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Default Elections in the USA tomorrow…

November 6th, 2006, 20:14
Well, subject line says it all… Will the Dems take back the House and Senate or will the Repubs retain their death-grip on national politics… On your mark, get set, flame… I mean,… GO!

Btw, it should be restated that I'm not interested in a flame-war here. Just curious about how folks inside and outside the U.S. view our political circus we call a democracy.

I should also state that I am an old-school yellow-dog Democrat myself (father was a union man, mother was a JFK devotee) and am not afraid to admit it. However, I have friends and relatives who are both Republicans and Independents, so am open to differing opinions.

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November 6th, 2006, 20:21
I live in a state where the Republican population is ~12% (down from 14% two years ago! ), so the general political trends are pretty obvious.

I hope that the Democrats take back both house and senate. If it means nothing but in-fighting and logjams than it is better than what has happened.

On my local level, I have really liked the balance of power in recent years - having house and senate both heavily Democrat and a Republican governor has balanced things well. But as much as I like that check & balance system, I'm inclined to vote for the Democratic candidate because he has both a clue and a grip .. .which is rare.

Personally I'd characterize myself as libertarian - fiscal conservative, social liberal.

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November 6th, 2006, 20:50
Not that my opinion would be any good, but I respect the thoughts of a certain wise man I know. And I quote:

Originally Posted by Thomas
I find that quite alarming, considering there's a very real danger these same US Americans will eventually elect a Republican more intelligent, more capable and more right wing than GWB, who for all his faults - thanks to all is faults - is mostly harmless…

I dream of a day when chickens can cross roads without their motives questioned.
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November 6th, 2006, 21:19
The Founding Fathers had it right. A mixture is best… checks, balances, and a noose for the extremists in either party. For my money, extremism (of all types) marks the deathknell of modern society.

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November 6th, 2006, 22:08
I voted for myself in every category. You may now greet me as the supreme emporer of the state of Minnesota!

I am a great fan of liberty but I cannot call myself a "liberal" since the titles these politicians wear are not what they mean. That and, being in the military, I'd probably be cruicified. It seems so strange to me that most everybody I've met in the military voted for Bush, knowing full well that he was going to have many soldiers killed. *shrugs* Would Kerry have done a better job at keeping people alive? I have no idea but he didn't seem like a loose cannon. (slightly off topic)
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November 6th, 2006, 22:11
Originally Posted by Korplem View Post
Would Kerry have done a better job at keeping people alive? I have no idea but he didn't seem like a loose cannon. (slightly off topic)
The right-wingnuts talked about how Kerry would have done … well, whatever … but in reality with a Republican Congress he'd have done very little, and everythig would have been by concensus with compromise.

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November 7th, 2006, 01:34
Well, having a European perspective on American politics, I think the US system is essentially flawed. A two-party system is not enough to represent the whole gamut of political views. Alternative voices are not being heard, and they themselves ultimately choose one side to prevent the other "more bad" side winning, not because that side represents the views they want representation for. It's a myth that a multiparty system (>2 parties) leads to stagnation and a passive stance, because power is diluted across the board. Forming coalitions gives small parties a chance to get into government.
"Circus" is an apt word for the presidential election campaign, we can't believe the level of smearing and backstabbing that goes on in for example TV spots. That would actually be illegal in Holland, you could get sued for misrepresentation and slander. And the costs for a campaign are ludicrous: If the US would skip 1 election they could reform health care and education with the money that was not spent. But that would leave Bush in office for another term, so I personally think this time it would be money well spent I think it's good that there is a chance of renewal if Bush bites the bullet in the long run, starting his downfall with this Senate thing. His whole "if you are not for us, you're against us"-attitude is a bit scary for me. He himself doesn't seem all too bright, it's his clique that is scary. They let you believe that the outside world is a dangerous place (part true) and that the only way to keep it out is by selling out on your personal privacy (not true). In the land of the free and brave, you're not that free anymore. You essentially live in a fear-driven society that favours conservatism and agressive behaviour (to strike them before they strike us). In a land that has a clear freedom of speech principle, it is logical that large corporations get to influence the media, because that is their right, right? But freedom of speech is now directly related to the funds you have to get your view out in the world. The more money you have, the better your freedom is to express your views because of better control of the outlet. It seems the republican senators are not sticking by Bush this time, the constituency wants change and wants out of Iraq (which actually now would be disaster to that country, civil war wil tear it apart). To be fair, I'm not stomping on US politics just to point a finger. I'm disappointed with our government as well. Ours fell a couple of months ago, so we get elections next week. It actually looks that our leftwing green and social parties are stealing seats from the bigger political parties who are bickering among themselves. So that looks promising. Our prime-minister just went puppy-eyed when he got to visit the great world leader Bush in the US to support the campaign against Iraq, it was shameful. We're still awaiting our first terror attack. Although a famous contrarian and independent film maker (Theo van Gogh) was brutally (ritualistically) murdered last year by a fanatic Muslim who meant to upset society with his deed.
Well that was a lot to get of my chest. It pains me to see that a great country like the US (which I like for a lot of reasons) has to suffer the slights of the world because of it's president's agressive and at times unbelievably stupid behaviour. So I hope nobody is offended (remember freedom of speech), and if some are, so be it. We all have the right to disagree in a democracy.
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November 7th, 2006, 02:37
Why vote for a politician; it only encourages them!! As someone once said, it doesn't matter who you vote for, in the end you just elect another politician!! They are all the same and I wouldn't trust any one of them as far as I could spit in the face of a raging hurricane!! As you can see, I'm totally apolitical, I hate them all!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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November 7th, 2006, 09:38
Since you asked, I think the American experiment in democracy has ended.

There's the political discourse. It's hardly ever even about politics, it's about which side has the best advertising, whether or not the Republicans will manage to use Diebold to steal this election too, or what kind of concentration camp (inside or outside continental America) should be set up for the Demonrats and Lieberals. And so on.

Then there's voter participation. If 40% participation is considered high, at a time when stakes are as high as now, the system has failed. The machinery has been taken over by whichever clique can get 20.1% of eligible voters to drag their fat asses to the polls. That's not democracy either.

So how does it look from here? Panem et circenses. It makes for pretty good entertainment, mixed with a hefty dollop of Schadenfreude. Every people gets the government they deserve, they say, and it feels good to think that might be true.

The definition of fascism is a fusion of corporate and political power. That's happened in America a quite a while ago. The good news is that living under a fascist regime isn't intolerable; most of the world manages it just fine. And eventually they tend to collapse under their own weight. Should be interesting to watch…

PS. I don't know nearly as well how American politics functions at the state/municipal level, but I have a feeling it may not be quite as bleak. In other words, there may be hope for American democracy yet, but if so, it won't be at the federal level. Perhaps the US will become a bit like the EU — a loosely amalgamated union of more or less independent states most of which cordially loathe each other but have agreed not to hit each other with big sticks.
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November 7th, 2006, 09:53
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Why vote for a politician; it only encourages them!! As someone once said, it doesn't matter who you vote for, in the end you just elect another politician!! They are all the same and I wouldn't trust any one of them as far as I could spit in the face of a raging hurricane!! As you can see, I'm totally apolitical, I hate them all!!
You are wrong, they are not all the same. I guess your opinion is simply result of living in good, prospering and stable country and that is (to be honest) very irresponsible. You haven't lived in totality (ruled by communists as we did over here). The main point of voting is to add a single point to a party other than communists that still exists here and even never said sorry for what have happened. There is enough people that still do vote for them and these people are very reliable, they will always come and vote. You couldn't travel, you coulnd't read what you want, say what you want, listen to music of your choice and if you had a bad luck and said something wrong (or one of your relatives did so) you couldn't study or work (and worse things could happen to you…). Bad times may return….
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November 7th, 2006, 10:36
It's funny that we can preach about democracy when the CIA world fact book classifies the US as a "federal republic". Yes, they're close but fundamentally different.

I think the American experiment in democracy has ended.
When I read this I want to be upset but, sadly, you may be right. There are so many things that are wrong with my country… but in spite of it all I believe we can turn things around. I really can't see that happening though, unless a leader steps up that can inspire us and work for the betterment of the nation instead of their own interests.

I really hate talking politics though, it makes me feel sick.

P.S. Be gentle on me and my views.
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November 7th, 2006, 12:45
@Korplem — wrong, they're not "close but fundamentally different." They're concepts in different domains.

Democracy is a principle of government — government for, by, and of the people. Republic is a form of government — namely, a government consisting of an executive, legislative, and judicial branch, where at least the executive and legislative branches come into power through some form of electoral process.

While the republic was originally envisioned as a form of government that embodies the principle of democratic government, there are plenty of examples of republics that don't, usually by subverting the electoral process.

There are democratic non-republics, for example Great Britain and Sweden, which are constitutional monarchies.

There are undemocratic republics, such as North Korea, the People's Republic of China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Republic, and the United States of America.

And of course there are undemocratic monarchies and democratic republics (not to be confused with Democratic Republics, which usually aren't.)
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November 7th, 2006, 15:20
Being in academia, I lean liberal. Honestly, though, I like it when control of the government is split by the two parties. It's painful to watch conservatives push the country further and further to the right. Even if democrats win the house and senate, they still need to develop some balls and be willing to push back. I live in the southern U.S., so democrats here can't really be socially liberal. They have to run on education reform and against the war. I have a lot of problems with republican arguments over here…if the republicans, as the majority, presented the people of the U.S. with faulty intelligence and then forced us into a war that drains huge amounts of our tax money, why do you think we should support your party? Because the democrats might try to pull out of Iraq? I think we're in the middle of a bad choice, and the republican strategy is no more appealing than the strategy presented by the democrats (sink money into an ever-widening hole of war). Therefore, I think we should punish the republicans for their ill-informed, poor decisions. We'll see if it happens They're shaking in their boots, by the way. If the dems win, there should be many hearings on capital hill to expose some of the more egregious republican decisions.
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November 7th, 2006, 15:25
I think that the growing federalism is a real problem. Being done by both Dems and Repubs (dems 'for the people' and repubs 'to protect us), it is really a poorly disguised power-grab.

Oh, Junta - fascism has little to do with your definition, if it did, America would be less fascist than Europe, Russia and most of all Japan …

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November 7th, 2006, 16:51
Sorry, txa — that's the accepted definition of fascism in political science. OK, a part of it at least. Apart from corporatism, a full definition should also include the nationalism, militarism, and statism.

Russia is certainly more fascist than America, while Japan is… a bit of a special case. Most of the EU countries are not fascist in this sense at all; quite the opposite in fact. (Otherwise we wouldn't have our strict, even overly strict labor laws and heavily progressive taxation.)
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November 7th, 2006, 16:53
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Since you asked, I think the American experiment in democracy has ended.
I tend to agree actually… In a market-driven two-party system, elections are purchased by the highest bidder. Every politician alive in the US will agree that a well-funded negative campaign is the smartest way to get into office, even if the smear campaign is mostly fabricated.

So how does it look from here? Panem et circenses. It makes for pretty good entertainment, mixed with a hefty dollop of Schadenfreude. Every people gets the government they deserve, they say, and it feels good to think that might be true..
Every American has a right to vote. The fact that so many don't means they are accepting of a government that elects and runs itself. However, don't be too hard on us, as many of that 40% you mentioned are painfully aware of the problems you state, but feel handcuffed to do anything about it. We read, we vote, we stay politically active, and we watch the circus from the sidelines, much as you do.

The definition of fascism is a fusion of corporate and political power.
Well, the definition of "facism" changes depending on who is teaching your Civics class at the moment, or (in our case) who is in power. Is the US a fascist state? No. The reason: because I can still wear a donkey costume, paint myself yellow, and walk out into the middle of Washington Ave. and say in a loud clear voice "George W. Bush is a dim-witted SOB who is willing to send our American servicemen off to war without cause or any real conviction" and I won't be tossed in jail for it. The minute I can't do that is the minute I leave the country… for good.

PS. I don't know nearly as well how American politics functions at the state/municipal level, but I have a feeling it may not be quite as bleak.
And your "feeling" would be right. Even though National politics gets all the lime-light and funding, local politics affect how and where your children go to school, how and when your roads are built, and how and where your criminals are prosecuted. And local politics is far more diverse and organic. For example, I live in a Southern state, a supposed conservative, Republican bastion, and yet our governor and local congress have both been Democrat for quite some time…. and may remain so for quite a while.

All governments are flawed… which is why Corwin has it right when he recommends simply "flipping the bird" at all those in power.

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November 7th, 2006, 17:03
Originally Posted by Lord Alex View Post
And your "feeling" would be right.
But to speak to what Lord Alex says, there is a saying here 'All politics is local'. That sums it up - the national stuff gets the international limelight, but state and local stuff is where the *work* gets done.

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November 7th, 2006, 17:36
@Alex — I'm not blaming you (plural) for the situation… much. You're pretty much like the proverbial frogs in the kettle; as the heat is slowly turned up, it's very hard to tell when to jump. My point was that the system is broken if only 40% of eligible voters (in a good year) feel like participating, whatever the reason.

You can define any number of acid tests for fascism, and yours is just about as valid as any other. However… there are many countries that are widely considered to be totalitarian where that would apply. You wouldn't have been thrown in jail for that in Brezhnev's USSR, for example; they would simply have ruined your career for you and given you the choice of either starving or farming potatoes somewhere. In Mussolini's Italy, you wouldn't have been jailed either; you would've had an "accident" coming home from work. In Pinochet's Chile, you would simply have disappeared. And in Russia today, absolutely nothing would be done to you; people would simply consider you to be a loon.

(There's an old joke supposedly told by Nikita Khruschev himself. This guy was running through the Red Square yelling "Khruschev is an idiot! Khruschev is an idiot!" He was sentenced to ten years hard labor: three years for insulting the presidency, and seven years for revealing a state secret. Make of it what you will…)

In my view, a Rubicon was crossed when the right of habeas corpus was abolished. Your chief executive now has the power to imprison anyone at his discretion for any amount of time. The fact that he does not (yet?) exercise this power to an extent where you're likely to run into it personally is of secondary importance.
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November 7th, 2006, 18:52
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
My point was that the system is broken if only 40% of eligible voters (in a good year) feel like participating, whatever the reason.
This pretty much sums up what is wrong with most elections. There are more mud-slinging advertisements on TV and in our mail than positive ads. It's no wonder no one wants to show up at all.

And for those that do show up, unless they are a diehard Democratic or Rebublican, a voter will wind up choosing who they think is hopefully the lesser of two or three evils. There's so much hate advertising that it becomes impossible to feel confident about ANYONE.
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November 7th, 2006, 19:05
In Massachusetts they are trying an initiative to get multiple parties to back the same candidate as a means of further supporting third-party candidates … which sounds great until you realize the implementation involves having the same person listed multiple times on the ballot …

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