Saturday, October 28, 2006


Some Thoughts about the election, democracy, etc.

I voted and mailed my ballot to the County Registrar of votes today. It's too late for negative or positive ads to change my mind. Actually, I had decided several weeks ago how I was going to vote on candidates, except for one. Two weeks ago I had decided how to vote on the propositions (see one of my previous posts for that). Now I'll just wait with patience to see whether any of my candidates win, whether any of the propositions I like passed, and whether any of the propositions I dislike failed. I'm usually somewhat disappointed after an election. Not everything goes the way I like.

I've been thinking about whether we can honestly claim that we have a democracy. In a democracy the will of the majority of the population prevails. I don't think the majority always prevails in our system. Consider the election of 2000 and the policies of the new Bush administration. Mr. Bush won that election by the narrowest of margins. He lost in the popular vote count and won in the electoral vote by just one vote. Actually, his margin of victory is said by some to have been five to four in the Supreme Court. That was the vote for the decision to stop the recount of votes in Florida so that the Florida Secretary of State could certify the original tally as the official vote. We may never know what would have happened if the recount had not been stopped.

One would think, in a "democracy," that an administration that came to office on such a slender margin would be cautious and deferential to its opponents. It would try to obtain broad bipartisan support for all its policies and for its legislation. That didn't happen. Instead, the House of Representatives adopted a rule under which only those measures supported by a majority of the Republicans could be brought to the floor for a vote. I don't recall the membership of the two parties after the election of 2000. At present, the Republicans have 225 members, the Democrats 209, and the Socialist 1. The Socialist votes with the Democrats. The majority of Republicans rule allows 113 members the privilege of deciding what measures can be voted on. Thus, there may be a measure that has the support of many Republicans and nearly all Democrats and clearly an impressive majority in favor. However, that measure can not be voted on.

This scheme of organizing the House of Representatives is a recipe for getting nothing done of consequence. It's also highly undemocratic. The recent impasse over immigration reform is a textbook example. The Senate, the President, and, I believe, a majority of Representatives favor a comprehensive reform that includes a guest worker program, some form of "amnesty" for persons who have lived "illegally" in the country for a while, and tightened control of the borders. However, the Republican majority of the majority would have nothing to do with it. The Republican majority wanted only a stiffened border control bill. Result: nothing but yelling and screaming.

This is not a good way to run the country.
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