21 August 2009

The Future of Elections

Is it just me or does there seem to be a lot more attention paid to the process of deciding elections over the past few years?

I'd like to think this all started back in 2000 when Al Gore - on his way to concede the presidential election and show the world once again how civilized nations peacefully transfer power - suddenly decides on the advice of a staffer that he should win. This minor decision kicks off a race of epic proportions that has tainted virtually every election since then, both domestic and international. Let's call it the "If at first you don't succeed, sue for selective, inconsistent recounts in precincts where you are likely to add votes" strategy. Dare I say this is the ONLY election where Democrats lost - and even that one was in question. Ever since, they've counted until they've won and then claimed legitimate victory.

Here's a few examples of elections where Democrat candidates have opted not to lose without usurping voter intent through the courts:

2000 Washington Senate: Democrat Maria Cantwell narrowly defeats Slade Gorton by just .09% of the vote. Recounts in heavily Democratic precincts played a role.

2004 Washington Gubernatorial: Democrat Christine Gregoire selectively recounts King County until she overturns the win of opponent Dino Rossi, a Republican. 133 vote margin out of 2.8 million cast. Never mind the irregularities.

2004 Ohio Presidential: An expected battleground state, Ohio could have easily become the Florida of 2004. But this was only one state where the Democrats sought to count until they won - even though they still didn't after finding more votes for Kerry.

2008 Minnesota Senate: Democrat Al Franken sues, recounts using inconsistent standards, finds NEW votes, eventually overturns Norm Coleman's clear victory, and claims to be a legitimate winner after months of what can only be described as an inherently flawed process managed by Democrats. Ironic that the Wall Street Journal identified the same tactics being used as Washington 2004.

I could list many more examples of both national races and local races where candidates have claimed victory, and then argued and attempted to recount "irregularities" and selective ballots. We'd like to stop and thank Al Gore for making this all possible. But his actions in 2000 set the stage well beyond the US.

Latest news out of the 2009 Afghan elections is that BOTH candidates are claiming victory. This of course comes on the heels of the political unrest in Iran where both candidates also claimed victory - only to get mired in a sham of a recount even less reliable than ones orchestrated by Democrats.

But let's look at the larger picture...

In 2007, former exiled opposition candidate Benazir Bhutto was assassinated just 12 days before elections in Pakistan.

In 2008, thugs from the New Black Panther Party openly intimidated voters at a precinct in Philadelphia. Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder mysteriously dropped pursuit of that case. Interesting... nothing fishy going on there. In fact, the Obama DOJ now appears to be openly obstructing.

In Iraq this summer, elections were peaceful largely due in part to a continued US military presence protecting the process.

In Honduras, President Maneul Zelaya was ousted before the end of his term first by a military coup, and then by the nation's supreme court, because he sought to unilaterally change the nation's Constitution to follow a Chavez-style policy of eliminating term limits, thereby allowing himself to remain president. He even appeared to have winning election results BEFORE the election took place.

In Iranian elections, the "winning" party opted to clash with protesters and even killed to silence opposition.

And now, with renewed violence, we can only imagine what will become of the Afghan elections shortly depending on who is declared the winner.

What is more interesting is the Obama administration's varying responses to each of these situations... often uninformed and inconsistent, to say the least.

So, is this the future of elections? Rampant irregularity in recounting close races? A rewriting, or perhaps whitewashing of the process that leads to victory? Voter intimidation and/or using state police forces against opposing viewpoints? Assassination of opponents? The need for coups to remove arrogant leaders from office?

It appears as though the contentiousness of elections is getting worse, especially in two-party and developing systems. And while we normally have peaceful elections, we export our representative democracy, flaws and all, due to the "new" instant media. America sets the tone. If you think about it, we really didn't hear too much about this type of thing before 2000, but if it's now okay for the US goose, then it must be okay for the global gander.

Not even one year into the Obama presidency, the stakes have been raised so high, that the political fallout and implications of the 2010 elections are already being factored in to how congressional representatives vote on legislation NOW. Never mind what is actually good for the country. Focus on what will get you re-elected.

Once upon a time, there was a small group of men who felt that they were not being fairly represented in the election process. Those men took action, and the process got much uglier before it got better. My fear, with the unquenchable thirst some have for gaining and keeping power, is that we may be headed down a similar path. Town Hall meetings across the country illustrate the anger of the voters who, like those before us, are getting fed up with an elite minority who no longer represent, but seek to control. This type of system cannot survive.

If this is the future of elections, we are in deep trouble, at home and globally. But history bears this out time and time again... and as always, there are those who think that if THEY try it this time, it will finally work. November of 2010 will be a bellwether election in this nation's history... the biggest question is now, is there anyone who is interested in playing fair?


plainolebob said...

the way i see it they will just print more money any way.

Rusty said...

Monetizing the debt will have implications on elections for sure - especially when people find out how the administration's policies have affected their ability to buy less with the same dollars...

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