Statement of the Lok Raj Sangathan dated November 12, 2020
Mr. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., the Democratic candidate was declared the winner in the US Presidential elections. The incumbent President, Mr. Donald J Trump who lost the election has already declared that he will not concede the election and has taken several of the states to court because of what he considers irregularities in the voting process. Such a farcical situation where the President of the United States himself does not have faith in the electoral system raises a lot of questions for the people of the country.
At the federal level, the US has an executive branch headed by the President and a legislative branch made up of a bicameral system with the House of Representatives that has members representative of the population of the states, whereas the upper house or the Senate has two members for each state. The lower house has members with two year terms, while the latter has members with six year terms, with one third of the members being elected every even calendar year along with the elections for the House, whereas the Presidential election takes place every fourth year that is a multiple of 4. The system is essentially a two-party democracy with the Democratic and Republican parties representing the liberal and conservative wings of the ruling circles. Millions or dollars are spent in electioneering and fund raising with a massive press and media coverage, and enormous traffic on Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Frenetic activity takes places for months preceding the election as well as after the election with minute by minute updates of various precincts.
Even though the Republican and Democratic campaigns and monopoly media tried their best to keep everyone focused on election results, there are indications in many cities that people are continuing to vociferously demand equality, justice, and accountability. The inequality and arbitrary nature of the election, including the counting of votes and disqualification of them, has made it even clearer that the present electoral system is very seriously flawed. It is not even appearing legitimate any more in the eyes of the common people. The ongoing disputes between the Republicans and the Democrats do not address and solve this at all.
Any casual observer of the elections in the US will immediately conclude that the prevailing system is democracy only in name. It is very rare for any independent candidate to be elected either to the House or to the Senate and there has not been an independent President in living memory. Thus, the two party system, with constituents each of which is bankrolled by large corporations, plutocrats, and big money bags primarily serves the interests of big lobbies and pressure groups and industry and financial institutions. Many policies also benefit big computer companies, members of the . The role of the people is completely marginalised on the one hand, and their basic needs are not addressed. This is the primary reason for the decline in basic facilities of life including livelihood, employment, education and health requirements.
In practice, it turns out that a good fraction of those who get the party nomination for running in the elections, through an elaborate system of primaries are those with the backing of high monied interests and from elite sections of the population. In particular, a substantial fraction of the Senate for instance comprises of lawyers, who have typically represented large corporations and banks and those that come from elite families. It is almost impossible, except for a small handful to come from the bulk of the population, especially from national minorities such as African-American, or those with origins in Mexico and other Latin American countries. Women who are also an oppressed section of the society are represented by elite women from the backgrounds above. As a result, the gulf between the people and the political process continues to widen.
It may therefore be concluded that the democratic process in the US as in countries like India and the UK is one which simply self-perpetuates with traditional parties switching positions from majority and minority in the legislative branches, and with musical chairs played by the two parties for the Presidency every so many years. A thorough going discussion on the nature of democracy in some of these so-called “oldest and most vibrant democracies” is the order of the day. In particular, it must be examined as to whether the people are sovereign as is claimed – and what kind of system should the masses of the people in all these countries strive for.