Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Fall of American Democracy: Conservative Victory commented on a " f(inding)...that the United States was in significant danger of failing to even be a democracy at all."

"Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan launched the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security on March 4th, 2011, with the goal of highlighting the importance of integrity in electionsand democracy’s role in achieving a more secure, prosperous and stable world. As part of this mission, the 12 members of the commission released a report yesterday, titled “Deepening Democracy: A Strategy for Improving the Integrity of Elections Worldwide.” While the strategies developed are important for new democracies such as in Libya and Egypt, it also contains concerns of established democracies, in particular the United States."

"The first example they cite is in the continuing, targeted attack on minority voting rights. They point out the many legal and administrative issues which minority and poor voters have in the US. While these provisions are not specifically targeted, they disproportionately effect minorities and the poor.

"Examples they give include:

Restrictions on voter registration
New laws making it tougher to conduct voter registration drives
Increased voter registration requirements
The purging of voter files
Disenfranchised due to felony conviction
Voter identification requirements that make it harder for minorities to vote
Decreased opportunities for early and absentee voting
How minorities face longer wait times than white voters
Stricter voter registration and identification requirements

"They point out how many of these provisions are put in place under the claim that they are to combat voter fraud. Then the report discusses the lack of voter fraud within the United States, pointing out that in a decade long study less than 100 cases were found nationwide, making voter fraud a non-existent issue.

"...a large section dedicated to comparing/contrasting the United States against Canada in regards to the balancing between political speech and campaign finance reform, duplicated in its entirety here:

"Two Approaches to Free Speech Considerations and Campaign Finance Reform: The USA and Canada
In recent years, several court decisions have gutted political finance reform in the USA. At the heart of these decisions has been the US Supreme Court’s insistence that campaign donations are free speech protected by the First Amendment of the US constitution. Such reasoning lay behind the Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission, which overturned Congress’s Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and effectively
removed all barriers to corporate and union spending to influence federal, state and local elections.

"Another ruling by a Circuit Court of Appeals, SpeechNow vs. Federal Election Commission, allowed individuals to
evade campaign contribution limits through so-called Super PACs. By law, such Super PACs must disclose their
contributors and may not coordinate directly with candidates. In practice, both constraints have been flouted.
Rich individual donors have donated tens of millions of dollars through shell organizations created to hide
the source of the money. Many experts believe that each side in the forthcoming 2012 presidential election will raise over 1 billion dollars.

"Writing for the majority in the Citizens United case, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that ‘independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption’. The American people disagree. A national opinion survey this year by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School showed that ‘nearly 70 per cent of Americans believe Super PAC spending will lead to corruption and that three in four Americans believe limiting how much corporations, unions, and individuals can donate to Super PACs would curb corruption’. More than three quarters of respondents agreed ‘that members of Congress are more likely to act in the interest of a group that spent millions to elect them than to act in the public interest’.

"Nearly two-thirds of Americans say that they trust government less because big donors have more influence over elected officials than average Americans.

"The Citizens United ruling has undermined political equality, weakened transparency of the electoral process, and shaken citizen confidence in America’s political institutions and elections.

"Canada has faced many of the same campaign finance challenges that the USA has struggled with over the past decade. In contrast to the USA, Canada has managed to strike a balance between safeguarding individual speech and protecting the overall integrity of the electoral process.

"Like the USA, Canada in the early 2000s imposed restrictions on the ability of third-party organizations like corporations and labour unions to spend directly on political campaigns. In a 2004 decision upholding these restrictions, the Canadian Supreme Cour t argued that the government had the right to restrict some political speech in order to promote other principles, like equality in the political process. Canadian courts have
consistently signalled that having greater wealth should not grant an individual or corporation a greater voice in politics.

For the complete and final pdf report on "Deepening Democracy," click here -->

The Roman Empire didn't last forever, neither did those in Athens, Great Britain, or the Ming Dynasty in China.  What makes anyone think that left untended, the American Empire can't be left in the dustbin of history along with the rest?   Our Conservative leaders are committed to the goal of taking us back to feudal days, and recognize no more than their sheeplets that they are about to usher in a new era of the Dark Ages that extinguished all human progress for hundreds of years. 

"That is the sort of errant pedantry that I will not up with put."

Winston Churchill, on the prohibition in English of ending sentences with prepositions


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