12/13/2005

The Public Have Spoken


It seems that this is part of the standard political toolkit, the notion of the 'mandate' or the idea that an action has merit because it has received the public's 'blessings'.
While on the one hand, fans of participatory Democracy might like to say that this is as it should be- while in the other camp sleep the folks that agree with those forefathers that did not believe the populace very capable of governance, and that the role of the citizen should be minimized given their capacity for information-- Taking a good look at the numbers suggests that those who sleep in the elitist government tents have historically had their way.
OP at Hydrogen and Stupidity spared me the trouble of revisiting my math phobia and has outlined why this is so in his piece Where's The Revolution Part 2.
OP:
"The population of the US, according to the Census Bureau , is around 298 million people. Of this population, 197 million are citizens of voting age , which represents 66% of the total population. Of those citizens capable of voting, 142 million of them are registered to vote, which represents 72% of the voting age population and just about 48% of the total population. At this point, it becomes pretty obvious that a "majority" of people CANNOT vote. But, lest we dilute the stats, let's move on to those who actually voted. According to the Census doc linked to above, approximately 126 million registered voters actually voted. This represents 88% of those registered and 42% of the total population. Wait, it gets worse. Wikipedia asserts that around 123 million people voted for president , which represents 97% of voters (sounds good, right?), 86% of those registered to vote, 62% of voting age citizens, and 41% of the total population.

And President George W Bush, the man with the mandate, acquired just over 50% (50.77% according to Wikipedia) of that presidential vote. So, he got 62 million votes, or thereabouts. That amounts to 43% of registered voters, 31% of voting age citizens, and 20.8% of the total population of the country . That's not a majority, that's not a plurality, that's not a mandate for jack shit."
Now what can we say about majorities and the 'will of the people' on matters of reproductive freedom, the death penalty, gay rights, Church and State, civil liberties, spending priorities...? At what point do we say "Speak for yourselves, slippery bastards?"
Where do you stand when you consider the folks around you: do you believe the government has reason to think they know better what is good for us, that blind trust is appropriate, that we should look to elected officials to lead without consultation...or do you think that there is something to the idea that elected officials should carry out the will of their constituents and not their own agenda? Where are we, on this spectrum of participatory democracy to outright dictation?
Do we have the tools to be informed? Can we look to the media and public opinion to reign in renegade 'public servants'? Do they care what we think anymore?

5 comments:

Lew Scannon said...

Our public servants care not what we think nor what we wish, they are owned by corporate Amerika and will do what is best for them and not us. One only need look at the recent passing of CAFTA which an astounding 83% of the American people oppsed, yet it still managed to get passed. And be they Democrat or Republican, they know they will be elected because the people are too afraid of voting for a loser to go with a third party.

Lily said...

Yes, you are right about the possibility of a third party candidate although I must say I have worked for third party people I believed in and am neither a registered Democrat NOR a Republican. I hate when people say "You Democrats" at us because they assume that we must be one or the other.
They do not represent us and whats worse they don;t even care that they are 'public servants' paid for by our tax money.
I revisited OP's post because I am tired of hearing that the majority have 'spoken' or about this so-called 'mandate'.

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