FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Democracy for Cubans and Americans

Last May our President said in Miami that the purpose of his policy towards Cuba is to bring democracy to the Cuban people. He said he would consider ending the embargo and our other attempts to isolate Cuba if Cubans would hold free and fair elections with multiparty candidates and comply with several other political conditions he requires. His interest in fair elections and democracy for Cubans is commendable, but if he is also interested in these benefits for Americans, it might be useful for him to compare how the differing political systems functioned in the recent elections (November 5, 2002, US House of Representatives and January 19, 2003, Cuba National Assembly.)

In both countries, voting is by secret ballot, voluntary, and open to all adult citizens. In US we have two so-called political parties, both funded primarily by increasingly centralized and powerful commercial enterprise. No longer value based, they function primarily as fundraisers and accounting firms for the candidates, who are elected on the basis of their celebrity, incumbency and financial backing – which allows them access to the mass media (funded by the same business enterprise) conditioned on their thinking and talking within the ever narrowing “mainstream.” The formation of alternative, value-based parties is prevented by excluding them from the mass media and public debates.

For Cubans the last century was a long struggle for nationhood and national dignity. They had extensive experience with the multiparty system under US tutelage in the first part of the century, when they were a virtual US plantation (by the 1950’s over 75% of Cuban economic production property was owned or controlled by US commercial interests). They have learned from bitter experience that their continued liberation depends entirely on their national unity whereas political division makes them vulnerable to manipulation and economic domination by US businesses and their former rulers who now live in US as part of the Cuban-American community. They have therefore forged a non-partisan political system which preserves their sovereignty and independence with institutions which seek to achieve democracy by participatory consensus rather than class warfare. Electoral parties in our sense are not involved in Cuban politics. The Cuban Communist Party (PCC) is not involved in elections, rather it’s an organization of activists (about 15% of adults are members) which has the constitutional mandate to promote social consciousness and the long-term revolutionary goals for the whole nation. The Cuban constitution was approved in 1976 by 97% of voters out of more than 90% eligible, amended significantly in 1992 by more than 2/3 of an elected National Assembly as required, and made irrevocable by a vote of eight million eligibles (more than 4/5 of the adult population) in June, 2002.

The US House is supposedly our democratic legislative body with elections every two years ? originally intended to ensure that our 435 “representatives” (career politicians) would be responsive to the people who elect them. Their public media-driven campaigns of self-promotion have become incredibly expensive and lengthy, if not continuous. Because the primary factors involved in their decision-making are personal ? obtaining and retaining their offices (their careers bring them power and wealth) – the American people have discovered that they are in reality representing the powerful private interests which fund them rather than their constituents, and that voting for major party candidates does not remedy the situation.

In last November’s US House elections, over 90% of the seats were uncontested or not seriously contested and overall about 39% of those eligible voted, producing another landslide for incumbents. The so-called parties had in the state legislatures in previous years gerrymandered the US congressional districts to make most of the seats virtual lifetime appointments, thereby promoting responsiveness to private rather than public interests. Our members of Congress have become experts in obtaining and retaining their seats by avoiding clear-cut votes on fundamental or controversial issues and disguising their real positions regarding these matters. As a result these issues never get finally decided and we don’t move on. For example instead of declarations of war (for which we could hold them accountable) we get vague resolutions. What and when questions are brought up for voting or decision, and how these are framed, are matters determined by a very few powerful men called party “leaders.” We keep getting the same issues reargued year after year with no final decision, like income tax change, campaign finance, abortion rights, gun control, social security, Medicare coverage for medicine, Cuba embargo, etc., and we often find that members have voted neither way or both ways on various aspects of these complex matters so that we can’t determine where they really stand. Our Congress has become essentially unresponsive and dysfunctional, which serves only the interests of the businesses which fund it.

The Cuban National Assembly deals with legislative and constitutional matters, has 601 members who serve for five years, up to 50% are chosen from previously elected municipal delegates (elected locally for 2 _ year terms) and the rest are chosen by national candidate commissions (from which PCC is excluded) in a process which takes many months and involves consultations with and groups representing millions of people, such as the trade unions, the women’s federation, the small farmers unions, the student federations, the teachers and professional, health care and other mass organizations. The idea is to obtain a slate of national representatives who are a “mirror of the nation.” All seats in the Assembly must be contested (usually there are several candidates) and to be elected a candidate must receive at least 50% of the vote.

?

There is no campaigning in Cuba, the candidates do not promote themselves and money is not a factor in elections. Their biographies, including photos, education, work experience and other matters are posted conspicuously throughout their permanent, unchanging residential districts for months before the elections and details are supplied by the election commissions. They usually serve only one term, most of them have previously been elected by constituents who know them personally or by reputation as to truly represent the people and their common interest. They are not career politicians ? they have other jobs, they must have frequent meetings with constituents (called “accountability sessions”) and they are subject to recall at all times. Where expert information is necessary, it is supplied by special commission and proposed legislation (such as the recent imposition of an income tax) is voted on, up or down, in order of presentation. The peoples’ representatives make all the legislative decisions, and once the decisions are made, they move on to new matters.

In the elections held January 19, 2003 uover 93% of eligible Cubans voted, electing a National Assembly which truly and accountably represents their common interest.

More articles by:
June 19, 2018
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
We Can Thank Top Union Officials for Trump
Lawrence Davidson
The Republican Party Falls Apart, the Democrats Get Stuck
Sheldon Richman
Trump, North Korea, and Iran
Richard Rubenstein
Trump the (Shakespearean) Fool: a New Look at the Dynamics of Trumpism
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Protect Immigrant Rights; End the Crises That Drive Migration
Gary Leupp
Norway: Just Withdraw From NATO
Kristine Mattis
Nerd Culture, Adultolescence, and the Abdication of Social Priorities
Mike Garrity
The Forest Service Should Not be Above the Law
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Activism And Smears Masquerade As Journalism: From Seralini To Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts The Record Straight
Doug Rawlings
Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?
Kenneth Surin
2018 Electioneering in Appalachian Virginia
Nino Pagliccia
Chrystia Freeland Fails to See the Emerging Multipolar World
John Forte
Stuart Hall and Us
June 18, 2018
Paul Street
Denuclearize the United States? An Unthinkable Thought
John Pilger
Bring Julian Assange Home
Conn Hallinan
The Spanish Labyrinth
Patrick Cockburn
Attacking Hodeidah is a Deliberate Act of Cruelty by the Trump Administration
Gary Leupp
Trump Gives Bibi Whatever He Wants
Thomas Knapp
Child Abductions: A Conversation It’s Hard to Believe We’re Even Having
Robert Fisk
I Spoke to Palestinians Who Still Hold the Keys to Homes They Fled Decades Ago – Many are Still Determined to Return
Steve Early
Requiem for a Steelworker: Mon Valley Memories of Oil Can Eddie
Jim Scheff
Protect Our National Forests From an Increase in Logging
Adam Parsons
Reclaiming the UN’s Radical Vision of Global Economic Justice
Dean Baker
Manufacturing Production Falls in May and No One Notices
Laura Flanders
Bottom-Up Wins in Virginia’s Primaries
Binoy Kampmark
The Anguish for Lost Buildings: Embers and Death at the Victoria Park Hotel
Weekend Edition
June 15, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Dan Kovalik
The US & Nicaragua: a Case Study in Historical Amnesia & Blindness
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Yellow Journalism and the New Cold War
Charles Pierson
The Day the US Became an Empire
Jonathan Cook
How the Corporate Media Enslave Us to a World of Illusions
Ajamu Baraka
North Korea Issue is Not De-nuclearization But De-Colonization
Andrew Levine
Midterms Coming: Antinomy Ahead
Louisa Willcox
New Information on 2017 Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Deaths Should Nix Trophy Hunting in Core Habitat
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Singapore Fling
Ron Jacobs
What’s So Bad About Peace, Man?
Robert Hunziker
State of the Climate – It’s Alarming!
L. Michael Hager
Acts and Omissions: The NYT’s Flawed Coverage of the Gaza Protest
Dave Lindorff
However Tenuous and Whatever His Motives, Trump’s Summit Agreement with Kim is Praiseworthy
Robert Fantina
Palestine, the United Nations and the Right of Return
Brian Cloughley
Sabre-Rattling With Russia
Chris Wright
To Be or Not to Be? That’s the Question
David Rosen
Why Do Establishment Feminists Hate Sex Workers?
Victor Grossman
A Key Congress in Leipzig
John Eskow
“It’s All Kinderspiel!” Trump, MSNBC, and the 24/7 Horseshit Roundelay
Paul Buhle
The Russians are Coming!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail