Finding a weekly topic to blog about is often difficult, but I’m finding this week to be a particular challenge. This is because I know that I’m going to end up talking about the exact subject I don’t want to, no matter how hard I try to avoid it. So, I’m just going to save myself the effort and dive right into it.
I’m sad to say that I’m not surprised by the results of the US election. Disappointed, yes, but not surprised. Electoral systems may have started out decent, with good intent, but they weren’t designed for the world we live in today. Back when the US was founded, the population was around 2.5 million. It’s far easier to convey information to that many people, and to take a vote on their opinions, than it is with the 127 times that population of today.
Yet, the problem runs deeper than that. Beyond being outdated, the system has become tainted – turned into a manipulative game to see who can influence the voters the most. As I was watching part of the election, the commentators kept talking about all the research and strategies that go into “flipping” key voting regions. It’s more than just that – it’s a psychological game to suppress voters who favor the opposite side, either by convincing them that they don’t have a chance, or by convincing them that their win is assured so they needn’t bother voting.
This is all made possible by the vast amount of information we have – studies of previous voting trends, psychology, and the certainty that most people will vote for the same party, no matter what. Yet, we still consider this a democracy.
In my opinion, it isn’t. It’s like the professional level of the game Starcraft. This is a war strategy game that has been taken to a whole new level. The people who play it are amazing – they develop strategies, perfect them, then pit them against each other. They time themselves and their routines, figuring out the most efficient ways to spend their resources and build an army to outdo their opponents. They must constantly balance between micro (controlling their units) and macro (managing their base and producing their army) because if one falters, they lose. The players are so fast and need such precision that someone hitting a key one second late can cost them the war.
At that level of game play, I no longer call it a game. I’ll accept it as an e-sport, but a game is played for fun and I don’t see the amount of training needed to play that game at high-level as fun. Just as a democracy where the candidates have to put on a show to manipulate voters, rather than earning them based on what they plan to do for the country, is no longer a democracy.
Every election I’ve seen has become something that should be illegal – it becomes a contest to see which candidate can do a better job of dragging the other through the mud. In the end, that’s all that matters. Who are the people more afraid of having in charge of the country?
With this election, it should have been obvious. It was obvious, as far as anyone could tell. That is, perhaps, why almost half the people registered to vote didn’t. They thought it was a sure thing, so they weren’t needed.
Here in Canada, we’re pushing for electoral reform to fix this very problem – to make votes actually count in elections. To take away the numbers game of winning certain constituencies to win the election. To bring back democracy.
The problem in the US right now is that what’s done is done. All the world can do is wait and hope. We can hope that some of the electorates will vote against their party. Failing that, we can hope for impeachment. Or we can hope that the new president was putting on a show and really isn’t as horrible as he seems – although this, unfortunately, will not put an end to the rash of bigotry his campaign has deemed acceptable.
It may seem like it’s not my place, being Canadian, to criticize US politics – but the problems have reached us here, too. The results of this election are not limited to the US. The world is at a critical place right now and needs strong, responsible leadership from all the leading countries. Will the US help or hinder in the coming years?
We can only hope for help.
Click here to find the charity anthology containing a couple of my short stories.