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Caucuses, Cons and Scams Democracy Derailed

The word DEMOCRACY is derived from the combination of two Greek words - DEMOS meaning people and KRATIA meaning power or rule. In a true democracy power rests with the people and each individual has a vote. One who gets the majority vote wins the election and thus rules. From the outset the American form of government restricted the vote to white property owning males, thus disenfranchising all women, native Indians, Blacks and poor white males. Originally this group of restricted persons elected only the House of Representatives directly. The voting for electing Senators was restricted to the legislature of the states and that for the President to the members of the Electoral College. There were property restrictions on the eligibility to run for office. The Founding Fathers were afraid of democracy like their Guru, Plato and some abhorred the rule of the common masses.

As a prominent American Pundit said over fifty years ago, "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the
intelligence of the American Electorate
". The elite and power brokers concocted a con or scam to fool the public and maintain a pretense of democracy. The basic rules of this shell game are the same methodical filtration to make it more difficult or less appealing to vote. In the past, the hurdles were the irksome process of registration to vote, tests for literacy, poll taxes and outright intimidation of Blacks.

In the 2000 presidential election, Florida authorities made certain Black voters ineligible to vote by striking their names off on the basis of falsely labeling them felons and thus ineligible to vote. An outside contractor was used to maintain the plausibility of deniability. Time constraints made it impossible to remedy the exclusion, which was admitted subsequently as an inadvertent error. Defective voting machines and purposeful slowing of the process to irritate and tire people and make them leave without voting has been used at times. Intimidating posters in selective areas, threatening that criminal screening for unpaid parking tickets, alimony and taxes would be carried out to catch and incarcerate offenders, have been used as ploys to prevent the poor supporters of opponents from exercising their franchise. Caucuses and the Electoral College are atavistic remnants of the original conspiracy of the founders and have outlived their existence. They need to be suffocated in a bathtub and not honest government, as some partisans like Grover Norquist would prefer.

The Iowa Caucuses are a sophisticated means of thinning out the voters. They are held in the bitter cold of winter and require the participants to be willing to spend hours meeting and publicly arguing and listening to hundred or more participants instead of going to a polling place and casting one's ballot privately and secretly. This winnowing ordeal is likely to assemble only committed individuals and the lack of secrecy serves as a further intimidation. The more eloquent, bullying or powerful are likely to convince, coerce or shame the meek into changing their minds. This encourages each candidate to finance and or persuade people with such talents to serve as their pleaders and captains and to load the bases. Those with greater vested interests dominate the process, which winnows out the ordinary voter out of fear, low threshold for boredom or dearth of time. This is why Howard Dean derided the process some years ago, when he had not thought of becoming a candidate in this sham farce, which is a poor substitute for democracy. It may seem presumptuous for an outsider and easterner to tell the highly educated, relatively homogeneous, civic minded, god-fearing Iowans with sound mid-western values, that this 'pig in a poke tamasha' called caucus, no matter how good, is but a poor substitute for the best, viz. democracy.

This is why the current administration wants to hold caucuses to select a new governing legislative body in Iraq. The process is easier to manipulate and the Iraqis, who are strangers to democracy, may not even discern the difference. No wonder Ayatollah Al-Sistani, the leader of the Shiites, who are the majority, opposes it and wants one man, one vote and a secret ballot election. The amazing irony of this situation is that one finds the sophisticated American people blithely accepting this subterfuge with total gullibility, due to the false repetition by the suborned or subservient American press. It is reminiscent of the story of the Brahmin carrying a goat and the three con artists, who by pretending to be unrelated altruistic well-wishers, conspired to convince him that he was carrying a filthy skunk. The three then had a great barbecue and feasted like gluttons. The unsophisticated Iraqis see the reality and shout that the Emperor has no clothes.  


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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