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View Full Version : THIS IS DEMOCRACY?


SilentScope001
09-12-2007, 12:22 PM
I am very, very enraged on what happened yesterday.

Yesterday is Sept. 11th. But yesterday was not a day of tragedy, it was Election Day for my city. And yesterday was a mockery.

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/0912wed1-12.html

http://ktar.com/?nid=6&sid=591325

12% of my city voted yesterday. And look what they voted in:

Gordon winning practically 80 percent of the votes cast. His opponent, political newcomer Steve Lory, lambasted the city for its spending priorities and coziness to developers. But the critique didn't stick to Gordon, who steers a moderate, cautious political path and boasts a gift for listening, simultaneously, to neighborhood activists, employee unions, law enforcement and business interests.

80%? If I claim this is a South American city, then you would claim massive election fraud. But here, it's hailed as democracy, even though only 12% voted.

Isn't the point of a democracy is to have a vibrant opposition who can challenge you? Without the opposition, Gordon is able to breeze through victory and do whatever he wants. Without such a check, well...er...I'm afraid.

Another ringing endorsement for police and fire. Proposition 1 called for an additional two-tenths of a 1-cent sales tax to hire 500 police and 100 firefighters. Phoenix voters approved the measure by nearly 70 percent.

Now, I like taxes. But I thought the American people doesn't. Especially sales tax, this can really cut into consumption. Can't we cut nonessential programs instead of harming the consumer economy?

My state has voted consisently for sale taxes and sale taxes and sale taxes. That's okay, but it feels that the tax bill will constantly increase as the government seeks to spend more and more, and I am afraid about that. However, it did soundly vote down a proprositon last year to increase real estate tax.

Proposition 2 was about mayor and council salaries. It would give a nearly six percent raise to the mayor and Phoenix city council members. It was shot down 50 percent to 49 percent against so far.

Big suprise. Ouch. Guess the American people like taxes, but doesn't like paying huge wages to mayor and city council members. Maybe my rant really isn't that justified. Still...the fact that it was the only hotly contested proprositon ON the ballot...Oh. And, uh...

Gordon has been elected to another term, but he won't be getting any more money. The mayor says that won't keep him from working hard.

"I didn't run for this office, 4 years ago nor this 4 years coming, because of the 5 percent pay raise proposal," Gordon said.

Gordon joked that he could have used the money

"While it would have been nice, especially if my wife is listening, I'm just grateful and happy to serve the City of Phoenix with the pay that's there," Gordon said.

He hinted that the pay raise issue could come up again.

"If the voters in the future want to give the elected officials a pay raise , we'll be happy to accept it," Gordon said. "If not, you know it I'm there tomorrow morning starting at 5:30 working."

Uh. Yeah. You don't just ram a prorpositon every 4 years in hope of making more money. I do agree that mayors aren't paid that much and deserve more compensation, but it just felt that it is not a good thing.

An even greater margin for Proposition 3, the "home rule" amendment, which had become the target ballot measure for those critics who complain the City Council is spending too much.

Proposition 3 allows the City Council to set its own General Fund budget, exempting itself from the state-imposed spending limits. Local voters ignored the critics of "big government" and embraced the theory and practice of local control.

Alright, I can see the possiblity. But um. Er. Spending limits are there for a reason. Without those limits, it could lead to big government, which I support, but I thought the Americna people wouldn't.

These other proporstions have likely to been passed resoundly due to the fact of little discussion and the fact that they are boring.

http://www.azfamily.com/news/local/stories/KTVKLNews20070910_propositions_city-elections_phoe.bf891cde.html
Proposition 4 would change the legal deadlines related to circulating and filing nomination petitions.

Proposition 5 would add one day for the canvass of vote so that this process could occur at a regular Council meeting on the 15th day following the election, if necessary.

Proposition 6 would amend the initiative process by removing the supplemental signature filing period to conform to a recent state Supreme Court decision.

Voting on paperwork issues sounds...er...not that interesting.

I guess, well, um. These are pretty important issues. Not Prop 4-6, but the Mayor Election and the Sales Tax issue. And that only 12% voted in this election, which is far more important than the federal elections...is a shame. After all, the city can affect what happens to me on a personal level. It just feels that whatever government we have in my city, we don't have democracy...

stoffe
09-12-2007, 01:04 PM
80%? If I claim this is a South American city, then you would claim massive election fraud. But here, it's hailed as democracy, even though only 12% voted.

Isn't the point of a democracy is to have a vibrant opposition who can challenge you?

A disillusioned democracy perhaps, where people feel it doesn't make any difference who they vote on. Everyone gives out lots of promises before the election, then pretty much the same things happen no matter who gets elected as those promises are forgotten soon after. So I guess people figure that if it doesn't matter who you pick, why bother picking at all?

You usually need something serious happening to rouse people from this apathetic slumber, such as a fanatic or extremist suddenly getting a realistic chance of getting into a position of importance due to the low voting turnout. For example the presidential election in France a few years ago when the right-wing extremist Le Pen got to the second round of election since not many voted in the first, but was then soundly defeated there by the much higher voter turnout.

Totenkopf
09-12-2007, 06:34 PM
Frankly, where I live, it's predominantly a "one party" city, so I don't even bother with city elections myself. 12% is low, but then in America it's not particularly uncommon to find that the turnout for presidential elections are typically <50% of elegible voters. I think Stoffe is basically correct, most people are jaded and often feel the need to be excited/threatened to actually exercise their franchise/civic duty.

Corinthian
09-12-2007, 07:47 PM
Wait, what are you furious about? That the guy you don't like got elected, or that not enough people voted? Because if it's the former, welcome to Democracy, and if it's the latter, gasp, welcome to Freedom. If people don't want to vote, they are under no obligation to vote, although I agree that they should vote. However, despite your dislike, it is still democracy.

SilentScope001
09-12-2007, 10:07 PM
Wait, what are you furious about?

The fact that I'm going to have to pay more sales taxes in the upcoming future, and that more propsals to raise the tax will be supported and voted in. The mayor issue wasn't really that important...

I think Stoffe is basically correct, most people are jaded and often feel the need to be excited/threatened to actually exercise their franchise/civic duty.

I am thinking about that. Scare tactics might be a good way, but I am also cautious against trying to get people too riled up against a candinate, because of the blowback. Not just that, but to really get the message of fear and hatred, you need money, and I am afraid that with this election, few people would think that any campagin against the current Mayor (or his successor, I believe we got a term limit) would stand any realistic chance. Without the donors and without the money, the campagin would basically fail.

Not that I am related to Steve Lory in any way. I was basically told about his campagin during the weekly listserv for the political parties and just monitored what happened to him.

Corinthian
09-12-2007, 11:37 PM
Yeah, there's a higher sales tax. I feel your pain. Of course, it was voted for and passed, so obviously, the majority of the people in your area either support the bill or are too foolish to vote against it, or just don't care. Yes, this is Democracy. Presently resisting the urge to make a 300 joke.

SilentScope001
09-13-2007, 12:17 AM
Yeah, there's a higher sales tax. I feel your pain. Of course, it was voted for and passed, so obviously, the majority of the people in your area either support the bill or are too foolish to vote against it, or just don't care. Yes, this is Democracy. Presently resisting the urge to make a 300 joke.

Bah. The real thing is 8.24% of Phoenix voted for the Sale Tax Increase. (Why should 8.24% of Phoenix decide what happens to 100% of all Phoenixans? That's not right at all. It's not a democracy at all, it's a rule by a small group of Phoenix people.) It's not Democracy at all, it can't be, for in third-world nations, low-turnouts mean that the polls are not legit or meaningful at all. Why can't I apply the same standards here to America?

If you are going to support this "democracy", it is one screwed-up democracy, and any sort of confidence I have in this sort of system has offically been destroyed.

John Galt
09-13-2007, 12:29 AM
The people who didn't vote are exercising their freedom not to vote. That's a crucial part of democracy as well. Numbers will come up if the officials screw up or if something else important happens.

Corinthian
09-13-2007, 02:24 AM
So, wait. Because 91.6% of Phoenix waives their voting rights, the actual process is void? How does that make sense?

Jae Onasi
09-13-2007, 03:16 AM
Bah. The real thing is 8.24% of Phoenix voted for the Sale Tax Increase. (Why should 8.24% of Phoenix decide what happens to 100% of all Phoenixans? That's not right at all. It's not a democracy at all, it's a rule by a small group of Phoenix people.)

Well, the people who didn't want the sales tax should have gotten off their tushies and gone to the voting booths or picked up an absentee ballot if they couldn't vote that day, and made their feelings known. I'm a firm believer that you don't really get a right to gripe about the system if you've not gone to the voting booth to try to change it. It's incredibly easy to register and vote, but far too many people abdicate their right and responsibility in making political decisions because it's not as sexeh as the latest CSI episode or the hottest sports game, or they're too lazy to find out about the issues, or they're just too apathetic to care.

PoiuyWired
09-13-2007, 06:43 AM
This should tell people to go vote next time when they have a chance.

Remember, 100% of those people can CHOOSE to go vote for/against whatever at stake. But apparently 91.6% of them think this does not matter. Now, everytime these 91.6% complains about having to pay more when they buy stuff they should remember that ONCE they have the power to stop this from happening, something that they thry just throw away.

stoffe
09-13-2007, 07:35 AM
Bah. The real thing is 8.24% of Phoenix voted for the Sale Tax Increase. (Why should 8.24% of Phoenix decide what happens to 100% of all Phoenixans? That's not right at all. It's not a democracy at all, it's a rule by a small group of Phoenix people.)

It's democracy in the sense that 88% of the Phoenixans willingly defer to the 12% who vote to make any decisions that affect them all. It's their choice after all to let someone else govern aspects of their lives, nobody is keeping them away from the voting stations at gunpoint (I hope).

Though in many elections there usually is a lower turnout cap, below which the election is not considered valid since too few have voted. Doesn't seem to be the case where you live, and it's doubtful that the 12% who do vote would push for such a rule to be implemented. :)

SilentScope001
09-13-2007, 09:33 AM
Well, the reason I am speculating that most people didn't vote was because they didn't even know there WAS an election on Sept. 11, much less the issues that were going on. I doubt the common folk would be able to link the election on Sept. 11 to the higher taxes. And I am firmly in the belief that people should boycott the polls or not vote if they don't want to. I'm fine with that. (It is possible to make mandatory voting, as they do in Australia, but the idea is not going to fly, and for good reason.)

If people knew that there was an election, if people knew about the sales tax, and if there is enough hatred and anger, maybe turnout might raise, but I don't know by how much, and I don't really know if that would be enough. Thing is, maybe people don't care about the election, but we don't really know until we actually alert them to the election and get them to realize they have a voice.

The problem lies in the fact that it will be unlikely the trends will change, and the 12% who do vote will continue to support policies that maybe the rest of Phoenix don't know about (and that there is no real competition, thereby letting the government do as its pleases) , but I suppose you're okay with that. I'm not, but I can accept that my position is in the minority. Still, can't a person rant about a system in peace?

stoffe
09-13-2007, 10:37 AM
Well, the reason I am speculating that most people didn't vote was because they didn't even know there WAS an election on Sept. 11, much less the issues that were going on. I doubt the common folk would be able to link the election on Sept. 11 to the higher taxes.

I don't know how voting is done where you live so I can't comment on that, but over here there are usually public announcements on TV and radio weeks in advance, info and campaign posters all over the place, and voting cards with information brochures mailed home to anyone who's eligible to vote. So unless you live isolated from civilization or are blind, deaf and illiterate you could hardly avoid learning about an upcoming election. :)

If elections are performed under coup-like circumstances in secret with little or no public notice in Phoenix then I can agree that you have a point about people not knowing about it though, and that is not how a democracy should work.


The problem lies in the fact that it will be unlikely the trends will change, and the 12% who do vote will continue to support policies that maybe the rest of Phoenix don't know about

If the majority of the citizens don't know anything about the policies of the government then those policies can't be hurting them that bad. People tend not to take notice when things go well, and only be roused from the routine of everyday life if something affects them negatively, in my experience. :) People are usually too busy with their own life and their own concerns to care much about politics and read up in detail about what the government is doing.


but I suppose you're okay with that. I'm not, but I can accept that my position is in the minority.

It's unfortunate that people don't exercise their right to vote in a democracy, but with things being like they are I can understand why some choose not to. And having that choice is part of personal freedom as well. You could argue that it is their duty as citizens to vote, but then people would only pick a name from the pile and vote randomly if they don't have the interest to educate themselves about what the different candidates stand for (and how likely they are to live up to their promises). Is a high turnout of ignorant voters better than a low turnout of informed voters?


Still, can't a person rant about a system in peace?

Not in a discussion forum. :p

PoiuyWired
09-13-2007, 02:35 PM
Well, I guess you have a point about the chance of the vote happening with little advertising beforehand. Can someone from the area tell us if there are reasonable amount of advertising on the voteing day? It would be quite sneaky indeed if such event is deliberately minimally advertised being hidden from easily accessable media and what not(like the local news channel/radio/newspaper).

But yes, the right to NOT VOTE is quite important. By doing so I actually can actively choose not to vote if I find both/all selections to be unsatisified. Obviously I can also choose to vote with a blank ticket in some systems but oh well...

And yes, if someone is voting by casting a dice or by choosing "Who looks Sexier" and things like that then I would think such vote is quite useless indeed. And such things would definitely happen alot if everyone is mandatory to vote.

Web Rider
09-13-2007, 02:54 PM
Much as I don't like it, democracy does give you the OPTION of voting. It really wouldn't feel democratic if you HAD to vote. So, yes, sadly.