Wednesday, November 17, 2010

“The Will of the People”

Shortly after the election results were in, we began to hear blathering about the “will of the people.” The winners claim that voters have clearly repudiated their opponents’ agenda and strongly support the one proposed by the winner. “The voters have spoken.”

Of course they have, but what is the collective message? For example, in the recent Florida senate race, republican Rubio won going away over independent Crist and democrat Meek. The margin of victory being 19.2%. Pretty convincing right?

Well, let’s consider this from another aspect. Rubio won 48.9% of the vote. Crist and Meek won a combined 49.1% of the vote. [I have no clue who or what got the remaining 1%—Mickey Mouse usually gets a few write-ins.] From this standpoint, the will of the people (by a slim margin) was to NOT elect Rubio. That’s the real shape of the republican landslide win in Florida.

In Alaska, Joe Miller’s challenge of Lisa Murkowski write-in votes with minor misspellings or somewhat illegible spelling is another example of how politicians subvert the “will of the people.” With my handwriting, had I been an Alaskan who wanted to cast a write-in vote for Lisa, I would never be able to get the Joe Millers of the world to agree I wrote Murkowski on a piece of paper. My cursive leaves even me wondering what I wrote and, at its best, my printing leaves vowels open to interpretation. Miller is spending considerable time and energy trying to convince a court that his strict interpretation of Alaska election law should strip the voters of their intent.

Our election system is a winner-take-all approach and, as much as I dislike many things about the way government runs in the United States, I prefer the results of our (generally) two-party approach over the gridlock in those nations with a party for every possible voting bloc. I would ask, however, that our politicians recognize that with few exceptions the best they can honestly claim is that a majority of those voting decided at the time they cast their votes that the winners were the lesser of two evils.

If politicians entered their governmental service with that humble recognition, they might indeed find a way to serve “the will of the people.”

~ Jim