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US Democracy in Crisis

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  • Eric Stewart
    ... From: pendragon Reply-To: bay_area_activist-owner@egroups.com To: Subject: !b_a_Act: Fw:
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2000
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      ----Original Message Follows----
      From: "pendragon" <Pendragon@...>
      Reply-To: bay_area_activist-owner@egroups.com
      To: <Undisclosed-Recipient:@...;>
      Subject: !b_a_Act: Fw: [indymedia] US Democracy in Crisis
      Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 11:40:08 -0800

      Independent Media Center
      http://www.indymedia.org

      US Democracy in Crisis Monday 27 Nov 2000
      author: Brian Oliver Sheppard (bakunin@...)

      summary
      US election crisis: int'l opinion as surveyed from world press; contrasts US
      stance on similar crises in western hemisphere.





      Reaction to US Election Crisis
      by Brian Oliver Sheppard (bakunin@...)
      11-27-2000

      No Real Democracy in the USA

      The US Presidential election has resulted in many peoples' worst suspicions
      being confirmed: the US has no real democracy in any meaningful sense, and
      to the extent that it does it is hated by elites who see it as a nuisance,
      infringing upon their entitlement to rule without interruption or
      distraction. The Electoral College, the two party system (actually two
      factions of the Business Party), media manipulation, soft money
      contributions - all these add up to a rather unsavory picture of how the
      American system operates. Although many people have been arguing for decades
      that the U.S. system is unfair, is not democratic, and is not a reflection
      of trust in the people's ability to govern themselves, it is interesting to
      see so many newcomers get turned onto these ideas.

      In June of the year 2000, elections in Peru were marred by allegations of
      fraud, backroom dealings, etc., just as US elections are now. This was
      considered a crisis in the Western Hemisphere by the Organization of
      American States (OAS). The US reacted swiftly and held several press
      conferences to condemn undemocratic practices in Peru. A press briefing
      issued by the US State Department (available on the web at
      http://www.usinfo.state.gov/regional/ar/peru/oas5.htm) states that the US
      felt it best to "send a mission to Peru in the aftermath of that country's
      recent controversial presidential election." Former Florida Governor and
      Clinton Administration special envoy to the Americas Kenneth McKay warned
      everyone that "the state of democracy in one country inevitably affects us
      all" and that "[w]hen one country's democracy is weakened, the entire
      inter-American system suffers." The US, as always, had no qualms about
      stepping into the fray as self-appointed expert on democracy, to arbitrate
      and manage another country's affairs. The US always does this, all the more
      so when there is a buck to be made by US corporations or when the interests
      of geopolitical power can be strengthened.

      Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering remarked that Peru's election fraud
      was "the most critical issue the Organization has faced this year." (His
      comments at this press conference are online at
      http://www.usinfo.state.gov/regional/ar/peru/pick5.htm) He said that
      "profound systemic weaknesses in Peru ... led to the deficiencies in the
      electoral processes" there. He stated that the allegations of fraud
      reflected a "crisis of credibility" in Peru's democratic structure. He also
      stated that the US was perhaps not perfect itself, and that "we hope that in
      fact this organization [OAS] which has devoted so much time and attention to
      democracy will also be there to lend a hand when any of us need help and
      assistance and support." This seems to suggest that if the US had an
      electoral crisis that the OAS, the Electoral Observation Mission, the
      Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and others might step in and
      "help" us out as well - and that, in fact, such an action would be welcomed
      by the US State Department.

      International Reaction to US Elections is Sarcastic, Cynical

      No doubt Undersecretary of State Pickering was suggesting that other
      countries might need to dispatch delegations to "any of us" when we ran into
      election trouble so that the appropriate veneer of humility and
      egalitarianism would be provided. This display of humility surely makes US
      meddling seem more tolerable. The US intervenes abroad regularly, whether
      overtly or covertly, whether welcomed or not, because the US doesn't
      tolerate anything that even hints at a hatred for democracy, or so the
      prevailing sentiment seems to be. Democracy and freedom were what our
      forefathers fought and died for, and, by God, it really irks us to see
      others suffering under undemocratic regimes. But apparently we are irked
      only if the ones suffering under an undemocratic regime aren't us common
      folk here at home.

      The Association of Democratic Nigerians Abroad: "May we suggest that a
      delegation from the Organization of African Unity be dispatched forthwith
      [to the USA] to investigate? And as in Africa, where political reform has
      gone hand in hand with structural adjustment, the OAU can pass on the
      lessons we have learned under the tutelage of the World Bank and the IMF,
      beginning with an end to agricultural subsidies, cuts in defense spending
      and social services, drastic reductions in tariff barriers, and above all,
      expatriate monitors to the US Treasury."

      Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Roque Perez: "I believe that those in the
      United States who have always tried to become judges of elections that take
      place elsewhere must be receiving a lesson of modesty and humbleness." In
      addition Perez said that Cuba would "gladly send monitors for a new election
      if asked."

      The Mail, a newspaper in South Africa: "It is a shameful reflection on our
      continent that, in the United States' hour of need, we were not there beside
      our American brothers and sisters to help and advise where we could."

      Lavarice Gaudin of Veye Yo (an immigrants' voting rights group in Florida):
      "It was God himself who made this thing happen the way it happened, so that
      the whole world can see how the Americans have absolutely no moral authority
      to go supervise or judge any election in any other country...."

      Ben Dupuy, National Popular Party of Haiti: "While it dubs itself the
      greatest democracy in the world, the United States electoral system isn't
      democratic at all. The US Electoral College supposedly is a precaution
      against the passions of the American people. In other words, they don't even
      have faith in the people. They say they are too impassioned. But when they
      have to go to war, they have no trouble whipping up passions. 'Remember
      Pearl Harbor,' they chanted during World War II to whip up people. We ask
      that the OAS (Organization of American States), CNO (National Council of
      Observers) and all the observers which usually go to the small countries
      decide whether the U.S. election has been well done or improperly done... In
      fact there is always some election monkey-business or scandal exploding in
      countries such as France or Germany and now the U.S., and the day they
      accept for the developing nations to observe their elections, then we will
      not have a problem to invite them to come observe our elections."

      Haiti Progres, a Haitian newspaper: "Fraud, corruption, voter intimidation,
      confusing ballots, racial profiling, lost ballot boxes, destroyed ballots,
      incompetent and abusive polling site supervisors, polling sites closing
      early, and many other irregularities have all come to light due to the
      incredibly tight U.S. presidential race between Republican candidate George
      W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore.... This year's electoral crisis reveals the
      more general bankruptcy of the U.S. political system. As usual, less than
      50% of eligible voters bothered to vote because they don't feel there is
      that much difference between the two U.S. ruling parties. 'There is no great
      ideological chasm dividing the candidates,' admitted outgoing New York
      Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan."

      The Star, a newspaper of Johannesburg, South Africa: "International
      observers should be put in place because the United States must join the
      established democracies."

      Was US special envoy to the Americas Kenneth McKay correct when he said that
      "[w]hen one country's democracy is weakened, the entire inter-American
      system suffers"? If so, doesn't that seem to warrant that others intervene
      in the political processes of another country, if it affects everyone else?
      Shouldn't, by this logic, other nations feel compelled to intervene in our
      elections? What about Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering's statement
      that "we hope that in fact this organization [OAS] which has devoted so much
      time and attention to democracy will also be there to lend a hand when any
      of us need help and assistance and support"? Are these honest sentiments, or
      does the US ruling elite really not want to play by the same rules that it
      insists others play by? In fact, history has shown that that is indeed the
      case.

      The US system is not democratic, and not merely because your favored
      candidate did not win, or may not win. There are a variety of reasons that
      we in America still labor under a fundamentally undemocratic system, and
      they must each be challenged and tackled in turn. There are two choices: The
      mass of the US public can continue to ignore what the rest of the world
      finds so obvious about us, and we can continue to happily fool ourselves
      that we are a self-governing nation. Or we can call a rat a rat and begin to
      work to undermine this system.




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