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Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 03:40:22 GMT
From: Ban Anna
Subject: BLAGUES-L: Banana Republic - The US Electoral System

Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 04:16:19 +0100
From: Kevin Begley
Subject: Banana Republic - The US Electoral System


Here's a submission that i suspect you won't use (you probably don't need
anymore political controversy at the moment), but i thought i'd send it to
you anyways - maybe you'll find it amusing.

Thank you for all the jokes you have sent me all the years!
Best Regards,

Banana Republic - The US Electoral System
by Kevin Begley

American Democracy - Here's a little list outlining why this American feels
a profound sense of pride and confidence in the US electoral system:

Electoral College System. Pure genius! Can anyone think of any other
country where the candidate who gets the most votes nationally can lose the
national election? Banana Republic!

Campaign "Contributions". Nothing helps a democracy stay pure and
responsive to its citizens like allowing legal bribery and corruption eh?
Fat Cat Heaven! Banana Republic!

Voter Registration. Voter registration? In Norway, France, New Zealand,
Japan, and all the other "developed" countries of the world (and most of
the "less developed" countries of the world as well) you automatically get
to vote if you are a citizen of the country. So hey, if almost every other
country in the world can do it, you'd think the US could manage it as well!
Then again, maybe not ... Banana Republic!

Voters. 1/2 of the adult citizens in the US don't even bother to vote in
the presidential elections. 2/3 don't bother to vote in the off-term
elections. What enthusiasm for democracy! Banana Republic!

Gerrymandering. Ever seen one of those maps showing how voting districts
are divided? A clear prerequisite for the job is top grades in creative
drawing. Yes, just take a peek at one of those maps - guarenteed to make
any true surrealist feel proud! Banana Republic! 

Vote Counting #1 - Absentee Votes. Hey, guess what? It turns out that many
places in the country don't even bother counting absentee ballots unless an
election is close. How inspiring! Banana Republic!

Vote Counting #2 - The Ballot. Not only is the layout and design of the
ballots different from state to state, it's different from county to
county. That's planning and coordination for you! Let's just make sure
there's no confusion about who/what voters are voting for ... Banana Republic!

Vote Counting #3 - Ballot Counting Machines. The manufactures claim the
punch out the chad vote counting machines are 99% accurate - that is, if
all 100 million votes are counted by these machines then 1 million votes
either don't get counted correctly or don't get counted at all. Gore got
300,000 more votes nationally than Bush, and Florida is divided by a few
hundred. Maybe they could just draw straws? Banana Republic!

Vote Counting #4 - The Process. Which votes actually get counted? This is
decided (arbitrarily?) from district to district, from county to county,
from state to state, from official to official, from council to council,
from legislature to legislature, from court to court, maybe even by
congress and the senate! But hey! So what! It's not like any of these
people have a political agenda to advance? It's not like they would misuse
their power to determine the outcome of an election? Banana Republic!

The Presidential Debates. Paid for by a beer company, and jointly
controlled by the two biggest parties (democrats and republicans). All the
other candidates for president were completely shut out of the debate. Hey,
we don't want any dissenting voices to be heard now do we? Any wonder that
issues like universal health-care coverage, US back-payments to the UN,
family farm bankruptcy, human rights violations in China, corporate use of
child labor in 3rd world sweatshops, the morality and consequences of
genetic engineering, gender-appartheid in places like Afghanistan, NAFTA,
FTAA, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO were never really debated at all?
Let's kiss babies instead! Banana Republic!

Yes folks, everything considered i feel a great sense of awe and wonder
that the United States manages to get anyone elected at all. But does this
seem to worry anyone? Ok, so the elections are a national embarrassment.
Heck, they are even an international embarrassment. But who cares when the
entertainment value is so high! I mean if the US can peddle off a high
quality production like Jerry Springer to the entire world then why not a
presidential election as well? Banana Republic!!!

Now just in case anyone ever does decide to take this democracy stuff
seriously i thought i'd toss out a few suggestions for making our elections
just a bit less like Monty Python's Flying Circus. This probably means a
constitutional amendment or three - something long overdue! 

Electorial College System, Gerrymandering, Voter Registration, and those
punch out the chad vote counting machines. Dump them all! 

Elections, Ballots and Vote Counting. Is it too much to ask for a clear and
detailed national election, ballot and vote counting standard so that
everyone in the country knows that each vote is counted by the exact same
rules no matter where you live? 

"None of the above". Why do we have to get stuck with these guys? Add an
option to each political position on the ballot - "None of the above". If
"None of the above" wins then a new election is called and none of the
original candidates get to run again.

Independent International Observers. These are what the world sends off to
Banana Republics to try and control that elections are run in a fair and
honest manner. Anyone still believe that US elections are fair and honest? 

Public Campaign Financing. Why? Because it's a good investment. Because
it's better than having the candidates paid for and bought off by the
richest of rich in the country. Because maybe (just maybe) if candidates
only get to spend a little bit of money (a few thousand dollars instead of
millions), and that money comes exclusively from all the citizens of the US
via our tax dollars (oh oh - that evil word - taxes) then perhaps
candidates might actually do what they are supposed to do - represent you
and i (rather than the chemical, tobacco, and oil industry - an even bigger
evil than taxes)! 

Short Campaigns. Some countries only allow parties/candidates to campaign a
few weeks before the elections. Keeps everything intense and  concentrated.
Less Boredom, Less Nausea, Less B.S. Sort of like having the 24 hour flu;
it may still make you wanna barf, but at least you know the end of the
ordeal will soon be here.

Finally, does anyone else have this nagging suspicion that Bush and Gore
weren't really nominated for their presidential abilities, but to make sure
that Letterman and Leno would have plenty of good material for their
late-night jokes?

Copyright © 2000, Kevin Begley

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