Saturday, October 18, 2008

Reason #X why I should love it, AND leave it

I may love the US, country of my birth, but shit like this, that seems intractable, immemorial, and perennial just drive me crazy.

I understand we were built to be a looser federation of states, but that's no longer the reality -- and having our voting system handled at a local instead of national level essentially disenfranchises people -- along with our messy systems and Tuesday voting.

Despite popular opinion, in re: the US #1-ness -- we're #139 out of 172 countries when it comes to voter turnout, possibly because we use methods shared by other, um, "great" democracies:
Our problems begin with a less than state-of-the-art registration system. According to Adam Fogel of FairVote, the United States is one of just a few democracies where the government takes a back seat, expecting individuals to sign themselves up to vote. (Other "self-initiating" countries include such beacons of democracy as Algeria, Cameroon, and Chad.) The National Voter Registration Act (aka the Motor Voter law, which Congress enacted in 1993) makes it possible to sign up at the DMV, at public-assistance offices, or by mail. But many, many people fall through the cracks—only 72 percent of the voting-age population was registered in 2004. Plus, we have no comprehensive way of correcting forms or striking people from the rolls when they move away or die.


Read it and weep.

"Weep for the future, Na'Toth. Weep for us all."

3 comments:

Daktari said...

J, J, J.....

It is not enough to weep for our country.

I'll give it to you that it is too late to do something about this election process at this point in the election year. However, I flat-out refuse to allow another election to be hijacked by the losing side in an endless string of court-cases and challenges to hanging chads.

I am not going to let a minority of my country remain in power they haven't earned through an honest democratic mandate.

So, I will make you this pledge. I will worth with you once this election (and my dig grant) are over to do something real. To make some difference in this process. To at least try.

You in?

J said...

Sure. I'm around here a while yet, for a variety of reasons =] And I don't believe in stopping fighting. Um, per se.

But I'm tired of fighting against a whole culture of institutions that prevent so many effective changes. Instant Runnoff Voting would change things overnight -- which is why major party peeps never support it much. Opening debates up to 3rd party candidates, or not excluding your OWN candidates like Kucinich. The subversion of progressivism, conscious or un- by Kucinich & the Dems. Our continuing failing schools and the pushback against "throwing money at the problem" when money is clearly a large part (though assuredly not all) of the problem. Endorsing giving money to private groups to educate kids to provide "competition" to under-funded public schools who clearly don't seem to be failing because of a lack of competition. "Drill baby, drill." Exurbs. The near-impossibility of a near-term re-invigorated continental rail system, perhaps one the things that could (if we could afford/had the will to build the "fast" ones) most save on fuel (airplanes are HORRIBLE). Hell, even this seems like somethign that'd be impractical to fix in the US.

Hmm. Writing all that down, oddly, gives me new reason to hope. Hammering down any one of those would make the others easier. I guess the thing that makes me weep most is when I hear things like my friends who were working to stop Michigan's affirmative action ban from happening. Some of them who were highly invovled wanted to avoid the race issue, which they saw as inherently divisive, and play up how AA has helped white women. Whereas I felt that we were doomed in the short and definitely long terms if we couldn't educate rather fool people by appealing to selfishness.

Anyway. I'm in, and look forward to catalyzing the great transformation with you.

In the meantime... phd phd phd phd phd...

Daktari said...

When are you going to finish that f'in thing? America is waiting.

I think we should make a laundry list of fantasy projects we'd like fixed, priorities, agree on one and get started.

I bring some mad skills to the table. Case in point:

1. I'm fearless.
2. I've learned how to get things done.
3. I'm not afraid to ask people for things.
4. I generally know how to get people on board.

What you got besides being whip smart?