Democracy/Voting

This page has been prepared by Matthew Foster. It will be regularly revised.

If you are knowledgeable on this topic or on any other please feel free to edit.

Democracy/Voting

Many years ago I found this entry credited to the Encyclopedia Britannica. The entry actually addresses two issues with this single entry — the British style electoral system and Representative Democracy:

“The case for Proportional Representation is fundamentally the same as that for representative democracy. Only if an assembly represents the full diversity of opinion within a nation can its decisions be regarded as the decisions of the nation itself.”

This is one of many American quotes that state much the same thing.

“Legislatures should be an exact portrait, in miniature, of the people at large, as it should think, feel, reason, and act like them.”

— John Adams

These both are noble quotes and express what many believe to be true to British, Canadian, American, and many other, democracies, but the truth is quite removed from what we believe. Democracies which use our method of counting votes can never ever achieve a full diversity of opinion within our nations and that is just the way business motivated people want it to remain. Only by forming a movement which is actually powered by people will we overcome politicians and governments powered by elites and their moneyed cronies.

If you have ever wondered why some nations have universal health care, free college and university, subsidized childcare, maternity leave, shorter work weeks, longer vacations, better working conditions, longer life spans, less incarcerations, lower infant mortality, more gender equality in business and government, lower remuneration for corporate executives, better worker wages, better infrastructure, better education, better environmental laws, less pollution etc. etc., you need look no further than to the way votes are counted and the way some groups (including the Religious Right and Left) interfere with the process of voting; be prepared to act on these problems or be prepared to leave a bitter future as a legacy of our being here in these crucial times.

This is where some will jump in and assume I am a ‘Pinko Commie Socialist’; they regularly use a host of other words meant to demonize any contrary ideology, but to my way of thinking people are pretty much the same everywhere on the planet and those that have compassion for others are not all socialists.

There are a minimum of 18 ideology positions on my political chart. (which I will deal with separately)

There is the Left and Right which makes two (Remember that if you ask a radical Conservative who is a socialist he will tell you that is anyone with less than radical views even if they are also Conservative.)

There are the Centrists who move back and forth trying to find something that matches their aspirations but most of the time they stay home and don’t vote. This makes a minimum total of three.

If you look at the Right it again divides into two as they look for Conservative values or Free Market ideology. This makes 8 when one further divides them into Acceptable, Tolerable, Radical and Fanatical factions. This makes it a total of 8 on the Right.

If you look to the Left side we have the same Monistic and Pluralists subdivided into Acceptable, Tolerable, Radical, and Fanatical factions. This makes it a total of 8 on the Left.

If we then throw in the Environmentalists (Greens) we have 18.

Unfortunately there are people who will never see their views represented in the current voting system so – if we really want to see our governments reflect a cross section of society we need to change to a Proportional Representational system where almost all votes elect representation.

Before going further, let me explain what happened in Canada in the last two Federal elections. Whenever I mention to someone that we now have a Canadian Liberal government that received 39.5% of the vote and has 100% of the power they look at me somewhat skeptical. When I tell them that the last Conservative government received 39.6% of the popular vote and got 100% of the power, they generally ask “how is that possible?” The answer is all in how votes are counted and not in how people voted.

We in Canada and the US have what are known as WINNER TAKES ALL systems. (generally called FIRST PAST THE POST in Canada) Much of the world uses what is known as PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATIONAL systems. In a Proportional Representational System there are always more political parties – never just 2, 3 or 4. When the votes are counted, (Using the Canadian election as an example) if the Liberal Party received 39.5% of the vote it would get 39.5 % of the seats in the Parliament – not the 54% which they actually received. The Greens with 3.5% of the vote would have received 10 seats and not just one. If that isn’t enough to get you interested in PR consider the additional ways that the privileged screw us around.

Gerrymandering – by manipulating the boundaries of ridings it is possible to turn a 40% public support into a win of 60% of the seats.

Caging lists: This is sneaky way of disqualifying registered voters.

Robo calls: Used to direct people to the wrong polling station or telling them that the election is won and that it is not necessary to vote. see Canadian scandal.

Manipulate the media: Have so-called experts tell the people that their candidate will win easily to make them complacent.

Create line ups at polls: create delays at selected polling stations to frustrate voters into leaving and never voting

ID Requirements: A tactic used to challenge voters, to frustrate and embarrass voters, so they leave and do not come back the next time.

Intimidate aliens: Falsely informing aliens that it is illegal for them to vote and frighten them into staying home

Purge registered voter’s lists: If a voter has the same name as a criminal simply purge him or her from the list making them prove they are not the criminal if and when they come to vote. This is where the provisional ballot comes into play

Pulpit endorsement: Religious groups acting as agents of a political party should perhaps lose their tax status.

Financially support a fringe party: This works well if you want to take a vote from the left and give it to a Green, thereby reducing the vote count for the candidate who might otherwise have won.

.Provisional ballots: apparently don’t often get counted according to investigative reporter Greg Palast.

Other Tactics: include stuffing the ballot box, forging absentee ballots, falsifying tallies or conspiring to prevent people from voting by intimidation or other means. Yes – there are more. Sever candidate registration rules, bribery with alcohol , and drugs, orchestrated foreign influence,(possibly by operatives of opposing parties), Conservatives running as progressives when progressive parties are in favor,

Summary: One would think that democracy should be all about fair play but it is not. Only the force of people working together and determined to put things right can actually create legislations which can closely mirror a cross section of society so that it thinks, feels, and acts just as they would act. After achieving the ultimate goal of getting Proportional Representation, (or perhaps a Mixed Member Proportional system) citizens can expect to achieve the same policies as other nations using such systems.

Democracy and voting is one of the 26 categories for consideration in the long ranged plan. It is not for me to say what needs to be considered in the scheme of things, but here are some thoughts. Never forget that business interests will always favor anything that offers a profit and will fight against anything that hinders such opportunities for profit. In the minds of many, democracy is not sacred and is and will continue to be manipulated against the interests of people.

Before we condemn democracy we should do everything in our power to strengthen it as business interests will continue to do everything in their power to make it theirs. Someone said that the cure for democracy is more democracy, and that means that its weaknesses need to be exposed for what they are, and corrected through public action.

Another category in the proposed plan will be INFORMATION AND EDUCATION. It is mentioned here because business interests have a strangle hold on information so what you are highly influenced by their unrelenting efforts. You are in fact programed to be their servant from birth to death. If you support changes to Democracy, so that the resultant legislations closely resemble a cross section society, then support anything else that can help you in your efforts.

Consider the failings in everything and prepare a 25 year plan to correct them.

Recommended reading:

The Spirit Level

Video links by others (What are you suggestions?)

Fairvote Canada Video

Groups reporting on this category (what are your suggestions?)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-palombo/why-oh-why-ohio_b_4873715.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10769041/The-US-is-an-oligarchy-study-concludes.html

Wikipedia article  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_system

Center for Voting and Democracy http://www.fairvote.org/

Fairvote Canada http://www.fairvote.ca/

The World of Electoral Systems http://www.idea.int/publications/esd/upload/esd_chapter2.pdf

International IDEA http://www.idea.int/publications/esd/upload/esd_annexes.pdf

 

It would help if you supported some of these groups