The election in Afghanistan on Saturday will be a useful and harrowing contrast to the comedic hi-jinks and statistical anomalies on display in the U.S. primary races this week. Even though she was accused of corruption (spending campaign money for her personal expenses) by her own former campaign manager Christine O’Donnell, anointed by the Tea Party and bolstered by a quarter of a million bucks in out-of-state spending, took down the GOP establishment candidate Mike Castle. In Afghanistan corruption takes the form of printing thousands of fake counterfeit ballots. Lots of candidates are in on this. The printers are all in Pakistan and when the whistle is blown on these “corruption entrepreneurs” across the border they may get arrested for a few days and then released. Imagine Canadian companies making counterfeit voting machines at the behest of candidates for Senate and Governor.
In the U.S. primary races voter turnout is an issue for both parties. Low turnout favors insurgencies like the Tea Party and hurts the Democrats in November. In a macabre parallel, low turnout not only favors the insurgency in Afghanistan, keeping people from voting is the explicit mission of the Taliban which has threatened to kill candidates, especially women candidates. Voters have openly expressed the fear that they will be maimed and harassed even having their ears cut off, just for voting. They will go to the polls in Afghanistan on Saturday. There may be flaws in the process of Democracy in corrupt and violent Afghanistan, there’s no denying the passion and courage of some of the candidates and voters.There will be lots of tea drunk in Afghanistan this weekend as voters (mostly men) talk and do politics. Unlike in the U.S. there may not be much of a tea party.