Take Back Our Government
As we have talked about, we must take back our government, for it is government that determines what the rules of our society are. It is how we have conversations and how we decide. And all too often those conversations and those decisions are not about what is best for all of us, but instead are about what is best for a privileged few. This is because our government isn't representing us, instead it represents special interest groups, insiders, and the wealthy. That must change. Here are 3 things we have to do in order to start fixing this.
1.) It Starts With You!
It really does start with you, for change happens one person at a time. And it can start right now. Here is how:
A.) Start with a beginners mind. Educate yourself by listening without any preconceived notions of being a member of one party or another or of not being interested in politics at all. After giving some new ideas a fair listen, see if it causes you to change your own opinions. Free your mind, think critically, and then act on that critical thinking. Here are some resources that can help you get started with regards to how our government is corrupt and doesn't represent us. You don't have to check them all out now, but I encourage you to at least watch the first video.
A Quick Overview
Video "Corruption is Legal in America"
A Deeper Dive
Web site "Wolf-pac"
B.) Get ready to participate in our elections and in our government.
If you are not registered to vote or if you are not sure. Check here: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/RegisterToVote
If you want to know more about what is on the ballot, when the next election is, or where you should go to vote, check this Web site: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/
C.) Make sure that your friends, family members, and co-workers are also ready to exercise their rights as the Demos (Greek for the people) in our democracy! We need to give voice to the disempowered and the disenfranchised.
2.) Reforming Our Elections and Our Government
This is where I have a WHOLE bunch of different proposals for how to fix our corrupted elections and government. Please bear with me as I develop this and move things around for readability and for importance.
A.) We need a different type of voting system. This lesser of two evils thing isn't working! I propose that we utilize Score Voting (The voter scores every candidate from 1 to 5 and whoever has the highest average wins.) But I would also settle for Ranked Choice Voting, as explained in the first bulleted link below.
"Ranked Choice Voting" This is from FairVote.com a nonpartisan organization for electoral reforms with the goals of 1.) Fair Representation: Respect for the principle of representation for all; 2.)Fair Elections: Elections with real choices in which every vote counts; and 3.) Fair Access: The right to go to the polls and have a voice that will be heard.
The need for this is best summed up in the following excerpt from NY Times writer David Brooks: “Partisans’ chief interest is in proving that the other party is despicable — in ramping up fear, hatred and the negative polarization that is the central feature of contemporary American politics… The good news is that we don’t have to live with this system. There’s nothing in the Constitution that says there have to be only two parties. There’s nothing in the Constitution about parties at all. There’s not even anything in the Constitution mandating that each congressional district have only one member and be represented by one party. We could have a much fairer and better system with the passage of a law. The way to do that is through multimember districts and ranked-choice voting.”
— David Brooks in “One Reform to Save America” New York Times
"To Build A Better Ballot" This is a great overview of different voting systems, the theory behind them, and interactive games that help you to understand what the problems are with the different voting systems. Needless to say, the First Past The Post system with two parties, like we have here in the U.S. is among the worst. Check out the link and see what their recommendation is. Note that it isn't Ranked Choice Voting (called Instant Runoff Voting in this article)
And because it is a long article, I'll clip and include a short quote from and open letter available at the "To Build A Better Ballot" link.
"A recent study found that in many Western countries – from Sweden to Australia to the United States – support for democracy has plummeted over the last several generations. In 2011, almost a full quarter of young Americans said democracy was a "bad" or "very bad" way to run a country. And today, one in six Americans say it'd be "good" or "very good" to be under actual military rule.
Our age of distrust goes a lot deeper than the technical details of a voting system. There isn't gonna be One Weird Trick to fix democracy. But as a first step, a low-hanging fruit, a way to show that, yes, you will make the system respond to the needs and wants and pains and hopes and dreams of your people – well, fixing our voting system's a good start as any.
Because, this isn't just about trying to build a better ballot.
This is about trying to build a better democracy"
— Nicky Case,
B.) We need Fair Election Map Redistricting. Ideally, we need proportional multi-party representation and more of a parliamentary system of government. But for now, I'll settle for Fair Election Maps.
"Transfer all authority over redistricting to an independent, fully transparent commission that must follow strict guidelines to ensure accurate representation for all voters, regardless of political party." (From the American Anti-Corruption Act)
C.) We need Campaign Finance Reform and to Close the "Revolving Door" between Government & Businesses
Enact "comprehensive campaign finance reform that aims to replace big-money plutocracy with a small-dollar democracy" (From:
"Require disclosure of bundlers of contributions. Require incumbent federal officials and candidates for federal office to disclose the identity of any individual who is authorized by or known to the official or candidate to collect and transmit contributions to their campaign committee or leadership PAC, regardless of whether or not the individual is a lobbyist." (From: American Anti-Corruption Act)
"Require automatic electronic disclosure of political fundraising and expenditures over $200" (From: American Anti-Corruption Act)
"Make all candidates for the same office compete in a single, open primary in which all registered voters may participate. The four candidates with the most votes will proceed to the general election. On the primary ballot, allow candidates to display their party preference, and allow parties to display their chosen nominee(s). Establish meaningful thresholds for the number of signatures required to be collected by volunteers in order for a candidate to appear on the ballot." (From: American Anti-Corruption Act)
"Automatically register eligible citizens to vote (or update their registration) when they interact with government agencies – at the DMV, getting a hunting license, etc. Citizens can always decline to be registered." (From: https://chippewavalleyvotes.org/avr/)
"Expose collaboration between candidates and Super PACs by creating reasonable presumptions of coordination under which an expenditure made by a Super PAC is treated as a contribution to the candidate." (From the American Anti-Corruption Act)
"Amend the state’s conflict of interest law so officials would have to abstain from acting on matters of interest to those who provide substantial campaign support."(From: http://www.wisdc.org/endbribery.php)
D.) And we need to overturn Citizens United (as well as revoke Corporate Personhood)...
This would require a constitutional amendment and that is a lot to chew on right now. I hope we can get there one day, but for now, I echo what Lawrence Lessig said, "On January 20, 2010, the day before Citizens United was decided, our democracy was already broken. Citizens United may have shot the body, but the body was already cold. And any response to Citizens United must also respond to that more fundamental corruption. We must find a way to restore a government 'dependent upon the People alone,' so that we give 'the People' a reason again to have confidence in their government." - October 2012 issue of The Progressive, "The Founders Vs. the Funders"
3.) Pass It On
Have three conversations over the course of three days with three different friends, family members, or co-workers, especially with the ones that you think disagree with you. When you start talking about how our system is corrupt and doesn't represent us, you'll be pleasantly surprised by how much common ground you share. Encourage them to check out this Web site and to also share in spreading this knowledge.