"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Thursday, June 23, 2011

You Think American Elections Are Bad?

Here's Claire Berlinski on the recent Turkish elections:
And hysterical—and ugly—the election campaign was, marked by terrorist attacks, including one on the prime minister’s convoy; the release of sex tapes starring opposition leaders; blackmail; vulgar anti-Semitic rhetoric; insane conspiracy theory upon insane conspiracy theory; a scandal revealing the rigging of college entrance exams; the arrests of more military officers on charges of coup plotting (these arrests have been going on for years); threats by leading Kurdish politicians to set the country ablaze; serious efforts by Kurdish terrorists to do precisely that; growing Internet and press censorship; the last-minute discovery of 10 million new voters on the electoral rolls, only half of whom could even remotely be explained by Turkey’s changing demography; and noise, constant noise. It had become difficult even to imagine five minutes without the sound of loudspeakers blaring from campaign buses, or the prime minister’s bellowing voice, mute only for a few notable minutes when at one rally his teleprompter failed, leaving him staring speechless into the void.
We take for granted our history of free and fair and non-violent elections.   We take them so much for granted that we may lose them.   Election fraud, post-election litigation when results don't go the preferred way or are "too close," constant campaign cycles and fund-raising (read: graft), apathy, demogoguery -- all of these maladies are trending upward in America and they all tend to make us feel less confident in the outcome of elections.   We still are way ahead of most places in the world, as the example of Turkey shows, but the gap is narrowing.  

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