Thursday, 24 May 2007

Corporate Candidates and the Illusion of Choice

I have been pondering the way in which the corporate media propagandize and control our "democratic" elections, and in doing so I have come up with a means to bring back our democracy. It requires participation however, and from those who are the most disenfranchised and least likely to vote in a system that they feel has little or nothing to do with their lives, or at least they perceive it as something beyond their control and so corrupt that it makes no difference who they vote for.

I used to think this non-voting block of Americans had to be lazy, apathetic or ignorant – or perhaps all three! It is by far the largest vote in any election. Or better said, the non-vote (or vote of no confidence) seldom, if ever slips below 50 percent. That is actually a sobering statistic if you just let it seep in. Remember Bush-43's mandate in 2000? Well, almost twice as many eligible voters voted "no confidence" in the system as those who voted for either candidate. What does that say about democracy in the U.S.A.?

Before I began to investigate and research this posting I was under a very false impression (I actually make some attempt at verifying, fact checking and clarification of the matters before a I write about a subject, unless it is purely anecdotal or conjecture – don't you wish "journalists" would do the same?). I had always heard this "50 percent of the voters" thrown around, and I was very much under the impression that it implied half of the registered voters. It does not. This figure is the percentage of eligible and registered voters that tend not to vote in any given general election. The figures are even more pathetic for midterm elections, where roughly two thirds of eligible voters do not register and/or vote! As an aside here, it is probably the midterm elections that have a greater effect on us, considering the fact we are electing "representatives" from our respective geographical/cultural regions.

Let's take the 2000 election as an example. It was one of the most contested elections in our history (and rightly so). We allowed the ideologically-skewed Supreme Court to appoint our Commander in Chief. It is all quite questionable. Yet I am not going to delve into that particular abyss. I just want to talk numbers, if I may. In 2000 there were 206 million eligible voters, of which 156 million registered, of which 106 million voted. Out of the 106 million (all these numbers are rounded), 51 million voted for Gore, 50 million voted for Bush, 3 million voted for Nader, 1 million did not vote for a presidential candidate, and 1 million voted for other candidates.

I was a "spoiler", or a Nader voter. Just notice if you will, that sixteen times as many registered voters did not bother to get off their collective ass to vote, as opposed to those who voted their conscience, voted green and voted for Nader. Yet I never heard the media call these slackers' patriotism into question. So, extrapolating from the numbers listed (and yes, we're strictly dealing with the popular vote presently), the candidate that received the greatest number of votes in 2000 was "none of the above", with over 55 million votes. I counted the third-party candidates solely due to the fact that our two party system takes all, and anyone like myself that voted third party knew fully well that their vote was a protest vote and nothing else. If you now add the 50 million eligible voters who did not even see the point in registering to vote, you have 105 million disenfranchised citizens – or more than the combined total who voted for both Gore and Bush. So much for mandates!

To say we're in need of election reform in this country is merely stating the blatantly obvious. But hey, why not state the obvious? And while I am at it, I am also announcing my candidacy for the presidency. I am ready to be your president, and one of the planks of my platform will be election reform. Allow me to present the steps I'll take at bringing back our voice in government:

1.) Public funding of all parties and candidates. No corporate contributions. Personal contributions limited to $200 annually per candidate. All candidates will be granted equal air time, and debates will not be controlled or "framed". Debates will be organized by the public and broadcast for free without commercial interruption on the public television networks.
2.) Declaration of "Election Days" as mandatory, national holidays.
3.) Same-day voter registration, or within 24-72 hours of election allowed.
4.) Ban on electronic voting machines. We must have paper trails.
5.) Polls will be open for a 24 hour period throughout the country, at which time they may not disclose running tallies or results. Exit polling will be prohibited unless conducted by a disinterested and approved source, and they will be prohibited from discussing the results until after the election.
6.) All eligible citizens will be required to vote, or they will be fined or serve time in community service. For those who do not feel they have a voice, "none of the above", or "no confidence" will be options on the ballots. If a "no confidence" vote wins the majority, the election will be deemed invalid, and voters will have to return to vote again at a later date.
7.) The Constitution will be amended to disband the Electoral College and enact a Popular Vote in its place.
8.) Gerrymandering will be laid to rest. Districts will only be allowed based upon existing political geography – cities, counties and states. (Included in the Election Reform Amendment).

I think this should this be implemented, we would see a real surge of democratic participation in this country. That would be a good thing.

Until then, I suggest that we can begin to arrange and organize a mass boycott of the sham that is to be the 2008 general election. I am either voting for Kucinich or Gravel in the primary, so we'll see how they do. But I am fairly certain the continued marginalization of such candidates by the media will do the trick in painting them as "unelectable", and we will be forced to choose from the list of pre-approved candidates (in which case it really does not matter who we vote for). I suggest staging sit-ins outside our polling places where we can burn our voter registration cards in protest. T-shirts with "None of the Above" printed on them, and buttons with No Confidence 2008 could be made. Just some ideas folks.

Your participation is always appreciated. Oh, and vote for me in 2008.

1 comment:

ignats said...

I'll be there with you on voting day,
love your thoughts on it, like I have
always told folks never take your voting rights for granted, you don't know what you've got till it's gone.
Then they are usually the ones to scream the loudest.

Good Platform Willy!