Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Teaching Democracy

The USA and its political leadership need a lesson in democracy. Stupidly, many Americans have been led to believe that we can teach democracy to the rest of the world; but practices in the USA are clearly crippled.

The democratic process and voting is a serious thing - the basis for government legitimacy. Anti-democratic efforts should be greatly minimized. There is no reasonable excuse that voters be turned away from polling stations and not allowed to vote. Use of indelible inks and simple video cameras can assure that all eligible are allowed to vote (while those trying to vote multiple times or who are truly ineligible can be found out). It is a more serious issue when political operatives seek to somehow falsely disenfranchise voters. If lessons in democracy or neutral international observers or strong penalties for election-rigging might help, we need to make it happen. Cases of people being illegitimately turned away at the polls must be severely punished.

Political discourse is important. Recently, Presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich was barred from the Nevada Presidential Debate. He was first invited & scheduled to appear, then uninvited, supposedly to focus on the top three candidates. This decision was made by a broadcasting corporation, MSNBC (subsidiary of General Electric Corporation). Such corporate pre-screening of this Presidential candidate was wrong.

But the other three candidates / suckers, Clinton, Edwards and Obama, accepted the situation. Perhaps simply hoping to narrow the field, they let supposed personal benefits undermine the democratic process. This was wrong. The Las Vegas debate did not involve a need for great haste or a strict limit on debaters - the Democratic nomination is many months from now, and the Presidential election is more than ten months away. Each of these candidates has sufficient time to get their points across. What this teaches is that these three people and their advisory panels are willing to cut corners to gain power. In this case none properly represented democracy. So sad.

All involved may be unrepentant now, but what if their candidacy, products or services were ignored by the citizenry?