over the past few days i've noticed a number of blogs and columns that suggest, i'm hoping only a little seriously, that everyone should have a say in the US elections. here's one from jonathan freedland
, who while admiting that the idea is wacky, still tries to make the point. i'd normally read this guy, but this is bizarre.
then there's no right turn
, whom i respect, posted a similar though brief blog yesterday.
frankly, the argument that the world should have a say in the US federal elections, while cute, is clearly ignoring political science 101
. sure, the premise is sound, democracy requires that people have a say in their own governance. and maybe, just maybe you could make the general argument stick in regard to the american constitution and democratic values.
this overlooks two very, very important factors.
#1. democracy is not for the benefit of "the people", it is for the benefit of a specific and limited community
. i'm not entirely sure where in the hell this idea that its for 'the people' comes from. probably a limited reading of the constitution.
#2. american democracy, though classic, is more about representation, not the will of the people. there's lots of huff and puff about democracy being about 'the people', but this is a smokescreen. real american democracy is about representatives and debating the issues. not the will of the people.
so, the idea of 'no taxation without representation' is more important than being effected by the decisions of a government. because the vast majority of the worlds citizens don't directly
contribute to the american political system, they have absolutely no right to have a say in the selection of american political representatives.
as an example, its hard enough in a system like the US, or australia for that matter, to have the people who do contribute to the state to be represented effectively. a lot of political ink has been split over trying to expand the boundaries of inclusion to people who already live in a particular political community,
let alone a bunch of people who live outside it.
what this means is that while say, 20million people may populate a state, only the majority of those individuals are citizens
, the prime unit of democracy, while a substantial minority are metics
, partially franchised residents. plus, in many countries there are 'citizens' with limited rights, mostly because they don't fall into the subjective boundaries of nationality. in the australian case aboriginal people fell in this category for about two centuries.
so yeah, nice idea, but we'd all have to actually participate in the american system to vote in it. being dominated by them doesn't mean we get a say, it just means we either get to like it, or resist and undermine it in favour of another, more difficult hegemon.
and frankly, washington may be populated by dangerous megalomanics, but i can think of at least two