Election scenarios

by RickJS1 min read24th Sep 20206 comments


Personal Blog

Our democracy is at surprising risk. This post by Robert Wiblin has several good articles linked in the comments, especially one by The Atlantic. Especially, read the action items at the end of that article.


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The US democracy may be at risk. It is only "our democracy" for 4.25% of the world's population.

(Apologies for focusing on a single word of your post, but I think this seemingly trivial semantic difference reflects a more substantive and widespread issue. How many concerned posts about the political situation in, say, India have you seen in the Forum recently? How many "action items" for protecting democracy in, say, Brazil have you encountered? It is depressing and, yes, irritating to see a community that supposedly values all people equally concentrate their attention so overwhelmingly on a single country when it comes to politics and "current affairs".)

I agree. Just as the EA movement has been pushing against the bias towards philanthropy in rich countries, so we should also try to resist the urge to pay attention only to political crises in rich countries like the United States.

Though surely you both would also agree that the stability of the democracy in the United States is much more valuable both in the short and long term, compared to say Brazil's or India's, no? I don't know what a reasonable allocation of attention is, but the headcount seems to be just one of many factors, e.g. along things like contribution to scientific and technological innovation, wealth creation, military power, political influence, cultural influence, and ethical and human rights standards.

Of course in general US politics seem much less neglected. But then again, there are also comparative advantages because so many EAs are US citizens and consequently have more knowledge of and influence over that system. And the non-EAs who pay attention to US politics do not necessarily have the same goals as EAs (making their tribe win vs. averting instability).

(Status: unsure) Preserving democracy in the United States is more valuable insofar as the world perceives the U.S. as the "leader" or "guarantor" of the liberal world order, particularly global democracy. But I don't think this outweighs the importance of democracy in the rest of the world, especially large democracies like India.

I think EAs' comparative advantages in promoting democracy in our own countries is the more important factor here.

Luke Muehlhauser mentions another argument that we didn’t mention yet: who would replace the US in its global leadership roles? China seems most likely to me, given economic and military growth, and also seemingly much worse in terms of human rights standards.

One of my least controversial views is that both the US in particular and humanity in general will probably be better off if the US (despite its many deep flaws) remains the world’s leading power, given the available alternatives for global leadership.


With Donald Trump refusing to say he will leave office peacefully, it is time to be prepared to take to the streets in a non-violent general strike. Talk now to nearby friends and neighbors so you can step out together. https://wagingnonviolence.org/2020/09/10-things-you-need-to-know-to-stop-a-coup/