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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Free Elections


I went this morning to vote, as I do twice a year (once for the primaries and once for the general election). It's something that as an American, I take for granted. I also take for granted that no one is going to arrest me, beat me up, kill me or generally cause me pain or injury for whom I vote.

On my way home (we live less than three blocks from the polling place, so I walked), I was thinking about elections. You see, it's not elections that make a free society, it's a free and secret election. Only in an election where your vote is totally secret and totally your choice can elections be totally free.

Dictatorships make a show of being part of a free society by staging elections. Much of the time, there isn't even another candidate -- it's just a "yes" or "no" vote and woe be it to anyone who votes "no"!

Even in the elections in the Palestinian territories where Hamas won the elections against Fatah, the election was rigged because people feared for their lives if they voted for Fatah. And, lest you think this was like an election between John Kerry and George W. Bush, Fatah is no more a partner for peace than Hamas.

The thing is that in the Western world, we are so used to secret ballots that we don't realize what the enemies of liberty are doing. We hear the world "election" and we think freedom. But elections aren't free if there's no secret ballot. Elections aren't free if the "politicians" use terror tactics to force people to vote for them. Elections aren't free if there really is no choice.

So, next time you hear of an "election" in a country where there never were elections before, check to see if there's really a choice. And check to see if the people are really the ones choosing. If these elements aren't there, you know the "election" is only for show.

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