This piece was written in honor of the Fourth of July and a war that was supposedly fought to end taxation without representation.If you are a tyrant, military junta, oppressive sectarian organization or a single-party state which is facing criticism from the West for opposing democracy, there is no need for violent crackdowns or risking sanctions. The United States has already provided a great precedent for how to deny basic voting rights and self-governance to your citizens while still claiming to be a democracy.
Step One – Finding out where most of your dissidents, political opponents, ethnic minorities and/or opposition party members live.
Step Two – Redraw your country’s internal borders to make all of these areas part of a new special federal “capital district.”
Step Three – Create some idiotic justification to declare that citizens in this capital district aren’t allowed vote in federal elections and also give the federal government complete power to rewrite any law approved by the local government in this capital district.
Now, you must be thinking there is no way the West would allow a country to claim it is a democracy if it systematically disenfranchises hundreds of thousands of its citizens who are largely ethnic minorities, but you would be very wrong.
This is exactly how the United States treats the hundreds of thousands of citizens living in the District of Columbia. They are forced to pay federal taxes despite being denied federal representation or the right to self-governance on local issues. Yet there is effectively zero international condemnation of this obviously undemocratic situation, and members of a major political party face almost no repercussions for perpetuating and abusing this unjust situation.
If the United States can get away with it, then so can you.
Map image by Leeann Cafferata under Creative Commons license. Portrait of King George III and Queen Charlotte with their six eldest children, 1770, by Johann Zoffany.