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A valid criticism.

Except that in every legislature, real power is concentrated at the centre. I'm sure it was very energising to be so invovled in Illinois politics, but Cheney still pulls the strings everywhere. Habeas Corpus has gone, the Constitution has been shredded and the foundations laid for the Imperial Presidency, the Unitary Excutive, unless a significant group of National figures choose to do something about it.

Meanwhile back here, you're right. We don't get invovled. In the UK even MPs have been rendered irrelevant, nobody even knows what local councillors do, except that they can get sued if they get it wrong.

And lacking a primary system, unless you scratch the right backs, you never get to positions where you get elected anyway.

No, we don't participate, because we've been deliberately excluded. But then again when you look at who might get to Washington, is there any place for non-squillionaires either ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 27th, 2007 at 01:30:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cheney might control national politics and foreign policy -everything you see- , but daily-to-day matters like if a Walmart can be built in your town or how safe your neighborhood is or affordable housing laws, gun control, etc. are decided at the local level.  And for many Americans, these are more pressing matters than USAttorney-Gate...  

And the big plan Dean has -basically modelled after the GOP's rise to power- is that these local politicians can start out in the ward or town board and work their way up to Congress.  It's called a "farm team" - like in sports.  Minor leagues->Major Leagues.  

Can a non-squillionaire win?  It's certainly difficult.  I bet not simply because of fundraising, but having friends on boards of networks, or having no qualms about taking money from Big Pharma, etc.  But if it puts anything into perspective, Obama, in his race for Senator, ran against a self-funded millionaire in the Primary.  The millionaire lost...  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Jun 27th, 2007 at 01:42:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That kind of democracy is still active here too, up to a point. If you make enough noise the big store won't be built - probably. The new road from nowhere to nowhere and the shopping development in the town that doesn't really need one may not be built either - perhaps.

But when it comes to core issues, which are more or less the same as the ones in the US - health care and education, economic policy, foreign policy - ordinary people are completely disenfranchised.

We aren't given the choice to vote for populist, bottom-up policies. The rules are set by Big Money, Big Oil, and Big Death, and they're the ones who are steering the ship.

We're allowed to rearrange the deck chairs. But we're not allowed to avoid the rocks or join the pillage party in the big ballroom.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 27th, 2007 at 03:29:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of the non-squillionaires, I followed Bill Wyatts run in the preisdential primaries of the Repbulican party in 2004. This is what wikipedia says about him:

Bill Wyatt is a liberal Republican and was a candidate for the U.S. Republican Party presidential nomination, 2004. He is a 43-year-old T-shirt maker and father of three from California. Wyatt left the Democratic Party to become a Republican after Democrats voted for the war in Iraq, an action he saw as a betrayal. He hopes to have a greater voice as a member of the Republican Party.

Wyatt has traveled 12,000 miles and spent an estimated $20,000 on his Presidential campaign. He managed to qualify for ballot status in New Hampshire, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, and even the Democratic Primary ballot in Arizona.

His early showings were disheartening but not surprising. He finished tenth in the New Hampshire primary with 0.23% of the vote (153 votes).

However, a major upset occurred on Mini-Tuesday when Wyatt won just over 10% of the vote in Oklahoma. He also placed second in Missouri, where he gained 1,268 votes (1.03%). Wyatt also received 233 votes (0.10%) in the Arizona Democratic primary.

Wyatt has stated that the Louisiana primary was his last stand, since it was the final state where he qualified for ballot status. He gained 4% of the vote there, which he considered a symbolic victory against George W. Bush that sent a message to the Republican Party. Wyatt has declared that he will be a candidate in the 2008 presidential election.

What was particulary interesting was his failed attempts to get on the primary ballots in the first place. The reason he ran in the Arizona Democratic primary was that the republican was cancelled because of lack of other candidates then Bush. That he was a republican and wanted to participated did not matter (this was also the case in a number of other states). So he ran in the Arizona Democratic primary to get more votes then Bush in Arizona.

To be a candidate for the presidency in the US you apparently have to be a candidate accepted by the media or have enough money to be buy media time. As a comparision: to be a candidate for the presidency of Iran you have to be acceptable to a group of mullahs (or possibly buy their acceptance).

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 10:35:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also worth mentioning, I think the Federalist nature of the United States of America really undermines any feeling of government centralization.  The current admin, once pro-states rights, it trying doggedly to change that, but the state of politics can really vary quite radically from one state to another.  There isn't really anything culturally or politically homogenous about America, even right down to the way the democratic process is conducted, laws change from state to state.  So it may look to you like we are all under the thumb of Cheney, but here in the US, a person is just as likely to feel more under the thumb of their Governor...

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Wed Jun 27th, 2007 at 02:04:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dear lady, I would have to offer some disagreement, not in terms of your central argument about the current American Administration and its actions, but with the overall effect. One sometimes sees certain situations as having broader application than they really do.  Yes,  "Cheney.. pulls the strings everywhere", but he is not the only puppet master.

The Administration and Congress may have diddled with Habeas Corpus, but by no means is that process or American justice in its death throes as a result; and the justice system is still more than capable of dealing with any liberties that have been taken with the Constitution and law.  

This New Yorker article makes interesting reading.  I dare say the fight is not over.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Wed Jun 27th, 2007 at 03:59:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And lacking a primary system, unless you scratch the right backs, you never get to positions where you get elected anyway.

Some parties are more internally democratic than others, but generally the party apparatus controls who can get on the "shortlist" that is presented to the membership for candidate selection. I think in the US the barriers to enter a party's primary are as low as simply having to change your partisan voter registration.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 27th, 2007 at 04:23:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the big gotcha in UK politics. You can nominate whomever you like, but if Party HQ doesn't like them, they won't stand. And Party HQ always has the option of parachuting in an Obxridge drone if they want to promote one of their own for good behaviour.

Independents often stand and occasionally win. One of the best moments of the last election was watching the father of someone who died in Iraq laying into Blair in public on election night, because he'd stood as an independent in Blair's constituency and won a good proportion of the votes.

But generally it's the party machine that keeps things running, and parties are very definitely run top-down - to the extent that Westminster is almost irrelevant anyway.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 27th, 2007 at 04:36:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I think in the US the barriers to enter a party's primary are as low as simply having to change your partisan voter registration.

Yes, compare Michael Bloomberg (mayor of New York, and this week's media fascination as he coyly denies that he's running for President). Since he couldn't win the mayoral primary in his own party (the Democrats), he registered Republican and won that way. (At least that's how Newsweek reports it.) This is not seen as unfair, just unusual; it's up to the primary voters to decide whether they accept it.

by Toby Bartels (toby+8190809933@ugcs.caltech.edu) on Wed Jun 27th, 2007 at 09:09:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cynthia Mc Kinney was allegedly unseated by the Republicans in 2002 by contesting the Democratic party primary, as the Republican candidate in her district has zero chance of getting elected.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 06:08:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think Denise Majette was ever a Republican (but I could be wrong. Still, an African-American woman who's a Republican would be slightly unusual). Or are you saying the Republicans put up another candidate in the primary to take away votes from McKinney?

(And why I would know Majette's name of the top of my head remains a mystery even to me)

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 06:36:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm saying enough Republicans voted in the Democratic primary to bring Majette over the top, instead of their own primary where they were going to be selecting an eventual loser. At least that's the allegation coming from McKinney.
McKinney protested the result in court, claiming that thousands of Republicans, knowing they had no realistic chance of defeating her in November, had participated in the Democratic primary to vote against McKinney in revenge for her anti-Bush administration views and allegations of possible voter fraud in Florida in the 2000 Presidential Election. Like 20 other states, Georgia operates an open primary: voters do not claim a political party when they register to vote, and may participate in whichever party's primary election they choose.


Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 06:45:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aah, I see what you're saying. That's perfectly possible.  

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 07:00:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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