“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Why We Get The Politicians and Politics We Do Not Deserve.

The largest block of potential voters is a block of potential voters than never get past the potential part. They do not vote. Some do not care. Some care a lot and have decided that their vote makes no difference. They justify the decision by rightly pointing out that with very few notable and exciting exceptions, one vote is meaningless. To their everlasting shame politicians of both parties encourage the process. They repress turnout of the opposition. They limit access to debates and they demoralize a lot of good people with scurrilous lies, claims and exaggerations. Just writing these words makes the anger rise in me for the cynical bastardized process that goes into an American election. I know there will be those that will say it has always been that way and they are probably right but there has always been a lot of things, like cancer.

The Telegraph has an interesting article about the voter's dilemma in France and Europe but it applies here as well.

I want the American voter to share in the excitement of the dilemma by voting in the first place.

What are your suggestions and thoughts on requiring Americans to vote? Does it matter? Should there be a fine or tax for not voting? If you like, go to the link and offer your comment here and to the slightly larger audience of The Telegraph than The Elephant.

From The Telegraph:

The voters' dilemma

Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 18/11/2006

Ségolène Royal is a woman who not only talks in clichés, but thinks in them. The slogans flow like tepid bathwater – "opportunity for all", "a better future", "removing the walls that divide us" – but the observer is no wiser as to what, if anything, would change were Miss Royal, now the candidate of the French socialists, to win.

Much the same could be said of her likely opponent, Nicolas Sarkozy. Both talk a lot about "reform", while veering carefully away from specific commitments. Understandably, many French voters are reaching the conclusion that, whomever they vote for, nothing much will change: "bonnet blanc ou blanc bonnet," as they say across the Channel.

The two main parties argue like Lilliputians over a tiny patch of ground, leaving Jean-Marie Le Pen to range over the great tracts that they have abandoned. For the far-Right leader is the undoubted beneficiary of their convergence.

By taking up the themes that la France officielle has abandoned – imposing border controls, scrapping the 35-hour week, restoring the franc – he has turned his party into a place where voters can register their discontent.

Many, perhaps most, of Mr Le Pen's supporters, would be alarmed at the thought of him occupying the Elysée. They are not so much endorsing the Front National as spurning the clique of smug, self-serving, Euro-fanatic, corrupt énarques who run the republic.

Nor is this tendency confined to France. Across Europe, voters are left cold by the interchangeable politicians of the established parties. Sometimes they vote for fringe figures, such as Holland's Pim Fortuyn. More often they stay at home: turnout is plummeting in almost every EU country.

The phenomenon has a great deal to do with European integration: with economic policy, social policy, employment law and, increasingly, foreign policy and criminal justice decided in Brussels, there is only so much that the parties can argue about — unless, of course, they are prepared to challenge the EU system.

So politics increasingly becomes a scrap over who gets the perks and patronage that comes with office. Small wonder that many voters are giving up in disgust.


  1. William F. Buckley, a founder of contemporary conservatism, once said he "would rather live in a society governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone directory than in one governed by the 2,000 members of the Harvard faculty."

  2. A question for wise rufus,
    in response to his moving to the middle staement, last night.

    To the middle of what?

    Move to what one does not believe?

    Support the compromise that loses the Game? Support Lincoln Chafee to "save the seat" but have him vote against the core values, regardless. Let's look at Mr Bolton's nomination for edification on that type thinking.

    Scoring from the "Red Zone" not the middle of the field, is usually the way points are racked up.

  3. That sounds like most of Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Newark, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Chicago and Phoenix.

  4. whit said:

    Ignorant people should not vote. I didn't say they should be preventing from voting but they shouldn't be encouraged or forced to vote.

    This is more or less what the poll tax and literacy tests in the Deep Souf were all about. They didn't exactly prevent blacks from voting, oh no, that would be against the 14th Amendment. But they sure as heck kept their numbers down so they wouldn't vote in one of those carpetbaggers over one of our local good old boys.

    That being said, I have no problem with the poll workers asking if voters are American citizens, and the answer better not be "Si".