic of these two arguments. Con has not revisited any of his rebuttals from R1, and instead focuses on half a sentence I presented in R1. I never argued against bipartisan party politics, nor do I wish to do so. I haven’t stated that my case would solve for the lack of independents in the primary voting process, nor do I derive a single impact from those arguments, and yet Con seems fixated on this bit of background.

     

    CONCLUSION:

    I’m going to make this extremely simple. Voters, we agreed to a clear set of burdens in the opening round. The most important part of those burdens is the term “net benefits,” because it becomes the entire basis by which your vote should be cast. Both Con and I are altering the status quo. We have a set of benefits and harms that come from making those alterations. If you think that my case is more net beneficial than Con’s, you vote for me. If you think his case is more net beneficial, you vote for him. There is no magic threshold I must reach to get your vote – all I need to do is provide sufficient reason to believe that abolishing caucuses is better than Con’s efforts to modify them.

    Voters, no matter how you choose to assess the strength of our arguments, do it based on what we’ve presented. If, by the end of this debate, you believe that caucuses could theoretically be retained in some helpful form, that does not mean you’re voting for Con. You’re not voting for him on the basis that he could have presented some brilliant case that would resolve all the problems of caucuses while causing no collateral damage. The case that Con’s defending is the one he’s provided. His completely theoretical, never-before-tested system of caucus-primary hybrid where states that run a caucus are required to meet exceedingly lofty standards for seating capacity and audiovisual equipment is what you’re assessing.


    Con has abdicated his burdens. The case he’s presenting is vague in essential ways, and many of the harms of his case are clear and extremely damaging. Con made absolutely no effort to defend his case this round, and now it’s too late to do so. The best he’s managed to do is provide some extremely faulty reasoning for how caucuses can help inform a specific part of the population, one that is at once unwilling to spend the short time required to gather information about candidates online, and willing to spend several hours in a crowded space listening to tailored speeches before having to publicly decide which candidate gets their vote. His case is a nonsensical mess of idealistic notions with a weak and contrived benefit and a slew of incredibly damaging harms, the most important of which is the mass disenfranchisement of anyone who participates in his shams of a primary system within caucus states.

     

    Compare all of this with my case. I'm implementing a simple and straightforward system for voting, one where every state runs a primary without any complicating factors. That case has a clear set of impacts and associated links, all of which have been dropped, showcasing exactly how abolishing caucuses improves voting in the US and, as a result, its governance. It’s rather simple to meet your burden when your arguments are being conceded left and right. Con concedes all of the benefits for representative democracy and their importance. 

     

    Con wanted to manage an easy win by not engaging in the debate. Con would rather compare it primary voting to a combusting hairdryer (nice distraction), pretend my case didn’t exist, and simply reject it based on what I didn’t argue. However, my arguments didn’t stop mattering the moment he presented his counter plan. He cannot win this debate solely by having more options available to him. All benefits, regardless of where they come from, are comparative. We can’t measure how good or bad something is in a vacuum – we must compare circumstances and determine which is best. Con’s case simply doesn’t compare, and his efforts to avoid comparison do him no favors.


    It may appear that there's a lot going on here, but this is actually a very simple debate. Con failed to support his case in any meaningful way, and failed to address the entirety of mine. He left everything on the table. Don't let a convoluted and ridiculous perspective on BoP taint what is a clear and straightforward outcome. Vote Pro.

  • Round 3 | Position: Against
    A song from the future society with improved Primaries to us --------->
    R = Round for this Round of debate for me.

    Issue With Prop's Conduct
    It is very rude and out of order to call my perspective in BoP 'convoluted and ridiculous' this is rude even if it's right (it's not right) and I will go into it later but just wanted to mention this as a first point. The reason this is most important to mention is that the opening line of Prop's R3, it is said "I’m just going to leave the jibes behind and focus on the debate at hand." and yet what follows is that the jibes follow throughout culminating in that most blatant insult at the end. A jibe is not an insult, it's an unrelated comment but the insult was unrelated to the debate as calling my perspective 'convoluted' implies malice and complexity and to call it 'ridiculous' implies stupidity (how can it be both malicious. complex and stupid? Clearly if I'm too stupid to trick people it's not successfully convoluted.)


    Some Grammar Errors I Made

    Despite my promise in R1 to have perfect grammar, it appeared clear to me before I wrote R2 that my skim-read editing was indeed insufficient and I will not make this mistake again (I made only one error in R2 that I can see and will mention that now).

    The voting system of this debate is 'Moderate' and in this system it's only allowed to vote bad S&G if it hinders understanding of the debate [https://www.debateisland.com/debatingtips#moderatevoting] and honestly I don’t know a single typo I made that isn’t easy to understand. I will (and have by the time you read this) read my debate and Prop’s debate line-by-line so if I find a grammar error of mine that’s too hard to decipher without being me, I’ll correct it here.


    Let's go point-by-point and see who truly ended up proving the other wrong.

    It's not a case of if I proved something beyond any doubt at all, it's about if I proved it beyond reasonable doubt. Saying that it's 'subjective' to call Trump and Hillary a bad result of primaries without many caucuses to influence them is not entirely relevant. Hillary dominated Caucuses simply because Bernie's crowd were mostly in states that happened to have opted for primaries because of this (still unexplained) ultimatum that is forcing states to choose them over a highly flawed version of Caucus.

    It's also a problem to point out that other countries haven't done this before... Other countries don't have official primaries by and large and instead have less official Caucus style votes (shock and horror). The only other countries to have primaries where you don't have to show up to a speech to vote and that have primaries are France and Italy just so you know. Canada has tried something here and there as has UK's Conservative Party in 2010 and a couple one-time party primaries in nations like South Korea for a specific party) but overall the reason that Caucus-hybrid systems haven't been done in other nation is because other nations don't let the people pick which candidate gets to represent the party all that much (other than Italy and France but it's a bit too late for Prop to defend them now and they tend to always end with the same party in power as well as candidate-type because the France Primaries are Open, Italy's is probably closest to USA and maybe Prop could remotely prove something there but they didn't and I'm not going to help them support the lie that Caucuses are bad or in any way a net-loss addition to raw-Primary votes in the Primary voting system).


    The Gap That Caucuses Leave


    Caucuses are a brilliant tool, both for the politician to improve their own promised policies by hearing critique from more passionate voters who will interact more heavily during the Caucus and by teaching people a lot of things about topics they may otherwise not have known.



    "The fact is that Caucuses have been depleted because they were too short with too little funding going into their broadcast and even into the amount of seats and overall size of the venues (I’m assuming here). It was a vicious cycle where the time frame eventually spiralled all the way into ‘doom’ and no state with high voter turnout (yes this caused the Caucuses to get replaced, not the other way around)..."

    On top of that, when Whiteflame tells that it's unclear what gaps a Caucus-empty Primary system leaves, he is lying because I made it crystal clear in R1 what the twofold benefit is:

    "Caucuses are a brilliant tool, both for the politician to improve their own promised policies by hearing critique from more passionate voters who will interact more heavily during the Caucus and by teaching people a lot of things about topics they may otherwise not have known."

    That's right, both the politician informing the people (which Prop countered with 'anyone can get informed' and which I addressed is simply not what the vast majority do without an official event to get informed) and then the people can constructively critique the politician's views and policies so as to help them improve (people who support the party and are thus not there to sabotage as Caucuses are commonly closed entirely to non-registered supporters). This was a quote from Round 1, and Prop says that I have left it unclear what the gaps are even though I had made it crystal clear.

    An informed populace votes better than one left to their own devices (for most voters this is true).

    One of the fundamental concepts that I've been preaching in this debate is that the Caucuses are going to inform many semi-interested voters in politics who don't know exactly how to inform themselves. Aside from the unique aspect that the voters can critique and inform the politicians on how to improve their policies, Caucuses offer the single most interactive and obvious (because all candidates are there to weigh policies against one another) method to inform the voters on which of the candidates is best for their party, which should result in the candidate being best for their country if that candidate wins the General Election(GE).

    I am not going to quote myself preaching this over and over but the only retort Prop ever gave this was to say that it's subjective how bad a politician is. Is it subjective that so many Bernie supporters felt ignored and left out by Hillary's policies and campaign that they didn't vote in the election?[1][2] If the Primaries were open some of them potentially turn-coated and voted Trump in the GE. This is not a new point, it's just new evidence. the point is absolutely not new so I'm allowed to bring it up. Everything about recent elections (even Obama vs. Romney but that's a new point so I'll just say this and hint at it) has been about candidates that have less and less hardline stances with any depth to their reasoning and far more rhetoric and a 'little for everyone' to their campaign. Sure, this is subjective, politics isn't raw logic and science. The difference between a good and a terrible leader is subjective as is the one between an in-depth passionate campaign that voters support wholeheartedly and one that is designed to make most nod their heads in some way but is shallow in the end. Just because it's subjective, emotional and based in quality as opposed to quantity doesn't mean we can't still come up with ways to analyse it. It's sort of like the neurons you feel when having a very happy event, can we truly 'measure the pleasure' well actually yes but then we don't really know if your particular brain chemistry and body feel happiness as strong as others do for the same amount of neuron transfers that indicate happiness. I basically am saying, we don't have a way to scientifically or mathematically conclude that a candidate was more shallow and blander than the rest, what we can measure is things like voter dissatisfaction, lack of turnout in the GE vs the primaries so  on and so forth to imply how unhappy voters were with the result of the primaries and the candidate who was chosen. Do you know in most open primaries the democrats were voting Trump so as to give Republicans a joke candidate? I can't prove that beyond reasonable doubt but just bear that in mind, some states didn't have closed primaries and Caucuses and closed primaries prevent this kind of sabotage-voting which supports entirely that 'not letting independents in' is the lesser evil in the end. You can even have semi-closed primaries and caucuses where independents are entitled to go to either but a Republican-registered voter can only go to the Republican Caucus and vice versa for Democrats-registered voters.

    Why is there a f***ing Ultimatum?!

    The thing is, and it is a really important 'thing' indeed, Prop never explains why it's one or the other in the first place. You see, this entire debate Prop has continually told you that Caucuses are inferior to Primaries if it's one or the other. Guess what? I agreed with whiteflame about this.

    In my hybrid system it's the Primary regular voting that is mandatory in all states (I said this in R1 explicitly and Prop showed they understood that by bringing it up in R2). The Caucuses on the other hand would become a means of competition to have on top of Primaries. Why would this be important? Why wouldn't parties just opt for Primaries or alternatively (as Prop says in R2) 'put Primaries on for show and only really care about Caucuses'. Well, you actually can't do the latter... You can't ignore Primaries because they are state-hosted and official votes where Caucuses are party-hosted and not legally binding. The reason I bring this new point up in R3 is that Prop has suggested an impossible hierarchy. The Primaries would never be the joke or showy vote, only Caucuses could be but I will now explain why Caucuses wouldn't be a joke.

    Caucuses tell you (in my system where you don't need to be there in a 2-3 hour gap to vote or see it) what, in detail, your party's potential leader(s) stand for. The Internet is littered with biased news, YouTube streamers telling you what politicians 'really stand for' and a ton of personal blogs about politics so even for a lot of interested voters it's hard to hear, read and/or determine what any politician really stands for without a Caucus. Sure, a very astute and interested voter (like myself or whiteflame, I'm sure) are going to not need a Caucus event to vote accurately but most voters will because most are not informed well enough but want to be (I called them 'semi-interested voters' in R2 so this is not a new point just elaboration).

    Why do States have to choose either primaries with no speeches or physically restrictive Caucuses with inaccessibility to the disabled and, as Prop brings up in R3, those that want to stay anonymous about party affiliation? I totally understand the issues with a Caucus-only system, I am not the one advocating the ultimatum here, Prop is.

    The broken hairdryer is an extremely analogous scenario to what's going on here, it was not an abusive distraction in the slightest.

    Prop didn't reply to this analogy and took it as a joke saying 'nice distraction' but this analogy while banter-filled in nature due to the flames on the image, was absolutely quintessential to the debate. Prop raises issues with the current system, he points out how it's broken and gives a stat which he misrepresents as the chart only proves that states where voters care more about voting have had to choose the lesser evil in the ultimatum of having regular Primaries or Caucuses. The system is broken, just like a household item could be, what is the next logical step?

    Prop likes to reiterate how 'simple and straightforward' his plan is compared to mine but what on Earth is simple and straightforward about going from 'this system is flawed and broken' to 'let's get rid of it'. Caucuses as they are, are actually not the most broken part of the system. That's right, they are the second thing that needs fixing by being a bit longer and broadcast better during the Primaries in my hybrid system where they replay for the remainder of the 24-hour period for people to watch before casting their vote. In fact it could become so extremely accessible that you could ask them questions over Twitter if you're a registered supporter of that party (or Facebook, or Instagram etc). This is a new point in R3 but I feel that I was hinting strongly at this the whole time. My system makes Caucuses extremely accessible to voters by eliminating the need to be there... You still will need to 'be there' to vote in the Caucus vote as opposed to the 'Primary' vote but your vote is counted nonetheless and the results are strongly going to be compared to ensure the best candidates (winners of Caucuses, where informed voters vote) are improving their campaigns and reaching out to less informed voters if they win Caucuses by a large margin but lose Primaries nonetheless.

    Who has to defend here?

    Prop keeps saying I need to prove a ton of things, that I need to tell you every detail of the cost, prove that it's feasible this and that... Well, it's obviously feasible as States do one or the other, I want to combine the two... If you can do one or the other you clearly can do two at once. States only need to fund the regular Primaries, Caucuses are party-funded.

    Nowhere in this debate, and I really mean nowhere, has Prop explained why we should abolish Caucuses. He has agreed with me on all the problems with the system (except that them being restricted to supporters of the party is a good thing which I proved to him in R2) and yet he keeps saying I need to prove things... I don't. Prop has to prove that the solution to the problems is to get rid of Caucuses not just temporarily, but for good (he used the term 'abolish' which implies permanence).

    You, the voters, need to understand this:

    Prop must prove the resolution true, Opp need only prove that the resolution hasn't been proven true. I do not need to prove my system to be ideal, only that it's a better solution to the problems than getting rid of Caucuses for good. I am not the Proposition in this debate, I am not defending my system. My system is an attack on the resolution and on his logic of 'fix the issue of flawed Caucuses by throwing the flawed Caucuses in the trash can and not only not mending them but not making a new and better system that includes them' (do you see now why the hairdryer analogy works?).

    Closing Quote

    An informed populace votes more accurately than a less-informed populace. To do anything and everything to inform most voters while still getting the say of just as many voters is an improvement on the system where voters are less informed and/or, in some states, less able to vote.
    Sources
    [1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/08/24/did-enough-bernie-sanders-supporters-vote-for-trump-to-cost-clinton-the-election/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.4db7db39f3c4
    [2] http://www.newsweek.com/bernie-sanders-trump-2016-election-654320
    Be tomorrow's hero, not today's idol.
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