Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #186 - US Democracy? What Democracy?
A lot is claimed with careless non-chalance of a brain-washed believer. Do the claims about US democracy stand true in the face of fundamental scrutiny? Let's check.
“in my cowardice I became at once a man, and did what all we grown men do when face to face with suffering and injustice; I preferred not to see them” ― Marcel Proust, Swann's Way
Every system needs change and the ability to handle contemporary pressures. Systems don’t run on ideas, however good they may be. They run on procedures and processes. if the processes are faulty and flawed or easily corruptible, then it does not matter how lofty your ideas may be. You will have a mess on your hand. And the result will be a catastrophe on a social level.
And, when that is mixed with deep divisions within the system. The kind that can break the system apart. Then not only do we have an antiquated system but a society that will revel in its breaking! What we are seeing today are reactions out of ideological hatred, not sane democratic values. For democratic values to stand up, at least one set of players need to follow the process to its completeness. In the US, we now have a set of players, who are in competition with each other on who does the most damage.
GRATITUDE: Thanks to Iqbalji for a very generous contribution to Drishtikone. Truly humbled. 🙏
US Democracy? What democracy?!
A reporter once asked Gandhi what he thought of Western civilization, he famously replied: "I think it would be a good idea." Today, he could have said the same thing about American Democracy.
On Thursday, The Trump campaign shared some of its evidence of why they suspect that a major election fraud happened. They have particularly accused the process in cities which are run by Democratic dispensations in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Nevada.
The main bone of contention is the mail-in ballots.
As usual, the Democrats and most US media have dismissed the claims, without offering any credible investigation into these claims.
The allegations are very serious and in normal, democratic societies with a rule of law would have warranted a serious investigation. But in a deeply divided and flawed democracy like the US, these allegations will be met by gaslighting and even hate-filled antagonism.
If those who say that Trump killed Democracy have this to offer, then it doesn’t matter whether Trump did anything or not, the Democrats and the media are surely killing the US Democracy and any credibility that the election process may have had!
And it is not just one group which is speaking about it. There are many people who are using data from even the leftist media to make their point.
The whole scenario for Trump changes when the major vote dump of mail-in ballots came in.
Here is another view of the same sequence of events.
How can someone steal elections in the US? That is something that one needs to look into. So let us first start with how the US President is elected.
To begin with - we at Drishtikone believe that the entire practice of the Electoral College is flawed. Those who talk about “every vote counts” have no idea of how elections work in the US. Electoral College decides the direction in which all the electoral votes in a state will go.
Why do we say this system is flawed?
Because in 48 out of 50 states, the Electoral College works on the “Winner takes all” principle.
In 48 states and the District of Columbia, when a candidate for president wins a state's popular vote, that party's slate of electors will be the ones to cast the vote for president of the United States in December. For example, Florida has 29 electoral votes. If President Donald Trump wins the state’s popular vote, then the 29 electors nominated by the Republican Party in Florida will be selected. These 29 people will gather in December, say on Dec. 14 this year, to cast their votes for president of the United States. ALL of them will give Trump ALL the Electoral votes in the state, irrespective of which district (or constituency in India’s terms) voted for whom.
Does that seem like every vote in those 48 states counts?!
Only in two states - Maine and Nebraska, they follow a combination of the “district system” and the “Winner takes all” system. In these two states, there is ONE electoral vote for someone who wins the popular vote in each congressional district. While the other two votes are for that candidate receiving the most votes statewide.
The real issue with the US election system is that it is highly decentralized and fragmented.
The U.S. is characterized by a highly decentralized election administration system. The entities that do the rubber-meets-the-road functions of running an election are typically on the county or city/town level. The state is responsible for certain aspects of elections as well, and the federal government has a role, too. The result is that no state administers elections in exactly the same way as another state, and there is quite a bit of variation in election administration even within states. Each state’s election administration structure and procedures grew organically, as times changed and administering an election became an increasingly complex task.(Source)
The elections in the US are handled by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC).
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). EAC is an independent, bipartisan commission charged with developing guidance to meet HAVA requirements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, and serving as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration. EAC also accredits testing laboratories and certifies voting systems, as well as audits the use of HAVA funds. Other responsibilities include maintaining the national mail voter registration form developed in accordance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. (Source)
As is obvious, the EAC in the US is more of an advisory body with limited powers over the process of the election. For example, just see how the election administrators - folks who run the elections at the local level are appointed.
Elected - either Secretary of State or Lieutenant Governor
Appointed by state official - either State Commissioner of Elections or Secretary of State (by Governor)
Appointment by and service under a board - Chief Election Officer
Appointed board or official also has some responsibility - Secretary of State (by State Legislature)
Elected official or board also has some responsibility - Secretary of State
The state-wise distribution of different authorities that administer the election are like this.
22 states have a single individual who administers elections at the local level
10 states use a board of elections for the primary responsibilities of local election administration
18 states divide election administration duties between two or more offices
When election duties are divided between one or more offices on the local level, the most common division is between voter registration and the actual administration of elections. (Source)
To even say that the US has a “robust democracy” is to make a completely laughable claim. It may not strike someone who has not seen a proper democratic process. But someone who has seen over 4 times the voters being handled (900 mn versus 230 mn) with results coming in a matter of hours with the Election Commission of India running a tight ship, knows clearly that the US Democratic process is at best a mockery of democracy and at its worst a farce!
So let us check out how the Indian election is run and why it is done so efficiently?
Election Commission of India and how it runs Indian elections
The Indian elections are handled at the central level and the Central Election Commissioner is a very powerful person.
The President appoints the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners. They have a tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India. The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through impeachment by Parliament and it requires two-thirds of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha need to present and vote against him for disorderly conduct or improper actions.
Here is a good brief on what role does Election Commission play in India.
This is the procedural aspect of things. It is important to understand how India’s Election Commission ensures proper administration of every election.
So, let us listen to an ex-Chief Election Commissioner Dr Shahabuddin Yaqoob Quraishi talking to Pakistani channel. Thanks to the Pakistani anchor for asking intelligent and useful questions.
The US needs lessons in the election process from India!
Quite honestly, the repeating of the “World’s Best Democracy” claim by the US officials doesn’t cut it anymore.
You can’t count your votes properly. You have a mechanism like “mail-in ballots” which has little security process to ensure the sanctity of vote. Heck, if Laloo Prasad Yadav ever saw this, he would salivate with the idea of becoming the next US President! The mail-in ballot is right out of Mugabe’s election manual of election fraud.
This is when you have Saints running the elections. No, not the religious ones, for they are way too corrupt, but just simple principled folks. If you have people who are working to create mischief, which they can way too easily, the US election process is a delight for them for its sheer vulnerabilities!
the Taimur industry
In India, there is an entire “Taimur Industry” in media. It has been working since the birth and naming of Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor’s son to normalize his name and promote him as a media star even before he has been launched. It is an investment in his future stardom, one can surmise.
From how Taimur’s nanny is not happy with the paparazzi (Source) to him yelling ‘no photos’ (Source) to him walking at the airport (Source) to when he started calling Saif “Abba” (Source) [as if to confirm his paternity after all?!], Indians have been subjected to a forced diet of Taimur crap every day. And this mind-numbing stuff too!
Erstwhile national publications have become tabloids as they run campaigns for over-entitled, tantrum-throwing, bratty kids carrying names of the greatest butchers in humanity! (Taimur had in his own lifetime killed 17 million human beings, which was 5% of the world’s population of that time)
Wouldn’t it have been more prudent to give this kid a better, more human, catchy name and save the money that his doting but horribly socially-misaligned parents have spent on normalizing him? And maybe spend that money on some poor kids instead?
But when your personal jihad is to normalize butchers and killers, then who cares for the poor anyway?
market corner - 10 quick bytes
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ISRO to launch Bhutan satellite: India and Bhutan on Thursday launched the second phase of the RuPay Card scheme as Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will launch Bhutan’s satellite next year. The two sides signed a framework agreement on Thursday for enhancing cooperation in the peaceful uses of space that will foster collaboration between several institutions of the two countries. (Source)
Indian tech solutions for the world: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said it is time for tech solutions that are designed in India but deployed for the world, and the country is uniquely positioned to leap ahead in the information era. "India as a country is uniquely positioned to leap ahead in the information era. We have the best minds as well as the biggest market. Our local tech solutions have the potential to go global," he said. (Source)
Siddique Kappan was a threat: The Uttar Pradesh government, in its affidavit filed in the case of the arrest of Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan on his way to Hathras, said to the Supreme Court that Kappan was using a journalist cover to create unrest in Hathras. He had shown an identity card of a Kerala-based newspaper Tejas, which was closed in 2018, the UP government has said. “It is revealed during investigation that he along with other PFI activists and their student wing (Campus Front of India) leaders were going to Hathras under the garb of Journalism with a very determined design to create a caste divide and disturb law and order situation was found carrying incriminating material,” the affidavit said. (Source)
India losing over Rs 70,000 crore in taxes to other countries: Countries are losing over $427 billion in tax each year owing to international corporate tax abuse and private tax evasion. India’s annual tax loss aggregates to $10.3 billion.
These are the findings of the first study led by The Tax Justice Network (TJN), which is an independent research-based international network, that was published in alliance with other organisations. (Source)
France tightens screws on Pakistan: France has decided against helping Pakistan upgrade its fleet of Mirage fighter jets, air defence system and Agosta 90B class submarines, a direct fallout of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s loud criticism of French President Emmanuel Macron’s defence of the right to mock religion following the murder of a French schoolteacher, people familiar with the matter said. France has also told Qatar, one of the countries that bought the Rafale fighters, not to allow Pakistan-origin technicians to work with the plane over concerns that they could leak technical information about the fighter to Islamabad as the omni-role jet is the front-line fighter of India. Pakistan is known to share vital defence data with China in the past. (Source)
intention and creativity to the experience of dying
BJ Miller is a palliative care physician who thinks deeply about how to create a dignified, graceful end of life for his patients.
Watch this moving talk from Miller as he asks some important questions on how we approach death and honor life.
At the end of our lives, what do we most wish for? For many, it may simply be comfort, respect, love.
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