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November 18, 2009

Different Country, Same Elections

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – He who can stuff the most ballot boxes wins the election. I really can’t understand why the Western world cannot accept this obvious concept of democracy.


Each candidate begins with an equal opportunity. They can hire as many people as money can buy to report to a voting booth and vote as many times until the funds run out. How can this be different than the American elections where he who raises the most cash and can hire the most workers also wins?


The ballot stuffing method also benefits the new incoming administration. Loyalists learn organizational skills, grass root mobilization and the establishment of a bureaucracy. Then they replace the current government, or lack thereof, and apply these skills to running the government. A political organization has been established and support can be drummed up for measures that are needed but unpopular to part of the masses. Like poppy eradication in Afghanistan, which provides the livelihood of most.


In America, people who have contributed big bucks to campaigns are rewarded with ambassadorships. Those who are middle class and have sweated out the crusade move into government jobs vacated by the previous administration. The displaced are employed as lobbyist who promise their replacements that when the current administration changes, they will have jobs. This only occurs if they follow the dictates of the lobbyists. Everyone knows this is corruption without the actual cash changing hands – including the people of Afghanistan. They just cut out all of the fuss and use untraceable dollars, Euros, dinars or gold.


In America, the number of people who vote in elections is abysmal. The excuses range across the board, the biggest one is “I didn’t have time.” People are too busy picking up their kids from day care, rushing to get dinner, enjoying happy hour, stuck in traffic, my boss wouldn’t let me off, my car broke down, the bridge was up … and on and on.


The people of Afghanistan also have excuses for not voting. The Taliban will cut off my nose, fingers or toes. My family will be taken out and shot. My daughters will be raped. I have to travel twenty miles or so on a donkey through treacherous mountain passes to cast my ballot. According to international voting experts these are flimsy excuses compared what the Americans must endure.


One of the best excuses imported from the west and obviously from the Washington area is snow. I watched in disbelief on the BBC as an American, who probably lives in Frederick County, stood behind a microphone and said snow may hamper elections.


To my worldwide readers, an explanation is in order. In the Washington, D.C., area, at the first warning of a very minor snowstorm, the entire population is thrown into a panic. Grocery stores are cleared out of bread and milk. Toilet paper sales increase threefold. It seems our population ablauts more during a snow event than at any other time.


When the snow begins to fall and the depth reaches 2-3 millimeters, schools close, offices shut down and the government goes into something called a snow emergency. Frenzy and panic ensues as the snow may reach a centimeter or so before the storm abates.


The people of Afghanistan rescue their goats and sheep in howling blizzards navigating steep mountain precipices. When things get worse than that, they simply pitch a tent and light a fire. When the snow abates and towers five meters, they navigate their way out, no snow plows where they are, and continue on their way.


I doubt we will see people lined up with disfigured faces, photos of deceased loved ones, or the homeless caused by their residences being bombed lined up at voting places.


For those Afghans who have no excuse not to vote, they will adopt the Washington excuse, provided by the American government “It’s snowing!” which it does there every day. All of the western government officials will understand that at the next elections, both votes will be certified.


…life is good…


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