Thursday, February 07, 2008

A draw

This US election has already been full of surprises, and yesterday, we got another one: Super Duper Tuesday was effectively a draw, with Barrack Obama and Hilary Clinton winning almost equal numbers of delegates, and practically level-pegging in the overall delegate count. Which means that the nomination is still wide open, and (contrary to usual practice), the votes of people in post Super Tuesday states will actually count.

On the face of it, this seems like good news for democracy - and it is. Except that it also means that the nomination is increasingly likely to be decided by non- or anti-democratic means - primarily, who has the money to go the distance. Rather than the people choosing at the ballot box, the cadre of ultrarich donors all US politicians depend upon may make their choice at the bank, and effectively veto one candidacy or another. Of course, this happens every election; it's just that normally the choice is made well in advance so its not so obvious that that is what is going on. But what is clear is that the staggered nature of the primary system and the overwhelming role of money combine to give the rich a disproportionate say in US elections - and this should be anathema to anyone who believes in democracy.

(I am of course writing about the Democratic primary. I do not care about the Republican one)