The US could learn a thing or two about representative democracy. Specifically we could learn how to defuse the damaging effects of stubborn partisanship. Most people believe that human interaction works better when there is agreement. But who amongst us agrees on everything?
Well…there used to be a government in Iraq that agreed on everything. On October 15th 2002 Saddam Hussein won a referendum for a new term in office with –get this- 100% of the 11,454,638 votes. His infinite margin of victory is all the more impressive due to the high turnout.
More recently, on 8 March 2009, the North Koreans achieved an impressive 99.98% voter turnout for their elections. !00% of the votes were cast for Kim Jong-Il and his Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland.
Of course, unlike the Iraqi referendum of 2002 there was only one choice for leader on the North Korean ballot. Within the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland there were several parties vying for parliamentary seats, and the Worker’s Party of Korea only won 87.5% of the parliament.
Contrast the relatively poor showing of the North Korean Worker’s Party with Mitt Romney’s showing in the Utah Republican Primary (93.05%). Perhaps the people of North Korea could learn a thing or two about how to run a democracy from the residents of Utah?
I make these connections as a cathartic balm to to soothe the chafing of my electoral frustration. Due to the winner-takes-all nature of the Electoral College process of electing a president my Utah vote will have no effect on the outcome of the election. No matter which of the two major candidates I vote for. The overwhelming majority that Romney will enjoy in Utah mutes any effect anyone’s vote will have here. The only horse-race question about the election is whether Romney will receive: a three-to-one, a four-to-one, or a five-to-one majority.
In an uncharacteristic fit of martyrdom I have been approaching the election with a attitude of duty before sense. I would cast my futile vote, and then wit for news about how overwhelmingly futile it was this election cycle. Not a very pleasantly motivating thought.
Politics should be strategic. I often tell people in areas that actually have two political parties that any vote is just a choice for the best available alternative, and not an opportunity to provide input on what the alternatives should be. Strategically choose what the next step in social progress should be. If your vote has a remote possibility of helping a slightly better candidate win over a clearly bad candidate it is better to vote for them than someone who has no chance. It all sounds very calculated, and it should be.
Somehow I took my rhetoric to heart, and began believing that I should act as if I was making the same sort of calculated decision in spite of the glaringly obvious data showing that I was not. My choice and the choice of all Utah residents is different than that of much of the rest of the nation.
I came to this realization while reading comments left on my last post. Vicar made a point that should have been so obvious to me that for weeks the red outline of the face-palm should be clearly visible on my face.
The realization is this: there are third parties with targeted platforms. Although these parties cannot elect a president those which receive enough votes have their issues courted by the major parties in the next election cycle.
I can have my voice heard. It simply will take a while, and I have to trade my delusion of electoral potency for a little strategic sense.
I can feel the light of epiphany warming my upturned face.