George Orwell lifted part of this directly from the fledgling United States of America’s declaration of Independence, a document which was written well before independence had actually even been achieved.
History tells us that independence was ultimately achieved though and twelve years later another document, the Constitution, was drawn up to act as the supreme law of this new country. Including its amendments its idealistic in nature and goes a long way to show how much the founding fathers wanted to break free from the shackles of the old world and to create something better.
Something not absorbed with the petty squabbling and continual wars which would or should have no bearing on this new utopian society.
Say what you want about America but its hard to criticise the intentions of the founding fathers and the pure idealism they adopted when putting pen to paper and then actually putting this theory into practice. In the 18th century they were creating the promised land based on the norms of the day. And people flocked to join it.
In retrospect its easy to say things like they were still engaged in slavery or that the 2nd amendment has lead to the crazy situation today where we have obese finger licking Texans walking around armed like they are about to do battle with Predator just because the constitution says they can. Yes its all too easy to criticise something with 250 years of hindsight.
You just try kicking the strongest army and navy at the time out of your country with a ragtag bunch of militias. And then go ahead and create a country from scratch. Using a blank sheet of paper.
Its not easy and the odd error should, in my view, be forgiven.
Normally documents like these are safely kept under glass, in a museum or the like and used to educate and inform. Documents like the Magna Carta, the founding document of democracy can be seen and studied. As can the declaration of independence and the constitution.
Quite right too, they are very important historical documents.
But that is all they are. Or that’s all they should be.
The current pantomime which is the US presidential election is gaining far more attention than it actually should. Whoever wins; Clinton or the clown we will have seen a seismic shift in the accepted norms when it comes to the democratic process. One from which I don’t think there is a return. The Brexit vote was just the start, Austria was a very close call, France is always teetering on the brink and now we face the prospect that the self proclaimed leader of the free world could very well be an misogynistic, bigoted, small handed, islamaphobe, with a penchant for sexually assaulting women, and bad hair.
That said, there is a part of me, a small part I admit, which hopes he actually prevails. Just to see what happens.
Every aspect of this election is being covered in microscopic detail, from the candidates, the differences in policy (or lack of policy) right through to the process itself and it was here that I very recently learned about the Electoral College.
The electoral college is a group of 538 elected individuals and it’s these people who actually elect the president. This select bunch of citizens cast their vote and the person who receive the majority, 270 votes, wins the election. Each state has a number of electoral college members allotted to them according to population size so California has 55 and North Dakota has 3 to keep things proportionately fair.
Each member of the electoral college is then expected to vote in accordance with the voting in their state, but here’s the rub; they don’t have to.
In the UK you don’t vote for a prime minister, you vote for your local MP and your local MP most likely will be a member of a party. Each of these parties have a leader and whichever party wins the most MP’s wins the election and the leader of that party then becomes Prime Minister. Reasonably straightforward I think. There are grumblings that some MPs have more people in their constituency or less and thus the winning party might not be representative of the will of all the people, or rather its not proportionately representative but that’s for another discussion.
In the US though, they do vote directly for their president. Quite a difference and its this which makes me think an electoral college is a redundant concept. Why is it even necessary when the presidential election should basically be a referendum? Everyone votes and the person with the most votes wins.
By overlaying what they call the popular vote with the electoral college they are essentially disenfranchising the individual voter. Or as Mr Orwell would say they are more equal than everyone else.
The electoral college is a hangover from the constitution, like the right to bear arms, which were necessary 250 years ago but today, in my opinion, is in dire need of a rethink.
So back to this current, preposterous election.
What happens if say, Mr Trump wins the popular vote but the college decides that putting that lunatic into the white house is too dangerous? Which isn’t that unrealistic a scenario.
Given the amount of talk about rigged elections already, well before the outcome is even known I would guess if this did happen then it would probably be enough of a spark to light what is already a tinder box ready to combust.
So yes, I have immense respect for the founding fathers of the US and what they achieved. I also believe they never thought their words would still be used as a mechanism to impede progress, by their very actions they embraced progress and thus I don’t believe for one second they would be standing up to support these redundant laws. Because they would recognise they were written nearly 250 years ago in a very very different world.
Progress is constant and the laws and rules which underpin our respective democracies must be adapted and altered to keep up.
I am sure there are a lot of people out there who would disagree with me on this but I’m also sure that this disagreement would be grounded in the ‘what am I going to lose’ argument, be it guns, be it representation, be it tax breaks, etc.
I would strongly argue though that this cannot be the basis for law or policy setting. Ever.
The moment it is, will be the moment we are welcoming a pig called Napoleon into the White House, or 10 Downing Street.
And no matter how bad his hair is or how small his hand are, no matter what he says or how pink his skin is, no matter how many walls he promises to build or how many enemies of the state he fabricates to support a made up argument he still shouldn’t get your vote.
Because fundamentally, deep down and hidden behind an ugly facade, he’s still a pig.