Let’s Put the Vote Out of Its Misery and Start Over

As American Democratic Party officials scramble to figure out how to re-enfranchise the millions of Florida and Michigan voters they recently disenfranchised, the world yawns and changes the channel.

Unfortunately for democracy, the vote is intangible, invisible, inaudible. If the vote were a person, we could clearly see that it has been bloodied beyond recognition and is gasping for breath on life support. Instead, corrupt systems beholden to moneyed interests supply it just enough air to prevent it from dying; barely maintaining the illusion that your voice and my voice count for something.

Most parents know that if you are going to threaten a punishment for misbehavior, you’d better be ready to follow up with that punishment when the misbehavior occurs. Why did the Democratic Party think it could threaten to disenfranchise millions of voters in Florida and Michigan because their state leaders decided to move up their primaries? Has disenfranchisement of voters become that passé?

Apparently so. One has to wonder if the 2008 US presidential elections will be certified free and fair by international observers. If the dirty tricks of Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 are any indication, the vote is in for another thrashing. But here’s a prediction to remember in November 2008: don’t expect to hear about it from the US mainstream media.

Certainly the US has a lot of company pummeling the vote. In Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf “won” re-election in October after imposing a state of emergency. By most reports, the Supreme Court had been prepared to rule unfavorably on his ability to stand for election when Musharraf dismantled it. The December assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto sent democracy further into question and delayed parliamentary elections. Her husband, Asif Zardari, was elected in her place has now agreed to work together with rival, Nawaz Sharif, but both are restricted in what they can do by the replacement Supreme Court hand picked by Musharraf.

Over 1000 Kenyans lost their lives in the violence that erupted after opposition leader Raila Odinga accused President Mwai Kibaki of stealing the December Kenyan presidential election. Now a commission will investigate the election. If history is any predictor, the commission will find no wrong-doing.

When Cameroonian president Paul Biya announced in January that he will seek another seven year term — in violation of the constitution — students called strikes that turned violent. One student said, “We have been voting and our votes have never been considered.” The only olive branch offered was a reduction in prices that had soared recently.

This month, hand-picked Russian successor Dmitry Medvedev soared to a 70% victory in a well choreographed election to “succeed” President Vladimir Putin. Former chess grand champion Garry Kasparov, having recovered from a beating he received from authorities at an unsanctioned December protest, urged world leaders not to recognize Medvedev. “This election is the imposition of Putin’s successor. It is one hand-picked candidate replacing another. If the leaders of the free world accept Medvedev they will be approving and giving credibility to this farce,” said Kasparov. The US, among others, has recognized Medvedev.

Also this month, Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper filed a $2.5 million libel suit against the Liberal party for accusing him of knowing about a bribery attempt that could have toppled the minority Liberal government in 2005.

These are just a few examples of how the vote has become meaningless to a growing number of people around the world. We say the vote is sacred, yet we batter it on a regular basis. Perhaps the death blow will be when Barack Obama is squeezed out of the Democratic nomination, or alternatively, when he is elected president and still nothing significant changes.

It’s time we realized that we’re past the point of being able to resuscitate the patient. What’s required now is to put it out of its misery and start over with a fundamentally different election system.

No election system that allows wealth to overlap with power will ever be truly democratic. We must get to the core and push apart the corrupting elements that have turned our world into one giant corrupt blob.

I have proposed a system that will do just that because it sizes votes proportionally to income — with poor, working and middle class people receiving larger votes. In the same vein as the separation of church and state, vote sizing is a unique and creative way to differentiate between power and wealth.

We’ve witnessed again and again what happens when wealth and power collide; when corrupt leaders and so-called think-tanks dictate policy. We move at a snail’s pace on environmental issues like global warming, as well as healthcare, education and other basic human needs. Yes, vote sizing is radical. But just ask yourself, “What would be different if ordinary people truly had a voice?”

Steve Glickman is founder of the Democratic Empowerment Party, a one-platform party dedicated to balancing economic and political power and bringing a real voice to the powerless through a weighted vote. Read other articles by Steve, or visit Steve's website.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Pauli said on March 31st, 2008 at 5:59am #

    Don’t poor and middle class folks already have kind of a “weighted” vote? I mean, there are many more of them than there are evil, rich puppet-masters pulling the strings. The problem is that poor people DON’T vote. As one analyst not-so-nicely put it, they are distracted by shiny objects on the way to the voting booth.

    I’d also like to briefly note that the Republicans, who are supposedly a bunch of power-hungry control freaks, don’t have the Florida and Michigan problems nor so-called “superdelegates”, which are nothing if not a way to “weight” the pimary vote in the opposite direction, i.e., in favor of the rich and powerful. Without these characters waiting in the wings, Hillary would be on her knees begging for a VP slot from Obama. Boy, would that win the photo of the year contest.

  2. Roxy said on March 31st, 2008 at 8:19am #

    In relation to Pauli’s comment… I think that the problem of people “not voting” has been answered pretty clearly in the article.

    People don’t vote when…
    -they feel their voices aren’t heard
    -they feel their vote doesn’t matter
    -they feel their choices all lead to the same undesirable end.

    I think that has been the case for years in the US. It’s sad that the popular vote went to Gore and yet the super del’s put Bush in power. That’s VERY disheartening, even for the most politically savvy!
    Then there were the malfunctioning voting booths in places like Ohio and Florida, with corporate entities creating voting machines to help Bush get added votes… THAT is just insane!
    And you’re right. Now we have a couple of all-powerful overseer idiots (*cough*Howard Dean and friends *cough*) deciding that votes in Florida and Michigan don’t count because they said so.

    It’s not “shiny objects” that distract people… but rather, murky corruption.

    That being said, You have to hand it to any of our current candidates. They have all attracted certain demographics that don’t usually go to the polls, whether it be the youth, the independents, the African Americans and Latinos, women, etc. Each one offers something special that makes this election season more monumental than ever before.

    Right now I’m just praying that the outcome is fair and that we aren’t left with monumental disillusionment as well. At any rate, perhaps Steve is right and what we will REALLY need is a complete overhaul of the system.

  3. hp said on March 31st, 2008 at 10:26am #

    “It’s not the people who vote that count, it’s the people who count the votes.”
    ‘Uncle’ Joe Stalin

  4. Julius said on April 1st, 2008 at 9:46am #

    Imagine a house where children need to be fed after they come back from the farm.

    Once at home, they found that some of the children have already eaten and some not yet.

    Another food is now prepared for those who’ve not yet eaten, since they are weak and have no power to do anything else except they eat their own food.

    Imagine a situation where those who’ve already eaten decide to seize the food prepared for the hungry ones.

    What do you think will happen to both the hungry children and to those who’ve already eaten?

    Do you think those who’ve already eaten really need any more food than those who’ve not yet eaten?

    To link the above analogy to Vote Sizing, it means that, why should those with economic strength go fight over political strength (vote) that was put in place to serve those who had nothing?

    Who needs government most? Is it the guy with economic strength or the guy with nothing?

    Going back to analogy above, I think what will happen to both children is that, those who’ve already eaten and who have seized the food prepared for the hunger ones will develop constipation (corruption) if the eat that food (political power), and the hungry ones will become more hungry (disenfranchisement, powerlessness and misery) if they continue in that hunger.

    That is what Vote Sizing is all about, give government to those who really need it – that is those who suffer the most from vices like corruption, embezzlement, insecurity, hunger, illiteracy, and you can name the rest.

    Another question linked to vote sizing is: who needs school most? Is it the guy who already knows how to read and write or the illiterate who knows not how to spell his/her name?

  5. Madelyn Ryder said on May 8th, 2008 at 7:41pm #

    The big shots in DNC should be taught a lesson not only by Florida an Michigan but by all Democrats and Republicans by re-registering as a Independent. All 3 canidates seem to be begging for the Independents to vote for them, and what a laugh it would be for the voters making a mad dash requesting to change their registration to Independents. We need a 3rd party anyway. This would show both parties they no longer have the power to make us vote between 2 persons. Lets get this going and see what happens. Yes I am a Independent and vote for the best person to be President, which could be a Democrat or Republican, any color skin, and i always say to the poll chasers I AM UNDECIDED.