Greetings and Salutations.
This is the Second collection of musings on the political situation in America. My first (somewhat lengthy) discussion is located Here.
What would I like to see changed in the political landscape of America?
First off, I am going to look at the way Voters are treated, gain access to, and cast ballots in today’s system. As I noted in the previous commentary, there are some issues…
- Voter registration should be automatic when the age voting being allowed is reached. It should be validated with driver’s license data, or other available information. As a side effect of this…the requirements for getting a valid, state ID should be eased, so that it does not require citizens to travel excessive amounts to get one. Too many voters are disenfranchised today because of the difficulties of getting the valid ID.
- The only reason a voter can be purged from the rolls is on confirmation of death, or, notification that they have moved out of the state.
- The State should provide sufficient drop boxes for ballots that no citizen is more than 30 minutes away from a drop box. In Texas, for example, the number of drop boxes was cut down to ONE per District…causing many voters to have to drive excessive lengths to leave their ballots.
Now then, what about the elected officials and the process of lawmaking? Note that I am focusing on the Federal Government here…as many local governments already implemented these changes. However, the proposed changes could apply to state Legislators and Governors, too.
- Term limits for Congress. I would suggest 6, 2 year terms for House members, and 3, 6 year terms for Senators.
- Bills, destined to become laws, should only deal with ONE topic. Any amendments to those bills should only apply directly to the subject of the bill itself.
- When a Bill is passed by the House, and sent to the Senate, it must be considered in a timely fashion. If it is not brought to the floor for consideration in a timely fashion, say, 60 days, it automatically becomes a Law.
- The role of the Senate of “Advice and consent” is a fairly important part of our government’s design. However, it has been abused recently, by the Republicants. I suggest that, as with bills from the House, if the Senate has refused to take up an appointment by the President in 30 days, then, that person will take office, with full authority, as if the Senate had voted on their appointment.
While it is a pipe dream…I would like to see all of the above Candidates for office subject to a “Three Strikes” rule. By this, I mean, IF in their campaign, they are found to have out and out lied, making statements that directly contradicted reality, three times. They would be banned from running for office for life.
Now, I want to look at the process of electing our Representatives and President..
I have come to the opinion, finally, that the Electoral College is a relic of a bygone age, and should be bypassed. part of my motivation here is the fact that the world has changed since it was written to the point that it would be unrecognizable to our Founding Fathers. The simple fact that today, almost anyone in America can communicate with a person on the other side of the world without delay or cost would be mind boggling to them. The days when it could take months for the results of individual elections to be gathered is gone for good. In addition, almost since its creation, the Electoral College has failed to live up to the standard set by Hamilton in Federalist Papers #68. Instead of being a deliberative body of objective, wise, elders, it has been a rubber stamp for the party in control of its Electors and of a few, very important states, almost since its creation. This is why Hillary Clinton and Al Gore, in spite of winning the Popular vote, were NOT installed in the Office of President.
The idea of a President, put into office simply by the popular vote is not without problems…. It would, in theory, allow a fast-talking con man to use smoke and mirrors to gull enough voters to allow them to take the office. However, I claim that the voting public is smarter than that these days. Take the 2016 election for example. In spite of several errors on the part of the Clinton Campaign, it was only through clever manipulation of the Electoral College by the #3 staff that wiped out the 3 million vote majority Clinton had, and installed the worst person to occupy the Oval Office in the history of the country.
I see three ways of dealing with this problem.
There is the option of either a Constitutional Convention, to remove the Electoral College from the process. This course is is fraught with danger right now, because it is very likely that the Republicants will fight to pack the Convention with their extremist views. Since it is not possible to limit what a Constitutional Convention can do to the Constitution…it is most likely that the resulting document would be far from what the Founding Fathers had in mind, and would likely support a lot of views that are anathema. For example, I can see the First Amendment being re-written to put extreme limits on freedom of speech. In addition I can see not only the Separation Clause that puts a wall between Religion and Government, not only demolished, but, a replacement that makes Fundamentalist Christianity the “Official” religion. I can see the Second Amendment being re-written to allow weapons ownership with out limits. I could see the twenty-second Amendment being wiped off the books, allowing the President to be returned to office for life.
The issue of an Amendment, though, is time. It can take decades for an Amendment to be ratified, depending on its support. The reality is that the Republicants would certainly fight any such amendment, as their taking power has depended on the insulation provided by the current Electoral College system. As an example, though of the issues with an amendment, I present the case of The Equal Rights Amendment. It was first put on the path of ratification in 1923, but did not receive the necessary 38th state vote for its acceptance until January of 2020. It still is not part of the Constitution, though, because of legal questions about whether states could rescind their vote, or force a date for a given vote to become null and void.
Another way to change the influence of the Electoral College is to remove the “Winner Take All” laws implemented by many states, and allocate the Electoral College Votes in proportion to the popular vote. I have written a discussion of this elsewhere.
Finally, there are several alternative ways of allocating the Electoral College votes. Here is an interactive tool to explore how the various ways of allocating the votes changes the results. Note, that this tool assumes the districts are as they are today, and would likely change if the above redistricting steps were taken.
As for electing members of Congress…redistricting to eliminate gerrymandering is a vital part of this change. Without this, as I have mentioned before, it will continue to be truth that the candidate will choose their voters, and not, as it should be, that the voters will choose their candidate.
One change I would like to see is a change in the number of representatives. We have grown to a point that we, as a country should increase the number of Representatives elected. In 1929, when the number was locked in at 439 House members, the population of America was just under 122 million people. As of the start of 2020 the population is 331 million people. This means that there is a wide range of voters represented by each House member. This range goes from about 530,000 people, to a high of 1.05 million people. this, in my opinion, dilutes the opinions of the voters represented by a given House member. This makes it easier for this House member to ignore his or her voters…neither of which is good for the country. The objection to this is that it would make the House more unwieldy. This may be true, but, I suspect that could be overcome. I would like to see the number represented by each Member back down to about 270,000. This would require the size of the house triple to 1317. Right off the bat I do not see a serious problem with this, although it might need more thought about the side effects.
There are some folks who believe that the basic method we use for voting is sketchy, and open to fraud. In spite of these claims, mostly pushed by #3, today, the reality is that after multiple audits, recounts and cross checks, NO significant fraud has been found. The system we use has multiple safety and validity checks built into it from day one…So, while the Republicants are screaming Fraud! The reality is that the current system works very well and very securely. So, other than a greater use of mail-in ballots, I see no reasons to change the basic system.
God Help us All
Stay Safe! Wear your Mask; Socially Distance all the time; wash your hands and use sanitizer.
Bee man Dave