Friday, 12 December 2008

Ah, democracy...

"The surface of American society is covered with a layer of democratic paint, but from time to time one can see the old aristocratic colours breaking through."
Alexis de Tocqueville



Forget Canada and, well, the UK's problems with democracy at the moment. There's a biggie over the Atlantic at the moment.


Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, has been asked to resign by the Attorney General of the Illinois and the President-Elect. Why?

Well, it is nothing to do with his John Travolta-haircut. Apparently the Governor had been trying to "sell" the Senate seat vacated by President-Elect Obama to whoever planned on donating the most money to his (the Governor's) re-election campaign. Several issues to deal with here.

1) Illinois state law allows for the Governor to appoint "a person of his or her choosing" to fulfil the term of office of a Senate seat for the state should a vacancy arise (as has happened with Obama's former seat - it is illegal to work for two branches of government at the same time). In a number of states, a special election is called, but in Illinois, the Governor, one man, has the power to appoint an individual to serve the population until the next election date. America - home of democracy.

2) Said Governor was allegedly vetting his potential candidates for the position by finding out which was prepared to offer him the most financially rewarding deal - well-paid positions in organisations, donations to his campaign etc. Again, democracy in action - as long as you can afford it.

3) Finally, the Governor was found out. How? His phones were tapped. Freedom of speech? Just as long as the words you are saying aren't problematic for anyone.

Another fine mess.

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