Thursday, October 07, 2004

“Partisan” officials run U.S. elections! Oh, the humanity!...

A CNN web article titled, U.S. gets election advice from outsiders, reveals the rampant ignorance with regards to the issue of how being partisan relates to American politics. Consider this excerpt,
David MacDonald, a Canadian member of a team organized by the San Francisco human rights group Global Exchange, said observers were shocked to find that partisan officials run U.S. elections. Requiring election officers to be nonpartisan "is as close as you can get in democratic or electoral terms to a universal norm," MacDonald said after visiting Missouri, where Secretary of State Matt Blunt, a Republican, is the chief electoral officer and a candidate for governor. "There are some very serious problems that need to be addressed." – (emphasis added)
This is absurd. Let’s ignore the issue of whether David MacDonald has any business telling the U.S. how to run its elections and focus, instead, on the issue of being nonpartisan. What does that mean? Someone who doesn’t care whether John Kerry, George Bush, or Howard Stern is elected President of the United States? Are we supposed to search for individuals with no bias, who have no preference regarding the direction elected representatives take our various governmental entities? Wouldn't such persons be described as narcissistically apathetic? Suppose we were to go hit the streets and try to find a nonpartisan person? How would we know one when we met one? Would our conversation with this person go something like this?:
”Excuse me buddy? Are you going to vote for Bush?” NO! “Are you voting for Kerry then?” NO! “Are you voting for someone else?” NO! “What political party do you belong to?” I don’t! “Don't you have any political beliefs?” No! I don’t want to be bothered! “Why?” Because… I don’t care!
Yeah, that’s just the type of person I’d want to run an election.


Paul said...

I took a quick look at the definition or partisan, just to make sure I'd understand. Almost every applicable definition mentions ideas like "ardent and enthusiastic supporter". I am for the moment a borderline democratic partisan, mainly because I disagree so strongly with Bush. Had I been here in '92 and '96 I suspect I would have been non-partisan, though still inclinded towards Clinton.

That passion is what is wrong with the US system. It's fine and normal to have people with political *opinions* running elections, so long as their *passion* is for making the election run correctly. When I've worked as a polling official I may have had some preference as to who won, but that was nothing compared to my desire that everyone who wanted to had their vote properly recorded.

Remember: partisan = passion, not preference.

Rusty said...

Good point Paul. I have no problem with someone from a political party other than my own running an election as long as they hold to the notion that the election be run fairly.