Note: The content was pulled in whole from my post on Electoral Reform and then updated and adjusted for this new site.
Any candidate that does not have electoral reform as one of their primary issues is the problem.James O’Neill
Once we have started correcting our value systems and have supercharged our education systems, then the next step is to create a government which actually represents our new value system and the people, and is actually democratic in form. If the government does not represent our values, the people, and the natural world then, again, no matter what value changes or reforms we make, they will be undone by corporate and 1% interests because they own the government and the governmental processes whose only value is profit no matter the cost in human lives or to the natural world.
If we do not have a government that is as diverse and representative of the breadth of our people then it cannot in any proper form represent us. How can a government represent or protect minorities if minorities do not have a real voice or representation? If our governmental processes do not truly facilitate governmental action that is truly ethical, democratic, and representative then we do not truly have a voice and, therefore, it shall be a plague upon the Earth and upon Humanity.
When we have a value system in place that supports Humanity, the environment, and peace and then also have a truly representative and democratic government then, eventually, the rest of the reforms listed on this policy site would follow as a logical result because the values and political systems are in place to promote and support it.
B. The United States has NEVER been a Democracy
The first thing you need to understand is that the United States has NEVER been a democracy, and I am not even talking about the pedantic fact of America being a Republic. From America’s very inception not everyone had the right to vote, not everyone had their voice heard. At first it was just land-owning white males which was barely 20% of the colonial population. Many people fought and died over many years for your right to vote, especially women and minorities, and this battle is still not over today. Voting Rights in the US (Wikipedia).
- Non-white men and freed male slaves are guaranteed the right to vote in 1870 although Southern states suppressed the voting rights of black and poor white voters through Jim Crow Laws. Black males in the Northern states could vote, but the majority of African Americans lived in the South.
- Women did not get the right to vote until 1920 although still faced poverty and racial issues.
- Native Americans did not get the right to vote until 1924
- Chinese Immigrants were given the right to vote in 1943
- Minorities, especially African Americans had their right to vote protected in some southern states by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (Which was recently gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013. Pretty much the day following that disastrous decision quite a few states passed voter suppression laws which we are still keeping people from casting their vote.).
Even today, minorities (and everyone else too) and the poverty stricken are still fighting against significant suppression of their right to vote and many people still cannot vote. They are dealing with voter suppression all of the time from closing down polling locations and long wait times, to voter ID requirements and voter roll purges. Here is a list of 61 forms of voter suppression (Voting Rights Alliance).
C. One-Party Corporatocracy
1. America is NOT a Democracy
If you have not read through my posts on the Suppression Inherent in America’s Two-Party System and Lesser of Two-Evils Voting is Antithetical to Democracy then please do, because they explain simply why we have a two-party and why it is harmful. Many of the reforms here will be aimed at breaking up the corrupt and suppressive two-party system that we have here which stifles free speech, prevents an educated, inspired, and participating electorate, and prevents democracy as a whole from actually existing in America. Reading those two posts will help you to understand and frame the context of these reforms better.
We cannot have a truly representative democracy or a government that represents the people until our horribly broken electoral system is fixed. Our corrupt corporate owned government is what stands in the way of America being a truly great country instead of the laughing stock that we are due to how corrupt and fraud-ridden our system is. It would be amazing if we could finally join the rest of the world and be an actual democracy and not just throw the word around just because we like the sound of the word or because it is seen as a sacred – though defiled – part of our people’s collective history.
- U.S. ranked worst among Western democracies
- Land of the free? Harvard study ranks America worst in the West for fair elections
- Shameful. American democracy ranks 45th in the world in electoral integrity
2. Congress Does NOT Care What the 99% Thinks
As a byproduct of NOT being a democracy you also need to to understand that our representatives do not care about public opinion unless you are rich:
- ‘Oligarchic tendencies’: Study finds only the wealthy get represented in the Senate (The Raw Story, Aug 2013)
- Does Democracy Still Work in America (the Young Turks, Sep 2013)
- Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy (BBC, Apr 2014)
Here are some quotes from the above studies and their coverage:
In all 5 Congresses examined, the voting records of the Senators were consistently aligned with the opinions of their wealthiest constituents. The opinions of lower-class constituents, however, never appeared.Eric Dolan (Raw Story)
Although Americans might not easily identify along class lines, this does not mean that politicians representing these citizens do not respond to them in this manner. If equal responsiveness is a fundamental practice in a democratic society, my findings question the degree to which this occurs,Thomas J. Hayes of Trinity University
The neglect of the lower income groups was a bipartisan affair. Democrats were not more responsive to the poor than Republicans.Eric Dolan (Raw Story)
The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule near-zero, statistically non-significant, impact upon public policy.Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University
“Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens”, Perspectives on Politics (2014)
My analysis, which examines Senator behavior on a large number of votes, shows evidence of responsiveness to only the wealthy, a distinct problem for any democracy, … In some ways, this suggests oligarchic tendencies in the American system, a finding echoed in other research.Thomas J. Hayes of Trinity University
3. And Yet Congress Still Keeps Getting Elected, How?
Here are 3 sets of numbers that might help to put some of this into perspective and to show you why this is so important:
- in 2016 barely 9% of the population selected Clinton and Trump and in the primary elections which means 9% of the population had their voices heard and were responsible (barring fraud and other corruptions) chose Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
- In the 2020 general election, despite a record turnout, only 10% of eligible Americans nationwide cast ballots in primary elections that effectively decided the winners in a supermajority (83%) of Congressional seats. (Unite America)
- In Aug 2021 Congress has a 28% approval rating, but yet also has a 90%+ reelection rate? Why is that? Why do we continue keeping shitty people in Congress?
D. Reclaiming Our Electoral System for the People and NOT the 1%
Enacting comprehensive electoral reform will fix many, many problems including corporate ownership of our government which has resulted in the US no longer being a country having transformed into the largest supranational corporate conglomerate with its own private military (the largest and most powerful in the world) and whose primary global export is for profit terrorism.
This is why We the People must demand them and work hard for these reforms because our politicians, who are supposed to represent us, and their corporate owners sure do not want these to become a reality for it would return the government back to the people where it belongs. Electoral Reform is not just necessary; it is an imperative. I expect there are some reforms and ideas that I have not included here. I will add them as I find them.
This page is a massive list of reforms that need to be done in order to help return the United States to be something even borderline resembling a democracy. The fist step listed below is perhaps the most important and the most powerful of the steps and enacting them would most likely bring about the rest in due time. Many of these reforms can be enacted on a local level too.
So why have these reforms not been done yet? Well, three very simple reasons. By doing so:
- politicians would lose a lot of money and power
- corporations (which own our politicians) would lose a lot of money and power as well as their control over our government
- electoral reform is not a sexy campaign issue for politicians to lead a campaign with (and interferes with the first item in this list)
I have the reforms broken down into 8 sections:
- Constitutional Amendments
- Financing of Elections
- News and Media Reform
- Voting Reform
- Ethical Reform for Parties and Process
- The Revolving door
- Supporting Electoral Reform
- An Inclusive America
I. Constitutional Amendments
This first batch of reforms are the most important, but also very difficult to make happen because of how difficult it is to pass one constitutional amendment let alone seven. Their implementation will have a wide and powerful effect since the violation a constitutional right would require stricter scrutiny and greater protection from the courts since those rights would then be specifically constitutionally protected. Once any of these amendments are enacted other reforms may follow in some way because of the new protections of voting rights and the lawsuits that would inevitably follow from them. Preferably, the passing of these amendments would also include a companion bill or bills which would implement the rest of the reforms instead of waiting for the lengthy judicial system process to finish while people’s rights are being grossly violated.
- Overturn Citizens United – The Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010 which effectively has allowed unlimited personal and private spending in elections because they ruled that corporations, which are run and operated by people, shall be considered a legal persons with respect to elections, and the limiting of how much they can spend to influence an election is a violation of the corporate-person’s rights to free speech. We need this overturned and for an amendment to say that corporations are not people and money is not speech. Ever since this was passed we have seen and an unprecedented amount of money spent for presidential elections – near 5 billion dollars which is over ten times what was spent prior. Surely we can find a better use for this obscene amount of money. This is proposed over at Move to Amend.
- Restore the Voting Rights Act (VRA): Restore the VRA which was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013 and that provides protection from political based voter suppression. This also needs to be extended to include all of the states, because voter suppression happens in ALL states. Not just the southern states.
- Voting is a Right – An amendment needs to be passed that explicitly states that voting is explicitly a constitutionally protected right so that it is much more difficult for our rights to vote to be violated or limited. The courts would have to apply stricter scrutiny and have higher protections towards challenges to our right to vote.
- Voter’s Bill of Rights – Having a Voters Bill of Rights passed to enumerate rights for voting which shall be explicitly protected, but shall contain a clause that this is not an all-inclusive list. This would make it even tougher for laws to be passed or for others to limit our ability to vote and have our voices heard.
- End the Electoral College – The electoral college needs to be ended and we need to shift to direct election through Ranked Choice Voting. (I will have a post on this at some point.). Perhaps we should consider something even more radical such as the way that Switzerland’s highest office operates:
- Proportional Representation – use proportional representation methods such as Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) for other positions so that Congress and other plural member seats can more accurately represent the people and their views. This will greatly help to break up the two-party stranglehold on our government and allow for a more representational government and policy. Check out my post on the Suppression Inherent in America’s Two-Party System so you can really see why this is important.
- Consensus Democracy: In order to truly return the government to the people we need to shift to a consensus based democracy. I have created as sample process in my post a Legislative Process for a Consensus Based Digital Democracy.
II. Financing of Elections
Getting money out of politics is very, very important. Currently, corporate money in politics means that the corporations and the rich control and own our elected officials, our government and our laws which end up not caring about nor representing the citizens of the United States. A study has already shown that our representatives do not care about public opinion unless you are rich (The Young Turks coverage) and that is a significant problem since 99% of Americans are NOT at all even close to being ‘rich’.
- Just public funding of elections only
- There is the concept of Democracy Dollars which I found interesting.
- Lesser choice – Only money coming directly from citizens should be allowed with strict specific limits. No corporate or PAC money at all… EVAR!!!
- Lesser Choice – Public funding of elections with fund matching and no ability to seek outside money to bypass public funding or spending limits.
- This will also hopefully prevent congress from taking 2/3rds of a year off (or more) to court their corporate donors which is what they do now and, instead, spend more time governing and listening to the people.
III. News and Media Reform
Because the media is one of the primary places that people use to get their information and, mistakenly, assume that they are at least somewhat impartial, which is not at all true in today’s world. The media needs an incredible amount of reform since it has a staggering effect on how what people know and how they vote. The deregulation by Reagan and Clinton has lead to widespread corruption with the media ending up as the propaganda arm of the corporations and the rich.
Getting money out of politics completely is the first part of the media problem. Next, we have to ensure that we have an honest and somewhat unbiased media so the people can realistically assume some level of honesty and impartiality. We have lost most of our investigative journalists due to much of the deregulation which then allowed these journalists to be charged with serving their corporate agendas and not serving the people or truth.
- Corporate Media
- Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine – that Reagan repealed to ensure that news and shows report things fairly and honestly, which should also bring back the power of investigative journalism to help hold the government, politicians, and corporations more responsible for their actions. The repeal of this is what has allowed the right-wing propaganda and fear generating abomination, Fox News, to come into being.
- Repair the Telecommunications Act of 1996 – which was passed by Bill Clinton and resulted in the deregulation of the telecommunications industry allowing the creation of the 6 mega media corporate conglomerates that now control all of our media resulting in the largest corporate propaganda machine for the 1%.
- Break up the media conglomerates – Currently, almost all of the mainstream media is controlled by 6 conglomerates as mentioned above which gives us the illusion of choice and competition and then need to be drastically broken up to give more real choice and competition.
- Election Reporting
- Hold Voting Reports – Do not publish vote results until all are counted, Media reports can be used to affect or manipulate voting and turnouts as we have seen in the major unethical turns during elections.
- Require Exit Polls – Exit polls should be mandatory and should be recorded and saved to attempt to combat and detect electoral fraud. Protecting democracy is of the utmost important.
- Fair Candidates and Candidate Honesty
- Fact Checking – fact checking for debates and all candidate advertising to keep them honest.
- Extensive Candidate History – There needs to be an extensive and easy to use website website which lists the candidate’s information so that voters can make an educated choice. It also needs to be presented in a way that is easily digestible by the general public. There are quite a few similar sites like this available currently, but do not go far enough. It needs to list:
- Biography/Identity Politics traits
- voting record
- policies/current stances on issues
- their history of stances on the issues
- links to interviews, etc and anything else a voter might need to assess the candidates to combat voter ignorance.
- their campaign finance trail (sponsorship patches)
- all of this needs to be tied together so a voter can see a cohesive vision of the candidate.
- Candidates by the Issues: In order to shift people away from the dominance, loyalty, and brainwashing of the 2 parties, cults of personality, and identity politics the above mentioned website, in a manner similar to ISideWith.com, needs to be able to have you enter in the issues that are important to you so you can find the candidates who support your important issues regardless of party, and this needs to show you every candidate running for office regardless of party affiliation.
- Equal Air Time – If candidates still have access to TV and radio waves then time and spots should be handed out equally to all candidates who are participating as a requirement for the station to carry any. This could possibly be added as an addendum to the Fairness Doctrine mentioned above. In Britain, TV advertising is not allowed at all, so maybe we do that?
- No Advertising: No advertising during debates, town halls, interviews, or other official candidate viewings.
- Government Pushing Election Awareness
- Each state’s Secretary of State should work with local County Clerks and all media outlets to make sure that the public is very well aware that an election is coming up, what and who is on the ballot, and if there are any changes to the polling places or procedures, etc. With the exception of the presidential election, most people do not typically know when an election is being held. This is especially important for midterm elections which have even lower voter turnout. If people do not know an election is coming then they will not vote nor educate themselves on the candidates or issues.
- Each and every media and social media outlet should be required to carry and inform the electorate of elections to ensure that everyone has the info they need for each election. Perhaps we can have required air time available for government election awareness of sorts.
IV. Voting Reform
Here are some core reforms that will help to make the voting process more democratic and easier so that more people may be inspired to vote, have their vote more accurately reflect their values, or to have the vote reflect the will of the people and not the will of the process.
- Public Education – create a significant amount of PSA’s to educate the public on how elections work and how important their vote is. I have an entire post on Why you need to vote in EVERY… Single… Election!.
- Eliminate caucuses – It is a time intensive process (many hours late into the night) to which many people cannot participate in due to working, children, etc and this greatly reduces participation, suppresses the voice of the people, is not representative, and therefore it is inherent undemocratic. Not to mention the bullshit of coin tosses determining a candidate’s fate. Because of this we must require primaries elections.
- Require Open Primaries – We need open primaries so that everyone can vote for who they want regardless of party affiliation, otherwise votes may be suppressed due to party registration issues which was a large part of the problem in the 2016 and 2020 elections. This also allows people to consider, learn and be able to change their mind right up to the moment they vote. This also gives more freedom to more centrist and independent voters who may like candidates from both sides of the isle.
- Eliminate Superdelegates – Superdelegates were created specifically to allow the corporate establishment (the 1%) to overrule the will of the people (vs the 99%) and to stomp down on progressive and grassroots movements so that the presidency stays within the control of the corporations and the rich. The peoples’ votes count for approximately 80% through delegates earned through the primary/caucus process then, at the national convention, the other 20% of the votes are cast by the superdelegates which are selected and assigned by party insiders who vote for the candidate that party wants and can override the will of the people, especially because the Electors are NOT required to vote for their candidate in the proportion that their state voted. This is in no way democratic and it needs to stop.
- No Block Party Voting Required – People should be able to vote for whichever candidates that they like regardless of the candidate’s party membership which would allow the people to cast their vote for who they want and not who the party wants as is the specific case when talking about the Vice President. Of course, block voting should be allowed to for those who want it too.
- Eliminate Requirements for Write-in Candidates – most states have very restrictive laws for write-in candidates which is very undemocratic. We need to allow the people to vote for who they want and not unnecessarily restrict their choices. Currently, third parties have almost zero impact on elections.
- Ranked Choice Voting (RCV)/Instant Run-off Voting (IRV) –
- Instant run-off Voting for single winner elections will allow for a more accurate result from an election by allowing people to truly vote their values and so they do not believe that their vote is wasted. Believing that their vote may be wasted keeps people from voting their values or for who they really want which results in some people who do not vote at all feeling disaffected from the whole system. Maine, just used it for the 2020 presidential election.
- End the Electoral College – end the electoral college, which will required a constitutional amendment (I will have a post on this at some point.). Shift to direct election through Ranked Choice Voting.
- State Funding of ID’s for voting: If needed, the state should pay for the ID or birth certificates needed for voting so that no one is denied their right to vote.
- More Open Voting – so that no one is denied their right to vote and the voice of the people may be heard
- Automatic voter registration
- Same day voter registration
- 30-day early voting open for all states
- Out of precinct voting allowed
- Mail-in ballots allowed
- Online voter registration and Online voting
- less than 30 minute voting lines
- Liquid Democracy – perhaps a shift of voting system towards a modified version of Liquid Democracy, especially once combined with the ISideWith (issue based) sort of technology and blockchain.
- Do not use proprietary electronic voting machines – for it is too easy to hack them and there is plenty of proof of this. Possibly only use open source machines so that their code and results can be verified with a paper trail and have a paper ballot available for those who want them.
- Require a paper trail – in order to be able to verify all results.
- Re-vote if there are inconsistencies – If there are any inconsistencies that cannot be realistically corrected then there should be a re-vote in the affected areas so that each person has their vote counted otherwise their voices are not heard and that is inherently undemocratic. Not re-voting when there are problems is an inherent suppression of people’s right to have their voices and vote counted, and allows for fraud to stand which also has people doubt the honesty of the election and of the whole process reducing voter turnout.
- General Voting Management:
- All votes should be saved until at least a 6 months past the election time, or as long as needed if there is even a possibility of a challenge of the election results such as pending lawsuits.
- All ballots should be available to have them prevalidated prior to the voter leaving that way the ballot can be fixed or redone prior to the voter leaving so that the ballot will not have a reason to be thrown out.
- There should be only 1 type of ballot – not a ballot which gets counted and a provisional ballot which does not get used. This violates a person’s right to vote and their right to have their voice heard.
Check out this amazing video: Voting (Last Week Tonight)
V. Ethical Reform for Parties and Process
We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity. Leaders who can subject their particular egos to the pressing urgencies of the great cause of freedom.Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “The Birth of a New Age,” address delivered on 11 August 1956 at the Fiftieth Anniversary of Alpha Phi Alpha in Buffalo
- Separate Legal Entity for Political Parties – we need a separate legal entity for political parties so that they cannot say that they are a private entity and can do whatever they want such as ignore the voters. These should also require… Ethical Foundations for Political Parties
- Ethical Foundations for Political Parties: Political parties as entities should require stringent ethical and philosophical foundations in order to exist so that they represent the people and not other entities. They must be fair and nonpartisan to their candidates and processes. Ethics based on such things as:
- External Ethics Review Boards
- These boards must be politically independent which can review ethical complaints
- There must be boards which handle federal, state, and local positions
- Ethical and Knowledge Foundations for Candidates: Prospective candidates should be required to take various classes to support and educate their run for office so they have a clue what they are getting into. All such classes should be free, open to the public, and available online and in person as well. It should be available to test at the various levels and it should be required to take every few years or so, especially the general civics. They must pass these various modules and their tests in order to qualify to run as a candidate.
- General Civics: where you learn about general governmental operation, US history, and the US Constitution.
- Ethics for Candidates: where you about ethics requirements for candidates.
- Philosophical Pillars: The 8 Philosophical Pillars for Peace in Humanity
- Candidacy: what is needed to run for a given position, and how to run a campaign
- Candidate Position: where they will learn about:
- the position, its responsibilities, limitations, and its local history
- the governmental operation and interplay
- Yearly Update: a class which talks about the last year for that position nation wide and what has happened in those positions.
- Public Run Commission for Presidential Debates
- The Commission for Presidential Debates needs to be explicitly publicly run and non-partisan or possibly even activist in nature, which is where the presidential debates started.
- Candidates from ALL parties should be available for debates (?or a minimum number of parties – 6+?)
- The debates need to be more interactive instead of scripted to allow for candidate cross-talk and for citizen participation. The debates should not be a stage for scripted corporate propaganda speak, to control or limit the narrative or topics, or to limit the public’s access to the issues and critique that matter to them.
VI. The Revolving Door
We need to end the revolving door from government to Wall Street.
I do not know an effective way to deal with this. As long as profit and million dollar paydays can be had following their terms in office, then this will ALWAYS be a problem. They will always find a way to get paid. The best we might be able to do is to delay it a little bit, or at worst, to drive it underground.
If you say they cannot register as a lobbyist for a few years, well, then they will work for a consulting firm or thinktank which will work with a lobbyist firm. They will get their corporate payday for their influence and knowledge. Perhaps, their lobbying will be done in informal settings like parties or social events. The rich have plenty of those right? There are plenty of ways around the ‘not registering as a lobbyist‘ that they can use to influence things and still get their payday.
The Public Servant Caste – This concept will never happen, but perhaps, the only way to really deal with this ‘revolving door issue‘ while within a monetary system is to do something similar to the Knights Watch in Game of Thrones. In order for someone to work in government then they have to renounce family and business ties, as well as getting rid of titles and investments. They become a permanent member of the Public Servant Caste which will provide housing, pay, healthcare, retirement, etc for life, much like being in the military. They can NEVER accept money or other things ever from outside sources. Everything they will ever have will be provided by their caste.
VII. Supporting Electoral Reform
- Election Holiday Weekend – All official election days (federal, state, and local) should be federal holidays and should start on Friday so we can have a 3 day weekend to educate ourselves and talk to our friends and families to figure out who to vote for, and then cast our votes. If there is already a holiday on that Friday then we should have the election weekend begin on a Thursday.
- Shorter election cycle – 1-month debate cycle + 1 week of pre and post debate limited advertising instead of a cycle of almost 2 years which results in everyone hating election years and the politicians.
- Simultaneous Elections – All elections (general and primary) should be at same time (on the same day) so that the results of one election does not affect the others which may come after it. This would also reduce political maneuvering through dropping out, endorsements, and other political and electoral manipulations.
- Non-partisan redistricting – putting an end to gerrymandering so that people chose the politicians and not the politicians chose their people. This also gives a significant advantage to the party in power which is also at and advantage which choosing who the districts are drawn which further suppresses the voice of the people.
- Non-partisan electoral commissions
- reinstate the Voting Rights Act and apply it to all of the states which could work well to institute a non-partisan electoral commission to participate in protecting our electoral rights from state and local attempts to suppress voting and act as a buffer and quicker actor to slower judicial action
- Set number of polling places according to a basic formula including expected voter turnout and anything changes needs approval similar to the voting rights act
- Employer paid time off for all poll workers – like holiday pay to work the polls and for training. We have significant problems with not having enough people to man the polls or those that do really have no idea what they are doing. Same day training is not enough because there is a lot to know.
- Non-partisan electoral oversight – of election process to watch for fraud and to keep things honest which will also help to keep people having faith in the system and the integrity of their votes. The Non-partisan Electoral Commission could handle this too.
- End Term Limits – for they are completely undemocratic. Term Limits for Politicians Solve Very Little (Free Xenon, Jul 2019)
VIII. An Inclusive Democracy
- Voting Age – If you turn 18 in the year of the election you can vote.
- Felons: Felons should be able to vote even while in prison. They still have a voice for they are still human, and voting should be a constitutionally protected right.
- Permanent Resident Immigrants: Permanent Resident Immigrants should have the right to vote in local elections for these elections will greatly impact them.
- Natural Born President – End requirement for President to be a Natural Born citizen.
- America’s territories should have a full vote and representation in congress too:
- Washington DC should be granted full statehood, autonomy, and ability to vote and representation in congress (Washington DC Statehood [Last Week Tonight]) (video can be found below)