Radio Habana on U.S. "Democracy"
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Thu Dec 14 09:36:13 MST 2000
Radio Habana Cuba on U.S. Democracy
DEMOCRACY ... US STYLE
The magnitude of the political scandal that has hit the world's only
super-power has sent reverberations around the world. The nation that
lectures the world on how to run a democracy - including elections - has
been shamed into admitting that its problems are similar if not worse than
those of many of the Third World countries whose electoral systems it
criticizes. Tuesday's decision by the US Supreme Court took a full month
after the nation's presidential elections took place. It has effectively put
an end to the political battle, opening the way for the Republican candidate
George W Bush to enter the White House in January. But it also helped put an
end to any notion that the system was "Democratic".
This is not the first time in the history of the United States that a
candidate has won the election without gaining a majority of the popular
vote. This time, however, the very credibility of US so-called Democracy is
on the line.
Democracy that involves a national voter absentee rate of 50 percent.
Democracy that, consequently (and given the vote that Al Gore received),
allows the man who takes over as president in January to do so with the
support of less than 25 percent of the electorate.
Democracy that refuses to allow a serious alternative contender for the
presidency to publicly debate the other two principle candidates on national
Democracy that allows a state legislature such as Florida's to ignore the
vote of its people and decide for themselves who will or will not be given
the electoral votes so essential to win this election. Thus, for the first
time in its history, a state legislative body of a little over 100
representatives has effectively elected the US president.
Democracy that allows two US Supreme Court justices to vote on such an
important issue when they both have clear conflicts of interest in doing so.
Justice Thomas's wife being directly involved in the Bush campaign, and
Justice Scalia's two sons hired as attorneys for two law firms representing
the Bush campaign in its arguments to the Supreme Court (and thus, their
Hardly the notion of the true democratic representational system Washington
pundits and politicians are forever lecturing the rest of the world about.
Most of the countries that Washington roundly criticizes for not having
"democratic" elections have a second round of voting when the first is
contested so closely - but not the self-proclaimed champion of Democracy.
The U.S. Supreme Court is the country's highest judicial body and an appeal
against any of its rulings has little chance of success. The electoral votes
of the state of Florida have been stolen from the people by their so-called
representatives and apportioned along strictly partisan lines in a
winner-take-all system that defies every notion of Democracy.
A new chapter of U.S. electoral history will begin with Bush's inauguration
on January 20th 2001. It is too early to say if the status quo that passes
for US Democracy will be maintained in the light of this election scandal,
but most experts say that once the dust settles everyone will get back to
living the same routine.
However, there will be many who will nonetheless recall that the man in
charge of what he calls the "Greatest Democracy on Earth" for the next four
years, will have to come to terms with the fact that he won the election on
the political whim of the legislature of his own brother's state without the
support of the vast majority of his people.
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