Four Electoral Reforms For Citizen Power
The pervasiveness of Corporate Power in Western Democracy can be attributed to very well engineered Democratic processes. People are separated from the actual decision of who leads them, nor does the general populous have the time or resources to engage in their systems in a meaningful way. In America’s two-party system the spectrum is cut at the center, leaving the American political ‘left’ in the center and the right in libertarian la-la land. Their votes are then considered by representatives in an Electoral College, who actually cast the vote for President. In Britain voters don’t get to directly choose their leaders they choose a party from which the Monarch picks a Prime Minister. The Chinese vote for a local government, which votes for the level of government above it, and so on. Meaning that the Chinese people’s only relation to the election of their President is through a vote for a person, who votes for a person, who votes for the President, one step further removed than the American system but far closer than the British system. Mark Twain famously said “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.” Well, let’s discuss how to change this with a focus on the USA.
Publicly Funded Elections: One of the issues that keeps politicians in the pockets of big money is the necessity to fundraise throughout their time in office in order to raise the money to run their next re-election campaign, plus a dash of greed. American politicians spend a significant percentage of their day-to-day schedule making phone calls for their party, soliciting donations, and attending fundraising events. This is time they could be using to address the issues that their electorate expects them to address. It also raises questions about their ability to represent all of their constituents, rather than just their big donors. These systems have been set up in different ways and to varying effect but anything is better than a system where our elected officials cannot focus on solving problems because they need to worry about bringing money in. Some systems allot every citizen a small ($50) donation to be appropriated at their will. Others give a certain amount to anybody able to get enough signatures to get on the ballot and limit the donations for people who choose not to take the money. All of these systems lower the barriers to entry into political races and remove the influence of big-money donors over candidates.
Election Day As A National Holidays and Mandatory Voting: Voting day in the US is a Tuesday. Unsurprisingly, ridiculous proportions of the US electorate don’t vote in every election and the poorer you are, the less likely you are to vote. Also, the Republican attack on black, working class voters makes it so that early voting lasts less time and people from low-income areas need to wait in long lines to vote. People from low-income areas tend to vote against the Republicans. To address this America could make election day a national holiday, institute mandatory voting, and federalize early voting standards.
Break The Two-Party System: The Republicans and Democrats are the good and bad cops of corporate power, depending on your political perspective. They both do the work of the rich and use rhetoric and the vote to give the public a feeling of being involved. Third party and independent involvement in the political system is controlled by the financial advantage of candidates seeking corporate money and the administration of debates. I prefer the Green Party as it’s an actual left-wing alternative to the frustratingly centrist Democrats. Some people prefer the Libertarians as an ideologically purer version of conservative corporate cronyism. Follow this link for an entertaining list of American parties. Breaking the two-party system would help expand the debate away from what’s tenable for plutocrats and able to be packaged and sold to the public as ‘in their interests’. This would also require Campaign Finance Reform (Publicly Funded Elections) and Instant Runoff Voting to be successful.
Instant-Runoff Voting: Instant Runoff Voting is an alternative voting that allows voters to use their vote in a more expressive manner. It allows voters to rank the candidates. If a candidate doesn’t receive a majority of the votes then the last-ranked candidate is dropped and their voters’ second choices are tallied. This continues until one of the candidates wins with a majority of the vote. This alternative voting system allows voters to vote for a third party candidate without holding the concern that their vote is contributing to the Presidency of a candidate who they find offensive over one that they merely consider immoral. This system was voted in in Maine in this weeks’ (2016) election.
Just over 50% of eligible American voters voted in the 2016 election. Neither party was happy with the outcome of the Presidential race. The left abandoned the Democrats because they ran a centrist campaign with a candidate who was widely opposed for many reasons, some of them based in her record some of them based in gender-bias. However, the Democrats failed to make a message that inspired people to vote. The Republican party was hijacked by Donald Trump in the primaries. Their pandering to white supremacy, misogyny, anti-elitism, and libertarianism became explicit through their braggadocious candidate. The Republican establishment tried to jump ship, several of them moving to the Clinton campaign, others simply disavowing his more outrageous rhetoric. In the end, Trump’s rhetoric won the Presidency, Senate, and House from the DNC’s neoliberalism. The Left is stuck in-fighting as the DNC’s message of corporatism and war but not Trump didn’t bring the far-left and working class out to cast a blue vote.
What people aren’t paying too much attention to is that the American electoral system needs an overhaul. The RNC won in a system stripped of regulations on voting discrimination (The Voting Rights Act) and cut into unrecognizable voting blocs (gerrymandering) that allow the parties to maintain control in their territories. Above, I’ve discussed developments that the system could use and avoided going into the negatives. But it’s clear that our elections do not reflect the people’s interests or wishes and in the next two years the people need to draft solutions and use mass mobilization to push for quick reforms to the system. We need to put the Praetorian Guard (government) of the Plutocrats on their back foot and make a system that holds hope for the future of humanity.