World View On Election 2000 Essay, Research Paper
The 2000 Presidential Election will go down in the history books as one of the greatest tests of democracy our country has ever seen. The country as a whole watches and waits for the winner to be declared. However, the United States is not the only country preoccupied with the election, the rest of the world ponders and waits as well. The final outcome of the election will affect the entire world as a whole. However, as of now, the world is not looking for guidance, it is looking at the United States election for comic relief. Countries like England, China, Japan, Russia and Canada are all getting their fill of America s election humor pie.
The entire continent of Europe is amused at our failure to produce a president elect right away. The Mirror is a London based liberal publication that is circulated daily. It has spent most of its time focusing on how the election has panned out thanks to the incompetence of the United States election process. They have even gone as far as to question, How could Gore blow it? On paper, he should have won by a comfortable margin, perhaps 10 percent or more (Internet 1). The mirror also commented on the qualifications of Vice President Al Gore, his (Gore s) resume shows him far more qualified for the Oval Office, at least in terms of his familiarity with national concerns, than a second-term governor of Texas almost totally dependent on issue advisors (Internet 1).
The quality of the candidates was not the only feature the daily focused on, the legitimacy of the Electoral College and the inability of the United States to effectively choose a President is also at the mercy of the press in London.
The upcoming meeting of the electors on December 18 has allowed for many criticisms. The Electoral College is so barmy, if three of the hundredths of delegates switched sides, they would change the result, and the prospect of such a change, is enough to make the lawyers mouths water in anticipation (Internet 2).
As Americans squabble over whether their presidential cliffhanger is a case of democracy at its finest or constitutional confusion, many Europeans are relishing the role they are playing as the transatlantic heckling gallery. Viewed through the European looking glass, America comes across as a quirky place with even quirkier citizens (Internet 3).
There was an article written as a cover feature that ran the second week after the election in The Guardian, another daily circulated in London. The title of the article was Only in Florida How America s weirdest state derailed the US election (Internet 3). The article uses the famous one-liner that it s not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes. The authors marvel that the election of the next U.S president will be decided in Florida, America s weird, troubled protuberance in the Caribbean, where a million Cuban exiles still plotting their revenge against Castro rub up against Jewish pensioners from Brooklyn, Haitian refugees and a shoal of opportunists, lost souls and part-time Disney employees (Internet 3).
The British are taking this opportunity to laugh and poke fun of our democracy in action. They joke of Revocation of our Independence alerting Americans of the British Queen s intention to resume monarchical duties over the former colonies in light of your failure to elect a President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves (Internet 3).
In a story that ran with a Belgrade, Yugoslavia, dateline, The Onion, a satirical Web site, reported this week that Serbia s new president, Vojislav Kostunica, had decided to dispatch more than 30,000 peacekeepers to the U.S., pledging full support to the troubled North American nation as it struggles to establish democracy (Internet 2). An anecdote on a Russian Website proposes a marquee 12-round boxing match to be held in Madison Square Garden to resolve the presidential imbroglio. But others, like the stand-up British comic Sean Meo, who is well quoted in many British publications, look well beyond the boxing ring. They say the presidential limbo could have more dire implications for the American electorate and the rest of the planet. If aliens landed now and asked you to take them to your leader, we d be in trouble. (Internet 4)
In China, they are learning from the constitutional dramas unfolding elsewhere. They feel as though one of the great strengths of the US constitution is the clear separation of power among the executive branch, with its elected president; the legislative branch, with its two house Congress; and the judicial branch, which applies and interprets the law. This according to journalists in China might not be a quick acting system, but that is part of its aim, to keep balance of power and provide for popular representation without succumbing to mob rule or the tyranny of the majority (Internet 5).
China s media is learning that there is more to the election than the actual voting procedures. They feel that the Electoral College is not to blame in this case. China argues that, given modern communications and the now greater centralization of power in the US, the president should be elected by direct, popular vote. But the Electoral College is a legitimate way of reflecting the nation s origin as a union of states with individual identities and diverse interests (Internet 5).
To one journalist from the South China Morning Post the problem revealed by the electoral impasse in the US is inadequate separation of the Judiciary from the political process (Internet 5). Judges might want to be thought of as trying to apply the law in an independent manner, but in the real world as in the popular and media perception judges mainly reflect the political biases of those who appoint or elect them. The politicization of judicial positions has always been a fact of life in the US, but an issue such as this makes people realize that saying leave it to the courts is not necessarily going to satisfy (Internet 5).
The Chinese have taken a much more serious approach to the election fiasco. There are not as many satirical publications in China due to the fact that they are communist, public opinion is not valued near as much as it is in the states or other countries. However, journalists in China feel that The Supreme Court will go to extra lengths to appear politically impartial, but even it cannot be seen as neutral, given that judicial appointments are a president s lasting legacy (Internet 5). China might have taken the serious approach, but do not count them out to get their licks in too. Another journalist from the South China Morning Post stated this, Personally, I think the American political system is like American football. It may look crazy, but it works for them (Internet 5).
Japan on the other hand has decided to jump on the bashing bandwagon. One journalist stated, I have enjoyed the American presidential catastrophe as much as anyone. It is a golden opportunity to tell one s American colleagues that all that independence nonsense was bound to end in tears. If they ask nicely, they can have Queen Elizabeth back (Internet 6). The media in Japan are discovering a certain pleasure in knowing that the finer points of the US electoral process do not in all respects meet the high standards congressional visitors look for in the polls of places such as Haiti (Internet 6). They feel as though American residents in Hong Kong are already thinking how much more simple, cheap and convenient it would be if their countrymen followed their splendid example and had their leader selected by Jiang Zemin (Internet 6).
On a more serious side Japan seems to think that even after everyone has had their fill of election snafu laughs, and the fights in Florida seem to fall well short of the apocalypse, and in many ways exemplify things about America that make so many people want to live here.
In Russia the mood is somewhat the same as it is in China. They are taking a more critical view on the election as well. An editor of the Russia Journal spoke of the whining that came all through the night on CNN, and other domestic TV networks, as they rushed the vote counting process and broadcast incorrect and incomplete results. When it became clear that in their haste, the anchors had completely misread the outcome of the race, the journalists proceeded to pull out all sorts of self-justifications- worried more about the damage to their precious egos than the unique democratic outcome they were witnessing (Internet 6). Russia knows that Americans take their vote seriously (Internet 6). There is no evidence yet that anyone has done so, according to the media, but the wrath of the American people will fall on anyone who tampers with their democracy (Internet 6). Russian journalists recognize that the current situation has exposed some flaws in the system, but more than anything it has exposed the inability of U.S. politicians and commentators to deal with the fundamental issues at stake. Some have asked whether legal appeals against the results should be permitted at all, or, if allowed, whether the cases should be expedited super quickly (Internet 6). They are taking notice that there are some groups around the world that would take great comfort in seeing the American democratic process turn itself into a circus. But those elected in less transparent elections like, say, Russia s, would not enjoy seeing individual citizens challenging national election results. America does not need surgical and expeditious electoral processes like those in Russia. The strength of a democracy is in being able to question the validity of the vote (Internet 6). The one resounding statement made by one writer in The Russia Journal read If there is a lesson for Russia to draw from all this, it is that democracy is much more than a clean election conducted like a commando operation. Democracy is an ugly thing and therein lies its beauty (Internet 6).
Our electoral system devised by the founding fathers if very sound indeed, the constitution and the election processes will stand another century, possibly more. What we are witnessing right now is democracy in full bloom. The American people have shaken the political leaders out of their slumber. Those who did not show their colors before the election will do so now. The procedure might be archaic, but it is open, accountable and tries to be fair. Disputed points are debated publicly and settled in court. Nobody has been shot, jailed, accused of sodomy, sued for libel, charged with corruption, or labeled a class enemy. The show is noisy, raucous, undignified and sufficiently abusive to leave you wondering how half the people involved will ever talk to the other half again. But they will. They will because democracy has its own formula, and even the sly legal teams constructed to defend their own parties down in Florida will soon find the missing element hiding in the everglades.
Given the bizarre resolution of this election, the big question now is whether the President can govern effectively at home and represent the United States effectively abroad. The level of partisan bitterness is already so extreme that it is hard to see a resolution in the next few weeks. That means the new President will have an impossible task accomplishing any things he talked about in the campaign. Equally important, the new President will have much to prove to both allies and adversaries abroad. He will be obliged to show that he can bring Congress and the public behind him on any foreign initiative. And that could take a long time.