In case you just awoke with a ringing headache and returned from the woods to find your sleepy little town had grown exponentially and your house replaced by a strip mall and everyone when you told them your name queries where have you been, you were reported missing years ago and your tail includes dwarves bowling in the woodlands, the Republican money machine just won the midterm elections again. If such news is distressing, simply remember back to the last Presidential elections when it was rumored that the Democrat machine and money bought another Presidency for Barack Obama. Simply put, whichever side wins the election was the one which was bought by their big money contributors and political machinery. Have you ever bothered to stop and wonder what happened to the other side’s machine and money when they lost the latest round of elections? Do you really think that one side spent all the money one election cycle and in return allowed the other side to spend in the next election, something that an alien watching elections news coverage might be honestly trying to figure out. The truth is that they both spend about the same every election and the sore losers have to find some small factoid on which to blame their loss; as anybody who is, thinks, in the know, or however one defined reasoned and rational, which makes their political views the sole and superior choice, would most certainly have voted for their candidate allowing them to have won except for the illegal money spent by the other side, thanks to some loophole which must be closed immediately, and paid them to vote against their better knowledge or whatever. What is remarkable is that this line of thought is universal wherever people are fortunate enough to actually have governments chosen through proper elections where one’s votes are capable of affecting change in the government through legal elections; so be glad if after every election cycle there are those complaining that the other side bought the elections.
But what do we really mean when we claim the elections were bought? The phrase originates in times when buying an election actually meant buying an election by paying people to vote for a particular candidate. This was not a regular occurrence and was only feasible before there was the existence of a freestanding media which was not dependent upon the whims of the local governments. This slowly became the reality as the media started merging and coverages reached beyond a single city or borough thus beyond being owned by an interesting party or collection who were capable of owning the media in the same manner as they owned the politics as represented in old westerns where the people finally found an honest sheriff or entity who ended the evil cattle baron and his ranch hands who were all second rate gunslingers, most of which ended up dead by the end of the movie or left town after the Lone Ranger and Tonto road into town. There are stories whose validity is often questionable of elections where political bosses, whatever or whoever those amorphous entities might be, would give people a hundred dollars to vote for their candidate. There may even be people claiming such in elections today though such would be even more difficult to believe as even the most politically driven media would expose such. The truth is that even if you believe that FOX or SKY news is biased or that CNN or BBC are biased in the opposite direction, both sides are held to task and kept honest as whichever side which employed such boorish tactics would be revealed by the other side’s media thus the free press has ended any possibility of money for votes frauds. Despite this there are still claims that elections are bought, be it by the Koch brothers, George Soros or Sheldon Adelson. How is it possible for such claims to still exist?
Elections are bought the same exact way that everyday products sell their wares, an attractive advertising campaign. Basically the golden nugget in any campaign, political or otherwise, is a catchy phrase or concept which captivates the attentions of the public. In the 1950s the golden political nugget in Presidential campaigns was a catchy little slogan of “I Like Ike.” Call it the “Where’s the Beef” or the “Pause that Refreshes” of the political era. Of course it did also help that Eisenhower was also the man who defeated Hitler. Still, had General Douglas MacArthur run for political office, something feared by those thinking he might run on the other party’s ticket, there would have been a need for a different slogan though it would have fell to minds more inventive than mine to concoct such a slogan. Basically politics is the ability to influence people to support your candidate by making them appear to be the person of the hour or the solution to all society’s ills. In the United States the slogan of “Hope and Change” titillated the minds of the American public, especially the younger voters who turned out like never before. This was despite the fact that very few actually understood what the Hope was and what Changes it would incur. The secret was that “Hope and Change” allowed each individual to substitute whatever they desired for hope and thus define what the hope would change. If many of candidate Obama’s speeches are analyzed his definitions for hopes and changes were often amorphous and undefined allowing for those listening to still be able to define these terms to fit their desired outcome. Eventually such undefined terms become defined, and when they are defined through the actions and policies enacted by the politician who gets elected by such terminology, that becomes history which makes them rather difficult to alter going forward, something President Obama’s opposition is finding out as time passes in the United States.
Sometimes the election revolves around the personality where the candidate becomes the definition of the campaign and thus causing a cult of personality. This situation often results in a warping of the electoral processes and even an end to the electoral processes altogether. One example of such would have been Hitler who once he became Chancellor of Germany proceeded to consolidate all political power and became a dictatorial ruler ending the necessity for future elections. Another example of a cult of personality has been Russian leader Putin who has been Prime Minister or President of Russia where the real power of governance followed him from one office to the other and back again without anybody challenging his absorbing the right to rule no matter the office he held. With Russia hitting some difficult periods economically his future holding of power may hit a crucial test. It will remain to be seen how long Putin will remain in power and exactly how far he might be willing to go to retain power no matter the consequences.
Then there are the different forms of elected governments, the forms of democratic governance. There are Presidential systems where the President is chosen directly and the parliament or congress is elected separately. There are Parliamentary systems where the parliament is directly elected by voting for parties which present lists of candidates in lists to fill the slots depending on the numbers of positions they are awarded as their percentage of votes received and then the parliament has some system by which the Prime Minister is chosen to lead the coalition. There are also different forms of the elected house or houses of power. The United States has the House of Representatives and the Senate where the House of Representatives are elected with each state given their share of the four-hundred-thirty-five seats according to their population and the Senate is comprised of two positions per state. Then there is the parliament in many nations where the entire nation elects representation by voting for parties or there may be parliamentarian seats assigned to districts where individuals are elected. Parliaments can be unicameral, bicameral or possibility of any numbers of entities. Some parliamentary systems have two houses, one elected by individuals and the other by party lists. As for which form of democratic representation is superior is probably still being determined. The only thing we have established is a truth best put into words by Winston Churchill, a somewhat common situation here, where Winnie said, “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Who can argue with that?
Actually, that is where mankind has shown the prerogative to constantly believe that their new idea has to be better than the previous as it comes reflecting on all the errors and difficulties previous attempts by man had failed with their efforts. But the latest is not always the greatest and the old tried and true may prove to have been false in all manners except that as the old and true it was what had become comforting as it was known and accepted. The British once thought they had attained the ultimate in governance with the enacting of the Magna Carta as now the King’s power was no longer absolute and deigned as coming from G0d but to be bent by the advisings by the other men of position and stature, the barons from whence the power of the military was formed when the crown required defending against foreign foe. The United States believes they have struck the perfect balance between popularist governance and select governance of a wise body of the chosen; and they may have been correct but that will never be known as they perverted their governance with the passing of the Seventeenth Amendment (Amendment XVII) to the United States Constitution and established direct election of United States Senators by popular vote. This removed the representation of the States themselves who had previously chosen their Senators through appointment by their elected bodies, some appointed by the governor and approved by the legislators while others were elected by the legislators. What was unnecessary about the Seventeenth Amendment was that the states were already empowered to choose their Senators by whatever means they saw as preferable which did not rule out their using direct elections had they believed such was to their advantage. But instead the Federal Government instigated the new requirement for Senators to be elected in a similar method as were the Representatives in the House. Some historians have posited that the Seventeenth Amendment was not properly ratified by sufficient numbers of states but was rushed and enacted despite this small problem as eventually sufficient states did ratify the amendment, just not within the time period set forth in the Constitution. Whatever the best form of governance, perhaps someday it will be found and when it is, my bet is the United Nations will be left to be wanting and hopefully dissolved and replaced with a body noble enough to realize its power should be wielded only responding to lengthy and tempered debate which has exhausted all avenues of investigation of alternatives and ramifications and then allowed for adjustments inspired by admissions of former inadequate thought which had seemed prudent at the initial time.
Beyond the Cusp