Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Color Coding Political Preferences

An obscure ‘CPP committee order’ dated Sep. 14, 2009 was dug up by the Voice of America, which allegedly orders government officials to identify people according to their political leanings.

Civil rights organizations, opposition parties, and bloggers promptly got their knickers in a twist saying this violates people’s privacy, rights, and will be used to deprive people of their free choice in elections. According to VoA the local CPP party leaders were to win over as many non-CPP leaning people as they could.

Is the uproar justified or is it again just blowing hot air on the part of those critics to get their names in the papers or their blogs read?

Isn’t that the same thing political parties do all over the world? Local party chieftains try to get as much information on their constituents as possible in order to fashion their election campaigns so that the voters will vote for their candidates.

Let’s compare this with the U. S. election system. First voters need to register to vote. Then the two parties – Democrats and Republicans – hold primaries that determine which of their party’s candidates will run in the election itself. Some states’ primaries only allow registered party voters to vote in their party primaries. Consequently, the parties know from their party rolls who is ‘white’, the color the CPP documents uses to identify their loyal followers. They may not know their opposing party members by name (‘black’ in CPP lingo), but they do know their approximate number. Additionally, opinion polls ordered by the political parties don’t do anything different than ‘color coding’ people. They just don’t call it that. Again, they won’t know the names, but they do know their percentage of all voters within an error margin from 3 – 5%.

Then there are those ‘grey’ (the CPP term) masses out there. In the U. S. they are called ‘independents’. Both parties need to win over a substantial percentage of those for a win. In some elections they swing to the right and in others to the left – therefore, they are called swing voters.

Of course, Cambodia isn’t as sophisticated as the U. S., where mass media campaigns determine the outcome of an election. Saturation TV advertising, attack ads, etc. are still virtually unknown in Cambodia, definitely in rural areas. So village party elders admonish their constituents to vote for them. This happens in the U. S. too, although possibly in a slightly different manner. There candidates walk from door to door to introduce themselves and ask for people’s votes.

In past elections it was reported that some of those local party officials got a little overzealos and used strong-arm tactics to get the vote out in favor of them. Well, whenever there is political power involved, you get people who overshoot their target. Whether it is outright lying by the candidates or voter disenfranchisement of certain ethnic groups or voter blocks, to name only two widely used ploys, no democratic election anywhere has ever been 100% pure and without flaw. Vote buying is another popular tactic used throughout the third world, and even in the U. S. (keyword labor unions).

As in the previous post I refer to fellow blogger Details-are-Sketchy for her somewhat outlandish remark.

Depending on your political leanings, this is either standard political campaigning or an insidious plot to steal the 2013 national election and enslave the nation in poverty (at the behest of the Hanoi masters, no doubt).
The tracking of individual political leanings, if true, is definitely creepy, and without a doubt illegal. Such information is very likely to get abused, and in spirit the color-coding scheme urinates all over a whole raft of human rights treaties. But such thuggish campaigning is also effective at marshaling votes, and history and independent polling suggest it will work.

Ha, ha, ha. I can see that the first sentence is probably tongue-in-cheek. But with that blogger you never know.

The second one is outright stupid and blind to modern electioneering strategies and tactics. Can she be so ignorant as not to know that in a village of 100 people everybody knows where everybody stands? Illegal? Urinates over a whole raft of human rights treaties? Ha, ha, ha.

Aside from that, take all this color-coding with a grain of salt. It sounds more ominous than it is and in one form or another it is done in all Western countries as well. So keep your knickers up so you won’t stumble while running.

No comments: