Wednesday, November 09, 2016

This is not what democracy looks like

(Image stolen from the Straits Times)

Its election day in the USA, complete with the usual stories of lawsuits, manipulation, and long queues to vote. The latter is amazing - not because its a sign of the strength of US democracy, but a sign of how weak it is. To point out something which is obvious to everyone outside the US, this simply does not happen in civilised countries. Down here in New Zealand, its in and out in ten minutes, not queue for hours (oh, and we get paid time off to vote too).

The reason the queues exist because the US electoral system itself is politicised. So you get a deliberate under-supply of polling places in areas where people might vote the "wrong" way, purges of the voter rolls targeting opposing demographics, and numerous petty checks aimed at stamping out non-existent "voter-fraud" (i.e. black people voting). Again, civilised countries don't do this. Instead, we try (with varying degrees of success) to let everyone vote. But then, civilised democracies don't see selectively disenfranchising your opponents' supporters as a valid political tactic - that's what makes them civilised democracies.

(Oh - and civilised democracies don't have gerrymandering either. Because voters should choose governments, not the other way round).

Its not hard to get a democracy immune to this sort of political manipulation and which allows the will of the people to be heard. But it appears that the US political establishment simply isn't interested in that.