I am interested in politics and have been watching the current election campaign in the USA with amazement. Scarcely any method of self-promotion or sabotage of other campaigns is missing:
- Urging voters to turn up a day late,
- intimidation near polls,
- forcing “early” voters (those who will be away or unable to take time off work etc.) to line up as long as 7h… State governments seeing opposing voters vote early restricted days and places for early voting.
In Canada, by contrast, we have one day for early voting and the line I waded through was about 1 person long… That’s why I voted early and there are enough polling stations that lines even on the regular day are just a few minutes long. We don’t bury the ballot with a lot of lower-level government ballots either. It’s just the federal question. If Canada can afford such a crisp and efficient system, why can’t USA?
The answer is states’ rights. The states want the power to be able to control the national agenda more or less. The “electoral college” process might have made sense in the days of travel by horseback so that fewer messengers would converge on Washington but it make little sense now in the Electronic Age. Further, various parties feel they “own” states so they don’t even bother to do more than place a few ads in the majority of states but instead spend $billions on every form of campaign and lawyers in the “swing” states. It is very likely that the party with the majority of votes may not have its candidate chosen to be president. That’s absurd and makes no one happy half of the time. It gives parties tremendous motivation to sabotage early voting or to deny the vote to as many of the other party’s supporters as possible. In Ohio, the state tried to shift responsibility for decoding drivers’ licences on the voter rather than the poll supervisors who would have a lot more expertise.
The result as I see it is an undeclared uncivil war. It’s not turned to bombs and bullets yet but there is nothing to stop it as candidates keep going to greater extremes exhorting the “troops” to greater efforts and electors are in tears with the abuse of helpers. Only a few years ago the entire election cost just a few $hundred million. Now it’s $billions with no limit. The last few $billion are spent just trying to affect ~1% of the electorate. When “the end justifies the means” and people are as motivated and angry/inspired as they are, expect the end-result to be assassination, rebellion, terrorism or at best a deeper malaise of society.
Really, the USA has not been as politically polarized since the first American Civil War. No matter the outcome, 100million+ will feel the election was stolen and the courts will give them no justice because it’s just too big a mess. Imagine that somehow violence is avoided but the courts take years to allow the new president to be chosen…
It used to be said that citizens would not choose violence when they could vote but the present situation is way out of control. The USA can barely hold an election let alone function as a civil society. The motivations for every aspect of the current process is to prevent “one man, one vote”. The votes of no one in the “non-swing” states count at all. The votes of nurses with 12h shifts on the day don’t count. The votes of people who cannot decipher a licence number don’t count. The votes of people who cannot even find the presidential candidates in 10-page ballots don’t count.
One last thing… It seems that no matter who the president will be the congress will oppose every reasonable idea he has. It’s supposed to be government by the people. Why do people vote for folks with an agenda like that? There are other candidates than the Republicans and Democrats offer. Choose them. This may be the last chance to avoid catastrophe.