Democracy in Today’s America (II)

Part I

Uncle Sam, you’re wrong!

The fundamental political rights of Americans in today’s society, not only are not exempt from elements of an archaic character, but they have become even more vulnerable, and even more manipulated. Uncle Sam is increasingly dominating them.

Elections arouse the most criticism. The U.S. president is still not elected by direct popular election, and instead by Electoral College. Many rightly believe this system to be obsolete and undemocratic. With it, in particular, the voice of a resident of Delaware or North Dakota carries mathematically much more weight (measured by the ratio of voters to the number of electors from the state), than the voice of the voters in the larger states, such as California or New York. Down to this system, three times in the history of the U.S., the President elected has been a candidate with fewer votes than his opponent (the last time that was a case of  George W. Bush in 2000)… and Gerald Ford was not even elected. At first, he was co-opted by the Republican National Committee in place of thieving Vice President Spiro Agnew, and then automatically took the place of Nixon who departed from his post because of the Watergate scandal.

The Russian CEC Chairman Mr. V. Churov, Russia, was absolutely right when he said: «The election of the President of the United States is not direct, not universal, not equal, and the voting is not in secrecy». U.S. experts explain the archaic practices by the fact that its main features developed in the late XVIII century, and have not changed much. But it has been a long time since then, and, most importantly, American politicians do not cease to teach others about how they should organize the election process.

The administrative resources in the U.S. are extremely important, as a considerable amount of functions of electoral bodies are legally the responsibility of the state executive power bodies, and the legal regulation of election campaigning by candidates is virtually nonexistent. It is in the presence of Republican gubernatorial posts 29 against 20 Democrats, including 7 of 9 «swing» states, that many experts explain the «latest breakthrough» for Romney as previously he lagged far behind Obama.

For their part, the Democrats discovered that their voters are more likely to vote early than Republicans. And for the first time in the history of the country, the current President has already cast his ballot before the official date of the election, showing by example. It is recognized that this practice opens the possibility for serious manipulation, for example, in a vote by mail. Thus, according to one study, in 16 districts in the State of Mississippi in the local elections held in 2011, which involved «early voters», there were more voters than residents themselves that the 2010 Census showed to be of voting age. Democrats are generally better prepared for this form of voting with the support of companies associated with information technology, while Republicans rely mainly on financial corporations.

The U.S. political system as a whole has developed «bi-partyism» that is, the absolute monopoly of two parties which is far from European style multi-party democracy. At the hearings in the Russian State Duma (lower Chamber of the Russian parliament), First Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Nikonov noted in particular that there are very limited opportunities for small parties in the US to participate in the elections. «The party must be registered in each state, and this procedure is much more complicated than we have branded filters in the election of governors». In addition, the small parties have no access to the media. Nikonov noted that the number of independent voters in the United States that do not support a Republican or a Democrat is growing. However, it has no effect on the number of independent deputies at local level, or in the U.S. Congress.

According to the organization «Sentencing Project», more than 5.8 million Americans (2.5% of all likely voters) are disenfranchised because of a criminal record. While in general the right to vote is stripped from every 40th American, and every 13th African American (7.7% of the total), and in some states, such as Kentucky, Virginia and Florida, more than 20 % of black Americans are ousted from voting. According to the Census Bureau, of the 75 million eligible citizens who did not have the right to vote in the presidential election in 2008, 60 million were not able to do so due to lack of registration, which is associated with a lot of cumbersome procedures.

Serious questions surround the access of international observers to monitor the vote. Currently only the states of Missouri, South Dakota and New Mexico, as well as the District of Columbia have laws that allow the access of international observers during the elections. In other regions, the question of the activities of foreign observers is the responsibility of local authorities. The OSCE/ODIHR mission who have monitored the national elections in the United States recommended from time to time how to solve the problem of the excessive and disproportionate restriction of active suffrage of whole categories of American citizens. Change for the better did not occur. In response to a desire to expand the number of OSCE observers at the current presidential elections, the Texas authorities threatened them with criminal prosecution. State Prosecutor Greg Abbott sent Ambassador Daan Everts, Head of the OSCE observer mission to the United States, a letter in which he called his team’s presence in the American electoral districts «legally irrelevant». Abbott banned observers from coming closer than 100 feet to state areas.

Secret control over the population is being enhanced. In February 2011, Obama signed legislation to extend for another 4 years the provisions of the Patriot Act adopted after the September 11, 2001. It is a section of the law that allows law enforcement and intelligence agencies to monitor suspicious persons (even without evidence of their links with terrorist organizations), perform inspection of commercial records and listen to telephone conversations of any number of suspicious subscribers across the whole country, «the roving-warrant».

The current U.S. law, in effect, allows the intelligence community to carry out a total censorship of all electronic communications of foreign and U.S. citizens without a court order. It also requires telecommunications companies to assist the Government in gathering intelligence about foreign subjects and to keep secret the information gathered by providing immunity from lawsuits relating to both their current and potential cooperation with federal law enforcement agencies in the framework of terrorist surveillance (Terrorist Surveillance Program).

According to the amended Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act 1994, the operating companies are required to ensure the compatibility of their technology with the possibility of special services for electronic surveillance. In the period of 2004 to 2007, the number of emails scanned the U.S. secret services under this law has increased by 3000%.

Currently under consideration in Congress is Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act – CISPA, which according to human rights activists, does not limit the possibility of the U.S. government to monitor web browsing of individuals.

Limited freedom of speech. For attacks on journalists covering the action of the movement Occupy Wall Street, NGO «Reporters without Borders» in January 2012 lowered its rating of the U.S. in its annual global press freedom index by 27 positions at once and put the U.S. into the 47th place (57th with the territories in which Washington exercises extraterritorial jurisdiction). According to the organization, while covering the protests more than 80 journalists were subjected to excessive use of force by the police. According to an investigation by the Coalition of Independent Lawyers (Protest and Assembly Rights Project), in New York alone from September 2011 to July 2012, at least 18 accredited reporters have been arrested.

In the last four years, a record number of criminal proceedings have been opened in connection with the leak of classified information to the media. In particular, six people have been charged with violation of the law «on espionage», including soldier Bradley Manning who passed information to broadcast network resource «WikiLeaks».

The «WikiLeaks» site was the subject of harassment by the U.S. administration in retaliation for the publication of diplomatic information. Access to the «WikiLeaks» site has repeatedly been blocked by the decision of the District Court and at the request of some senators. The staffs of the White House, the Library of Congress, the Pentagon, State Department and other U.S. agencies are prohibited from entering the «WikiLeaks» site.

According to the latest «Google» report on the availability of company`s services, during the period from July to December 2011, the number of requests for the removal of content received by it from the U.S. government has increased by 103% compared to the previous reporting period. U.S. law enforcement agencies requested the removal 1.4 thousand video clips that “contain insults» from the video hosting «YouTube’s» site. 6.3 thousand enquiries were made requesting the disclosure of the details of more than 12.2 thousand users of this company. 93% of these requirements were met.

U.S. authorities also require domain name registrars to deny access to foreign websites that violate U.S. law sanctions. In 2008, without notice, and in accordance with the decree of the Ministry of the Treasury, about 80 websites advertising tourist travel to Cuba for Europeans were closed, as Cuba is member of the «black list» of countries with which the Americans are not allowed to do business on the basis of Trading with the Enemy Act 1917.

According to a joint study by the National Association of religious broadcasters and the «American Center for Law and Justice» global Internet companies, such as «Apple», «Google», «Yahoo», «Facebook» and «MySpace» actively filter information, in particular, of a religious nature. This is done under the pretext of fighting extremism and intolerance. As a result it is not easy for the believer to publish their views on the Internet, for example, about the sin of sodomy, lesbianism and other perversions. «Protection against extremism» limits the rights of people that are of a quite traditional sexual orientation (which, they say, are still the majority).

To be continued…

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation 


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  3. The system as it is protects smaller states from larger ones. It would be a system of oppression of the entire middle of the country for the benefit of both coasts, if the electoral congress were abandoned. We face different challenges than the western states do in terms of climate and access to water transportation. The west coast tries to dump their sewage onto us & arrogantly refuse to produce the materials necessary for industrial success. “Pollution is ok for you, but not us”. As such they dont produce their own power & they are totally dependent upon bordering eastern states for their water. But they would bite the hand that feeds them. The country is at odds with the west coast area so much that talk of susession is very real, with proponents on both sides of the borders of those 3 states.

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