Okay, people! It’s time to sharpen your pencils (or charge up your laptops). Now is the time to think big and make out your wish list. We all need to be ready for the next couple of Federal elections.
Our democracy is seriously broken. Some of it was broken from the beginning. Some of it has been broken through corruption. Some of it is straining to evolve into something better than our forebears could even conceive. A simple patch job is not going to fix this mess. We are going to have to recreate the US from top to bottom (and bottom to top), if we are going to keep this country from imploding or collapsing into irrelevance.
Every adult US citizen has a right to vote. Every adult US citizen has a responsibility to vote. Each vote must be given equal weight or we are not living in any form of enlightened democracy. Everyone must be given every opportunity to vote.
* Easy national standardized means of gaining voter registration. * Every US citizen of voting age is required to register and vote. (This is done in Australia and the world doesn’t come tumbling down.) * Easy access to voting: for one week make available 24 hour voting booths evenly dispersed throughout cities and towns. Ensure that people have the right to petition for a booth to be placed in their community and then get one. Make postal votes easy to access as well. * Dispose of the electoral college. * Institute Single Transferable Vote. People can start putting this in place in their local electorates and experience how well it works.
People have a right to have their needs and concerns fairly represented within their government. Currently, we have a disconnect whereby politicians may be more answerable to monied interests rather than their electorate.
* Candidates can only accept individual donations: no business or organizational donations. This includes in-kind donations * Donation caps 1: only so much can be donated by any one individual–cash and in-kind. * Donation caps 2: all candidates have a cap on how much they can spend on their campaign. * Anyone who runs for office, and passes a reasonable threshold of signed support, is given campaign resources by the government equal to every other candidate. * All publicly endorsed candidates must have equal access to media coverage. * All candidates who are voted into office are given a reasonably generous wage that is pegged to the national minimum wage. They can only ever make twelve times the wage of the lowest paid worker (and now we are aware of just how poor some people are). This includes when they leave office — we do not want them voting for their next job.
Various governmental systems have been deeply abused. For instance governmental loop holes have allowed the position of president to be disproportionately powerful in relationship to Congress and the Supreme Court. All of these must be answerable to the people and to our country’s highest values.
* The powers of the president must be better circumscribed. * All people involved in governance must be clearly answerable to the law of the land to the same extent as their people. * A better method of appointing Supreme Court justices must be found, with equal opportunity laws applying in this instance as well. * Controls must be put on the proliferation of enforcement bodies and the sorts of weapons to which they have access. * Better oversight of government functioning and better protections for whistle-blowers.
Critical to structural reform would be the updating of the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights. This strikes terror in the hearts of people on both the left and the right. However, I don’t think at this point we have much choice.
* The overt inclusion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the Bill of Rights.
* The overt inclusion of On Human Rights and The Environment in the Bill of Rights.
NOW is the time to start a national conversation about what we want from our country. NOW is the time to start practicing these ideas on a more local level. If we see these changes happening at the state level in more and more states, you better believe that we would eventually see Federal change as well. NOW is the time we get involved, ensuring everyone can vote and that we have people up for election who are worthy of their vote. Think of this moment in time as an opportunity for a better nation and a better world. Get engaged people!
In peace and kindness,