Democracy Gone Awry

November 2, 2008

Sometimes I look at things too simply. Take, for example, U.S.-style elections. Because we live in a democracy, the people decide who gets elected to make the big decisions that affect our lives. Therefore conducting free and fair elections should be the most efficient and effective thing we do as a nation.

Oh silly me. In truth, no other western democratic nation makes it so difficult for people to both register and vote. Waiting ten hours in line then getting turned away is hardly democratic. Same for having too few voting machines at too few precincts. And then there’s the issue of voting machine reliability and registration problems.

It’s difficult not to conclude that our presidential elections, starting in 2000, have been terribly flawed. Yet the problems keep intensifying. It’s also a reasonable conclusion that these easily solvable deficiencies aren’t fixed because many people in power see them as benefits. For the most part, the flaws discourage from voting people more likely to vote for Democratic Party candidates. Most of the problems happen in states with Republicans in power.

A neighbor friend summed up the problems this way: they represent another poll tax. A more devious and hypocritical one.

This inability to stage fair, representative elections is a clarion call that things have gone terribly awry. Hardly a news flash to anyone who keeps up with public affairs. But the more I read about what’s happening now around the country before Election Day, when things likely will get worse, the more I lament what’s become of us.

But who am I to criticize? I don’t live in what Sarah Palin calls “real America.” Wherever that is.