Friday, June 11

A Thing Threatened

In the U.S. House of Representatives, 95% of the seats are deemed by the two dominant parties to be "non-competitive." The House is essentially a one-party extension of government, and only 5% of its represented citizens merit real attention from the legislators. In short, 19 out of 20 voters are presented with no choice.

At the state level, 40% of state legislators will have NO opponent, and many others will have merely nominal opponents.

These are some of the facts that support Ralph Nader's oft-misunderstood claim [keyword "Nader" for video] that, in many ways, the two dominant parties are converging into one (which is not a merely topical charge based on recent policy statements or personalities but, rather, on access in the U.S. to elective choices and government influence).

Given this situation (not to mention all the election debacles and the wretched state of popular U.S. press, which, at best, has to apologize for having supplied a megaphone to the administration's propaganda over the months leading up to the undeclared, illegal war in Iraq), I am always stunned to hear Powell or others like him giving "lessons in democracy" to Qatar, Iran, or whatever other nations they feel it is their place to criticize. There are significant differences in the "state of democracy" in these countries, but democracy is hardly a thing assured in the United States. A more accurate assessment, which is only bolstered by the monarchical-like machinations and executive exceptionalism of George Bush Jr., is that it is a thing seriously threatened. (For a recent example of such machinations, see Charles 2's June 9 post, "extraconstitutional excrement.")