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Report from Palermo

November 21, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Nancy Mattina, Politics

Reflections from Abroad on Electoral Politics

by Nancy Mattina

Who says we can’t yet travel into the future? For the two weeks prior to the 2012 Presidential elections I woke up every morning in a proud republic that’s suffering from a bad case of stunned. A place where the national debt exceeds GDP and family savings have been drained by unemployed adult children, declining wages, and stone-faced lenders. Where abortion is illegal and ‘choice’ means having a family or a job. Where all media outlets, including public TV, are unapologetically affiliated with political parties. Where anti-immigration rhetoric demonizes the destitute. Where a prominent editorialist advises women to accept the fact that they are ‘sitting on their fortunes’, no metaphor intended. (more…)

The People Have Spoken

November 08, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Erin Niemela, Politics

Voting? Done. Democracy? Just Begun.

by Erin Niemela

Election night is finally over.  Television can resume its originally broadcast programs and Facebook can return to cat memes and photos of our dinner.  We can go back to talking about our personal lives at work and our work lives at home.  Relatives can begin to pick up the pieces of their divided relationships, while children can find some relief from the incessant blaring of talk radio on the drive to school. The people have spoken, they are tired, and they want at least a couple of years to nap, politically.

We may think our work here is done, at least for another two-four years, yet civic duty does not cease the moment you turn in your ballot. Voting every couple of years in the mass-distributed reality TV show we call “the election” neither constitutes a democracy nor mandates genuine change.  Direct action by an engaged citizenry creates and sustains democracy, and such direct democracy must be performed year-round.  While our elected officials seem keen on exporting democracy around the world, we should be developing democracy at home, as well. (more…)

Irrational Voting

November 01, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, David Swanson, Politics

Resisting the Tendency Toward Lesser-Evilism

by David Swanson

When I was a philosophy grad student in the ancient times at the University of Virginia, some over-smart logician pointed out to me that voting is not rational, since a single vote is never decisive. It’s all the other stuff that’s rational: appearing to have voted, applying a sticker to your bumper, registering voters, making phone calls — because all of that stuff has the potential to spread sufficiently to make a difference in the election, or perhaps in a future election or in other forms of civic engagement.

But, of course, unlike the model “persons” in philosophical or economic mental experiments, actual people tend not to be sociopaths. Pretending to vote without voting is far more work than actually voting, which — while it may be irrational — does no harm. And so, good citizens tend to vote even understanding its irrationality, and even when there are no candidates worth voting for.

Some smart friends of mine argue for a particular type of quasi-rational voting in such situations. (more…)

Rethinking Elections

March 30, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, David Swanson, Politics

Moving from ‘Lesser Evil’ to ‘Greater Good’

by David Swanson

I think two opposing trends have been at work in U.S. history. One is that of allowing more people to vote. This is an ongoing struggle, of course, but in some significant sense we’ve allowed poor people and women and non-white people and young people to vote. The other trend, which has really developed more recently, is that we’ve made voting less and less meaningful. Of course it was never as meaningful as many people imagine. But we’ve legalized bribery, we’ve banished third parties and independents, we’ve gerrymandered most Congressional districts into meaningless general elections and left one party or the other to exercise great influence over any primary. Rarely does any incumbent lose, and rarely does a candidate without the most money win. Extremely rare is a winning candidate who lacks some major financial backing. Rarer still is a candidate who even promises to pursue majority positions on most major issues, or who convincingly commits to following the will of the public over the will of the party. Most Congress members are pawns in a government with two partisan voices, not the voices of 535 individual representatives and senators. Rare, as well, is any possibility in a close primary or general election of verifying the accuracy of a vote count. (more…)

Toward Real Democracy

January 10, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Voting with Our Actions, Every Day

by Robert C. Koehler

Maybe they’re trying to remind us that democracy isn’t merely a matter of casting that little vote once every Leap Year — but, far, far more significantly, it’s about getting that right to vote in the first place, keeping that right, and having it matter.

Every one of these rights is in jeopardy as 2012 opens and another presidential election season gets serious. But this is nothing new.

After all, democracy is nothing if not a perpetual nuisance to the powerful. It asserts that public policy is everyone’s business, and that the concerns of even the most financially and socially marginal citizens are equal to those of the most elite. Indeed, no one is marginal in a democracy — a concept we embrace as a nation but don’t believe. And thus citizens are marginalized all the time. (more…)


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