Saturday, September 19, 2020

[Annotation] The People Have Spoken

By on June 15, 2017

(Rafelli González/CB)

The people ruled and it doesn’t matter how many of them.

The word “democracy” has its origins in the Greek word demokratia, meaning “popular government,” from “demos” = “common people” and “kratos” = “rule, strength.”

The people rule. And they rule by voting. The voting can be for persons or on topics, and essentially it is indicated when there are competing options about which to decide.

In the case of Puerto Rico, there was a chance for everybody, from each and any political color, to choose from several competing options on the “papeleta” and actively express their opinion.

Over 500,000 people, of the more than 2.2 million inscribed to vote, made the effort to vote and express which option for the island’s future they favor. While in itself, that is a high number, it is at the same time only roughly one-fifth of all voters.

A low turnout has no direct connection to legitimacy, however, if people were free to attend. Just because someone chooses not to vote, doesn’t mean that a person who actually executed the vote, should not be counted. And to assume that everybody who didn’t vote was against statehood or the current government, is about as alternative a fact as it gets. But in times with a president like the one in the United States, it appears one may just say about anything.

With basically every political party claiming the victory in the referendum, or the destruction of the others, that points more clearly to what the actual problem is: people are tired of politicians and their games. But that doesn’t have much to do with the result of the referendum being a reality.

Coming back to Puerto Rico’s referendum this past Sunday, June 11, 2017, everybody had the chance to register on time as a voter, to participate in the referendum and thus express their opinion and make sure their vote counted. By abstaining, you can’t express anything.

In my humble opinion, by not voting, you don’t boycott anything but passively agree to whatever is the voting majority’s favorite choice. Pretty much like a gym membership: you keep on paying the membership while the only duty of the gym owner is to basically just keep the doors open. If you don’t go, you can’t ask for your money back and have lost the right to complain about your “pipa.”

If anybody wanted to show what the “opinion of the people” is, they should have done so by voting for one of the options on the form.

As sort of a disclaimer: I’m as German as a German oak tree, I do live voluntarily in Puerto Rico and still have two small children here, who may or may not live here once they are adults. But if they do, I hope for them that the island will be in better condition than it now is. Which party wins what, or whether statehood or not, all of that to me is secondary. But I do know that to have a brighter future in Puerto Rico and bring a certain prosperity (back) to this island, it wouldn’t harm us to adopt some of the German traits that rebuilt a country completely in ruins after the Second World War. We all, collectively, need to be more serious, take responsibility and follow rules, where they exist. If the elected officials started with that—and stop playing political games—it wouldn’t be the worst example they could provide.

“Democracy implies that the man [& woman] must take the responsibility for choosing his [or her] rulers and representatives, and for the maintenance of his [or her] own ‘rights’ against the possible and probable encroachments of the government, which he [or she] has sanctioned to act for him [or her] in public matters.”

—Ezra Pound, “ABC of Economics,” 1933


  1. Mark Franklin

    June 15, 2017 at 6:34 am

    However, there is no need to participate in an unfair plebiscite in which the main sponsor (the US Dept of Justice) refused to endorse or provide the funding after reviewing the inadequate changes made by the government…..
    Democracy can only function if all parties are fair and transparent — a situation which sadly was not the case on Sunday.

    • Chris

      June 15, 2017 at 1:56 pm

      White trash elf Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was never going to approve the referendum anyways. He can’t even handle being questioned by Kamala Harris muchless exert the mental capacity to approve a Puerto Rican status referendum.

    • Jim McCartney

      June 16, 2017 at 12:45 am

      What, exactly, was unfair? Each status option was represented on the ballot. What are you suggesting should have been included? “Decisions are made by those who show up.” – Harry Truman.

      • Mark Franklin

        June 17, 2017 at 3:14 pm

        You would need to ask the Department of Justice what was deficient. If it had been sufficient, the $2.5 million would have been provided and the plebiscite would have been approved and had official status. For whatever reason, Rossello and the PNP threw away a golden opportunity to make/prove their point on an officially sanctioned vote.

        • Chris

          June 17, 2017 at 8:41 pm

          They were never going to approve the ballot …

        • Jim McCartney

          June 18, 2017 at 11:34 am

          As a matter of fact, the original plebiscite language did not include the current Commonwealth status as an option, as Congress intended when it appropriated the funds for the vote, since the current status had been rejected in the 2012 vote and, in any event, is not a decolonizing option. The current DOJ, however, rejected that ballot, despite the clear intent of Congress, and insisted that Commonwealth be an option. Therefore, the ballot was changed to suit the current DOJ and include Commonwealth, and its supporters had full opportunity to back their preferred status option. It’s likely that the revised ballot will be approved and the money for the plebiscite released. I’m not sure what you mean by “official status”; even if the plebiscite had been approved before the vote, it was not binding on Congress.

      • Chris

        June 17, 2017 at 8:42 pm

        Well said! If independenistas and colony supporters did not care enough to show up and vote for their option well tough shit! Too bad for them. Democracy belongs to those who actually show up to vote!

  2. Pablo Rolon-Torres

    June 15, 2017 at 8:06 am

    You could not have said it any better

  3. Calcetín Justiciero

    June 15, 2017 at 9:41 am

    Taking your last paragraph, if the politicians from the PNP party who drafted this referendum would’ve done it in a serious manner, maybe that 77-81% (because the US Census Bureau points to over 2.6 million able voters in Puerto Rico) absentee boicot figure would be lower. Anyone that follows politics in Puerto Rico saw the events that led up to this. I mean, you can ignore that and take this as tabula rasa, but that’s pretty much ignoring what the word context means.

    I would’ve gone and voted for independence if the PNP party would’ve played by the rules and done an economic referendum exercise, either placing the ELA squarely on the ballot – not leaving an excuse out there – or via the original, which was Statehood or Free Association / Independence (which would’ve had a low turnout anyway, because the 2nd or 1st most powerful political party in PR essentially look for the ELA in a referendum and, when not there, vote blank ballots or “none of the above”, all of which were denied to them in this plebiscite).

    In fact, the PPD is a divided party, cleverly exacerbated by the PNP, because in the 2012 referendum blank ELA ballots and ELA Soberano practically were squarely half and half (498k vs 454k votes). Both of that summed up over 50%, whereas statehood got 44%.

    The PNP even ignored the Department of Justice’s plea to give them time to certify the new ballot in order to give out their blessing! So what are we talking about when we talk about “rules” and how us boicotters really don’t count? I wasn’t going to enable that charade!

    • Chris

      June 15, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      Independence? By boycotting you propped up the colony you claim to oppose. Your a colonialist melon.

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