Monday, May 12, 2008

Interest without Knowledge

The previous two Presidential elections were contentious to say the least. Opinions split down party lines but no matter how you feel about the outcome you have to admit there were serious problems.

In 2000 the Supreme Court split 5-4down party lines and quashed a thorough recount of the contentious ballots. There were stories about dangling chads, combative election workers and confused old Jews who voted for Pat Buchanan. In 2004 the problems surfaced in Ohio where a the Republican Secretary of State tried to reject thousands of voter registration forms and a company whose owner was a enthusiastic Bush supporter provided electronic ballots machines that seemed to malfunction in key Democratic strongholds.

Most people don’t want to consider the possibility that these elections were rigged but the fact remains that elections are rigged all the time. It’s not just in third world countries. Daly ruled Chicago with an iron fist and maintained control with a stuffed ballot box and it happens in smaller communities all the time. If we’re being honest with ourselves we’d admit that there’s probably some sort of fix at play in every election…it’s just that the 2000 and 2004 elections were so close and the final tally came down to two states that had been massaged to skew results.

Even if you don’t believe the fix was in you have to admit that there were some issues that lend themselves to conspiracy theories. That means that there’s something wrong with the way our system works. Between the last two big elections Americans have been evaluation everything from the registration process, to voter verification. We’ve even seen people question the existence of the Electoral College.

So it’s no surprise that this years Primaries are stirring up quite a bit of controversy. Again, on the Republican side the ticket was decided a long time ago. The only thing that stood out was the way McCain and Huckabee collaborated to destroy Mitt Romney’s bid. Once Romney was out voters sided with McCain and by the time Super Tuesday was over so was the Republican race.

The Democrats were still close. Hillary seemed to have a huge advantage but Obama has a strong following and it has carried over to what people refer to as Super Delegates. Super Delegates are just party alumni who are able to vote for the candidate of their choosing, regardless of the primary results. Even in states Hillary won, these delegates threw support behind Obama.

This has people crying foul. They feel like their cotes don’t count and they’re right. What they don’t realize is that their votes don’t have to count. The parties are private entities designed to consolidate similar ideas into a specific party platform. It’s a tool voters can use to choose candidates who support an agenda they agree with and a device for politicians to help each other win their posts.

The problem with primaries is readily illustrated in, once again, Ohio where the polls were open well after Super Tuesday. With McCain comfortably in the lead Republican pundits called their minions to arms and encouraged them to vote in the Democratic primary and vote for Hillary. At the time Obama seemed poised to run away with the party nomination but he hit a snag in Ohio.

A lot of people dismissed the idea that Republicans threw the Democratic primary but now that the votes have all been counted and the forms have been examined, reports published by the AP indicate that 8% of the people who voted Democrat in switched party affiliations at the polls. The board of elections tracks party affiliation during primaries so there’s no count on the number of unofficial Republicans who made the switch and of course there’s no way to know who these former Republicans cast their cotes for but seeing as how a number of these Republicans were people holding elected office as a party member it certainly seems fair to assume that the majority of these party hoppers were following the advice of the pundits.

It’s not a matter of whether this is right or wrong. One Republican said that he didn’t break any laws and he’s absolutely correct. In the big game of politics it’s within the rules but that’s why the Democrats are willing to let the so-called Super Delegates make tough decisions and go against the popular vote.

It’s great that Americans want their voices to be heard but foolish to expect private political parties to relinquish their power. If you don’t like the candidate your preferred party chooses, then show your dissent in November. The only reason we have a two party system is because we allow ourselves to be limited to it.

No comments: