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A Dutch Immigrant’s Perspective on Democracy

by M. Vanleeuwen

You may recall the farmers’ protests in the Netherlands last year. Several people asked me what this was about. Essentially, the government created a ‘nitrogen-crisis,’ which existed only on paper, by establishing limits on emissions that no one else had and was causing gridlock on farmers’ output. The Netherlands is an innovative and top world producer and exporter of food, producing food and feeding millions of people worldwide. The new rules would virtually eliminate this position, threatening the world’s food supply chain. The real reason behind this is that they needed the farmland to build millions of houses to facilitate the steady stream of immigrants and asylum seekers; eliminating the farmers’ position first would make the eminent domain of the farmland much less costly.

But the Netherlands is a lively democracy with no mail-in voting, and there were provincial elections this week. These elections were important because these provincial parliament members vote for the Senate. And so, a new party arose that took the farmers’ position to heart. They scored a big win, eliminating the government’s coalition majority in the Senate, making it difficult to continue their destructive policies. This time the Dutch living abroad could also vote; ( they indirectly vote for the Senate also.)The last word in the evaluation is that they concluded that the mail-in voting process (done strictly with ID verification) is ‘as leaky as a basket’ (a Dutch expression for prone to fraud).

The Netherlands is a democracy where people can correct a government that’s on a destructive path, even within a regular 4-year parliamentary period.

What does that have to do with Burien? Most Burienites notice their town being destroyed by the policies of a Council composition that started with the election in 2017. In a lively democracy, these paths are being corrected, but do we have that type of democracy here? A mail-in voting democracy with unlimited ballot harvesting where only around 30 percent of the outstanding ballots are being turned in is merely a “democracy-theater.” Ballot harvesting changes the 1 to 1 relationship between a person and votes to a 1-to-N relationship. With a binary party system and so many ballots out there to be harvested, an organized party effort can easily tilt an election in their favor. Even largely unpopular decisions, like allowing the DESC to come into town, have yet to impact the outcome. There has been only one outsider elected over the last three elections (Stephanie Mora), and only because her opponent angered the party overlords by endorsing their son’s opponent for the King County Council.

Is anyone else seeing the picture here?

Concerning the DESC, has anyone noticed any tent villages arising around the city halls of neighboring cities? Why is this happening only in Burien? The answer is simple: because Burien has been the only town outside of Seattle allowing this downtown destroying facility; these places act like magnets. Now everybody is hoping that the tents will be removed by the end of the month, but they simply will move them to the sidewalk because they “can’t be removed from public spaces”-( if you give Morris vs. Boise a broad interpretation.)

Why didn’t the politicians protect the interest of the town which they were elected to work for? Because the politicians were looking after their own interests (seeking donations to their campaigns and feeding their ambitions for higher offices). A lively democracy would correct it, but a “democracy-theater” simply can’t.

M. Vanleeuwen – Burien resident

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