A Year to Vote, a Year to Hope, Colltalers
To those searching for signs that 2018 may reset the world to a new path, democracy seems a somewhat unreliable choice at the moment. In fact, the power of voting, arguably the cleanest way for giving people ownership over their destiny, has taken a severe beating as of lately.
But considering that by the year’s end, over 800 million people around the globe will have new leaders, the electoral venue can’t be discarded as irrelevant just yet. Even more so as Russia, Mexico, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Brazil are among the world’s 10 most populous countries.
So it is that in our age, there’s ever more hurdles challenging the will of the people, with a resulting disenfranchising of the exercise of voting as a tool for change. It was never a secret that the Greek ideal of political representation as a step stone for a free society always looked better on, well, papyrus. And two thousand years haven’t quite perfected democracy’s structural imbalance between theory and practice.
The obscene costs of electing a representative, corruption, gerrymandering, legislative maneuvering, now Facebook and social media, all prevent polling from fulfilling its essential role: bridging classes and promoting an unified vision of government by a majoritarian consensus.
It may sound like a Pollyanna wishful thinking, that citizens would recharge their role as primary influencers of their nation’s direction. And much if not all is lost, when and if the allegiance of those elected is to financial patronage by corporations, rather than to their constituency.
But taking an overreaching, and a bit sketchy, view has the merit of highlighting what tends to be obscured by
too much focus on the minutia of regional and partisan issues. And the first thing that stands out is the sheer power of numbers that will be converging to these national polls.
There’s hardly anyone wondering about the outcome of Russia’s elections in March, for instance, but a lot is at stake in Mexico and Brazil: one, for its entanglement with the U.S. and its immigration-intolerant president. And the other because Brazilians have yet to make up their minds about exactly how and why they went from the sixth world economy back to the heap of hungry countries in less than four years.
As for the other half, represented by nukes-armed Pakistan, and poverty-laden Bangladesh, geopolitics may be fuel to light up a catastrophic bonfire in Southeast Asia. Not that it should happen. And few expect even moderate social changes after their respective July, October polls.
Something else is common about those four countries, all poised to choose leaders this year: unlike other times, the Trump administration’s isolationist policies, along its supporters’ dangerous ignorance about foreign issues, may be akin to signaling segments traditionally critical of U.S.’s powerful interference in their internal affairs, an added incentive to an increase in open hostility and hatred to all things American.
As it goes, the list of actions the administration has taken in just a year are all but aggravating factors in this equation, from radically restricting immigration from those nations, to supporting Israel’s claim over Jerusalem, besides so many other poorly advised initiatives.
Both Asia and Latin America have also other major elections going on this year: Afghanistan and Iraq, no less both American theaters of war through this century; Colombia and Venezuela; and let’s not forget, Africa’s Zimbabwe. One of the Trump-coined ‘shit-holes,’ it’s scheduled (without guaranteeing it) a potentially explosive September vote, its first since Robert Mugabe stepped down after 37 years in power.
Again, it’s not the result of each of these individual polls, along with the U.S.’s own legislative vote in November, what may precipitate a change of waters in world geopolitics; it’s the critical mass represented by the staggering number of ballots to be cast that it is of note here.
This is but a selective pick over elections, to be held in the next 12 months elsewhere in the world, including Europe. But we’re focusing on those that involve politically or socially er challenged countries, all enmeshed with the vagaries of defense contractors and power ambitions.
A lot of campaigning (read, money) will be spent and waged, massive numbers of people will be engaged in political discussion, as three of the most populous continents on Earth will be directly affected by, yes, democracy. Call it as one may, it may still hold a few twists of its own in store, before it’s relegated to a decorative role, as many wish. For the common world citizen, however, it may be a golden moment.
The more attention is converged to this now considered old-fashioned way of switching nationwide political gears, the more chances the power of an educated electorate is enhanced. Notwithstanding those who like to call pretty much any political conflict as ‘polarizing,’ it’s exactly this kind of civic involvement what precludes resorting to weapons to solve power divisions. With the added plus that it’s supposed to be free.
As we’re all painfully aware, according to the Atomic Scientists Bulletin, after 70 years, we’re now only two minutes from nuclear doomsday. Thus heeding to ways that may divert and repurpose the entire debate over the fate of the planet as a whole is worth most of every effort.
It’s been an already hard 2018, but if one may, hopeful signs are still everywhere, even as we face unprecedented alerts about climate change and the environment. So, coming Wednesday some may look up at the sky, for news of another order, and a mostly symbolic phenomenon: a total Super Blood Blue Moon eclipse will happen for the first time in 150 years. Since you won’t be here next time, you may as well enjoy it. WC