How a simple electoral reform can make debates tolerable and productive

Image for post
Image for post
Modern debates are exhibitions of polarization. A simple change called ranked-choice voting can fix that.

Debates are important. From election-winning one-liners to campaign-ending gaffes, debates can be turning points for candidates and they have decisively shape our political history.

Many of us can recall, “Where’s the beef?” “You’re no Jack Kennedy,” and 73-year-old Reagan promising not to “exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

Debates are a rare moment of accountability for candidates. They are a chance for the bitter accusations and bold promises made during rallies to be tested under a more critical eye.

Around 70–80 million people tune into modern presidential debates, and highlights are rehashed on cable news over the following days. …


The 18 charts that show why you should vote Democrat

Image for post
Image for post
40 years of conservatism has made our people less equal and our government less trusted.

“a division of the republic into two great parties … is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil.” — John Adams

It’s the ultimate question, right? Modern American political dialogue fundamentally boils down into one binary decision: whether to vote for Democrats or Republicans.

We know it shouldn’t be that way. Two choices is not enough. Good lord, I’ve knocked on my fair share of doors and heard the words, “they’re both crooks,” more times than I want to remember.

Even our founders, who really knew very little about what characteristics befitted an emerging democracy, knew that a two-party duopoly would misuse a national decision-making process. …


Democracy isn’t radical. It’s our right.

Image for post
Image for post
High Ground News

The Difference a Vote Can Make

The winner of 2018’s Macon County, IL Sheriff race got 19,655 votes. The loser? 19,654.

One vote, or just 0.0051% of voters, separated glorious victory from humiliating defeat.

A few days before, and a few miles east in Champaign County, my cold fingers were covered in blue ink from newly-printed campaign literature I was handing out. My college campus covered critical precincts in the Illinois 13th congressional district, a battleground district that we knew would be hard fought.

My fellow student volunteers and I acted like every voter in line and every student on the quad could decide the race.

The final result in IL 13 was 49.6% to 50.4%. …


Environmentalists are split on whether to capitalize on the moment.

Image for post
Image for post

Cowritten by Ben Chapman and Charlee Thompson

Dolphins are frolicking off the shores of Venice. Swans are surfing on Italian canals. And elephants are getting drunk in Chinese tea gardens.

Chances are, you’ve heard one of these uplifting stories of wildlife gleefully adjusting to a less human-dominated world. They offer a dash of hope in the midst of an otherwise demoralizing news cycle. There’s only one problem.

None of them are true.

National Geographic debunked each of the three stories.

“The swans in the viral posts regularly appear in the canals of Burano, a small island in the greater Venice metropolitan area, where the photos were taken. The “Venetian” dolphins were filmed at a port in Sardinia, in the Mediterranean Sea, hundreds of miles away. No one has figured out where the drunken elephant photos came from, but a Chinese news report debunked the viral posts: While elephants did recently come through a village in Yunnan Province, China, their presence isn’t out of the norm, they aren’t the elephants in the viral photos, and they didn’t get drunk and pass out in a tea field.” …


I organized with Pete Buttigieg’s Iowa campaign. Here’s what we did.

Image for post
Image for post
(Image/NY Times)

I’m writing this introduction from the corner of a coffee shop called The Rustic Brew in Hampton, Iowa. If you’re ever in Hampton, as unlikely as that will ever be, The Rustic Brew is worth a stop. With its modest storefront that belies a comfortable interior square footage, it’s a coffee shop where everyone knows everyone, a hub for the town’s goings-on. After a few more visits, I’m sure I could just walk in, throw some coins on the counter, and say, “I’ll have the usual.”


The call for a better primary process is roused again

Image for post
Image for post
MercuryNews — Pete Buttigieg speaking in California. He dropped out a day before their primary, soaking up 6.3% of the vote.

14 states vote on Super Tuesday.

1,357 delegates are awarded based on the persuasion of those voters.

The results of Super Tuesday set the stage for the final length of the primary and often give a strong hint of who will continue to the November contest.

Ranked choice voting would make the election better for almost every Democratic voter on Super Tuesday. It’s a fairer voting method that gives voters the freedom to vote for whom they believe in and the confidence that their vote will matter even if their first choice performs poorly.

Here’s how ranked choice voting works.

For those unfamiliar with ranked choice voting. …


What we’re giving up for Bloomberg’s vanity campaign

Image for post
Image for post
Image: NY Daily News

Mike Bloomberg is rich. Very rich.

He’s not “well off,” or “upper class.” He’s not euphemism rich. He’s rich rich.

Forbes estimates his worth at $64 billion, giving him a slot in the top 10 richest people alive. His wealth is something most Americans can’t fathom. He just has so much money.

Mike Bloomberg is also powerful. Very powerful.

As mayor of a city with 8 million people, he successfully lobbied to increase the mayoral term limit to three terms, giving him an extra four years and even more influence. He is also founder and owner of the eponymous Bloomberg L.P. …


Harris supporters and endorsers will likely flow to Warren

Image for post
Image for post
Business Insider

For a struggling Warren, Senator Kamala Harris’ departure from the 2020 field offers some much needed good news. Data shows that Harris supporters will likely find a new home in the Warren camp.

In one of the most interesting polls of 2020, voters were given the opportunity to rank candidates in order of preference. This was meant to simulate what would happen if ranked choice voting were used in the election.

Votes were counted in a runoff fashion where the lowest performing candidate was eliminated in rounds and their votes were transferred to those voters’ next favorite choices.

The poll results revealed a strange roadmap to victory for candidates — not a map based on what they should try to win by their own virtue, rather what they should anticipate gaining from other candidates flunking. …


Data sheds light on how ranked choice voting would change 2020

Image for post
Image for post
Vanity Fair

In a YouGov poll running from September 2nd to 6th, Democrats were permitted to rank their favorite 2020 Presidential candidates in order of preference. This marks one of the first instances of ranked choice voting being used in a poll for President, hinting at increased momentum for the reform.

The poll was commissioned by FairVote, an electoral reform nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.. In a press release, FairVote’s CEO, Rob Richie, said:

“In contrast to how most single choice opinion polling is used, ranked-choice surveys allow a greater understanding of how voters are considering a field of options, what depth of support candidates have in rankings and how one candidate’s fall over the course of the campaign could affect others’ rise. While the state of the race may change coming out of tonight’s debate, the current findings suggest Sen. …


Kurbo doesn’t require rigorous screening for weight loss coaches — and more problems

Image for post
Image for post
Graphic by author (who thought it was clever)

On first impression, Weight Watchers’ Kurbo app, geared toward kids ages 8 to 17, looks friendly, cute, and simple. But then… wait, this is a weight loss app for kids! Suddenly, the same things that made it friendly, cute, and simple make it nauseating.

And I wasn’t the only person to think so.

Laypeople and health professionals on Twitter hashtagged #kurbokills and #wakeupweightwatchers to organize their outrage. A Change.org petition asking Weight Watchers (recently rebranded as WW) to remove the app now has nearly 110,000 signatories.

Even the National Eating Disorders Association issued a statement:

“Asking kids to closely monitor and self-report everything they eat through an app with no in-person monitoring by a medical professional presents grave risks, including eating disorders, disordered eating and a potential lifetime of weight cycling and poor body image.”

About

Ben Chapman

I write about politics, food, and the environment. My goal is to improve the world through policy. Email me at hi@benchapman.us (https://www.benchapman.us)

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store