In the spirit of election season, both local and international, it’s worth it in my opinion to think about what it is exactly that people are voting for.  What is the value of your vote?  Are you voting in a democratically meaningful election which yields results that are responsive to your wishes and those of the average citizen, or are you casting an opinion which carries about as much weight as a vote for your favorite contestant on American Idol?

From my experience talking to people the main standard guiding their decision is whether they wanted to have a beer with a particular candidate.  Despite being a beer enthusiast myself and not wishing to offend anyone, I wanted to suggest that there might be other considerations that should rank a little higher.  But more than that, it makes me question the extent to which we actually operate within a real democracy.

Unfortunately, it seems in reality we exist within what described as a polyarchy.  A polyarchy is defined as a nation-state where power is concentrated in the hands of a small group of people as opposed to a democracy where decision-making is a shared responsibility among members of a community.  Anyone who has experienced the frustration of endorsing and voting for a candidate because they say they will do such-in –such only to have them refuse to do it once they are elected will understand this.  In fact, elections and the expectations they create regarding governance are like an oasis promising relief from the heat, where you work very hard to reach this distant sanctuary only to realize it’s never where you think it is.  It’s always a little further down the road.  You can see it just ahead, but like the politician, it’s always shifting positions.

Acknowledging this is a good step in the right direction.  Doing something about it is another matter entirely, a matter best left to people smarter than me, which at last count includes just about everyone…

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