Every week on Monday morning , the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week’s question: What changes Would You Make To Our Electoral/Political Process?
Maggie’s Notebook : My opinions take the dim view that many voters do not know the issues and don’t want to take the time to learn. Not much to say about those who vote but haven’t the capacity to make a common sense decision.
1) Term Limits for House – 6 two-year terms (12 years total) and Senate 2 six-year terms (12 years total) – then bye bye.
2) President: One six year term.
3) Keep the Electoral College
The election process: Avoiding the issue of states’ rights. In theory, I believe the following will better our election process, and what afters after:
1) Photo voter I.D. with signature that is checked at the polls with a pollster placing his/her initials next to the voter’s signature.
2) Voter must sign an oath that he/she has not voted in another state for the same election
3) Voting is a privilege and a duty: No slackers registering same day for a 6-pack of beer or a pint, and a carton of cigarettes. At least 60 days registration, prior to election day, to vet the voter and add him/her to the polls. No votes cast or counted if not already on the official voter registration records. We are better off without an honest vote due to time restrictions, than with the fraudulent votes cast every election cycle. It should be our privilege and our duty to cooperate with a system that control fraud.
4) Only defined, controlled places to register. No more hippies, modern day hippies, those looking for drug money, or those on welfare, with a clipboard on a corner.
5) Complete transparency with absentee ballots. The ballots should be counted and recorded, with a great deal of security, as they come in. Every vote counts whether it changes anything or not.
6) Do away with “early” voting. We have absentee ballots. What’s the difference, other than making your Tuesday easier to manage?
7) Gerrymandering needs a common-sense overhaul, sometime to protect us from our own party. Example: Former Congressman Allan West.
8) Some “rules” made by the House and the Senate should be considered dishonorable, and abolished, and unchangeable. From session-to-session we need fairness and consistency –– not partisan privilege.
9) The Speaker of the House should be required to vote. To think the Speaker’s position is non-partisan is ludicrous.
10) The vote for Speaker of the House must be by secret ballot. There should be no threat of losing committee assignments because your loyalty is seen as questionable. If you lose your committee after the election, it can’t be blamed on the way you voted. What we have now is close to blackmail.
The Independent Sentinel : I’m not sure what should be done but it probably has to be done soon while Republicans still have some power. The assault on the Electoral College won’t be cured by the National Popular Vote but there must be something that can be done. We certainly need to look at the illegal immigration and refugee policies and the way we count for the census.
We are on a track to be a one-party system.
JoshuaPundit ; I think we’ve got problems in two areas, foundation and process. Foundation issues include the Left’s control of public education (including the major journalism schools) and I see a direct correlation between this and the declining quality of many of our public office holders. Issues like racial gerrymandering, the problem of people with no stake in the game voting taxpayer funded benefits for themselves at the expense of others and a general disrespect for what out Founders achieved by the educational establishment are among them. These can be fixed but are a long term battle.
Process, I think, could be vastly improved much easier and would likely make the foundation issues easier to solve given time.
The first problem is our constant campaign season. The electorate’s limited attention span is challenged by the constant drumbeat of ads, media ‘analysis’ and talking points and the real issues get lost in the shuffle as many Americans simply turn off and vote by sheer instinct.
This leads to the second major problem, the sheer amount of money involved. Imagine hiring someone to paint your house who spent most of his time on the phone or knocking on doors to get more work rather than doing what you hired him for and you begin to see the problem we have. And that’s not even mentioning the temptation of making an easy score by pushing legislation or special arrangement for corporations, unions and pressure groups with cash to dole out to hungry legislators.
We could solve this not by taking money out of politics but by making it of very limited use.
Our elections come in November. Pass a law forbidding any political advertising for a candidate, any formation of ‘exploratory committees’ or any overt campaigning prior to February 1st of the election year for both incumbents and challengers. Politicians always make speeches, but no fees, honorariums, donations or ‘expenses’ could be solicited or received, and doing so would be a felony. Television advertising would be severely limited even after February, and largely limited to debates.
Such debates would be Lincoln-Douglas style only, presented only on radio, C-Span or PBS and would have no moderators, only a timekeeper.
Statutory legal limits would be set by individual state legislators and by a neutral national committee on the maximum amount allowed to be spent for the presidential race and for state offices. No individual candidate would be allowed to fund raise for him or herself. Instead, any campaign donations would have to be donated to the FEC who would then forward it to the candidate’s party. For instance, if presidential campaign funding in a given year is limited to, say, $5 million, it wouldn’t matter if a billion dollars poured in – only $5 million would be of any use. Violations of this would be class A felonies.
A two week moratorium on all ads, campaigning and electioneering prior to election day would be strictly enforced, And no media outlet would be allowed to run the usual election night shows – no ‘calling’ of elections, no nonsense exit polls, no weighty analysis by the usual talking heads trying to fill time. Nothing until all national polls had closed. Along these lines, a federal voter ID law and the elimination of electronic voting machines in favor of paper ballots would be positive changes.
What we’d have here is a much shorter, much more substantive campaign season, far less attack ads, much more voter engagement, meaningful debate on the issues and elected officials who could actually go to Washington to do the people’s business rather than working like rats in heat from the moment they’re elected to raise funds for another term.
Laura Rambeau Lee, Right Reason : One of the major changes I would make would be to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment. Ratified on April 8, 1913, Senators began to be elected by the people. Prior to this amendment, as per Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution: “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six years…” The Seventeenth Amendment amassed more power to the federal government and away from the States. Senators no longer serve the people of the State they represent, and the federal grasp for power has continued to grow since this amendment was passed.
Term limits should be imposed, and no one serving should receive a pension of any kind after leaving office. All elected officials should return to private life and live under the laws they created. We need to end this class of political elites running our country.
As far as the presidential elections, it is difficult to say how the process could be improved. Ideally, there would be a shorter election season and televised debates between the candidates on the real issues hosted by unbiased moderators, so we would know each candidate’s position and how they would address the challenges facing our country.
In addition, every candidate for public office should be subject to an extensive background check. Anyone with affiliations to un-American organizations should be disqualified. It is incredible the people who serve on high level security committees who would not qualify to get security clearances for a job in the military or our intelligence agencies.
The Glittering Eye : Since I think that just about every change from the Founders’ original structure has been an error, it’s hard to know where to begin. I’ll just hit a few high points.
I think the popular election of the Senate has upset the balance of our federal system–we should repeal the 17th amendment. We should greatly increase the size of the House. We should enact an anti-gerrymandering amendment. I think there’s merit to limiting the census enumeration to citizens. We should establish term limits. We should have mandatory retirement ages for legislators. No elected office should be eligible for a pension. We should have the power of recall. We should establish uniform residency requirements for legislators and they should be deemed to reside wherever they sleep most frequently in the course of a year.
That’s a start.