Monday, November 19, 2012

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Who won the election?

Nobody is born a Republican or a Democrat.  People are born rich or poor.  People are born men or women.  People are born black or white or Latino.  Having been born one way or another, we collect various social images of ourselves and of others, and those collected images we call being Republican or Democrat.

A majority of men voted for Romney but a larger majority of women voted for Obama.   Women, not Democrats, won the election.

A majority of whites voted for Romney but a larger majority of everybody else voted for Obama.  Colored people, not Democrats won the election.  (Why is 'colored people' retrograde and racist, while 'people of color' is radical and right on?  What's the difference?)

A majority of rural and suburban voters voted for Romney but a larger majority of urban voters voted for Obama.  The cities, not the Democrats won the election.

This is an interesting series of factoids considering that most of the people who just won the election weren't even allowed to vote or hold office not that long ago.

Which make an interesting aside about being here is Australia.  Here, the Prime Minister is a woman, Julia Guillard, her finance minister is Penny Wong, the deputy leader of the parliamentary opposition is a woman, Julie Something, several premiers of the six Australian states are women.  The camera panning the benches of parliament during question time shows that about half of the members of parliament are women.

Question time is when the opposition puts questions to the prime minister and the other government ministers.  Of course the questions are tendentious, as are the answers, but they put the political debate out in the open and keep both the government and the opposition responsive to criticism.  In the US, the Congress cannot unseat the President by a mere majority vote, nor can the caucus of the majority party remove her, as happened recently when the Labor Party undid a sitting Prime Minister, Paul Rudd.

Here in Australia voting is mandatory.  Failure to vote carries a $100 fine.  I would have thought people would find that oppressive and absuord.  But they don't.  Every Australian we have spoken to, from cab drivers to prosperous guests at fancy hotels, has said it is a better system than our lackadaisical vote-if-you-feel-like-it practice.  I suppose it is worth that much compulsion to ensure that the government has the legitimacy of having been elected by the majority of Australian adults, not by the majority of those who got around to voting, invariably a minority of American adults.

The US could learn a lot from Australia.