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Democracy in America


President Barack Obama touched on one of the most remarkable aspects of democracy in the US during his speech at the Democratic National Convention. He said, “If you want more justice in the justice system, then we’ve all got to vote – not just for a President, but for mayors, and sheriffs, and state’s attorneys, and state legislators. That’s where the criminal law is made.” Turns out your American correspondent is registered to vote in the state of Florida, and the ballot for several of those roles just came in on the mail: it lists 20 elected positions, including US Senator, State Attorney, State Senator, State Representative, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Sheriff, Supervisor of Elections, and 11 Circuit and County Court judges, among others. This is, in fact, the ballot for the primary election of the candidates for those roles from the Democratic party. Later on there will be a final vote between the winners for each of the two main parties and possibly, independent candidates. Multiply that for hundreds of cities across the third most populous country in the world: you get an impressive number of people putting their names forward for public scrutiny and be voted up or down by their neighbors. As Obama said, “democracy isn’t a spectator sport”. Indeed.

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