This is going to be a much shorter version of what I had here before it vanished for no particular reason...
According to many, the Philippines is a country in turmoil. Technically a democracy, they have huge problems with election violence and corruption. (Although it's worth pointing out that there are certainly countries with bigger problems in each category...)
So why is it a problem there and not here? How is it that a country largely shaped out of ruins by the US has such problems holding an honest, non-violent election? (Let's put aside the debate over possible corruption in 2000 in Florida; it might be true, it might not, but seemingly it's a fairly isolated incident.) What does the US have that the Philippines lacks? And it is not a question of the Philippine people being crazy or anything like that, because they're not. How is it that the Filipinos take elections so seriously and are so terrible at it?
I was in the Philippines this election on May 10th. (There's a whole story behind that which I'll probably get around to posting one day, but for now let's just say it was personal and had nothing to do with out-sourcing.) People died in that election; maybe not that many, but even though the fatalities were lower than, say, car accidents that day... the car accidents were accidents, and the election violence wasn't. (That said, CNN certainly sensationalized the election violence. I went to a polling station, and it was certainly calm. I went "home" and sipped ice tea while watching about the horror, the horror on CNN. But CNN spinning a news story to make it bigger isn't exactly a news story anymore.)
But I'm digressing. My question is this: What is the Philippines lacking that makes their elections so dangerous and corrupted? What particular check/balance does the US have that makes it different? Or is it something the Philippines has that the US doesn't that throws off the equilibrium so badly? Is it just a question of extremes? Is America going to see something similiar one day?
I hope nobody finds this insulting. I just want to know what you think it is... one thing Im pretty sure it's not is a fundamental difference between Filipinos and Americans. They're not a hostile people by nature.
Disclosure: I'm a Canadian, not an American. But you can replace "American" with "American or Canadian," or even "most of the Western world" in much of the above if you prefer, save for the bits about the Americans helping shape the current structure. And nobody is about to complain about that; whatever mistakes were made, they're better than what was there before.