08 September, 2007

Non-electoral politics?

I was struck by this headline in the Washington Post:

Hagel Is Expected to Quit Electoral Politics
"Electoral" politics? What other kind of politics is there in this country? For crying out loud, come November I have to decide not only on a governor and a lieutenant governor in this state, but a tax assessor and even a coroner. Now you're telling me there's a non-electoral politics in this country, too? That's it; I am now officially a monarchist.*

You read that right: I get to vote on the county coroner. There's a morbid race, if ever I saw one.

People like to say that the big interests are chipping away at democracy in this country. How is that possible, when in addition to presidents, senators, congressmen, governors, lieutenant governors, state treasurers, state commissioners of agriculture**, state senators, state representatives, state supreme court judges, local judges, sheriffs, district attorneys***, mayors, city councillors (am I allowed to say councilmen anymore?), and tax assessors, I can also vote for the county coroner? If chipping away at democracy means that I no longer have to waste my energies contemplating which of the characters running for coroner would make the best man for the job (or woman), then Crown me a king! says I. He'd appoint a better coroner than I could elect, and he'd also have the power to lop off the fellow's head if he turned out corrupt. You can't do things like that in a democracy; you have to waste time on due process and other niceties of that sort, while the corposes corrode in the corrupt coroner's... um, morgue.

Just don't crown W. I'll only accept a monarchy if it has term limits, and he's already had his two terms.

*Since my previous political advocacy put me on the opposite side of the spectrum, surely you won't take me seriously.

**State Commissioner of Agriculture: In North Carolina anyway, and boy, did a recent one turn out to be proof of the dictum that democracy preserves us from corrupt officials from family dynasties. Then again, you could always visit Massachusetts if you wanted proof of that.

***Electing the district attorney worked real well for Durham, NC.

I don't mean to pick on NC, by the way. It's just that I haven't lived long enough in Mississippi to catch up on the local political rackets. Plus, Louisiana is right next door, and it's hard to focus on local politics when the news is filled with stories of a state that has developed corruption into an exquisite form of art.


Brandon said...

I had a discussion of something like this in the last presidential election; I listed the whole series of things that were on my New Mexico ballot (everything from the President to the Director of the Flood Control Authority), and asked if people from other countries had similar sort of electoral choices. And the upshot was that people from other countries (Britain, Canada) were shocked that so many of our civil service positions are politicized, and Americans were shocked that so many positions of power in Britain and Canada are completely outside of democratic control.

Clemens said...

Monarchism? I think I would go for anarchism. In any case.

I think by electoral politics they may be trying to draw a distinction between those we elect, and those who are merely active in 'politics' - staff, handlers, aides, consultants, etc.

But it does seem a bit redundant.

France seemed a country where no one was elected other than the very top national figures, and all local politicos were appointed.

What about Italy? Or Russian now, for that matter?