Sunday, October 30, 2011
Electoral Reform draft
OCCYUPY ESPA asked for an article on electoral reform - here is what I sent them.
It is time to reform our electoral system. When you think about quality of life, health, and fairness in our society we can easily blame corporations – and we are justified to do so. Another thing we can blame is our electoral system. Private money, lack of choice, and lack of access are literally making us sick.
Our electoral system is very old – the first of modern European-based democracies. Thinking that it is the best is like thinking a Model-T car is the best because it was one of the first cars. Improvements have been made to vehicles and to democracy. We should use those.
Some of those improvements would help out our economic situation as well. Since those elected to power often set the regulations, or lack of regulations, on our economic system. Given the legit distrust for the electoral system and politicians we need better ways to regulate them – more democratic processes.
One of the most easily to think of given the corporate power in America is the implementation of mandatory public financing for all elections. Imagine if each of the cities standing in solidarity right now were to win this. People power would have a better chance over money power. Now, we can’t pretend that those with money would not look for ways to use that resource to undermine democracy. What would be different is that there would be a system to minimize that.
If this were to be implemented nationally it would have a huge impact. Even locally it would mean that one does not need to be well off to run for office. Currently there is almost no representation by working-class elected officials. If this happens in one city because of this movement that is still progress. If this happens in many cities in one state that will be a shift toward a democratic culture for that state. If this were to happen in ALL of the cities currently it would be an important shift toward national implementation. That would mean that elected officials would no longer have to be millionaires to run for office. I don’t know about you – I would prefer to be “represented” by a union laborer than someone who can spend a million dollars on a campaign.
There is a great deal of research that shows that countries with proportional representation distribute the resources of society better, are happier, and healthier. That is a major shift for US politics. Proportional representation is something that was not thought of at the time of the founding of the US. One thing that could start us along that road locally would be “Instant Runoff Voting.” Also known as “Rank Choice Voting,” this system makes sure that there are not “wasted” votes when there are more than two candidates. Having this seemingly minor reform would transform those who could run.
As it stands now many “progressive” political machines will discourage good candidates from running in order to be able to beat Republicans. This so-called progressive approach actually gives New Mexicans, and Americans LESS CHOICE! That is how dysfunctional our current voting system is. And instead of challenging it liberals and progressives just try to beat it by eliminating choices.
Ending photo ID for voting, easing ballot access laws, and same day voter registration would also help out in creating a more democratic electoral system.
For those of you who vote – again I ask you imagine what it would be like for each of our cities to win instant runoff voting and mandatory public financing.