Our Political System: Less ‘Broken’ than the Rest of the World

By David Flemming

A good many Americans are feeling stressed out about the elections tomorrow. Conservatives are worried about a blue wave, while progressives are worried about a red one. Thankfully, regardless of this election’s outcome, even the most entrenched political leaders will surrender their office if they lose. Of course, there is a chance that a few races may be close enough to justify a recount. But within a few days, we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the losers will step down (or step away) when the voting count is verified. Previous experience in past elections makes Americans expect that the transition will be peaceful. That which we take for granted is far from commonplace throughout the world.

Just this past October, political uncertainty in Cameroon reached a crescendo that dwarfed anything in the past 100 years of American electoral history. One candidate for president of Cameroon, a Mr. Maurice Kamto, told press that he had “received a clear mandate from the people and I intend to defend it until the end.” Kamto made this statement before the election had even happened, needlessly raising tensions across the country. In essence, Kamto decided to preempt any thought that he had lost by asserting he had won regardless of the vote count. This was especially dangerous in a country that has known politically motivated violence the past couple of years.

His opponent, President Biya is hardly a paragon of virtue himself. After abolishing term limits, Biya has clung to power for 36 years. Violence and unrest has been common throughout that time frame. Whether it is Cameroon’s contested election, China’s one-party rule, or India’s notorious caste politics, America’s electoral system is downright peaceful relative to the rest of the world.

Perhaps it’s time we take a step back from our chaotic political landscape in America and realize that our political “chaos” would be seen as a time of peace in most other countries. Perhaps it’s time we become a little more grateful that we don’t have to worry about violent transitions of power, or political candidates who are only willing to live in a future in which they are in power.

Have a great Election Day!

David Flemming is a policy analyst at the Ethan Allen Institute

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Deanne November 17, 2018 at 1:55 am

Yes… I spent 9 of my growing-up years in Bolivia, where threats of violence or military takeovers occasionally made us aware we might need to be ready to leave the country suddenly. I have never researched it to find the details, but as a child I was told that the average turnover for president in Bolivia was about every year, over the past hundred or so years – that Bolivia had had about a president per year due to political unrest.

But the things I hear and read now – the angry threats and vicious statements by my fellow Americans – make me more apprehensive than I was in those days in Bolivia in the 70s and 80s. And these things are said by people who are supposedly nonviolent, want to give everyone everything for free, and want to rescind the second amendment. Although transitions are quiet now, I sense there is trouble simmering below the surface. The question is – will it boil over or will it dissipate?

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William Hays November 17, 2018 at 3:03 am

Good news! I’m sure BHO could get a permanent residential visa from Cameroon, if he is denied by his homeland Kenya.

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