Food for Thought, but not Dessert
This morning I read an article in the Christian Science Monitor (one of the very few mass media sources whose reputation has been left somewhat untarnished by the 2016 presidential elections in the United States) entitled “Amid calls for recount, election experts ask: Why not audit the vote?” A link to the article is provided at the end of this reflection which starts with a reactive satirical observation and then gives more serious consideration to the issue.
The silence from the mainstream media on recent related history is eerie given the apocalyptic reaction when during the final presidential debate, the president elect (at least for now) refused to pre-acknowledge electoral returns as legitimate. As the reader may recall, that was almost universally considered by pundits and reporters as well (hard to tell the difference now) as unheard off, heretical, unpatriotic and perhaps, treasonous. Perhaps that attempt to induce hysteria will now be recognized as what it was: pure, unadulterated masculine bovine feces, although why that natural residue of a normal and essential biological process has come to be associated with deliberate prevarication is, at best, curious.
On the other hand, serious non-partisan reflection interested in honest elections requires that we recognize that electoral chicanery is now the norm (thank you WikiLeaks and purportedly, the Russians). Perhaps it always has been, and not just in the United States. If democracy is to survive in the sense of majority government (liberty and pluralism are other phenomena we tend to lump together with that concept), not a sure thing, anywhere, then we need at least three pillars to sustain it, two of which are essential to generation of the third: an accurate source of public information relied on by the voters, accurate and credible electoral systems, and, massive participation by the electorate. Thus, the idea of electoral audits espoused in the article, accurate, fair and complete, is not just an interesting idea, but essential for recovery of faith in democratic processes.
The electorate will not always be right. Not infrequently, there are no correct choices, but there is usually a best option available under the circumstances and if one has faith in democracy, then one must believe that in the long term, and much more often than not, the public as a whole will head in the right direction. On the other hand, we may soon be required to face the question of whether or not the concept of democracy has been so utterly brutalized so as to render it dysfunctional.
With specific reference to the article, I believe an analogy may be important. The difference between impunity and forgiveness is that the first is selective and the second general, applicable across the board. Thus selective “audits” can easily become manipulative tools. It ought to be across the board and consistent.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2016; all rights reserved