Electoral Dysfunction

By R. D. Flavin


10-31-2014


     This coming Tuesday, November 4th, marks the 2014 United States of America Midterm Elections, in which eligible citizens are encouraged to go to their local polls and cast their votes for those seeking to be elected to their state's seats in the U. S. House of Representatives (the number of House representatives are based on a state's population with California entitled to 53 representatives and several states only allowed but a single seat), 33 states will elect seats in the U. S. Senate, some 38 states and territories will elect governors, 50 state and territorial legislatures will be restocked, and there's several minor state and local issues to vote on. It's a shame after all we've been through as a nation that we're still plagued with electoral dysfunction. If only there was some magic pill one could take... It'll be harder for some, than others, as certain states have passed photo ID laws (not everyone has a drivers license or state ID card), but our darling Supreme Court says it's okay for some states to be different from those states who only require a social security number, a sworn affidavit, or no identification at all. It smacks of “Papers, please...”

     Now, the right and privilege (some say 'duty') of all Americans eighteen years of age or older (excluding those who fall under various state felony disenfranchisement laws) is to vote and participate in our democratic (< Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) "rule of the people") form of government. However, voting in the United States has always been a tricky affair. While other countries and various US state and local elections support the 'popular' vote, that is one of majority rule wherein EVERY vote cast counts toward a candidate or law/referendum, it wasn't to be so in our original Constitution. Women and slaves were denied the right to vote in the southern states and the northern states set aside their integrity to unite ALL states in the struggle for freedom from British rule. And so, initially it was to be Congress who would choose the president and then the creation of “electors” and the Electoral College was born. Go find a political science major on Adderall to explain it in full... “Slaves,” that is, African-Americans, formally achieved the right to vote in the the US 15th Amendment (1870), though it took the 24th Amendment (1962) outlawing poll-taxes and the courageous (and long overdue) Voting Rights Act of 1965 to finally make racial discrimination a federal crime. But, certain racists, bigots, and other idiots continue to challenge and complicate the voting system. I'll discuss such below... Women, through skirted perseverance, were able to organize a continuing bombardment of political challenges to their sexist exclusion from voting and through the suffragette movement achieved egalitarian voting parity with the 19th Amendment in 1920. Oh, and in1971, the 26th Amendment allowed eighteen year-old citizens to vote (as many were dying in the jungles of Vietnam at the time). Booze and drinking? That's a different, though related problem, I'd rather not get into at this time. Soon; I'll get back to it...

     Do your chads hang low is a question of vulgar insinuation. I apologize. In the 2000 presidential election things got sloppy in Florida and rather than properly (i.e., scientifically or through federal investigation), the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) muscled in and ruled no recount or analyzing was necessary, as Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris had already called it in favor of Bush. Like in sports when a ref makes a call – yeah, he might have been wrong, but in the moment, we move forward, and the word of the referee stands. Instant replay is too off-topic... By some counts (NYT for one), Gore could, would, and should have won his race against George W. Bush. Spilled milk for sure, but SCOTUS, our legal final word, ORDERED Americans to accept Bush as our president. Such behavior makes our wise men and women to be perceived as ...not so wise as we hoped they would be. It's like we're back to the sports analogy when mistakes are part of the game... Government should NOT be a game.

     Yet, the unfeasible manifests when we discuss democracy. The struggle against the Electoral College method persists, though on par with suggestions that “Jimmy Crack Corn” replace "The Star-Spangled Banner" as our national anthem. Regardless of the pros and cons of the Electoral College system, SCOTUS relinquished our democracy to an aristocracy (Greek ἀριστοκρατία (aristokratia) "rule of an elite") with CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA No. 08–205 (Argued March 24, 2009—Reargued September 9, 2009––Decided January 21, 2010). The decision basically allowed corporations, unions, and the extremely wealthy to contribute as much as they wanted to any political campaigns as an exercise in “Free Speech.” And with the creation of the so-called “Super-PACs” or independent-expenditure only Political Action Committees, these entities could raise money from anyone with no limit on donation size. Money may not be able to buy love, but with unlimited funds for advertising, money can and has bought elections. Okay, the money-thing isn't new, it's the UNLIMITED amount coupled with legal anonymity that now allows the Koch Brothers (Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch) to toss millions in support of their Republican and Tea Party agenda in every election they can sniff out. It's said they spent $45 million in 2010... I'm pretty sure that number has risen over the years.

     It's been said that a broken clock is correct twice a day and even with America's electoral dysfunction, we still support liberty and justice over tyranny and anarchy. I was advised from an early age NEVER to discuss politics and religion except with the closest of confidants. Sorry, Mom and Dad; there's a lot of your advice I heed, but butting heads with buttheads is so much fun! Maybe things aren't supposed to be perfect and there's a little Job in all of us and it's our duty (right and privilege, too) to face hardships and do our best to VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE!

Waiting for the polls to open,

Rick

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