Friday, September 19, 2014

Gratitude: In Scotland, a Democracy

Today I am grateful for:

Democracy in action. No, not ours. We don't even have a democracy (except with a capital "D," which is a misnomer). We have an oligarchy and it doesn't work, either.

The democracy to which I refer is the one in Scotland where yesterday a remarkable 85 percent of voters turned out to determine if the Scots would remain a part of Britain (they did by 10 percentage points). In America, a presidential election generally brings out half the voters (I think the other half are shellshocked by the TV ads and can't think straight).

In 1980, Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter with 27.3 percent of registered voters in his corner. Reagan--you probably don't remember--beat Carter with just 50.7 percent of the vote, hardly a landslide. In 1984, he won 58.9 percent of the votes cast (though he was still in the high 20s for overall registered voter support) and 49 states in a landslide election. Looking a little closer, that percentage is misleading.

Between 1840 and 1900 (when only males could vote and most of the time African Americans were not allowed at the polls), voting turnout was good: it fell below 70 percent once, and was more than 80 percent three times.

Today, though, with most of us absolutely fed up with not only our leaders, but our form of government, interest is difficult to drum up. In Scotland, where people still believe in their government, voters turn out--as they should.

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