I am sure we all have encountered someone somewhere saying that the USA is the greatest and oldest running democracy in the world, yadda yadda yadda. But what does “demo” in this word actually mean, in America?
Let’s grant that the US democracy is the oldest continuously running one in the world. I have no idea if that is actually true and I am too lazy to try and find out, but whatever. Is that a good thing?
When I look at the spectacle that is the US voting, I do not think so. Even without such obsolete carryovers from a different era like the second amendment, two senators per state regardless of its size or the electoral college, it does not look like the American democracy is very much democratic.
Take voter registration for example. What the fuck is that? Many of my friends in Europe are constantly dumbfounded by how elections in the USA (and to an extent in the UK) work. The “first past the post” system is generally viewed as idiotic and Gerrymandering makes most people to say “wut???”, however, the existence of voter registration is something that, so far, surprised everyone. And if you told anyone that there is a ruckus now about sending people voting ballots in advance, they would look at you as if you told them that in the USA “water is wet” is seen as controversial.
In CZ, the mailing of ballots in advance is completely normal. Every citizen is registered at birth, issued a state-paid ID at the age of 15, and gets ballots in the mail for each and every election once they turn 18. During the pandemic, the ballots came with full instructions on how to cast the vote if you are in quarantine or cannot legitimately go to the voting place.
Whether the citizen then actually decides to use said ballots as anything else than highly uncomfortable toilet paper or very good kindling is completely up to them, but they get them, always. We are so used to this system that most people here take it as normal and are completely taken by surprise when they hear how the US goes about this.
Vote on working day and kilometers long waiting lines for voting are another hoot. Here the vote is on Friday/Saturday, the whole day, so everyone has a chance to find a few minutes to cast their ballot, either on a trip to/from work or whilst going shopping. Because – and that is real funny, I tell ya – the longest I have ever waited to cast my vote was maybe a minute when there was someone in the booth and I had to wait for them to finish casting their vote. It might be a bit worse in a big city, I have occasionally seen 10-15 people long lines in TV, I think. But the only big lines are those reported from ‘Merica.
What I want to say is, the country with the highest GDP in the world finally should pay for a full-feature version of government, they are trudging by on an un-updated trial for way too long.