2006-05-04

Democracy Inaction

It's local by-election week here so what better time to go over to my glamorous assistant Neil on the other side of the Atlantic for a quick word about voting in America?

They run a poll over here for just about every job possible: president, clerk, judge, school board, rat-catcher... you name it. They even take a vote to decide who they might vote for next time (a.k.a. the primaries). You can't buy a drink round here until the polls close either and I'm afraid of who I might elect sober when there's rarely any real choice.

It all seems a bit odd to this Brit, particularly as next to no-one actually turns out to vote. The local turn-out is reckoned to be between 10 and 15%. Back home the figure is nearer 50%, making results there seem like ringing endorsements by comparison. My favorite local candidate is Bruce Calabrese (standing for the local school board) because his wife is called Beets. That cracks me up. It must be nice to vote for somebody named after a vegetable rather than someone who turns out to be one!

11 Comments:

Blogger Trundling Grunt said...

I wondered which veggy you'd pick - I like this one as Douste-Blazy apparently ended up shacking up for the night with his security guard. Could make for an interesting, but disturbing HNT.

00:07  
Blogger kitkat said...

Our voter turnout here for everything is pathetic. I have a whole theory behind how our government (and country, really) needs to be restructured that might help solve that problem. Essentially, if we give more power to the state/county/city governments, people will be more likely to see changes and know the candidates, and therefore we will be more apt to want to vote because it'll actually matter.

11:40  
Blogger The Paranoid Mod said...

Ah, federalism. It kind of works like that already, doesn't it? After all the laws on everything from teaching intelligent design to drinking age are wildly different from state.

I was in guatemala a couple of years ago on election day and the hotel wouldn't serve us beer. So we got a cab into town and brought a few crates back poolside and got happily drunk while all the hotel staff glared at us. Because we were going to drunkenly vote for the wrong candidate, obviously.

11:07  
Blogger kitkat said...

The "Intelligent Design" question is an even better point. There are a bunch of crazy yahoos in Kansas (I'll repeat--where I'm from) who live out in the wheatfields and such who have decided that Intelligent Design should be taught. However, I would bet that if you go to Johnson County, Kansas, and even Kansas City, you would probably find that people do not agree with this. This illustrates that even statewide laws are too broad in scope. County and city governments might actually be able to represent their people.

14:57  
Blogger The Paranoid Mod said...

Hmm. Not sure what your point is, kk. That state laws do or don't work? Surely the tactic is to get onto the school boards and get control that way, which I'm sure I've read about happening somewhere - parents going "They're teaching my kid what?" and getting stuck in on the Darwin team.
That said, there surely also has to be a point where nationwide standards start applying, from murder down to, what, how many poodles you can sodomise on main street when there's an 'r' in the month.

Or something.

18:52  
Blogger kitkat said...

I'm saying that statewide laws are often still too broad and don't necessarily represent the wishes of the people in the state. That's all. I have no problem with identifying certain national standards but keeping them to a minimum.

19:33  
Blogger Trundling Grunt said...

I'm not wild about federalism and the notion of sending more power to the states - maybe your state is better than Indiana (pardon me, I was forgetting Jeb Bush) but all it tends to produce is more local despots. The whole ID idiocy seems to reinforce that point.

The biggest problem is apathy - that tends to lead to small orgnaised idiot tendencies taking over things - people need to take the time to think about who and what they are voting for. And then do it!

01:58  
Blogger The Paranoid Mod said...

The trouble with democracy is that people get a voice. I'm more in favour of benevolent tyranny, but how do you choose your tyrant? And choose the right one?

The BNP got in in my girlfriend's ward up north, they only got 2 seats in a council of 30 but it shows there's enough people who believe the hype about British values being eroded or whatever.
Some kind of IQ related voting qualification? Disenfranchise anyone who's ever watched ITV?

Democracy for (most) of the people, would be my slogan if you elected me tyrant.

11:05  
Blogger Trundling Grunt said...

The trouble with democracy is that people have the option to turn up...and so don't...and so you have the wackos of the BNP etc gaining credibility. It's very similar to the domination of various unions by the hard left in the 80's.

I'm pretty sure that if you were appointed tyrant, you'd be voted out by most of the people asap. Sic semper tyrranis...

00:43  
Blogger The Paranoid Mod said...

Someone said on tv that in Australia, where they have compulsory voting, their turnouts are around 90%. Oddest definition of "compulsory" I've ever heard.

Ah, but benevolent tyranny lasts forever, or the lifetime of the benevolent tyrant at least. Which is why it's so important to pick the right one. I always used to think John Peel, but now I don't know...

20:25  
Blogger Trundling Grunt said...

I'd have voted for John Peel in a shot. Even dead, he's still better than many of the options available.

Who would I vote in as tyrant now.....Frank Field would be a good choice. Maybe the Beast of Bolsover as I live in exile? It would be funny?

00:05  

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