Reunion with Reality
Significant political reform will not come from the top. It will come from the people. We, the people, need to become government. We need to take it back from the top.
We can do this within the system with our votes. We can also effect change with demonstration and civil disobedience. We should do all.
What are the elements of reform? Well, just about everything to do with government institutions.
A Voters' Rights Amendment
We should consider a new constitutional amendment, which stipulates that only people who can vote for a candidate have the right to donate money to that candidate. It would eliminate corporate and foreign donations, cross-state-border donations, even cross-district-line donations. It would make all elections totally local, whether by district, statewide or national. The same should apply to donations to all organizations directly or indirectly supporting a candidate or the issues that the candidate supports. (There might be a clause that allows those, like convicted felons, who have lost the right to vote, to be able to donate in elections they would otherwise be eligible to vote in.)
Every voter should have her or his vote count equally, especially in presidential elections. The amendment should eliminate the Electoral College with language that says all elections shall be determined by popular vote. Currently states with low populations have a unrepresentative number of votes, and will likely object to the elimination of the Electoral College because of the advantage it seems to give them, but their rights will continue to be protected by their disproportional representation in the Senate, as guaranteed by Article V of the Constitution.
The Electoral College process is not only undemocratic, it limits the attention of candidates to so called 'swing states.' In an election determined purely by the number of votes, candidates would campaign for votes everywhere in every market. They may concentrate in larger markets for convenience sake, but every vote everywhere would carry the same weight. Suddenly, red votes in blue states would count; blue votes in red states would count. People would be more likely to vote in those states than they are at present.
It would be politically difficult to get the following amendment passed and tactically a good idea to get the first part passed and add the second later, but this is how I propose the amendment should eventually read.
Draft of a Voters’ Rights amendment:
“Only persons who are eligible to vote for a candidate have the right to donate money to that candidate or any organization directly or indirectly supporting that candidate or the issues that the candidate supports. The results of all elections shall be determined by the direct count of popular votes cast in each election.”
Increase voter participation!
Use new technology and communications to make voting easier and more secure. Make voting attractive, maybe even trendy. Perhaps we could create a national website where everyone who did vote could post their vote, not how they voted, but that they voted. A virtual red thumb.
Gerrymandate is no mandate!
We need a movement to take the redistricting process out of state legislatures. Both political parties have almost universally exploited it for their own benefit. Those who govern in bodies whose members are elected in gerrymandered districts have lost their credibility and their power is hollow. That includes the U.S. House of Representatives and many state legislatures.
The state legislatures will never change the system; they have too much vested interest. So, the process must be initiated by state-by-state referenda. There are organizations like the League of Women Voters and Common Cause who are working on this issue. We are stuck in a quagmire until this is changed.
Govern from the middle: open primaries!
The party system had failed us. Maybe it is time to throw out the red and blue babies with the bathwater. A solution is open primaries where everyone running for a seat is in the same pool. This will tend to elect people who appeal to larger segments of the voting pool.
Get rid of Senority!
The same old guys and gals have been running the show forever, it seems. Political parties have become ends unto themselves, not means to govern. An open primary season would help, but legislatures should restructure to give more power to the less senior. For example: let anyone in the House who can demonstrate a modicum of support for a bill bring it to the floor. Don't let the party leadership have all the control.
Lower the percentage of votes it takes to vote cloture in the Senate, maybe to 55%.
While we're at it, change the 'Block' rule in the Senate that allows one Senator to hold up legislation and appointments out of proportion to the Senator's mandate (as one representative of one state).
Copyright 2017 James Phoenix