Towards a modern Caracalla's edict?
January 30, 2004 11:13 AM   Subscribe

US elections: the world-wide vote.
"In November 2004, U.S. citizens will elect their new President. The outcome of these elections directly influences the lives of citizens around the world. Theworldvotes.org seeks to apply new technologies to provide citizens around the world with a voice in matters that affects us all. Ensure that your voice is heard by registering electronically and add momentum to a worldwide drive to establish global democracy."
Noble sentiments, but isn't this an admission of submission to the empire? A surrender of sovereignty? A call for a new Caracalla's edict? Is this a good idea both for the US and the "rest of the world"?
posted by talos (31 comments total)
 
Is this a good idea both for the US and the "rest of the world"?

[not directed at talos]
Who cares? I mean aren't the results a foregone conclusion? What does the opinion of some uninformed guy from the Congo mean to our presidential election? Zippy. I can't wait to analyze the results. "Look how many supporters there are for Kerry in Greece!" Yea, right. It's an anti-Bush effort and that's all it is.
posted by Witty at 12:07 PM on January 30, 2004


This is absolutely disgusting. Non-U.S. citizens do not - and should not - have any vote on our elections. After all, we don't have votes in the elections of Kenya, Australia, China, and so on, nor should we.

U.S. Citizens: please note! Theworldvotes.org is most certainly not intended to be an anti-America or anti-G.W. Bush platform. We welcome U.S. Citizens to register and have their voice heard as well.

Bullshit. The fact that the site owner feels that they have to specifically say that they are NOT anti-American or anti-Bush speaks volumes.

Ensure that your voice is heard by registering electronically and add momentum to a worldwide drive to establish global democracy.

"Global democracy?" Uh-uh. If and when the rest of the world adopts and lives by the United States Constitution, then maybe we can talk.

And on preview: like Witty said, I'm not swiping at talos - I appreciate the link and knowing that this site exists.
posted by davidmsc at 12:11 PM on January 30, 2004


There are some great comic possibilities here! What if Americans got to pick the leaders of other countries, like a real empire? Popular favorites:

France...........Jerry Lewis
Germany.......Boris Becker
England........John Cleese
Russia..........That Tennis Playing Girl

(All of whom would probably do as good a job as their current leaders.)
posted by kablam at 12:20 PM on January 30, 2004


And Mike Meyers as PM of Canada, eh?
posted by davidmsc at 12:37 PM on January 30, 2004


This is absolutely disgusting. Non-U.S. citizens do not - and should not - have any vote on our elections.

Umm... I don't think it's meant to be binding.

Not that it makes any sense, though. Non-Americans are concerned with the U.S. presidency only as it relates to U.S. foreign policy. They have no interest in our domestic concerns. After the 1992 election, I remember that lots of Europeans wondering why the hell Clinton beat Bush, because Bush seemed like such a great president to them.
posted by Tin Man at 1:38 PM on January 30, 2004


I know it's not binding -- I'm saying that it's disgusting to even *contemplate*. On the surface, it's really just a poll -- of the "who's your favorite" variety - but the underlying theme of "global democracy" and anti-U.S. sentiment is not quite as harmless as a simple popularity poll.
posted by davidmsc at 1:52 PM on January 30, 2004


I don't get it. How is this any different from one of those "Which X Are You?" polls that keep sweeping the internet? I hope I don't need to spell this out, but "democracy" implies "people voting for someone to exercise power." This is what happens (or, uh, is supposed to happen) when US citizens go to the polls. This is just a bunch of people with computers clicking on "I like Bush" or "I hate Bush." Even if the result weren't a foregone conclusion, what's the point supposed to be? I don't get it.
posted by languagehat at 1:52 PM on January 30, 2004


foreign countries don't have the right to participate in america's political process.

meanwhile, america reserves the right to liberate or punish countries that don't agree with it.
posted by mcsweetie at 2:54 PM on January 30, 2004


I think the most interesting thing about this is Edie Bukewihge's page. I wonder who her editor is:

Illegal immigrants (or Mexican Nationals?) are breaking our laws and this president wants to reward them for it, he should run in an election held in the country of Mexico, as the United States is not his priority. I do not hate anyone, I am disappointed in Mr. Bush, he has lied to me, he has lied to you.

It reads like a bad high school essay.
posted by synecdoche at 3:16 PM on January 30, 2004


the underlying theme of "global democracy" and anti-U.S. sentiment is not quite as harmless as a simple popularity poll.

Maybe if the U.S. wasn't so eager to push around the other kids in the playground, this feeling wouldn't exist, hm?

The main reason that Americans are scared silly of a "global democracy" is because we are, right now, pretty much sitting on top of a global dictatorship. Oh, a benevolent dictatorship, to be sure, but still, you'd better do what we say, or we'll kick the shit out of you.

Also, Mr. Bush wants to kill people and knock down trees!!!
posted by majcher at 3:28 PM on January 30, 2004


I know it's not binding -- I'm saying that it's disgusting to even *contemplate*. On the surface, it's really just a poll -- of the "who's your favorite" variety - but the underlying theme of "global democracy" and anti-U.S. sentiment is not quite as harmless as a simple popularity poll.

David, I really think you're going to have to explain why. If people in other countries want to tell us what they think we should do, and its really not binding (a ridiculous thought that it would be) where is the danger at all? Its Democratic for cryin' out loud. Isn't that a good thing, regardless of where it occurs?


Non-U.S. citizens do not - and should not - have any vote on our elections. After all, we don't have votes in the elections of Kenya, Australia, China, and so on, nor should we.

That's just Bullshit on two levels. Because of illegal immigrants persons of questionable citizenship, my state (our state) has fewer electoral votes than we should be allowed according to the Constitution. In that respect, other countries do have a say in our voting process. And second, we had a pretty fricken big say in the Iraqi voting process, would you think? Fixed election or not, we chose who could and couldn't run that country. Of course we hid it behind the lie that their leadership could threaten us, but still ... (hillarious laughs ensue at the thought of Saddam threatening anybody but his own people).

The main reason that Americans are scared silly of a "global democracy" is because we are, right now, pretty much sitting on top of a global dictatorship.

Absolutely untrue. When we unseat the leader of a Democratic nation (Russia, France ...) then we have achieved Dictator status. Until then, we've just got the most bombs and the delusion that that means something to any but those nations with oil who tried to kill Pappy Bush.

"Global democracy?" Uh-uh. If and when the rest of the world adopts and lives by the United States Constitution, then maybe we can talk.

Truer words were never written, so why all the angst over a possible global vote of no-confidence? Does this poll scare anybody, or is it the possible result that has your guts in an uproar?
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:59 PM on January 30, 2004


It just raises important questions (that a lot of people hate to think about) regarding sovereignty and biases in the current "globalisation" trend. Nations all around the world are currently going through the process of giving up their sovereignty in the name of free trade - along with their sovereignty in terms of their right to create laws for their own citizens (trade agreements preventing countries from creating local laws that may "harm" free trade, for instance). So where do we draw the line? Why not give up sovereignty in terms of immigration and emmigration (it could be easily argued that this would create a much fairer system, if coupled with free trade)? Why not give up sovereignty in terms of political and democratic power, if the actions of one state influence another? Why have nation states at all? Ponder these questions, look at where the line is drawn, and consider who benefits from the various erosions and retentions of sovereignty.
posted by Jimbob at 4:00 PM on January 30, 2004


kablam: you may be interested to know that Cleese is actually quite politically active in the UK and has campaigned on behalf of the UK's third party, the Liberal Democrats. Specifically, he has campaigned to change the voting system to proportional representation.
posted by biffa at 4:03 PM on January 30, 2004


biffa: I really did try to think of another Englishman for PM, but confess that I can't think of any other pop Icon of note that even comes close. Johnny Rotten? Adam Ant?
Now if Madonna got English citizenship, she'd be a fitting replacement for the dear Queen, if Charles'd have her, given that Camilla's whipping arm is probably shot.

I mean, heck, ask an American to even *name* five English people who aren't royals or Tony Blair or the Beatles(-2).

David Attenborough!
posted by kablam at 4:43 PM on January 30, 2004


Who cares? I mean aren't the results a foregone conclusion? What does the opinion of some uninformed guy from the Congo mean to our presidential election? Zippy. I can't wait to analyze the results. "Look how many supporters there are for Kerry in Greece!"

Witty, I welcome the slightest case you might have that people in the Congo don't know as much, if not more, about American elections than, well, a significant percentage of Americans. I'm not saying I know they do, but I know that you don't know either.

Given the apathy of most Americans when it comes to voter turnout, where exactly do you get off assuming that 100% of another country shows the same level of resolve towards educated opinions about the President as a proven 50% of this one that never pulls the lever in November?

I like the juxtaposition of "who cares" and "it's anti Bush", by the way. In other words, "who cares what the rest of the world thinks... I bet they don't agree with me!"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:55 PM on January 30, 2004


I mean, heck, ask an American to even *name* five English people who aren't royals or Tony Blair or the Beatles(-2).
Patsy, Edwina, Saffron, Bubbles & Pauline Fowler, Mark Fowler, Pat Butcher, Frank Butcher, Peggy Butcher, Ian Beale, Peggy Mitchell, Grant Mitchell, Sam Mitchell, Phil Mitchell, Cathy Beale Mitchell, etc, etc ; >

I actually think this is an interesting idea, but not that it's a test of evoting or anything...People around the world have a stake in who becomes our pres (who knows, we may be invading them next), and while they shouldn't get a vote, we should at least hear what they think, and who they think would be better in their eyes.
posted by amberglow at 5:17 PM on January 30, 2004


Funny how the religious piety of MeFi's right-wing contingent inevitably ends up at odds with ideas of humility, empathy, and equity. Sounds a lot like "The meek may inherit the earth, but not on my watch, bitch. Now bring it on."
posted by stonerose at 5:49 PM on January 30, 2004


XQUZYPHYR - I do care to a point. But the website in question isn't going to make me care any more than I already do. You can't convince me (not just by saying so) that there is a significant percentage of people in MOST of these countries that can even NAME alternative candidates, much less tell me anything meaningful about them. I may be wrong... I just don't think that I am.

Based on that fact, I find it hard to believe this world-voting-thing can represent anything more than an anti-Bush poll of sorts. I can't see citizens of other countries who are also Bush supporters (which admittedly are probably very few) signing up for something like this, simply because the transparency of this effort would be just as obvious to them too.

There are a few thousand people signed up already. How many of those would vote for Bush, in your opinion? I just don't see why it matters if the people of the Congo said, "well, we would have voted for Dean". Ok, great. Sorry he didn't win.

I can understand what the overall idea of this movement is supposed to be on paper. It's just rather pointless to me. Would we have seen something like this had it been "a good 4 years", whether with Bush or with Gore? I doubt it. Is my vote supposed to be influenced by what the people of Myanmar think?

In other words, "who cares what the rest of the world thinks... I bet they don't agree with me!"

I haven't even come CLOSE to deciding who I will get my vote. I don't vote along party lines... never have. I want, like everyone else, the best person for the job. Unfortunately, what makes it tough is that I don't follow party lines. I have ideas and opinions, where some are shared by Democrats, while others are shared by Republicans. I'm liberal here and conservative there... in between somewhere else. I'm probably like lots of people, who realize that I'm practically forced to make sacrifices and compromises with my vote.

So I don't know who this world-wide vote is supposed to help. It won't be me, I know that much.
posted by Witty at 5:52 PM on January 30, 2004


i don't think it's supposed to help; it's supposed to inform.
posted by amberglow at 5:58 PM on January 30, 2004


I just don't see why it matters if the people of the Congo said, "well, we would have voted for Dean".

That's exactly why they want you to know.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:09 PM on January 30, 2004


Is my vote supposed to be influenced by what the people of Myanmar think?

When the government of the U.S. is widely held in low esteem, it's more difficult for other governments to cooperate with U.S., because doing so risks alienating their own people. It's also easier for zealots to recruit people who would harm the U.S. It's harder for Americans abroad to walk the streets in safety. It's more tempting for foreign business to trade with other countries. It's harder for the U.S. to enlist the assistance of other countries in fighting its battles - and as a result, U.S. resources are stretched thinner, and more Americans die. etc., etc., etc.

To the extent that you value safety, economic security, and the other benefits of cooperation and reputation, you would probably do well to take into account the opinions of the rest of the world. Will they be decisive in forming your opinions? Unlikely. But as a would-be educated voter, you owe it to yourself to ensure that your education - unlike that of your President - does not stop at the water's edge.

I would also hasten to point out that many people around the world are very, very well-informed about American politics. If you were a mouse living in a cage with a large, unpredictable feline, you would be quick to learn its habits.
posted by stonerose at 6:12 PM on January 30, 2004


All I'm saying is, due to the events of the last couple years, world opinion of the current U.S. administration is obviously rather unfavorable. I'm certainly aware of that. I don't blame anyone for feeling that way either. In some places it's probably worse than unfavorable. So, in my opinion, the foregone conclusion of this world-vote is - the "world" will vote in favor of someone OTHER than Bush, by a vast majority... with part of the results stemming from anti-Bush enthusiasts being more likely to sign up in the first place. That's about as far as it goes for me. That's fine.

Past that, my confidence is low that they (most other countries) can reliably select from the other candidates who best to lead the United States of America.
[nice post stonerose, thanks]
posted by Witty at 6:34 PM on January 30, 2004


I agree that voting is kind of a lame way to get the message across. A more productive site would gather moderates from a wide variety of countries, and pose a question like: "Given that the American government must exist first and foremost to serve the interests of Americans, what could an American administration do to fulfill this mission in an enlightened and mutually productive way?"
posted by stonerose at 7:16 PM on January 30, 2004


Personally, I'm delighted to see this. Not because of the voting itself, but because of the statement its very existence is making, a statement I have made myself in the last couple years.

America has huge influence over lives around the globe. Some of this should not be, while other parts of it are simply the inevitable results of economic activity. If America is going to pursue policies which dictate to other nations, it is reasonable that these other nations have some say in American politics.

What a concept! Absurd in some ways, but not at all an unreasonable conclusion for someone raised with firm belief in American democratic ideals.

Alternatively, if the U.S. stopped trying to dictate policy to other nations, either openly (as it does with drug policy) or the sneaky way ("globalization"), then America can decide for America, and let everyone else sort themselves out.

I do not think I could have come up with this view if I wasn't an American living abroad in these particular times.
posted by Goofyy at 12:05 AM on January 31, 2004


Fun link, talos! But don't non-Americans vote on US policies all the time? -- and in a form that's far more tangible, binding, and effective than saying "I, Jorge Nosewipe, support Kucinich." I'm thinking of foreign investment.

In 2002, for instance, foreign-owned assets in the US totaled $8,576B and US-owned assets abroad totaled $6,189B -- a difference of $2,387B. It just so happens that that's an increase of $407B (17%) from 2001. [BEA]

As we speak, dollars are moving from the Congo (um, the informed guys in the Congo) to Peoria. Aren't those Congolese voting on America? (And as long as those dollars keep moving in that direction, isn't it a favorable vote?)

And if those capital flows were to reverse 5 minutes after President Kucinich took the oath, it'd constitute a punishing referendum on US leadership far more profound than 5,000 addled time-wasters blithely clicking on some "Bu$h=Hitler" link. And Americans -- again, the informed, motivated, attention-paying ones -- would sit up and take notice of that change damn fast.

Global democracy already exists: One Dollar, One Vote.
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 1:59 AM on January 31, 2004


This is not a new idea. I remember a similar Usenet poll in 1992 which Bill Clinton won by a landslide (Bush the Elder came fourth, after Perot and a Libertarian as I recall).

I don't understand - why disgusting? Isn't it only a non-binding poll to express an opinion? To take a parallel example - I wouldn't object in the slightest if there were a similar poll when the British general election comes around - knowing what people in different countries think is interesting in and of itself.

What's wrong with expressing an opinion ? - People of all nationalities (including Americans) do it all the time, and this is a good thing.
posted by plep at 4:22 AM on January 31, 2004


No man is an island. /clichefilter
posted by plep at 4:28 AM on January 31, 2004


Global democracy already exists: One Dollar, One Vote.

Well, that would be plutocracy...
posted by plep at 4:30 AM on January 31, 2004


When we unseat the leader of a Democratic nation ...

Wasn't Allende democratically elected in the oldest democracy in South America? Or does that not count for some reason? America directly and indirectly influences every election on the planet, so I don't understand what is so frightenening about hearing the worlds opinions. However, I concede it is something of a pointless exercise - since America is generally ignoring world opinion, anyway.
posted by bashos_frog at 6:15 AM on January 31, 2004


Oderint dum metuant.

[/Latin sarcasm]
posted by homunculus at 12:05 PM on January 31, 2004


There are some great comic possibilities here! What if Americans got to pick the leaders of other countries, like a real empire? Popular favorites:

France...........Jerry Lewis
Germany.......Boris Becker
England........John Cleese
Russia..........That Tennis Playing Girl


California......Arnold Schwarzenegger
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:52 PM on January 31, 2004


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