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United States politics: so right and so wrong

The political geek in me is always so impressed by elections in the United States. Look no further than the combination of marketing and psychological insight used in voter targeting, the glitz of the speeches and roadshows, or the graphic design and imagery of the campaign websites.

But beyond that things are wrong. Really wrong.

As the Daily Mash in its sarcastic way summed it up, “Single moron to decide outcome of US election“. They have a point. That a girl brought to tears about the election becomes a Youtube hit underlines things further. If you live in a swing state you matter. If you don’t, you don’t. Court cases may, once again, decide the outcome of the election (something that even CNN brands a ‘disgrace’ – they are right). The candidate who comes second could end up in the White House. Super PACs have spent $566 million to date.

This, in short, is no way to do politics. The basic tenet of representative democracy – that every citizen’s voice is equal – has been stretched to breaking point. Any Europeans looking to the USA for inspiration: do keep all of that in mind.

Photo: "Obama NYC Posters" by hyperakt on January 23, 2009 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

4 Comments

  • Chandler |

    “The basic tenet of representative democracy – that every citizen’s voice is equal – has been stretched to breaking point.”

    The US is a republic. None of the above was ever part of the deal. Political strategist put it in to the equation.

  • Jon |

    @Chandler – I know that was never a tenet of the US federal system. But in the era prior to professional campaigning that never mattered that much. Now as we can nail down the election result with such precision, it ends up being as if millions of people’s voices don’t count. That’s not right.

  • Chris N |

    I agree with Chandler, you’re demanding that real world institutions, including the U.S political system live up to the ideal that everyone could somehow be proportionately represented. Such a definition of equality often places ridiculous demands on our institutions because they’re made up of people like you and me: sometimes vain, self-interested, nepotistic, going with whom and what they know, with access to limited knowledge (but often more knowledge and history) and interested in consolidating power for themselves and their ideas, however benevolently they claim to serve everyone and all the while working against their political adversaries, within the demands of their own party, and within our separation of powers.

    You seem eager to subject all of us to your ideal of equality (while not living here) and you also don’t seem to realize that in pushing your ideal, you may be in conflict with the ideal of freedom, and people’s day to day freedom to lives their lives as they choose. Have you worked your ideas through? What will every vote mattering equally really get you even if it were possible? What moral obligations do you have to other people and is this the best way to meet them?

    Now, as an individual citizen, I want to be considered equal under the law, but I fully accept that my vote may be negated by the votes of others and may be statistically insignificant or subject to some arcane House rules, but I still vote, because come election time, it’s a duty and it’s what I can do during an election. This is because I don’t share your ideal, and I don’t lament the fact that we’re not as equal as we could be.

    As Chandler said, the U.S is a constitutional republic, and Britain has a lot more popular sentiment for such ideals of equality I’d submit because they have more Marxists, Socialists, some Communists, Social Democrats and redistrubtionists who redirect their political philosophy into a huge, redistributive State which yields questionable results and can severely restrict people’s freedom.

    At least that’s how I see it. I could be wrong.

    Cheers from Stateside.

  • Jon |

    Please lighten up! I’m not imposing my views on anyone. I have a view on US politics that, thankfully in a free world, I can express. But my view on whether it’s right is no more valid than anyone else’s.

So, what do you think ?