If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.
Monday 5 November 2012
Read gnomica 1-150 here!
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If the United States or Britain is having elections,
they don’t ask for observers from Africa or Asia.
But when we have elections, they want observers.
Nelson Mandela (18 Jul 1918 – )
Maybe we ourselves should want just that.
For sure is that the election lawyers are salivating.
On this the day ‘before’ it seems not unreasonable that my thoughts should turn, not so much to the specific players for 2012, but, more broadly, to elections in general. And I do so with a question: does my vote count? really count?
If I have made erroneous assumptions or faulty representations below, displaying a woeful ignorance of how things really work politically – OK, my bad. And please enlighten me!
I live in a University town whose main business is university business, and I’d guess the vast majority of the faculty and those students who vote locally are a good way left of center, and will vote Democrat. Thus, a Democratic vote is kind of like carrying corn to Iowa, and a Republican vote is (to mix metaphors) sort of a lame duck waddling about without purpose on the farm. (Democrats carried three of the last four elections in Iowa.)
Let’s say you voted Republican. Your vote doesn’t count as far as the Electoral College is concerned.
And just who are the members of the electoral college? They are “often people who political party leaders feel have been dedicated and deserve recognition. They could be state officials, party leaders or people with special ties to a presidential candidate. Members of Congress are not eligible to be electors.” How are they chosen? Well, as it says: they are people “political party leaders feel have been dedicated and deserve recognition”. In other word, if I read that correctly, they are appointed by party biggies – the undeniable fact is that I didn’t elect them to elect the president for me, and neither did you. It would seem, then, that you and I are kind of kept out of this crucial part of the loop that actually elects the president. Here’s a question: How much money do I have to fork over in order to become one of those favored “dedicated” few who “deserve recognition”? Do you know who they are in your state? I can’t seem to find/google their names for Iowa (what am I doing wrong?).
Well, let’s say you voted Democrat. You vote may not count now either, for the vote of the Electoral College itself may not count …
Drift back for a moment to the 2000 election. You remember that one, don’t you? Al Gore won in the popular count.
The popular vote for Bush was 50,456,002 and for Gore was 50,999,897. In other words: Gore was favored over Bush by 543,895 American citizens. Therefore Bush won! Hmmm … Yes, yes, I know that the unelected members of the electoral college decide these things, not you and I or even the majority of voters. And in that particular election, because of the stunning opacity of the entire “chad-process” in Florida, not even the party pals in the College decided things this time. The Supreme court did. That’s right, (as I see it) the election of 2012 was decided by nine people, and they were even more remotely elected by me and you than the favored few appointed by who-knows-whom to the College, nor, in my opinion, solons of great objectivity … whatever that word means in this day and age.
When I ask again my initial question against this backdrop of events and processes as I understand them I have more than a little difficulty coming up with an answer. That turns out to be even more the case when I try to factor in the effects that absentee balloting (at least in some areas apparently at an all-time high this season) and their actual counting are factored into the mix. (And note, it matters not a whit for my argument how or even if I voted in 2000. I still find it inexplicable that Gore lost in 2000, and utterly outrageous that those 543,895 voters who put him over the top were in functional effect completely disenfranchised. Their votes were meaningless, a bunch of psephological Potemkin villages … if you see what I mean!
Could something similarly confounding happen tomorrow, with many citizens being legally (?) disenfranchised?
Then there is the question of all that unending ‘free speech’ (as the Supremes see it!) of corporations and organizations pouring into the campaign and its dilutive effects on my one vote.
Of course I want to believe – I truly and really do – that my vote counts, that your vote counts, that everybody’s vote counts.
But I just don’t honestly know if that is the case.