Thursday, January 11, 2007

Democracy in action

I was listening to a speech the other day about democracy by an american politician. He was saying how important it was for the world to have democracy because it was so important for people to rule themselves. He used the USA as an example of democracy in action. I almost choked on my pen.

Since when is the usa democractic? Has anyone ever stopped to wonder why the average citizen doesn't actually vote for his or her president? In case your unfamiliar with the way the voting system works in the USA, it is done by electoral college. It was originally set up because the ruling class did not believe that the lower classes could be trusted to vote for the 'right' person. The electoral college says areas get a certain number of representatives to vote for them. These representatives have NO legally biding contract to vote the same way the people voted. They are just supposed to do it. It is an honour system in politics. (anyone else a little nervous about honour and politics being in the same sentence?)

To give a more practical example, if there are are 6,000,000 people in a state, they might get 3 representatives to vote in the presidental election. The public votes on the representative and the represetative who is voted in goes and votes for the president. So in a community that might be very narrowly split between republican and democrat, if the democrats barely out vote the republicans, the entire republican voting community is unrepresented! Is that fair? Is that the people being ruled by the people? no. it isn't necessarily even the people being ruled by the majority. It is simply the people being swindled by a system that doesn't think its citizens smart enough to vote for themselves!


Lindsey Lou said...

Sure, it's not perfect, but when you hear about some countries and their struggles to form stable governments that provide decent standards of living, America's system sounds pretty good. And there is accountability, as I think the most recent elections show.

kris said...

many of those governments have had democracy forced upon them and it doesn't work. Democracy has been in the making since the 1500s when voting for officials started. But women didn't get a vote until the 1800s! To ask governments to change from a kingdom (Tonga for instance) to a democracy overnight is suicidal for a country's population and trade. Yet the western countries continue to do this. (please do not read usa only. England, Australia, France, and many more area all very responsible)

I'm beginning to wonder if democracy is really a tool for stronger countries and a pacifier for its people.