Reprinted from Reader Supported News
Carl Gibson appearing on MSNBC to discuss the Affordable Care Act.
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Lots of people feel understandably hamstrung after the midterm elections. It's obvious the Republicans don't represent anyone but the billionaires who bought their seats for them, and everyone is sick and tired of Democrats taking bribes from those same billionaires, and curling up in the fetal position to get kicked around without putting up a fight. As a matter of fact, 42 percent of Americans identify not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Independents. Even though the media doesn't make it seem that obvious, we really are the majority.
But on the flipside, everyone is afraid to vote for Independent candidates who actually propose real solutions and refuse to be compromised by big money. So how do we get around that? It'll take three steps. They aren't easy, but if we can accomplish these steps by 2020, our country may start to finally look like a real democracy.
1. Pass Ballot Initiatives Demanding Instant Runoff Voting
Instant runoff voting is great, because it allows you to rank all candidates in order of preference, rather than having to choose just one. If there are five candidates from five different parties, each of them get ranked one through five. At the end of the day, the candidate with the most "1" rankings is the winner. It may seem confusing at first, but think of it like scoring a golf game. This puts Socialists, Greens, and Libertarians on the same playing field as Democrats and Republicans. And the two parties will no longer have a monopoly on our political process and will actually have to work hard for our vote.
While it may seem like an impossible task to pass at the federal level in a two-party-owned Congress, the people can put pressure on Congress by passing ballot initiatives to do it in their own states. Currently, 24 states allow for statewide ballot initiatives and popular referendums. And the initiative process yielded surprisingly progressive results in the last election, even in the reddest of states. And having more candidates to choose from on the ballot is something that everyone can get behind.
2. Pass a Constitutional Amendment to Say Corporations Aren't People and Money Isn't Speech
When 42 billionaires can fund a third of all political ads, there's something clearly wrong with our democratic process. And when looking at voter turnout trends, there were more voters in 2008 than there were in 2012, despite 2012 being a multi-billion dollar election. In 2014, when $4 billion was spent, voter turnout hit a historic low, with only 36 percent of the electorate participating. One could argue that the more money there is in politics, the less motivated people feel about voting. To make our political process accessible to regular people again, we have to stop the torrent of money infecting our politics. Most would say we need to overturn the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission decision of 2010, and point to a failed attempt by the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment a few months ago that would've done that. However, Citizens United is actually a distraction. The core problem is over a century old.
Since the Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad case of 1886, when a court reporter inserted a few sentences about the court asserting that corporations have the same constitutional rights as people into the header of the case filing, corporations have been treated as legal persons by the court. While Santa Clara was just a tax case, it's been used as the precedent for corporate constitutional rights ever since. In the Buckley vs. Valeo decision of 1975, donations to political campaigns were ruled to be the same as free speech. And the First National Bank of Boston vs. Bellotti Supreme Court case in 1978 allowed corporate money to be used as free speech not only for political campaigns, but for any issue campaign. The floodgates have been open ever since. Citizens United and the McCutcheon vs. FEC decision of 2014 just made a bad problem even worse.
However, Move to Amend's We the People Amendment stating that only human beings have constitutional rights, and that money is property and not free speech, has already been passed in over 200 communities. An additional 400 communities have passed amendments with similar language. And no matter how red or blue that community is, every time the amendment has been brought up for a vote, it has passed. In this past election, 12 Wisconsin communities passed the We the People amendment. After communities pass the amendment, it puts pressure on state legislators to pass the amendment in the statehouse. And after enough statehouses pass the amendment, it puts pressure on Congress to act. Then we can finally rid our elections from the influence of billionaires and corporations.
3. Pass a Constitutional Amendment That Makes Voting an Inalienable Right and Election Day a Holiday
After removing the corporate cancer from our elections, we need to remove all current barriers that get in the way of voting and prevent any future barriers from being built. These barriers include cumbersome voter ID laws allegedly aimed at stopping the mythical problem of "voter fraud" -- which actually only occurs 31 times out of every 1 billion votes cast -- as well as restrictions on early voting and people being forced to work and go to class on the first Tuesday of November. A new constitutional amendment could fix that for good.
This new amendment needs to explicitly state that voting is the inalienable right of every citizen, that every vote cast will be counted, that citizens will only vote on paper ballots, and that no election will be called for any candidate until every last vote is counted. The second part of the amendment will state that Election Day is a federally-recognized holiday, that all schools will be closed, and that no business can force their employees to work on that holiday.
By default, all the laws passed requiring citizens to get a photo ID with their current address, which often costs more than the unconstitutional poll taxes of the pre-Civil Rights era, will be rendered unconstitutional. All the restrictions on early voting passed in states like Ohio and Florida will be undone, and everything will be closed on Election Day except for polling places. All electronic voting machines, like the voting machines that somehow tallied -16,022 (negative) votes for Al Gore in Volusia County, Florida, in the 2000 election, will be removed and all votes will have a paper trail.
Can you imagine an election cycle without a constant barrage of negative attack ads funded by anonymous billionaires? Can you imagine all voters having ample time to vote, with no cumbersome and bureaucratic obstacles to jump through just to be able to cast a ballot? Can you imagine an election decided by paper ballots, in which work or school is no longer a barrier between you and your polling place? Can you imagine having multiple parties on the ballot, and being able to vote for someone who isn't a Democrat or a Republican knowing they have an equal chance to win?