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  • Sunday, October 19, 2008


    The Battle of Cynicism and Hope

    Fierce Celt, my housemate, steadfastly refrains from investing too much in the outcome of the Presidential election. Given the outcome of the last few elections, she maintains there is no telling what will happen so why get your hopes up? I'm a reluctant realist when it comes to politics: Voters don't always have the clear say over the results on election day.

    Republican political fixers certainly influenced the outcome of 2000 and the 2004 results doesn't seem all that clear either considering the numerous problems with "caging" voters and voter roll purges.

    Like the X-Files tagline, I want to believe in fair elections in the USA but manipulators work hard to affect the final count. I don't mean the normal heat of elections, accusations and self-praise flowing in abundance from both camps. That's just the normal political jockeying for position and to be expected.

    Our voting system is so flawed in execution that I sometimes wonder why impartial international observers don't monitor the vote counting. Electronic voting machines are still astonishingly problematic and so full of glitches I can't believe they are used at all. There is no guarantees of their accuracy and the companies manufacturing them have documented close ties to the Republican Party, something that doesn't exactly generate confidence in the impartiality of their programming.

    It's obvious my cynicism is ascendant and rampant.

    I just can't believe in a system that continually tries to deny access to many citizen voters. It is the Republicans who seem to have mastered the art of constricting access in their favor. No one tries to deny voters in well-off neighborhoods their franchise. It's always the poor and working class who suffer the attention of self-styled gatekeepers crying "voter fraud" to exclude them.

    Democracy is supposed to be built on the basic right of citizens to vote politicians into and out of office. Once this is circumvented, we are left at the mercy of white collar thieves and professional manipulators. We lose faith in the basic credibility of the election system. This leads to a sense of powerlessness and of being helpless pawns.

    In the face of my cynicism, I'm left with hope that the system isn't anywhere as corrupt as it seems. But hope isn't much of a comfort in these dark times. It feels more like a crutch, an illusion best ignored.

    Yet I still hope.

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