Sandy was called the “FrankenStorm” because a number of factors coincided. We had the hurricane fueled with record warm ocean water temperatures meeting up with other storms right at the full moon time bringing higher tides.
And now we have: FrankenElections. And like climate change, the Franken effects are heating up more with each election. All of these factors are coming together:
- We still have the Electoral College, an obsolete relic from the 19th century. It is not a direct popular vote election for President of the United States. And because most states have strong preferences for a particular candidate, only about a dozen states get any attention or visits from candidates.
- We still have a two-party duopoly. Democrats and Republicans automatically get on the ballot everywhere and automatically get federal matching funds. The media give almost no attention to anyone else (including having no one else in the debates) which means that very few people vote for anyone else, which means that the media give almost no attention to anyone else, which means… and on and on in this vicious circle. So-called “third parties” have to go through many difficult hoops just to get on the ballot and then they are ignored by the media.
- More on the two-party system: we have little choice. Currently we have one party that is far right and one more or less in the middle. The true left, and anything else, is left out. The US culture seems to relish a fight between two and only two sides, like it was a sporting event. If we had 3 or 4 or 5 points of view in the public discourse, we could move away from the sporting event mentality toward a civilized, multi-faceted discussion.
- The Citizens United ruling of the Supreme Court has enabled unlimited money to pour into the campaigns. All this money brings about more and more negativity.
- Even before Citizens United, it has not been realistic to run for high office unless you’re rich. Because of the money and the negativity, many good, qualified, smart, and capable people do not even consider running for office. The playing field is not the least level. If we had nothing but evenly and publicly funded elections, then we’d have a chance at higher quality candidates and a level playing field.
- We have a winner-take-all system rather than a proportional representation system. This combines with the Electoral College system to effectively shut out all minority points-of-view representation in our government. In a proportional representation democracy, if 20% of the people like (and vote for) a certain set of principles, then 20% of the government would be represented by people of those principles. Not in our system. Knowing this, most people who might vote for someone other than a Democrat or Republican don’t do so, because that person has no chance of winning, and with winner-take-all, there is no reward for any of the losing votes, even if they were 49.9%.
Something like $6 billion was spent on the 2012 presidential election. Romney was the classic Franken politician, playing the money, negativity, lying chameleon game to the nth degree. Obama, while a more decent human being, still plays the money game effectively, and continues to have Wall Street (the people who messed up the global economy) backing and advising, high militarism (including drones), and other horrible continuances of George W. Bush. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein said that they both represent the same sinking ship, only one sinks faster than the other.
So… here’s my question: assuming you, the reader, are not happy with this electoral system as I am not happy with it, how will this ever end?
Surely, voting for the “lesser of two evils” will not change things. If we continue to do this, we are giving our approval to everything whether we like it or not. We need to start doing things differently. And here are some suggestions:
- Join the effort by Move to Amend to overturn Citizens United by constitutional amendment. This is critical! Corporations are not people and money is not speech! Get involved and slowly we can achieve the reversal of Citizens United.
- Right now there is already a movement to have third parties represented in the debates in 2016. Go to this website.
- If you like a “third party” change your voter registration, and get active in your local or state chapter. And do this now, not four years from now.
- Get educated on the many possibilities of electoral reform.
- Start now gathering your courage for the next election to vote your heart not your fears.
People who vote for a Democrat or a Republican say they are being “realistic” and that I’m an idealist. I say baloney. This isn’t idealism, it’s revolution. We need to think big and think long-term. Women didn’t get the right to vote by realistically agreeing with the men in power. The Labor movement didn’t get collective bargaining by realistically agreeing with labor bosses. The civil rights movement didn’t get its successes by saying oh well we live in the “real world” of discrimination and that’s just how it is. NO!
Enough is enough. If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always gotten. It’s time to work for real change. It’s a project that may last past our lifetimes. But we must do it. The current system is unacceptable.
Let’s get started!