DUBLIN: In a stunning setback for efforts to reform Europe's unwieldy institutions*, a senior Irish official said Friday that voters had rejected a revised European Union treaty designed to change the way the bloc governs itself and presents itself to the world.Don't think for a minute that this is the end of the EU. In 2005, French voters spat in the faces of their leaders by overwhelmingly rejecting the treaty, whereupon their leaders made some changes and passed it without re-asking the voters. The Dutch did the same, and the same thing happened to them. It is interesting that wherever the treaty has been presented to voters, it has been consistently rejected. And it has been just as consistently passed over the heads of those same voters. The voters got the wrong answer.
If that outcome is confirmed in official results, it will mean that the 27-member bloc will be in turmoil, its latest attempt to reform stymied by less than one percent of its population of almost 500 million.
I noticed this trend when I lived in Kansas City, which could show even the EU a thing or two about ballot initiatives. Sales taxes, bond issues, all manner of proposed financial malfeasances that were defeated on the ballot would re-appear time after time: so long as the voters got the wrong answer, the politicians needed to keep asking the question.
So why even vote? It's a question I get all the time once people realize that I would vote for neither Obama nor McCain even were they the only person on the ballot. "Why vote for someone who's destined to lose?**" Well, because even if Bob Barr doesn't win, there are plenty of politicians and proposals that still need to be voted against. There are judges; that's like 15 "no" votes right there. There are constitutional amendments, there are taxes and bond issues***. As as the Irish have showed, sometimes the voters win. For a while.
Here's a little secret: if you defeat everything the politicians propose, the legitimate functions of government go on anyway. The courts are open. The soldiers get paid. New ideas are generally the politician's way of saying now that the important stuff is done it's time to build monuments to themselves.
That's why it's important to vote: it's an exercise of my civic duty to throw sand in the gears of such 'progress.'
* a euphemism for subsuming independent nations beneath a totalitarian, super-bureaucracy based in Brussels.
** I didn't realize voting was like betting on horses. When I ask if they will pay me for a correct pick on place or show, they look at me all confused.
*** There might even be a creationalist to put on the state school board, which is the equivalent of voting 'no' on everything the state school board proposes over the next 4 years.