06 February 2008

Democracy as spectator sport

It's blow-by-blow coverage here — America's Super Tuesday, complete with countdowns to poll-close — on Australian TV and in our newswires.

Will today clinch the title for each Party's contestant, though many Americans have had as much chance to make that choice as Australians do? Or will the race continue to other states, and then on to the conventions' back rooms?

Whatever happens, the way the choice is made is utterly idiosyncratic, which is pretty weird, considering how the process is commentated as top-level democracy-in-action.

See for instance, Washington State.

Political parties in every state have their own peculiar way of nominating presidential candidates. But over the past two decades, Washington's role in the nomination game has evolved beyond peculiar and now borders on bizarre.
- Caucus? Primary? Voters here can do both, Ralph Thomas, Seattle Times

Pelz calls the primary a “beauty pageant” because it will have no effect on the number of Democratic delegates.
- Niki Sullivan, quoting Dan Pelz, chairman of the Washington state Democratic Party,
We'll Pick Candidates Our Way, Thank you!, The News Tribune, Tacoma

This post is not to say that our democracy is better, especially in our state of New South Wales where the ruling party's headquarters is "the home of Tammany Hall in Australia."


Anonymous said...

It's hard to come up with a perfect voting system for a large populace--in fact I don't think one exists. But the diversity in the U.S. is entertaining, and this year particularly so since the elections are truly interesting.

anna tambour said...

That they are, Alice.