Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What Use Are Elections?

I bought a copy of The U.S. Constitution recently. I am sure I have never read it all the way through.

I have heard from, I think, a fairly credible source that the right to vote is NOT in the Constitution.
Interesting. I'll try to find out how we came to have it and where it came from. Not, though, for this blog.

For the purpose of this blog --- we do vote and we think it is an integral part of our democracy. In some ways the key component because without the vote we don't elect our representatives who go to Washington, our state capitals, etc. to work for our common good.

What Use Are Elections?:

Not much if you are serious about real outcomes. Here's why>>>

1. During the last four presidential elections only 54% of eligible votes cast ballots. Is this good? Doesn't look like a nation that has much faith in the vote. Let's look at other nations during this time span: Italy: 90%; Germany 80%; France and Canada 76%; Britain 75%.
Are we lazy? Too harassed and busy? Too skeptical of the system? Too spoiled? If 51% of the 54% vote for Presidential Candidate McDouggle is this a consensus? a mandate?definitive moment?

One reason why more people vote in some other countries is an old favorite of mine: they have more than two absolutely dominant parties: GOP (right wing) and Democrats (center-right). I know how I feel much of the time--why don't I have some party I can really feel good about? And, don't buy into the slogan: It's the candidate -- not the party. If anything, it's the other way around. Or, more exactly it's the whole enchilada --- the "system".

2. Do we have freedom of the vote -- if we don't have good choices? What if both candidates for governor are miserable? Where's our right to at least partially determine our destinies in this case? Our choices for the candidates are the end result of the two party's processing system. The outcome -- the sausage -- may not be attractive, especially if we take a look at how it was produced. (Many Republicans may feel this way since their Convention.)

3. What about how our vote for our limited and mediocre candidates --- does it count? Was our vote recorded and counted properly? Josef Stalin: "The people who cast their votes don't decide an election -- the people who count the votes do." For many Americans and increasingly so -- the "people" who count their votes are digital touchscreen computers --- whose software is a patented secret of the big companies like Diebold. What's happening when we push the button? We don't know. Neither does our government know. It's a private proprietary secret of the outfit making much money --- perhaps, at our expense. Diebold, no doubt, because of massive bad publicity has changed its name! New Name: Premier Election Systems. I would prefer if that had allowed my elected officials to have access to their software codes. Testimony has been heard from experts that these machines can be hacked; they do go haywire, etc. The private corporations do not owe their allegiance to the American people, but to their shareholders and their profits. If election counting companies don't want Americans to know how their machines work -- it's simple. Ask our government to produce a system that does work and can be certified using some of our numerous academic brains -- especially those with no ties to either party.

4. One more factor that taints seriously our elections: The vast majority of American voters are not well informed about the candidates, their platform, their viability, their past history. Why? First, the MSM (Main Stream Media) is a medicore source of information. They are more into infotainment. When they do provide necessary information to the voters it is marred by not showing the complete picture, by the constraints upon their news department place on them by their corporate owners, and by the need to compress -- mindful always of the need to maximize profits. They are usually center to right wing. It is a fable that NBC, ABC and CBS are Liberal. What about CNN? I'm liberal and I am not impressed by CNN.

Rushing from job to job, trying to find time and still allow themselves the opportunity for fun and recreation -- most Americans spend little time being informed about foreign affairs, American politics, big issues in the nation, the environment -- and when they do--they turn to sources that are not up to doing the job.

I rest my case.