Grim Statistics, President Still On Message

On this interesting day where Condi Rice sailed through the senate 85-13 (the most “no” votes for a secretary of state in 180 years), and the bloodiest day for our troops in Iraq yet as over 30 U.S. Marines were killed in Iraq in a helicopter crash (bringing the American military dead in Iraq over 1,400), the President urged the American people (as if there was a choice) to “have patience” toward his handling of the abbatoir in Iraq from the comfort of his maximum security perch in the White House, and he urged the Iraqis to foolishly risk their lives to vote in Sunday’s election to achieve his rhetorical goal of something he can call “democracy”.
Of course, the inevitable winner of Sunday’s election will be Iran: the Sunnis are shut out of voting by violence and our inability to protect them, the Kurds will get their 20% and in any event have their armed pashmurga militias to ensure their position, and the 80% of Iraqis left, the Shia, can chose from theocratic pro Iranian parties, or secular… pro Iranian… parties.
We could have done things very differently. We could have gone for regional voting (like our own Congressional districts), so that even low turnout in Sunni areas would not have screwed the Sunnis out of representation, the way our “national party list” system in Iraq (used only in Israel and Italy) will… uniquely screw them. We could have gone for Oregon style “mail in” voting, or some other method that did not require making polling stations sitting ducks for attacks, as they will doubtless be on Sunday; this Iraqi election is a really bad idea. What else can I say?
It saddens me that the President will get to call the resultant hash “democracy”, and claim that he was “successful”, in what will probably end up being the opening salvo of an all out civil war. The fact that the Sunnis have been totally, totally screwed by us will become more clear to them next week, as will the fact that our inadequate post-Saddam security has allowed said Sunnis to retain hundreds of thousands of tons of explosives and other weapons that kill our troops and other Iraqis on a daily basis.
Which, strangely, segues me into my suggestion of the day. As you know, of late, I have suggested that Democrats use the Iraqi fiasco to take on the President on taxes. I even proposed a radically fair and K-Street free tax revision– so fair, it is politically impossible. But, given that Democrats are showing SOME balls (not necessarily the way I would do it, but I admit it’s nice to see Condi get a Jim Baker’s dozen F*** Yous from the senate), and it looks like Alberto “Spanky” Gonzales will get a spanking from the senate as well… it’s time to take on another important issue: democracy itself.
It’s time to stop whining about “we wuz robbed” in Florida and Ohio, and take affirmative steps to make sure nothing like it ever happens again (just as I have proposed a tamper-proof tax system, that automatically raises taxes when government spending goes up, and lowers them when spending goes down). With elections, I am proposing that each state and the federal government appoint a non-partisan election commission, whose members must not have been members of any political party for at least 7 years. These Commissions should consist of members appointed in each state by legislative committes consisting of even numbers of members from each party, and be citizens of extraordinarily high character, who will be responsible for managing elections, counting votes, and drawing legislative and congressional districts.
These Commissions would operate in public, and their mission would be to assure that there was no partisan taint in the electoral process, and that elections were as transparent as possible. They would, for example, under no circumstances permit machines whose operations were not thoroughly available for public inspection (no “trade secret” b.s., for example). States would be compelled to set up these independent commissions under penalty of losing federal funds for something or other.
Iowa already has such a commission to draw its Congressional districts, and its districts are some of the only competitive House races in the country. Imagine the effect on democracy if incumbents actually had to deliver, because they couldn’t rely on gerrymandered districts to keep them coming back?
Dems– you’re in the minority. You have nothing to lose (except, of course, the goodies your individual members get, which they unfortunately seem to value over actual power to achieve policy goals). I propose a simple, elegant answer to an ongoing problem of doubt about our very democracy that we can solve once and for all, and just as with my tax proposal– put Bush and the Republicans on the defensive about why gerrymandering and partisan vote counters are a good thing. Democrats, unite: you have nothing to lose but your minority status.