ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The US:Winner-Takes-All


At the time of writing no one has yet been declared the winner in the US presidential race. The closeness of the race, the controversies on the electoral system and the constitutional issues have raised a debate in the US which will take many years to resolve. The debates of the last 20 days signal clearly, however, the profound changes that have occurred in the nature of American democracy and polity, and the likely future of the US in the world order.

It is easy to pooh-pooh American democracy and to boast that we do better. That would be a mistake. There are many hues of democracy and the US system is based on individual freedom, equality of the confederating states with the union, decentralisation of almost all subjects except defence, security, foreign affairs and agreed federal programmes to the state level, separation of executive, legislative and judicial functions and powers, individuals' right of representation and respect for the rule of law. An American commentator quipped good-humouredly on a TV programme that the US is not a democracy, it does not have mobocracy and it is governed by the rule of law. Yet vice-president Al Gore's main plea in Florida has been the right of every one who voted to be counted in the ballot. It should be noted that voting is not compulsory, 40 to 50 per cent of eligible voters do not vote and individual third candidates make inroads of 4 to 5 per cent. This time the well known consumer and environment expert and advocate Ralph Nader has probably secured almost 5 per cent of the vote and the right fundamentalist Pat Buchanan 1 to 2 per cent.

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