Well the rose is the symbol of the Socialiste Partie. A simple ensemble playing the classic song in the style of a Bal de Musique, the apotheosis of Sarkozy's orgy of materialistic bling and legendary obscene party at Fouquets in Paris after his election in 2007. This was the scene last night in Tulle, France in the Correze where Francois Hollande delivered his first speech as the new President of France. Tulle is not a large town, but it is the home and center of Hollandes life. And, of course, Tulle is the accordion capitol of France! In spite of the vicious illegally funded and media controlled campaign of bile and misinformation waged by the UMP, Hollande managed to win. It was as if the windows were thrown opened and the stale noxious atmosphere of 5 years of Sarkozyism were dispersed in the fresh air. A government which was drifting more and more to the far right, using racism, nationalism, religion, fear and economic destabilization as political tools to establish a death grip on power is gone. We can start breathing freely again.
The real path to Hollandes victory was through the ballot box. The voter turn out in the election was the highest in recent history. 81% of the registered voters cast ballots. In France, the process is very open. We are encouraged to vote. If you cannot physically be present to vote, the process of appointing someone to legally vote for you is relatively simple. There are no voting machines to hack. In most cases, the ballots are dropped into a glass tank in full view. The counting process is open to all citizens to witness. That's how elections work. That's where power really lies in a true democracy. That's the most alarming problem with America today.
Voter apathy coupled with the actual disenfranchisement of large portions of the population are keeping many Americans from participating in their democracy, even if they wanted to. Thanks to a sluggish economy, and restrictive voter identification laws from Republican lawmakers, voter registration is down for the first time in years. In particular, registration among African Americans and Latinos has taken a plunge:
Together, the number of registered blacks and Hispanics across the country declined by 2 million from 2008 to late 2010, when the Census Bureau collected the data through its Current Population Survey.
The figure among blacks is down 7 percent, to just over 16 million. Among whites, it dropped 6 percent to 104 million.
Among Latinos, the decline has altered a trend line of steady growth. Given that 12 million Latinos were registered to vote in 2008, some analysts had projected the number would grow to 13 million in 2010 and 14 million this election cycle. Instead, it fell in 2010 to 11 million.
I don't feel this means doom for President Obama’s reelection effort. The Obama campaign has spent millions of dollars on building field offices, registering voters, and navigating the new laws. My hunch is that, at the end of the day, these restrictions won’t have as much as affect as we think on the Obama campaign’s ability to mobilize minority voters.
Of course, the horse race is the least important aspect of this development; what should worry everyone is the degree to which the Republican Party has normalized the idea that there ought to be voter restrictions. Remember, voter fraud is virtually nonexistent; between 2002 and 2007, the Justice Department failed to prosecute a single person for impersonating another voter. But rather than confront the reality of voter security, proponents of voter ID push faulty analogies; we check ID for cigarettes and ‘R’-rated movies, why should we leave it at the door when for voting?
The easy (and correct) answer is that voting is a right of citizenship, and restrictions—even if they sound reasonable—do nothing but limit the voices that have input in our democracy. Indeed, as the Washington Post shows, the actual effect of voter ID laws is to make voting rights contingent on race and income. If you’re poor, a minority, or both, it is now harder for you to vote than if you were better off and white.
Americans love to call theirs the greatest democracy in the world, but as long as we actively work to disenfranchise our fellow citizens, there’s no way that we have a claim on “great,” much less good. You will never have a real working democracy that can effect change if you turn back the clock and make voting a right of race and class. When voting becomes a tactic of manipulation for those that assume they are the privileged class to sieze and hold onto power, the entire system is degraded and will inevitably collapse. Democracy is a system that must constantly renew itself if it will succeed!