Monday, September 27, 2004

“We don’t have an election, we have an auction”

“We don’t have an election, we have an auction” – Bumper sticker in the parking lot at Borders. You know, they have that right, but I think they haven’t figured out how right they are. I suspect, and it may be wrong for me to assume this, as I have not spoken to the owner of the vehicle, that they think it’s about how the Presidency may be bought by special interests. If they truly believed this in this, then it would seem it would apply to this president, and his predecessor, and the one before them. At what point did they begin being bought, and was it the first dollar we count from, or is there some “threshold” we should use as a guideline? How far back in our 228 year history does this sham of elections go? Is it limited to one person, one party? Is it universal? If universal, why not some bumper sticker reminiscent of a jeer from the stands at a baseball game: “Throw the bums out!”? Ah, ha! You see, the view seems to revolve around a victimized state of mind, a “my vote doesn’t count” desperation mental frame. Two points are important to discuss here, one directly related, but the important one, with the real insight from the truth behind the bumper sticker will be discussed secondly. Firstly, yes, every vote counts. In fact, it is in getting out and standing in line, suffering thru the “process” to poke holes in a paper, or to check blocks, or touch a screen, is worth the effort. The Nov, 2000 election is still a matter of heated debate, and it showed how a little over 300 votes in a single state, have caused a lot of dissention. If the special interest groups, with lots of money were truly in control of the election, oops, I meant “auction,” wouldn’t the margin have been wider? Now, if almost 400 people, with a leaning towards Al Gore had gone to work early, or just got out and voted, would there still be the bumper sticker on that vehicle? Generally, the sentiment on the bumper sticker indicates that the driver didn’t like the outcome of the election, so therefore it was easier to blame it on some grand conspiracy of the moneyed elite. There may be gounds for that influence, but I don’t believe that will be as big an issue while we still refrain from an electronic method of voting. Once we have gone to electronic votes, all bets are off. If you look at how we have progressed from simple viruses on our PCs to very complex ones, and ones that do no more damage, than to get into your machine to gather information and then send it out. Who’s to stop a similar evolution in the electronic voting machines, particularly if they are based on currently well used operating systems, with a widely available list of flaws, and also openly published capabilities and interfaces. Second major point. Yes, we do have an auction. The auction is not who buys the politicians, but which politician buys our votes. We look to our representatives, at all levels, not to operate for the good of the system, but for the good of the entity that they represent, at the expense of the larger, or just simply, the other entities. If these elected officials go off to their appointed positions, and haul back truckloads of cash and benefits for our community, then we are happy to re-elect them, as they proudly trumpet how much they have “done for us,” and not how they have had to make some hard decisions, which at times resulted in our betterment, but sometimes, took what we perceived as “ours” and made sure it was used more wisely, and provided us long term benefits, but denied us the pleasure at the moment. There you go – inappropriate analysis from the mere sighting of a bumper sticker on the way got get a cup of coffee.

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