Rear Window Ethics Rear Window Ethics: UK Elections, American Reflections

Thursday, May 05, 2005

UK Elections, American Reflections

The Daily Show had a great comparison of US and UK "town hall meetings" last night. So apparently Tony Blair lets people with dissenting views into meetings to discuss their beliefs with him and to voice their criticism. And here I thought town hall meetings were just about reading off of scripts once everyone has been searched and made to sign a loyalty oath...

Crooks and Liars has the Daily Show video here.

Today, as Britain votes, it will be interesting to see the voter turnout numbers. While I would be quite surprised if Labour lost its majority, most experts in the UK think it will win by a much slimmer margin than in the last election.

Voter turnout in the UK dropped from 71% in 1997 to a post-WWII low of 59% in 2001. Of course, the United States had the highest turnout in recent history this past November with 60% of eligible voters going to the polls, the highest percentage since 1968. Between the UK's strangely legitimate debates and town hall meetings and the fact that our turnout high is their turnout low, well I feel a bit frustrated.

Even their campaign ads are better...

Granted, the vast population disparity between the two nations is cause enough for the percentage difference, but can't we do better than 60%? Why is it that our leaders expend so much hot air extolling the virtues of spreading democracy throughout the world when we seem so disenchanted with our own? With our staged, lifeless campaigns where being forthright and honest are considered politically dangerous, it's no wonder people don't care enough to walk a few blocks to their local polling station. With two major parties deciding who we can vote for, then leaving us to choose the most inspiring stuffed shirt available, it's no wonder 40% of eligible Americans don't give a shit.

Oh, but did you hear about Paula Abdul!? Have you listened to the Pat O'Brien recordings!? And Britney's pregnant!!!