Thursday, November 15, 2012

Vote early, vote often..

No matter how low the percentages I am always saddened and dismayed by the level of poor planning, inadequate resourcing, Jim Crow-ing, voter suppression, fraud and skulduggery in US elections. Among other things, this last Presidential election will be historic for the fact that it was decided without the state of Florida, where the usual electoral abomination has morphed into a clustercuss so bad it still isn't clear who won, or lost, and what, if anything.

I'm past being outraged at the hypocrisy of the "home of democracy" rhetoric when seen against blatantly anti-democratic practices that appear year after year, but it still concerns, saddens and disappoints me. Outside of America we are constantly presented with US propaganda that "America = democracy". It's been the banner under which aggressive American foreign policy (including several wars) has been waged. Good or bad there is a cost to this:

If America cannot conduct its own democratic process with enough truth, honesty and valuing of the democratic principle, how can it expect any other 'emerging democracies' to use elections as anything other than a cynical smokescreen for ruthless power politics? 

How can Egyptians, Libyans, Syrians, Afghans, Somalis or Pakistanis think of democracy as anything but a sham, a winner-takes-all game to be played as dirty as can be gotten away with? 

Since winning a rigged vote on the day confers international credibility for the 'duly elected' government, why not cheat, lie, swindle and even murder to achieve that win? Isn't this the way in which Robert Mugabe has survived as leader of Zimbabwe for decades?

We all (around the world) have to live with the results of American elections. Every economy around the world will be affected by the flow on effects of American economic policies. When America sneezes we all catch the cold. In just the same way our democracies are affected by America's democracy.

This is why we pay such close attention. No matter what the outcome, the eight-hour queues to vote, the deliberate under-resourcing, the outright fraud, the racially targeted voter suppression and the politicized management of American elections shows a very poor picture of America to the world. It undermines the political credibility of America's elected representatives, and breeds cynicism about American foreign policy, laying it open to a justifiable charge of hypocrisy.

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