Voting against, rather than voting for

Here’s a somewhat different perspective on American electoral policies: what happened last month was not an election. It would be defined better as a referendum. In an election you vote for a candidate. In a referendum to accept or reject a person or issue.

The term election encompasses referendums (here are some definitions) and other forms of democratic election, but voter mentality is firmly against one party and thus for the other.

In a two-party system, all elections inherently boil down to either accepting or rejecting the incumbent party. A certain portion of voters are ideologically for one party or the other, but the swing demographic that decides power mostly votes on a core sense of frustration.

Why do midterm elections almost always go bad for the party which won the presidency two years prior? It can’t be a radical shift in policy, but rather a realization that election promises are more symbolic than anything else.

The greatest encapsulation of the see-saw elections of modern states like America comes from a Canadian progressive leader named Tommy Douglas. Douglas was the mind behind universal healthcare and was named by voters as the greatest Canadian of all time. The parable is called “Mouseland”.

November 4, 2014 is the latest in a line of mice choosing cats to hold power over them. That deep sense of anger, that most people are getting screwed over, comes from the government of cats. Some may be red, some may be blue, however the key issue is that they are cats- they will always do wrong because that’s what cats do to mice.

Two things are needed to begin the process towards a more authentic democracy:

1) Money must be removed from politics, and the system of lobbying based on sorta-bribes eliminated. A series of steps could help make politicians look more like their constituents- racially, culturally, and economically.

2) Multi-party democracy must come into existence. This relates to the first party in that big, money-laden political machines help suppress alternatives. Much of this stems from an electoral system that values entrenched interests. If there are several viable parties, elections becomes less of a referendum and more about ideas. Whatever issues the German system may have, their five main parties represent the spectrum from anti-capitalism to classical liberalism to Greens to social conservatives. In America a liberal have two options in most cases when they are frustrated- vote Republican or abstain.

Whatever form and function a democratic gains, it is clear that the people need something to vote for rather than vote against. For all votes against a certain person or policy is a vote rooted in fear. And as one of Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms stated, in a good society there must be freedom from fear.

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