As the 2012 American elections loom on the horizon, the legitimacy of electoral process stands in question. At the same time, in Egypt, citizens are calling for oversight and even boycott of the elections following the recent violence. The GOP in the United States has comparative points with the Muslim Brotherhood who is projected to gain many seats in the Egyptian parliament. Both of have links to terror. The GOP’s reign in this country led to a series of illegitimate wars (WMDs were never found) and The Muslim Brotherhood’s links to terrorist action is a matter of record in Northern Africa.
It is a hard decision for every voter to make: whether to participate in uneven contest or forsake their voting capital. If enough voters boycott, in great enough numbers, then the legitimacy of the process as a whole can be questioned. But there are no guarantees.
In the 2000 Florida contest between Al Gore and George W. Bush the evenness of the playing field was put into question. In 2004 Rolling Stone put the legitimacy of the Ohio Kerry/Bush contest into question as well. There have been numerous incidents of election fraud in the course of American history.
“straight line runs from Bush v. Gore through a series of election controversies in the past decade. We can walk it from the 2003 California gubernatorial recall circus with its 21 lawsuits to the “armies of lawyers” dispatched to battleground states in the elections of 2004 to the controversies over voter-identification laws. Next, bogus organizations made unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. When the Department of Justice investigated, they found virtually none. Still, in 2008 John McCain ranted that the group ACORN was “maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history.” That election also featured the interminable Coleman-Franken election recount. This time around, disputes about how to spell “Lisa Murkowski” on write-in ballots are playing out in Alaska’s recount of its Senate race.”
But outside of delineated fraud there is the distribution of wealth that Occupy Wall Street has been beating into the public consciousness. The end result leaves American activists little room to advise the Egyptians on having fair elections. But maybe if we watch closely they can advise us. GOP run states have been in a scurry to change electoral laws since early September.
Under the Republican plan…in both houses of the state Legislature…Pennsylvania would change from this system to one where each congressional district gets its own electoral vote. (Two electoral votes—one for each of the state’s two senators—would go to the statewide winner.)…Congressional district maps are adjusted after every census, and the last one just finished up. That means Pennsylvania Republicans get to draw the boundaries of the state’s congressional districts without any input from Democrats. Some of the early maps have leaked to the press, and Democrats expect that the Pennsylvania congressional map for the 2012 elections will have 12 safe GOP seats compared to just 6 safe Democratic seats…if the GOP presidential nominee carries the GOP-leaning districts but Obama carries the state, the GOP nominee would get 12 electoral votes out of Pennsylvania, but Obama would only get eight—six for winning the blue districts, and two (representing the state’s two senators) for winning the state. Since Obama would lose 12 electoral votes relative to the winner-take-all baseline, this would have an effect equivalent to flipping a medium-size winner-take-all state—say, Washington, which has 12 electoral votes—from blue to red…Nebraska and Maine already have the system the Pennsylvania GOP is pushing…if enough states adopted it. But so far, only nine states (including DC) representing just 132 electoral votes have signed on—and they’re all solidly blue.
A boycott of the 2012 vote would send a clear message challenging the legitimacy of the voting process as it stands. The risk is, it has never been challenged this way before. The choice between two evils whose only conjoined motivation is power is unacceptable. Even if the Democratic party found effective ways to counteract the changes in state voting demographics that GOP is proposing in its favor, it would still leave Americans with leadership that only garners the support of just over half of the populace. Once they are in power they would use the GOP as an excuse for not passing good social reforms. And vice-versa.
If there is one thing that is fallacious about the ethos of American politics it is the that’s-just-the-way-it-is attitude that most voters play into. This defeatist sentiment conveniently allows for the perpetuation of itself in a feedback loop that maintains the nexus of power. In a sense, voters can’t be blamed because of the disillusionment that a clear view of reality brings. This does not mean that we should not aspire to a better reality.
We should be watching Egypt closely right now as activists and observers because some solutions to these problems might emerge as a result. As a teenager I was told to “rock the vote” by MTV but there is something ‘feelgood’ and emblematic about participating with imaginary political capital.
In my hometown district the Democratic vote didn’t mean much. As an adult I realize that the people that need political power the most are pushed down so low on the economic rungs that a well informed and fair vote is impossible. I am not proposing a boycott (because of the great risk to individual) but simply that we explore this idea fully. If an illegitimate government is elected into power the people have the avenue for redress. If we all give into the ‘lessor of two evils’ method then we boycott the right to protest with legitimacy.