I am sitting here watching the results come in for the US Presidential Election and reading news reports from my local paper at the same time. When reading these articles, I find it incredible that the US manages to elect anyone at all to be honest. Have a read of this article below and then try and avoid shaking your head.
Its not that hard people.
I am not naive enough to think that Australia is perfect, far from it in fact and our political discourse over the last 10 years has been degenerating into a Greek Tragi-comedy. But we do manage elections pretty well. As well as giving the world the Australian Ballot, we think that making the people who administer the election and count the votes should be impartial.
The Australian Electoral Commission is a government funded organisation that pretty much runs elections. The state premiers (governors in US english) have no power to change electoral boundaries or change the electoral roll.
Voting is also technically compulsory. I know this compulsion to vote goes against everything that America stands for but I think its mature of a country to say to its people, “hey, this election is going to effect you whether you like it or not, so be responsible, get informed and exercise your RESPONSIBILITY as a member of this community.” If you don’t want to be forced to do anything by government, that’s OK. Get your name marked off, trundle your lazy, misguided ass over to the electoral booth and write “you’re all a bunch of crooks” on the ballot and walk out very proud of yourself. And then don’t complain for the next parliamentary term.
Another advantage of compulsory voting is that there is little need to appear to your base as they are going to vote anyway. You don’t need to move to the extreme left or right to pander to them and encourage them to vote. You can concentrate your campaigning on the centre and the issues that appeal to them such as costs of living, economics and how we live our lives rather than abortion, guns and taxes. The majority centre runs the direction of commentary rather than the lunatic fringe of both sides.
Its looking like an Obama win at this stage as I write this but to be honest, the country is the bigger loser.
EDIT: Having just read that last sentence, it sounds like I think that Americans are losers. Far from it. What I mean is that with a disfunctional electoral system, we do not get the quality of leadership that the world so desperately needs. I hope that sounds better than what I originally wrote. A big shout out to my dear American friends and to all my new followers as well!!