Now that the election process is in full gear in the United States, it is of interest to reflect on its peculiarities. Of course, the process is convoluted, money and marketing are the dominating factors, and catering to outrageous viewpoints brings points. But one aspect that distinguish US politics from other countries is the surprisingly low voter participation, especially among the poor.
Ranjan Sreedharan sees this as an advantage that the United States has over other countries. As the rich can rule, they put forward policies that can enrich them and then rein in welfare. The outcome are policies that favor long term development. And why do so few poor people vote? For one, many are outright excluded from voting: no fixed address, past felon. Also, voting days are not holidays and the poor, who typically hold jobs with hourly pay, find it difficult or costly to vote.
While I may not like the rhetoric of the paper, the author has a point. The Unites States has a long history of disenfranchising the poor, right from its first days where only white male land holders could vote. Slavery and segregation and gerrymandering have provided additional opportunities for rigging the relevance of votes. Corporations have always had a strong influence in the nation's capitols, with courts increasingly allowing legal bribing of elected officials. Republicans have been the leaders in disenfranchising (previous post on this), yet Democrats have not done much to prevent it. In the end, the poor voter does not matter anymore.