UK Elections results show need for reform

The recent election in the United Kingdom has left the nation without a clear majority party in Parliament, but the bigger issue to many voters is the need for electoral reform that more accurately represents the results of the voting.

Despite winning about 23% of the popular vote, the Liberal Democrat party will only receive 57 seats – or less than 10%.  In contrast, labor secured 29% of the vote and receives 258 representatives.

Its plain to see that the voting system strongly favors incumbents, even beyond the typical media and word of mouth support that they can usually count on.

Increasingly around the “Democratic” English-speaking world, it is becoming clear that this democracy we claim to value is little but a public relations exercise for the established parties.

Your rulers aren’t going anywhere, and there is no voting scenario that will really change this fact.  Welcome to the new international empire…

Is Massachusetts turning Purple?

In a relatively surprising and somewhat last-minute victory, Republican Scott Brown has won the late Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat.

While Mr. Brown counted partially on the support of various “Tea Party” organizations, his platform sounds typical of the “moderate” Republicans that manage to get elected in heavily Democratic districts in solidly blue states. While still being staunchly on social issues like gay marriage or abortion, they are somewhat more willing to negotiate spending plans – especially the ones that bring pork back to their local constituents.

So how will Scott Brown’s election impact the future of Obama’s agenda? Early signs aren’t encouraging, because the 60 vote supermajority they once sort-of enjoyed is now utterly reliant on at least one Republican breaking ranks with party discipline.

Democrats Face Election Fears

It is fairly rare in American political history for any party to long maintain a super-majority above 60 seats in the Senate, so its a natural fear that they may lose some elections in the coming term.

Complicating this is the fact that the final healthcare bill was relatively unpopular by the time it had been compromised down to little more than a big corporate giveaway.

Unfortunately, a loss on this legislation would potentially be worse than a victory, so the partisan reps will continue to support it despite the damage that they’ll still receive for doing so.

Of course, any losses the Democrats suffer do not necessarily become gains for traditional Republicans.  In many polls, voters would support “Tea Party” Republicans over GOP-insiders, but since the GOP controls the Tea Party PACs it probably doesn’t matter too much.  Republicans who do get elected will probably run on a more populist platform than we’ve seen in the past, and many of them will set themselves up in opposition to both Obama and other aspects of  Bush’s legacy.

Another source of danger for the Democratic super-majority is the rise of progressive parties and the general drift of those on the farther parts of the left who have so far been disappointed with Obama’s progress in changing or undoing many of Bush’s administrative trends.

In the coming years, voter dissatisfaction and Congress’s inability to please both sponsors and voters will lead us to a wild ride that re-aligns American political alliances for generations to come.  Some of the players are starting to group up and get ready for the coming election rounds, but we probably won’t conclusively know what the new scene looks like for another six or eight years.