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Democracy?

Posted on Sunday, September 10th, 2006

Dave!My primary election ballot arrived in the mail and was promptly tossed in the garbage. Why bother filling it out and paying for a stamp if my vote isn't going to count anyway? You see, here in Washington State, we are on a "pick one party" system for primaries. This means that you MUST identify yourself as a Republican or a Democrat and then confine your votes to those parties.

Which basically means that if, like me, you are NEITHER a Republican or Democrat, you are forbidden from voting for who you consider to be the best candidate independently of their affiliation. If you do so, you're your ballot is not counted. This is supposed to prevent tampering with an opposing party's election results, but that's a load of crap. Somebody from one of these parties is getting put on the final election ballot but if you're not a member you don't get a voice in who that might be (even though you have to live with the results). Nope, here in Washington you are either Democrat or Republican and failure to label yourself as one or the other means your vote doesn't count.

Rock the vote! Be a part of the process! Live democracy! Vote or die!

Whatever.

Call me disillusioned, but between crap like this and our utterly stupid electoral college system, American democracy died a long time ago. I have -zero- confidence that the "will of the people" is represented by what comes out of an election. It's all about money and connections now.

Which wouldn't be a bad thing... if I actually had money or connections.


Categories: News - Politics 2006Click To It: Permalink
   

Comments

  1. sultana says:

    I feel ya, Dave. The electoral system sucks @$$. I hate it that all my state’s votes go to only one candidate even though 40 some-odd percent voted against that person. My vote doesn’t make a difference either 🙁

  2. Kapha says:

    I’m totally with you on this one, Dave.

    Personally, I’ve been incredibly exasperated with the whole process since the ’92 presidential election. I was for Perot until he picked the worst VP candidate ever (other than Cheney of course). I think it was because at that point he wanted out (I read about some personal threats he received and can’t really blame him – gee, I wonder where they came from). I remember reading about his plan to eliminate the national debt via a 50-cent tax on gasoline. People were all upset by this. Of course, by now the debt would be MUCH smaller and the price of gas is more than $2.00/gallon above where it was then. People just want to keep believing the imaginary dream.

    But I digress…

    There was some nonsense with the two-party system that I can’t recall at the moment – but something to the effect that if a third-party was to take the election to a tie situation, then the house did a particular vote to resolve the tie. And of course, it’s made up of the two-parties, so a third-party had no chance. The third-party would have to win the total election by a landslide. I’ll have to dig this one out – was a long time ago.

    Still interesting that even after essentially backing out after the VP debacle, Perot still garnished 19% of the popular vote – that’s 1 in 5 votes. But of course that was 0 of the states by way of the 19th-century Electoral College. Which now serves to keep everything just the way it is forever and ever and ever and ever…

    Question: Why can’t the *people* vote *out* the Electoral College? That’s a loaded question. Think about it for a minute.

    I believe you are absolutely right that the way it is now, money and influence is everything. The people are outside of this. The idea of a representative govt is great, but only when the elected representatives actually do represent the people. It works when you have “statesmen/stateswomen” – not “politicians”.

    When you have Senators and Congressmen/Congresswomen who can create laws for themselves (perks, no-interest loans, etc.) – who keeps them in check? Does anyone think voting for a different person in their place will change this? Why should it?

    And the people (right now) are so poorly educated in regards to all of this that I wouldn’t want them voting in a pure democracy anyway. But there are alternatives.

    I for one like many aspects of the Swiss system.

    Especially this (under the category of Direct Democracy) – realize though that the # of voters reflects the smaller population of Switzerland:

    —–

    Switzerland features a system of government not seen at the national level on any other place on Earth: direct democracy, sometimes called half-direct democracy (this could, or could not be correct as theoretically, one could state that the people have full power over the law). Referenda on the most important laws have been used since the 1848 constitution.

    Any citizen may challenge a law that has been passed by parliament. If s/he is able to gather 50,000 signatures against the law within 100 days, a national vote has to be scheduled where voters decide by a simple majority whether to accept or reject the law.

    —–

    It’s like the way juries are *supposed* to work (and did up until just the last 10-20 years). The jury should be able to determine a person is not guilty *if they believe the law they are being tried against is unjust*. In other words: the jury is the last line of defence from the people against unjust laws. If a law were passed that said speaking out was illegal, a jury should be able to find a person not guilty even if they did speak out simply because they believe the law to be unjust.

    Now when you go on jury duty, listen to when the judge says: You are not here to judge the law, only whether or not the accused is guilty of violating the law. Period.

    What happened?

    Someone decided the people shouldn’t be trusted anymore…

    In another generation or so no one will even remember the way a jury is supposed to work.

  3. Erin says:

    We register as independent just so that we can take either primary ballot, depending on who we think is best for the job. It would really upset me to know that my vote wasn’t going to be counted.

  4. Dave2 says:

    Ah, but what if some of the people you want on the final ballot are Republican… and some are Democrat? How do you choose? Here you have to pick one party which means disregarding the other, which means you aren’t really Independent at all.

    It all come down to the thinking that only Democrats get to decide which Democrat ends up on the ballot… only Republicans get to decide which Republican ends up on the ballot… which, as I said, is fine if you are a either a Republican or a Democrat. Since I am neither, I am not allowed to have a voice in what CANDIDATE I want on that final ballot. Since I vote by CANDIDATE (not party), I’m hosed.

    What a sham.

    It’s all so stupid. If I were a Republican wanting to get my candidates elected by casting my votes for weak Democrats, I could STILL DO THIS by claiming “Democrat” on my ballot!! How does the “One Party” crap prevent it? It DOESN’T!! All it does is f#@% those of us who have no party affiliation. Some democracy.

  5. Laurence says:

    I am surprised.

    In France, it is different for the citizen. You can vote for the candidate whom you like.

    I understand your opinion and your desillusion.

  6. Avitable says:

    You misused “you’re” (you’re ballot is not counted).

    Now I’m disillusioned. Thanks!

  7. RW says:

    ahem… this is exactly why I have offered to become Dictator.

    I’m still available.

  8. Kyra says:

    I’ve been so angry at the whole electoral system, that the first time I ever decided to vote at all was the last election – and NOT because of the president, but because in our New England-witch-burning town, everything is up for vote from who gets to park where, to hiring school teachers. Blah. So I had to vote. But as far as voting for the president, forget it. My vote doesn’t count. In this day and age there is no excuse for that.

    I have to say though, totally shocked they make you declare like that.

  9. Kapha says:

    It’s all part of the:

    * Red Team/Blue Team
    * Cowboys/Indians
    * Us vs. Them
    * Good Guys/Bad Guys

    mentality that is so hammered into our society.

    There is no gradient. There is no gray-area. There is no being an Independent. It’s either in the Bible or it isn’t. It’s either for us or agin us.

    This is the basic Tribal Instinct distilled: It’s either a [potential] threat (i.e. bad), or it’s a [potential] asset (i.e. good).

    This thinking (which you can see everywhere) looks upon someone like you or me who is an Independent as wishy-washy: we can’t make up our minds because *we don’t take a side*. The concept of *not* taking sides is abhorrent to this pattern of thinking. The concept that we may like ideas from *both* sides doesn’t make sense to this way of thinking. The concept that we may not like either side is equally baffling. And finally, the concept that we might have *our own idea* is so far out of the box that it doesn’t even register as plausible.

  10. Dave2 says:

    Avitable SCORES!

    That sentence was originally: “If you do so, you’re wasting your time and money because the ballot is not counted.” Curse my editing skills!!

  11. Voter says:

    Way to go, Dave. Stop being a whiny bitch and just vote for the nonpartison races. The judges for Supreme Court are not affiliated with a party. There are also initiatives to consider (in some parts of Washington.) So, just because you can’t pick your one cross-party candidate, you’re throwing out ALL of your votes?! Nice.

  12. Dave2 says:

    If any of the non-partisan votes were important to me, I would absolutely do that. But the only three contested seats in the primary are for people I don’t know and have no opinion on whatsoever. I wouldn’t have voted on them even if I WAS able to vote for who I wanted in the party races (and there are no initiatives up for vote).

    If anything, it’s YOU are the whiny bitch here. You’re whining at me for not buying into a system that TELLS people how they can vote. You’re saying that if I’m not happy about it, I’m just supposed to shut up and take it?? If people don’t voice their opinion, how can we effect change? Is anonymously sniping from the sidelines the new “American Way?”

  13. Kapha says:

    Technically we don’t live in a Democracy.

    Even according to the CIA World Factbook the government of the United States is as follows:

    “Constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition”

    As I’m sure you (and most of the readers here) know, Republics are generally a very good thing in that they are supposed to protect the individual from “mob rule”. The idea being in our system that the Constitution is there to protect the individual. But, as is evident today, the representative system we have has some major problems (the huge/overwhelming influence of money/corporations/etc.). And unfortunately, the word “Republic” has been tainted by every dictator-ruled country that declares itself the “Democratic Republic of XYZ”. East Germany was the “People’s Democratic Republic” and was one of the most oppresive governments ever.

    A Pure Democracy (i.e. Majority Rules) can be very dangerous, such as if 51% of the people decide to do away with a minority of the population. There has to be a balance obviously, but the people must be able to rule themselves justly. This is why imo things like the Swiss system whereby the people can overturn laws they don’t like is extremely enlightened. This is active participation. The people can rule themselves if they are educated enough to know good from bad, think for themselves, etc.

    A bit of a tangent: Is it me, or are we following a bit too closely in the footsteps of the Roman Empire? The Senate became corrupt as Senators became unduly influenced by money and power. Eventually they turned over absolute power to the Emperor in desperation to please the angry masses. This can be good *if* the Emperor has the best interests of the people/state at heart, but what happens when a whacko one takes over (which always happens since they are then relying on a *single* human personality and of course power corrupts on top of that)? Checks and balances are abandoned, the treasury is emptied, oppresive laws are passed, etc., etc., etc.

    Which reminds me… where in the Constitution does it talk about “Executive Orders”? And what was the first one? Surprisingly hard to find this out. 🙂

  14. Hilly says:

    This is why I have become completely DONE with politics and voting; sure, I should be out there rocking the vote but with the way the Electoral College is set up anyway, my state is always “blue” and always will be “blue” no matter what anyone says. I know I should think that my one vote could make that difference however, since I am more likely to vote blue than red if those are the apparent front-runners anyway, I just have given up.

    I can’t fathom having to register as either/or….at least here we can register as whatever we want to before the state turns blue ;).

  15. Mooselet says:

    A friend of mine who lives in Florida was saying the same thing about their primary ballotting system. What bullsh*t!!! Like you Dave, I don’t vote for parties I vote for people.

    Now that I live in Australia I can’t vote in primaries anyway, so that point is moot (technically I have no home state). But the idea of a viable third party these days is laughable. Which is sad because it’s just what we need.

    Here in Australia, voting is compulsory. If you don’t vote (or at least turn up to vote – what you do in the booth is up to you) you’ll be fined. As I understand it, you can register with a pary but it’s not necessary. It gets people more involved with the process, but there is still a lot of apathy.

    The one thing I don’t fully understand is the system of giving “preferences” – when a minority party has no chance of winning their votes are given to the major party candidate. At least I think it’s how it works, but I don’t like that. If I wanted to vote for the other guy I would’ve… if I could vote, which I can’t. It’s not a perfect system but I prefer it to the outdated Electoral College of Party Hacks.

  16. Jill says:

    If it makes you feel any better Dave, it’s the same way here in New York. Actually, I didn’t realize that primaries were run differently in different states. Then again, until a few years ago, I didn’t realize that everyone didn’t use voting machines to vote either…

  17. Jeff says:

    I still think there’s room in the system for run-off voting. Just because your canidate of choice isn’t going to make it to the top two, should NOT mean we are only stuck with the top two. What a scam.

  18. Kathleen says:

    that was a great sermon. see ya next sunday pastor

  19. Robin says:

    At least you have both Democrats and Republicans on the ballot. The majority of our candidates run unopposed—and they are all Republicans. The Democrats didn’t even put a candidate up against Senator Lugar (running for relection this year).

    But at least we were able to get rid of all of the campaign yard signs after the primary in May.

  20. Kapha says:

    :: hands Kathleen some crayons ::

  21. It’s exactly the same way here in Oklahoma. I used to vote in primaries, but now I just blow it off. I am so disillusioned with the whole process.

    I am still pulling for Political Thunderdome, where we put ’em all in a cage and let the last person standing win the presidency. It’d be a lot more fair and a lot more fun.

  22. serap says:

    Hi Dave,

    I hate politics… so I thought I’d lighten the mood by telling you that I’ve just been to pret for lunch (and I had to queue at an atm first!), and its a gloriously sunny day in London today. That was meant to cheer you up, but seeing as you’re not here eating a pret sandwich (I have egg and tomato on rye, by the way), I have probably made you feel worse. Sorry ’bout that!

  23. Bre says:

    What’s so frustrating to me is that people like you, who actually have coherent thoughts about the different candidates, don’t get the opportunity to express them. Meanwhile, I have college students who choose political parties based on what MTV tells them is right, and they get to count.

    I’m not saying that they shouldn’t count… don’t get me wrong! But I would much rather they made up their own minds rather than repeat MTV’s politics.

  24. ChillyWilly says:

    And I thought Utah was screwy for having closed primary elections. Here they don’t let you vote unless you are registered as a Republican. If you happen to be registered but didn’t associate yourself with any party, you can register as a Republican at the place of polling.

    But I really think this is so underhanded, as it’s obvious why they do this: to only get in the people that they want into office. Because if enough people that voted that wanted to vote, the intended candidate (or incumbent) may not have a smooth sailing victory.

    I really want to see a change…. a major change in our voting system. It seems there are so many restrictions, which in turn have a way of keeping people away from voting. If voting were truly open and important, why place any restrictions on it?

    I admit that I’m mostly democrat, but I too vote for the person. I think both major parties have their faults, and find that some candidates match my views.

    So while I hate to see a vote not happen, I understand your reson for not voting.

  25. Walt says:

    Dave:

    I completely agree with you. Our election process only benefits the elderly that have tons of cash and those that have nothing better to do than yap about politics.

    I’d rather spend Election Day twisting my own nipples and hitting my balls with a sledgehammer than to dredge into the Ben-gay stench of a voting booth.

    The government should simply come out and eliminate the entire election process altogether. I mean look at the money and time they’d save! They pick the candidates and the outcome anyway. Why not simply come out every few years and announce a new thief into power. After all we’re all just a step away from a debtors prison anyway.

    I’ll start stitching a new flag for the people’s republic of Dave-Topia or Dave-oria! Give us a Davetoon daily and we’re humbled servants eager to provide fodder for your blog.

    Oh, I can only image the hate mail you’re getting from this one. Stealing glory from god, his elected officials, and all! 🙂

  26. Alexa says:

    Dave~

    Its awesome to hear that a fellow Washingtonian tossed their ballot as well. I opened mine, read it, and tossed it. In fact I think its still sitting somewhere on my living room floor. I’ll vote come election day but I’m not wasting postage on our primary!

    Alexa

  27. NotDisillusioned says:

    See, this is why we’re so FUCKED as a country right now. If those of you (above) who are so pissed off about the state of things would a) get off your ass, b) get that ballot back out of the trash, c) vote, and then d) work to improve the system, then we wouldn’t be so bad off! But, that’s too much trouble. Right? “My vote doesn’t count anyway. So, fuck it.” What a sad attitude. If you don’t like the way things are done, then WORK to make it BETTER. How do you do that? It starts by VOTING. And voting in EVERY election. Then you have to do a little more. Volunteer. RUN FOR OFFICE! Find a campaign you can get behind and HELP it! DO SOMETHING for fucks sake. If you don’t vote, you don’t have any right to complain. So, exercise your right. We don’t have many rights left. So, let’s really use the ones remaining.

  28. Hayley says:

    Hi Dave,
    This quote came up on the funny quotes link on my site today, I thought you’d appreciate it’s relevance:

    If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal. Emma Goldman

  29. Dave2 says:

    Uhhh… did you read my entry?? If I vote for the candidates that I feel are best for the job, MY VOTE WILL BE THROWN OUT because I can’t vote for PEOPLE, I have to vote for a PARTY. I am not a Democrat or a Republican SO MY VOTE DOESN’T FUCKING COUNT in this primary election because the people I want on the final ballot are a mix of Democrats AND Republicans.

    Of course I WILL be voting in the actual general election come November… but it is senseless to send in a vote for the primaries when it says right on my ballot that it will be DISCARDED! Why waste the stamp?

    So basically, my NOT sending in my primaries ballot is the EXACT SAME RESULT as if I HAD sent it in.

    And how do you know that I HAVEN’T been creating web sites, making brochures, designing posters, volunteering time and money for candidates, sending letters to my representatives, writing about politics, and working to help causes I support? Well, guess what? I do ALL THOSE THINGS!! I find it ironic that you can get all judgmental on me based on pure speculation. It’s shit like THAT which has caused us to be FUCKED as a nation.

  30. Avitable says:

    Some people (aka NotDisillusioned) don’t need to actually “read” something to have a useless opinion on it.

  31. jali says:

    In Georgia voters can cross party lines in the PRIMARY – I hate this. The Repubs can vote for the weakest Demo candidate so that in the regular election their guy has a better chance to win. – and of course vice-versa. I think it sucks!

  32. Dave2 says:

    Yes, this is true. But what Washington has done does not change this. If you are a Republican, you can simply claim to be a Democrat and STILL vote for the weaker Democratic candidates! If somebody is determined to mess with the primary election, nothing is stopping them, and THAT’S MY POINT!

    The only people who get screwed are those who do not have political party affiliation and want the best person to win!

    The only way to solve this is to track how people vote in the primary election and require they stick to the party in the general election… this causes even worse problems, so what IS the solution? Heck if I know. But effecting something that DOESN’T WORK and TELLS PEOPLE HOW THEY CAN VOTE is not the answer.

  33. Wayne Hall says:

    I see and understand the reasons for throwing out your ballot in the primaries but it still seems incredibly wrong in my gut. Plus, there’s a huge difference between Dave’s plight of being forced to choose one of two parties due to it being an entrenched rule and people saying “why bother voting because my state is always going to be blue”. That attitude towards voting incenses me to no end.

    I’m a Texan Republican and I couldn’t stand to hear people saying “what, Bush will win Texas no matter what, this is his state, so I don’t need to go out and vote for him…” Sheesh! All it takes is 5% of the people to make a difference! (and don’t start spouting all this crap about “Bush stole the election” or “40% of the people voted against him and he’s still president” when Clinton had 60% of the people vote against him”). Argh! I didn’t want to make this overly political… I’m sorry.

    I for one would abhor a strict popularity vote due to the sheer number of people who need Dave’s Dumbasses books. As absurd as it might sound when you really think about it, can you really trust the common citizen on everything? Of course not. But I truly feel that when absurdity is found (like what Dave is experiencing with his useless ballot) that there should be an Absurdity Committee that takes quick action to change or fix it. Like a Pothole service or “dead animal pickup” on the side of the highway. You need the problem fixed QUICKLY or it will do more damage in the long run.

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