The Hidden Story Of Tunisia’s Success
On November 5, 2011, 12:14 AM by Savannah Cox
The Democratic Drift of the United States
In the United States, general apathy toward voting has allowed many politicians to take advantage of the more imperfect aspects of our own infantile system to achieve their own corrupt goals. As a result, much of the manifested unrest throughout the country may be blamed on politicians spooning with corporations but it must also be attributed to the typical American voter’s seemingly vegetative state the past fifty years.
According to the Fair Vote Organization, even at its 1960 zenith, the percent of eligible Americans who proceeded to vote never exceeded 65%. When compared to almost all established democracies, American election participation is down right embarrassing. In Canada, voter turnout is consistently around 70-75%. In the first round of the French presidential election, 86.8% of registered voters cast their vote. In little Luxembourg, 91.7% of registered voters participated in the 2004 in the proportional representation election for its legislature.
It is generally considered that voting is a vital component of a healthy democracy. Thus when turnout is low, so too is the quality of democracy. What does that say about a country that claims to be its greatest success story and implants it in the form of bombs, troops, and acts of economic imperialism throughout the world?
Sure, there are obvious flaws in the United States voting system. The constitution has moved at a snail’s pace in its inclusion of women and African Americans and now it is beginning to exclude the homeless. It tends to disfavor the working class. But ask Amina Jouini about free time. To her, freedom is more important than free time. Voting is a way to be a part of history, and more importantly it is a way to change it. “I rushed early this morning to be on time, at 7 o’clock,” she said. “You could see for yourself the way […] women are shaping history, once again.”
In Tunisia, people died to express themselves and participate directly in history and democracy. In the United States, however, history is not something you make but is something that has passed. Until recently, we have estranged ourselves from national political dialogue and dissent much as we have drifted from democracy in one of its most fundamental properties: voting. Yet throughout these drifts we have remained adamant in imposing our distorted vision of democracy on others. That is yet another area where Tunisia prevails: Tunisian activists do not claim to teach democracy to others, rather they are happy to promote “democratic learning” with Libya and Egypt. The United States has quite a bit to learn about democracy—we should join them.
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