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Binary-tree Legislature

Replace President/Congress with binary-tree legislature.
(+3, -3)
  [vote for,

In a binary-tree legislature, each voter would create a ranked ballot of their favorite legislators. The ballots are tallied, the national winner becomes President, and his/her name is removed from the ballot. The electorate is then split in half, and the winner of each half placed under the President, and their names removed. This process of division/election/removal would continue until the number of districts desired is reached. The result is a binary tree with the President at the base (or top, depending on how you create it).

Once the binary tree is created, all legislators are given a Borda score based on how they did with the national electorate. A legislator's power depends on where he is in the binary tree, and how high his Borda score is. A bill needs to have an unbroken string of "yes" votes from the base to the top of the tree, and must have an absolute majority of the Borda score.

There are a strong set of built-in checks and balances. Two "leaf" nodes can override the "branch" they directly attach to. In other words, if George W. were the President, with Gore and Nader as Vice Presidents, then Gore+Nader could override the President -- and they in turn could be overridden by the representatives beneath *them*. Combined with the Borda Count majority, and the legislature should be constrained to vote the will of most of the voters most of the time.

The result would be that legislator's power would depend more on voter preference rather than on seniority, with a natural ranking system. Elections would be more competitive, with fewer "safe" seats, and it would be easy to make elections gerrymander-proof. A good representative could aspire to higher office without quitting his present position.

The one drawback I see is it doesn't split up states nice and evenly, which makes it a candidate for the half-bakery (though it could be used on the state legislature level).


mrouse, Oct 10 2002

Binary Trees http://www.gamedev....es/trees2/page2.asp
Description of full binary trees. [mrouse, Oct 10 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Binary-tree website http://www.mrouse.com/bintree.htm
A website I cobbled together. :) [mrouse, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       Um...diagram please?
BinaryCookies, Oct 10 2002

       Excellent - an electoral process even more obscure and difficult to follow than the current one. (Why are we invading Iraq, again?)
DrCurry, Oct 10 2002

       I put a link to a page that describes full binary trees, though not of the electoral kind (as far as I know the idea is original, if a bit odd). In a binary-tree legislature, the President would be in the top node, the "Vice Presidents" in the two nodes directly under the President, then the next in line (Sub Vice-Presidents?) beneath them, etc.   

       In practice, voters would simply rank their favorite candidates on their ballot. The winner of the national vote would be placed in the top node, his name would be removed from the ballot, and the country split in half -- say, east and west. The winner of the eastern half would be placed on the right node and the winner of the western half on the left node, and their names would be removed. Each half is split into half again, say north and south this time. The north-eastern and south-eastern winners would be placed under the east winner, and the north-western and south-western winners placed under the west winner. Continue until the country is split into the number of representative districts one wants. There is a clear heirarchy created, and the rules of succession would be easy to create.   

       Compare this to explaining about how Presidents, senators, and representatives are elected, the number of voters each represents, the shape of their districts, their placement in the power structure, and the rules of succession. This method does it all at once.   

mrouse, Oct 10 2002

       Using your example, Gore/Nader would form a coalition government, rendering the president useless. A similar coalition further 'downstream' could sieze power. Bad idea.   


       // A bill needs to have an unbroken string of "yes" votes from the base to the top of the tree... //   

       This gives the president absolute veto power over any bill. Again, bad idea.   

       You've not thought this through, I suspect.
waugsqueke, Oct 10 2002

       Hmm, it's easy enough to show with a pen and paper, but I'll try verbally.   

       Theoretically, yes, Gore and Nader could form a coalition government -- but only if not overruled by a coalition further 'downstream.' If there are 256 districts (and a total of 256+128+64+..+1 or 511 Reps), a UNANIMOUS consensus among the bottom 256 representatives could defeat any legislation. To enact it, however, you would still need a majority of the Borda count. One step up the tree, the 128 reps could defeat legislation only if each pair under them agreed with them or were split 50-50, and there was a Borda count majority.   

mrouse, Oct 10 2002

       I propose the following naming system:
The top character is a 'president' if you like.
Those on the second layer are semipresidents.
The layers under those provide the prefixes demi, hemi, half and partial respectively (and so on), so that a bottom rung representative is known as a 50%-partial,half-hemi-demi-semipresident.
Loris, Oct 10 2002

       and/or dung beetle
blissmiss, Oct 10 2002

       I like this, but I think it becomes unweildy as the tree grows. Perhaps it would be more appropriate for smaller groups (like, say a Church Committee or something), all the members of which understand binary trees.   

       Which means that it would only really work for control of Computer Science departments at universities. [+], anyway, though I'm not sure why.
calum, Oct 10 2002

       Loris, I like the idea for names, though I was thinking more along the lines of President, Senior Vice President, Vice President, Senior Senator, Senator, Vice Senator, Senior Representative, Representative, Vice Representative. Other names are certainly possible. Blissmiss -- Hi! Haven't seen you for a while. I take it you don't like our present President? (grin) calum -- well, I thought of it while looking at a binary tree used for graphical data compression. The way they cut the picture up reminded me of legislative districts, and the tree reminded me of a corporate "power pyramid" where the CEO is on the top, then the president, vice presidents, Treasurer, R&D, etc. I thought it might be neat to convert it into the political arena.
mrouse, Oct 10 2002

       // Theoretically, yes, Gore and Nader could form a coalition government -- but only if not overruled by a coalition further 'downstream.' //   

       I believe that's exactly what I said. As well, I realize that a necessary string of yes votes from the top to bottom of the tree not only gives the president absolute veto power (which he does not have now, btw), but gives it to anyone along the way.   

       This government would be incapable of functioning.   

       It also presumes a non-existent heirarchy. After you drop past the vice presidents, and house leaders, it's a level field (particularly in the Senate).
waugsqueke, Oct 10 2002

       I'll try to make a web page diagramming the binary tree, though it might be a few days (I have 4 13-hour work days in a row. :( ) Hopefully that will make things clearer than my rather mangled explanation.
mrouse, Oct 10 2002

       Well, I put up a web page with a more detailed (well, longer anyway) explanation, and it took me only a month longer than I thought! It probably looks like a poorly-animated rant (remind me not to try to animate GIF's again), but I thought I'd link it because it grew out of the idea I originally posted here. It's a different idea of government, at least, posted more for its novelty than its utility (though it would probably work if tried).
mrouse, Nov 19 2002


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