Took the whole week off for the holiday, so just catching up to this thread. Gonna kinda pop out posts as I read through, so forgive me if stuff gets repeated (or made irrelevant based on later posts).
Professor stupidmonkey wrote:
While it is true that it doesn't change what is happening to them in their locales, it does change the awareness of people of those same happenings inside of and outside of those locales. People outside of those locales are much better informed about what is happening inside those locales then they used to be. It doesn't take information weeks to travel from point A to point B, potentially not informing voters BEFORE they vote, now the information is available nigh instantaneously.
Except there's a problem there. While you're correct that someone in Montana is much more aware of what's going on in California and New York today than he may have been in ages past, the folks in California and New York are no more likely to have a clue about what's going on in Montana. The same parts of our country that are the most densely populated are also the same parts that tend to be the most media focused as well (as in, sources of media). There's a very real potential for population density echo chambers to be created (and I'd actually argue already exist, if the current crop of shock and protests are any indication). Folks in small towns have a ton of insight into the goings on in big cities, but the same simply does not exist in reverse.
I'd argue that systems like the EC are not less needed today, but may actually be more needed
because of this effect. Our higher population centers have become increasingly the cultural and informational centers of our nation. So much so that those living there have almost no clue at all how the rest of the population in their country lives. And increasingly, it appears as though they don't care, either. They simply deride those who live in small towns, call them hicks, knuckle draggers, etc. Of course, the problem with this is somewhat illustrated with the pizza example mentioned above (ok, only somewhat, but I like pizza!). Assuming we had a reason for having all 5 groups of people come to dinner, then we accept that each group has something we need. Otherwise, group 4 could just go out to dinner by themselves and order their own pizza, right? And in the real world, there actually is a reason for this.
The problem with the population centric model is that it favors those population/culture centered areas, but those areas are pretty darn dependent on the other areas for their survival. They need the other areas, if for no other reason than that's where they get their food, right? So in our pizza analogy, group 4 is the most populous, but they're just bringing the entertainment for the nights meal (and a ton of hungry people), while groups 1, 2, 3, and 5 are bringing the actual food that's going to be turned into pizza and consumed by everyone. In that scenario, you might want to make sure that you take all four of those other group's preferences into account, because if groups 1, 2, 3, and 5 eat separately from group 4, group 4 will go hungry (but be very well entertained, have wonderful weighty conversations about politics and science and whatnot), while the other groups will have full belly's (but less culture. OMG!).
You need both "sides" of the equation for the whole to work properly. And yes, I'm grossly simplifying things here, but the basic concept does work. What's happened is that those in the high population areas have forgotten that they do actually need those low population density parts of the country to remain parts of the country and thus have to give them a greater voice. Farmland is going to tend to be sparsely populated relative to the cities. But it's quite arguable that the farmland communities will do far far better without the cities than the other way around. Something that many people living in those cities have lost sight of.
I am not saying people today are any better at making those hard choices then they were in the days of the founding fathers, I believe that people for the most part are myopic, ego-centric pricks, but they are now better informed myopic, ego-centric pricks.
More information does not necessarily mean "better" information, and certainly doesn't always mean "complete" information. Making decisions based on the half of the puzzle you can see isn't always a good idea. In fact, it's almost always a bad idea.