I was trawling through youtube and stumbled upon this gem.It made me think long and hard about American politics. I have always been fascinated by the politics of our cousins across the pond. I do not think there is any other country in the world that knows for certain when the next Presidential or Prime Ministerial elections are to be held. Americans know that every 4 years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November they will go to the hustings to choose the President. They also know that the elected President shall only serve a maximum two terms, and that his first day in Office is January 20th. (Its only been since 1951 when term of office was limited to two terms). It seems like everything is etched in stone, and it is actually quite admirable. The British PM will only call elections when they are certain they will be voted back into office, and or when the term office is officially coming to an end.I think the American method is worth considering, especially for new democracies. Especially in the Third World.

Admittedly, there is no perfect electoral system. A few years ago a film called the Manchurian Candidate, starring Denzil Washington and John Voight was released. It showed the unseemly side of American politics. There are probably 1000s of conspiracy theories when it comes to electing politicians and the President. People well-versed in Political Science would be experts in this field. Be that as it may, the American system seems relatively open. Come November, there will be another Presidential election. It will be a straight fight between the current incumbent President Obama versus the Republican candidate Mitt Romney. The only fact that’s certain is that one of the 2 will be taking the oath of office come January 20th. Campaigning has all ready started and the two parties are all ready spending millions on media campaigns.

Do the voters really choose the President? Or do major corporations actually control the mechanisms of power? The big military-industrial complexes have in the past been accused of exerting disproportionate influence in the selection of the President. However, being an outsider looking in, it still appears like a system that works, and does allow voters an opportunity to have a say in who becomes the President. Albeit via an Electoral College.There are many countries where democratic elections are a farce. Wouldnt it be ideal to copy the good bits of the American system and build a good system that allows for a free and fair system of governance. It would also be ideal to limit the tenure of office to 2 terms thus doing away with the ‘life presidencies’ that seem to be the monopoly of African ‘democracies’.

The election of Prime Ministers or Presidents in the Third World is a subject that has bewildered many a people. Once someone is elected into power, they will try everything within their power to stay put. Constitutions are routinely changed or manipulated to make sure power is never transferred to anyone else. In some countries power is transferred from father to son. Like we are still living in the medieval age. Or as if they are some Royal Family. Look at Syria for instance. When Hafez al-Assad passed on, his son Bashir al-Assad, assumed power. The father was accused of massacring Syrians. The Hama Massacre of 1982 for instance, was described as the ‘single deadliest act by any Arab government against people in the modern Middle East’. Thousands of people were massacred during his reign. His son has continued this callous and brutal trend. Children, women and other innocent people are being killed everyday. North Korea has also imposed royalty on its people. When Kim il Sung (The Great Leader) passed on, his son Kim Jong-il (The Dear Leader) took over. Following the death of the Dear Leader, hi son Kim Jong-un also succeeded him. The cult of personality has been brutally foisted upon the people of North Korea. Children are taught to deify the leaders. In Africa, there is ample evidence of ‘life presidencies’ too, with octogenarians hanging on to power as if it were a life support machine. President Mugabe in Zimbabwe is a case in point. These systems of deifying ordinary men does not work It is high time the leaders are made to realise the national cake should be shared by all. They tried at Tiananmen Square,but the Government quashed the protests. The Arab Spring has been more effective in forcing the leaders to relinquish their hold on power. Libya, Tunisia and Egypt are three prime examples. However, this has come at a high cost as hundreds if not thousands have died as a result.

No electoral or political system is perfect. Britain now has a Prime Minister who wasnt even elected by the people. He is a result of a marriage of convenience between two parties. The electoral impasse meant either Labour or the Tories could form a government with the help of the Liberal Democrats, a party that has not been anywhere near gaining power for years.The Liberal Democrats could not believe there lucky and quickly jumped into bed with the Tories, their erstwhile nemesis. However, at least the political environment is free and open. people can vote for whom ever they want and Government is held accountable.

Democracy as a form of government is not perfect. Winston Churchill once described it thus: “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.” It is a system that will put some limits to the abuse of power, and to make sure that any bad government can be deposed and replaced peacefully.Every citizen must be allowed to peacefully take part in selection of their representatives. Voting should be a sacrosanct right for every adult. People should be allowed to freely vote who they think is the best leader, or the party whose ideologies and beliefs they subscribe too. Above all else, we should universally have fixed terms of office with no single individual (or a cabal) being allowed to circumvent constitutions and staying in office ad infinitum. Tyranny should never be allowed to fester. In an ideal world, the United Nations would have been like a policing force to safeguard people’s rights. Only in Utopia though.