Heal Our Republic: Change Our Electoral System

Consider the presidential election system we have today: Every state has a number of electors, equal to their amount of representatives and senators, who vote for the President of the United States. In most states, every elector goes to the candidate who achieves the most popular votes, regardless of his margin of victory. This means:

1. Presidential candidates have little reason to campaign to the whole country. If partisan or personal loyalty makes victory certain in a state, a candidate can safely ignore it in favor of other states. Conversely, if a candidate will definitely lose in a state, then he won’t waste his time there. Only competitive “battleground states” see much activity.
2. We have less national turnout. If a state will assuredly support one candidate, why bother voting? Also, lack of vigorous campaigning in a state might contribute to voter apathy during an election.
3. With the winner-take-all plurality system, candidates try to attract moderate voters, so to avoid turning people off, they emphasize their personalities more than their policies. This results in bland, visionless candidates who take those traits into the White House.

I believe a new presidential electoral system is in order. We need something that rewards candidates who have bold ideas, while drawing more voters into the process as well.

Therefore, I recommend we emulate the French.

Hear me out! The French have an excellent method by which to elect their president. It is a two-stage electoral process. In the first part, candidates from all the country’s parties can run. Candidates who mobilize partisans with daring policy agendas will perform best here. Afterwards, during the second stage runoff, the first and second place finishers of the first round compete. Whoever achieves a majority vote wins. This requires the candidates to make themselves as palatable toward the center as possible.

Eliminating the Electoral College and implementing two-round direct popular vote elections here would deliver many benefits. It would reward courageous candidates with striking ideas in the first stage, but it would weed out dangerous fanatics in the second stage. It would allow smaller parties to achieve greater prominence than they could achieve in a winner-take-all elector paradigm. It would give candidates reason to campaign to every American. And it would give each voter a larger role in determining the outcome of the election.

As a German friend also pointed out to me, ìI don’t quite get it that in the US, votes for the Greens i.e. are all lost, even help a candidate from the right to get into office (see 2000) — a second turn of the elections would allow Green supporters to vote for the Democrat.î This is an important point. The major parties would have to give adherents of smaller parties reasons to vote for them. This would force the Democrats and Republicans to take other parties, such as Greens and Libertarians, seriously, and perhaps heed some of their political desires. This would make more Americans feel as if they play an important role in the republican process.

To complete the reform, we also need to make going out to vote easier. Right now, we seemingly make voting as hard as we can. Elections take place on weekdays, so if Americans want to vote, they must take off work or rush to the polls before or after work. When they get there, they must wait a long time to finish the process, because the volunteer polling coordinators are old, retired people. (Young people have to work, after all.) All this makes voting seem not worth the hassle to millions of Americans.

To change that and increase turnout, Election Day should become a federal holiday. That would allow Americans to vote without worrying about missing work and forfeiting pay, or hurrying through throngs of people in the morning or evening. Younger Americans would also be able to volunteer to oversee the polls, thereby making voting a smoother and faster experience.

While we’re on the subject of changing our electoral system, let’s consider this: At the time the Constitution was drafted, one of the Anti-Federalist objections to the document was to the pluralistic election of representatives. The Anti-Federalists argued this could allow the election of representatives whom most of the community despised, but who still managed to get more votes than anyone else. Instead, according to the Anti-Federalists, districts should select their representatives by majority vote.

I believe that Anti-Federalist objection has merit. How can a representative represent a district if most of the people there hate him? Changing congressional elections to two-stage elections, similar to what I outlined above for presidential elections, would be a good idea. That way, we could ensure the majority of citizens in a district would have voted for their congressman. All the benefits of switching the national presidential election to a two-stage majority vote model would apply here.

Many conservatives would object to the national scope of my reform plan. Theyíd correctly point out it would erode federalism. Because population centersócitiesówould yield greater power, our executive branch might also shift to the left. Given the power of the presidency, this might produce a government similarly inclined to governments in Europe. Anathema to conservatives, that would be.

To counteract the leftward effect and to placate conservatives, I suggest we repeal the 17th Amendment. Let the state legislatures elect senators again. Senators who don’t rely upon the people as an electoral base would be a lot more willing to challenge the president. Not only might the Senate be more conservative than the President, but theyíd feel safer defying him since the people who put him in office wouldnít be the same ones who put them in office. They wouldnít have to worry as much about the Presidentís popularity.

In addition, with the people electing both the House of Representatives and the President under my plan, we’d need more checks against the tyranny of the majority. Election of federal senators by state legislatures would constitute such a check.

No electoral procedures could solve all problems. But this extensive reform plan would eliminate many of them:

* Campaigns focusing only on battleground states.
* Nullification of millions of votes.
* Candidates whose only goal is to win a plurality of the ballots.
* Victories by candidates whom most of the community doesn’t support.
* Apathy of the electorate toward politics.

We especially should not underestimate the importance of the last element. Only an interested and engaged citizenry can serve as the foundation of a republic. Without it, a republic cannot stand.

Stock Research – Republican Congress In Hot Seat

If the Republican Party is able to hold onto its majority in both the House and the Senate in the coming elections, it will be because of the ineptness of the Democrats. The Democrats have become a party without ideas, with an ideology that hasn’t worked in years, and I am not hopeful that it will work in the immediate future.

At the same time we must recognize the notion of ACCOUNTABILITY. In my work managing money, I have to go back decades to understand certain companies and their institutional cultures. The same thing is true in politics. Yes, we have had scandals before. I remember vividly Lyndon Johnson and Bobby Baker, and John Kennedy and his German mistress who supposedly worked for the East German secret police, the Stasi.

There’s something about POWER. The historians tell you that “POWER CORRUPTS, and ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY”. The greatest compliment you can pay our country is to recognize that we settle things in the voting booth. When the voting booth can’t settle it as in the Presidential election in 2000 in Florida, the courts settle it. In the 2000 contested election, it was the Supreme Court of the United States that settled it. In most countries of the world, they settle things with a gun, or several guns, or better yet, the military settles things with a coup. Our way is far superior, always has been, always will be.

There is something in the air that’s different this time. I am a conservative by nature. I have been since Barry Goldwater ran for the Presidency in 1964. I believe in minimizing government intervention in people’s lives because I believe that the government contributes very little in the end to the human condition. They take, but create nothing. They do very few things well, and overpay vastly for what they do provide. An example is $225 per day, per soldier, to Halliburton to feed our troops in Iraq. You and I can eat in the finest restaurants for that amount of money. Only a government can spend money like that.

What I am mostly disturbed by is the vanity, conceit, and complete disregard for the rest of us that this government has shown. We have a President that needs to spy on its own citizens in the name of national security, but finds no requisite need for oversight. The key here is OVERSIGHT. I happen to know that there are federal judges who sit in the FBI headquarters every day, whose sole job is to sign off on the government’s need to record conversations. The same procedure could very easily be implemented by the CIA, and NSA, but nobody wanted it. They obviously thought of it, but didn’t want it. When governments work in secret, the tyranny we seek to end overseas visits us right here. Our founding fathers fought against it and so should we.

We have a war in Iraq where we are all part of the dance NOW. The President has put forth no objectives for determining when we can get out. Is it a national police force of 150,000 Iraqis before we can get out, or an army of 300,000 Iraqi troops before we can go? We are now stuck in a war without end, without even the hint of an end, and we are suffering a slow death attrition to our troops.

It’s just the kind of thing that Americans HATE, a war fought without objectives, just sucking up money, resources, and the flower of our youth. It’s all in the name of nothing really. I say this because you either have clearly defined objectives in war or you have chaos. This President has chosen chaos. Sometimes I think this is Vietnam all over again, doesn’t anybody ever learn from history? Bush has degrees from Yale and Harvard, and didn’t learn a dam thing apparently, except how to spend money. You know, I couldn’t wait for Clinton to get out of office, and now I wonder if his wife isn’t such a bad idea.

The Congress spends billions likes its play money, and doesn’t even tax the citizens to do it. Instead they borrow the money, spend it and then owe the debt to Europeans, Japan, and China by continuing to build up the national debt. I haven’t checked this number in years, but I would be willing to bet that between 80% and 90% of the total national debt has been built up by the Republicans who call themselves the party of fiscal responsibility.

Maybe I am just getting older, but I am getting far more cynical as the years go by and more liberal too, but it’s not the liberal’s definition of liberal. Barry Goldwater taught me that abortion rights are a woman’s decision, not 9 old people sitting on a Supreme Court. There should be a separation of church and state as provided by the constitution. If deeply religious people in this country want to vote, than they absolutely should vote and participate in the political process, just like everybody else. Recognize that this country was founded by good hardworking people who left their rigid religious societies for something a lot better. We call it America.

Now when I sit back and look at this Republican dominated Congress, I find it pathetic. The majority leader Tom Delay had to resign in disgrace. The House Speaker, Denny Hastert is totally asleep at the switch over information he received, didn’t received, received, and then didn’t receive over the gay Congressman’s escapades. Why is it that it’s all right to be a gay Democratic Congressman (aka Barney Frank), but you can’t be a gay Republican Congressman (aka Mark Foley). Republicans are in the closet about it, and Democrats are screaming it out loud.

The Democrats should be running on one issue and one issue only, “HAD ENOUGH”, forget about it’s time for a change. It’s time for a revolution. I could very easily see the Republicans getting wiped in this election, losing both houses in fact, and then in essence making this current President impotent. How much more damage can President Bush do if he faces a hostile Congress. He could propose whatever he wanted to propose but if the Democrats control the Congress, and won’t FUND IT, the game is over.

This scenario would not be much better than the horror show currently on stage, but you must hold the politicians in power ACCOUNTABLE, and nobody has done that in six years. Maybe I was better off when my party was on the outs, and I could at least fantasize how much better things would be when, and if we got into power. My fantasies have turned into a nightmare with these people in office who are not MY REPUBLICANS, and then there’s Donald Rumsfeld, but that’s another story.