Russian Roulette Democracy (II)



This was (is) the electoral college map, after the 2016 US presidential election.

What would have happened if just 1 out of every 100 voters had shifted from Trump to Clinton? This—according to 538:


In the study of dynamical systems, a state is a proper (stable) equilibrium if it does not change too much under small perturbations. Stability is usually considered a good property. Specifically when we are dealing with a social system, we value resilience. And here we are in front of a democratic design that would have given a completely different result if only 1% of voters had changed minds.

It was the same with Brexit. When for whatever the reasons, our societies and our choices are beginning so polarised, it seems more and more, that we are throwing dice or playing Russian roulette instead of making informed, calculated decisions. Does it make sense?


  1. This series of articles are very intriguing.

    It seems they suggest that the best stable political system would be that where no hard choices are ever made… in the end, a system where only “linear” decisions are taken.

    Unfortunately, as you perfectly know, even if linear systems are stable and easy to predict, nature (or perhaps our perception of it) seem to work a different way and non-linear solutions are needed. For example, a woman cannot be “just a little” pregnant, or someone cannot be “half” alive. We need to handle non-linearities, even if we do not like them (this is the reason why bosses never take a decision if they can avoid it…:)

    Liberal democracy seems to be a good way to keep those “half taken decisions” alive. Every now and then hard choices are revisited. (Maybe the Americans will downvote Trump in four years). The problem is that, then, we (they) shall move to the other side of the “half taken decision”. Unfortunately, if the issue is not solved, we are not linearising but rather entering an oscillation.

    Democracy strong point is that they allow a degree of deferred decisions, but only if the underlying problem solves itself; otherwise the “feedback” democracy introduces is not enough.

    In short, this, as many other issues, it is a consequence of the fact that nature seems to like non-linear decisions, even if they are uncomfortable … Already in the XIII century, Alfonso X of Castille said he would have created the world in a different way!.

    Curiously enough, he was facing a similar situation we are facing now: how to integrate Christian, Islamic and Jew cultures in the Andalusia his father had just conquered. He sort of tried a “linear” decision, taking parts of all of them. Unfortunately, it did not work and his son deposed him.

    Incidentally, I have found an interesting blog you may like:

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