Saturday, September 18, 2010

What is the difference between a politician in Afganistan today and George Washington? Turns out they are very similar when it comes to getting elected.

An article today in the NYTIMES on blatant vote buying in today's elections in Afghanistan...
"...How much does it cost to buy an Afghan vote?...Nonetheless, prices are low. In northern Kunduz Province, Afghan votes cost $15 each; in eastern Ghazni Province, a vote can be bought for $18. In Kandahar, they sell their rights for as little as $1 a ballot. More commonly, the price seems to hover in the $5 to $6 range, as quoted to New York Times reporters in places like Helmand and Khost Provinces...."
In the West vote buying is more subtle and mostly manifests itself  as a "quid pro quo"---vote for me and I will favor, with money or regulations, your union,  business, corporate, environmental concern, etc.  But direct vote buying NEVER happens or happened in the US, right? Even George Washinton was not immune to political realities:

"...But for all of Washington's commendable belief in moderate alcohol use, he very much appreciated its utility. Esther White, a Mount Vernon archaeologist, told me Washington once lost a 1755 campaign for the Virginia House of Delegates because he didn't treat prospective supporters to a drink. Two years later, he rolled out 144 gallons of refreshment. He won with 307 votes, a return on his investment of better than two votes per gallon. He never lost another campaign...." (Source HERE)
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