Posts Tagged ‘ election 2012 ’

Comparing elections: U.S. and Venezuela

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitors voting internationally and advocates for honest and transparent elections. The United States has encouraged the OSCE in its missions, provides American monitors for elections in other countries and, in fact, has invited the OSCE to monitor our elections since 2002.

In 2012 presidential elections were held in both the U.S. and Venezuela. According to the Bipartisan Research Center the 2012 turnout was 57.5% of the eligible voters. The 2012 election was similar to that of previous elections, as reported in internationalcomparisons.org. According to the New York Times the 2012 turnout in Venezuela was 80.5%.

The OSCE summary of the American election was generally favorable but did single out some areas for improvement, including voting rights, voter list accuracy, voter suppression by Republicans, campaign finance transparency, and recount procedures. The OSCE also noted what many other observers had commented on, that financing U.S. campaigns with huge amounts of private funds is a cause for concern for democracy.

The OSCE did not observe the 2012 election in Venezuela, but the Carter Center, also an expert organization in election evaluation, was there. The Carter Center has monitored 92 elections. Jimmy Carter, former American president, announced that Venezuela’s election was the cleanest of those the Center has observed. The Carter Center particularly praised Venezuela’s simple yet secure and transparent voting procedures.

American mainstream media claimed that the Venezuelan election was tainted by fraud and intimidation, but had little to say about defects in the American election.

Reports by objective election observers indicate that the Venezuelan election was better run and had more participation than that of the United States. Multilateral, independent observers are needed to counter the power and propensity of the mainstream media to mislead and provide a sound basis for improving elections in the United States as well as abroad.

Dispelling the Obamney-China relationship

In previous debates, either candidate touted promises of his ability to to be “tough on China.” The tough rhetoric slowed to a minimum on Monday night, October 23rd, at the third presidential debate. Feedback from China of discontent may have been the catalyst, yet during the debate neither candidate could afford to be so forthcoming as to acknowledge that it’s not only in the best interest of the US from an international relations perspective to cool the rhetoric, but also that the US is unable to assume a superior position over China or to bully it. This is not to say the US are subordinate to China; rather, it’s a relation of codependence as articulated by Thomas P.M. Barnett in his article “The New Rules: Hubris Drives Mistrust in U.S.-China Relations.” To simplify it as an economic codependence (our trade for their labor) would be a gross misconception. Barnett investigates the relationship in terms of military and security, the meaning of the democratization of China and its effects on the US, as well as the US’ waning global prominence in politics or economic consumption. Barnett opines that the nature of the US-China codependence escalates both cautiously (albeit relatively quickly) and defensively as neither country can afford to give the other an upper hand in a seemingly paradoxical struggle that is delicate yet bearable. One thing’s for certain: although neither candidate can admit otherwise for the sake of his candidacy, “tough on China” rhetoric is a romantic glorification of our position in relation to our cross Pacific neighbors. Cooperation, codependence, and co-struggling is a more realistic appraisal of the situation for both today and the near future.

Awareness precedes change…

And we’re not the only ones talking about it. The US continues its fall from its potential and precedent as noted keenly by Arthur Goldwag in his Truthout.org article, seemingly regardless of who’s running for the White House. If we’re striving for true change, where should we turn? Goldwag’s insightful review of Howard Steven Friedman’s latest book, The Measure of a Nation, offers a blunt and empirical wake up call for the awareness that is needed if significant change is going to take place in order to turn America back from just a great idea and into execution. Noting from Friedman, Goldwag focuses on the lack of attention given to the poor, minority communities citing our negligence towards them as the reason why we’re so far behind in quality of life indicators such as education, voter participation, life expectancy, incarcerating, amenable deaths, health care, and other areas. To paraphrase Goldwag, incarcerating the minority is ignoring the problem when we should be more attentive to the community if we are to make a priority of making the US the best country it once was.