Nov. 7, 2006


Today roughly 40% of eligible American voters will go to their polling booths to elect all 435 members of the House of Representatives and 34 of the 100 members of the Senate. They'll also be voting locally for a number of State Governors and most State Legislators.

For the last twelve years the Republican Party has controlled the House of Representatives and the Senate. For the last six years the Republicans have also held the Presidency. This has effectively given them free reign in setting policy and passing legislation. This time around it seems likely that the Democratic Party will gain control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate as well. It looks like the deeply unpopular Iraq War is the defining issue with voters, although historically American voters rarely stray from their ideological affiliation.

If the Democrats do gain control of Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate) an interesting dynamic will develop that highlights what I consider to be a flaw in the American Federal system: Congress is the only body that can pass legislation, but the President is the only person that can enact it. When these two entities have opposing political positions a stalemate arises. For all their flaws, at least Parliamentary systems ensure that the head of government has the support within the legislature!

Every American election now takes place in the shadow of the flawed 2000 Presidential Election, where confusing ballots and technical issues in Florida left the result in doubt for a month and possibly delivered victory to the wrong candidate (that would be George W. Bush).

A number of poorly-conceived initiatives have attempted to prevent a recurrence of the technical problems, but have probably only increased the risk of faults or undetectable electronic fraud. It makes my skin crawl to think about it...

Edit: I really should have used a "Vote Pedro" graphic...

Listening to: For Tomorrow by Blur from Modern Life is Rubbish.

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