My Fairy Godmother, Part 2
by Richard Girard
Ten minutes later, Marge popped back, with a mixed case of premium beers for her (and a six pack of root beer for me) in tow. She popped the top off a bottle of Belgian ale with a snap of her fingers, then used her magic wand to shrink the bottle itself down to her size. I knew that despite its new apparent size, there was still as much beer in that bottle as ever, contained in a tesseract-like field of magic.
She took a long draw on the bottle while I opened a root beer, and Marge let loose a sigh of satisfaction that reverberated on a psychic level for several minutes. “Where were we,” she asked.
“So far, we have talked about limiting the President's power to pardon individuals, doubling the number of seats in the House of Representatives, raising the number of Senators from two to three per state, and about the need, if not the specifics, of campaign finance reform,” I said, "Continuing along that line of thought, I want to consider reforming elections in general, because campaign financing is an integral part of that."
"First, I think we need to defitively establish a right to vote for all of our nation's citizens at a Federal level. I do not believe that the right to vote should be denied to any citizen without due process, and that all felons should have their right to vote reinstated after they have served their full sentence. The current hodgepodge of standards among the states for the reinstatement of an ex-felon's right to vote violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Ex-felons cannot vote in Florida without what is essentially a pardon by the governor, but Vermont allows its penitentiary convicts to vote."
"We also need to institute two fundamental changes in the election process: public finance of elections and instant runoff voting," I said to Marge, "I believe that these two reforms will—within three general elections—break the stranglehold the Republicans and Democrats have over the American political process. I think it will also have the effect of slashing the overweening influence of the top one percent of the population, and their corporate proxies, on our elected officials."
"The advantage of instituting instant runoff voting and mandatory public finance of elections is that they do not require an amendment to the Constitution, and can be carried out by the individual states with pressure from the public."
"The disadvantage is that the Republican and Democratic Parties will fight these reforms tooth and nail, because these reforms will reduce their entrenched power. They have no one to blame but themselves, because they have become unresponsive to the needs of the majority of the American people."
“I really don't know if what you describe is feasible,” Marge said, "How about those individuals who claim funding a candidate is a form of free speech?”
“I consider that assertion to be ludicrous. How can free speech be bought? It gives the wealthy—and their corporate surrogates—an unfair advantage in seeing certain candidates elected, completely disproportionate to their numbers, and forces elected officials to prostitute themselves daily to ensure their re-election. It is barely one shaky step above the Roman practice of bribing the people before an election. For this reason public funding of elections must be made mandatory.”
I reflected on my statement, “I don't know if these reforms will work, but it is a starting point for a serious discussion of broad election reform. I am not a person who claims to know what is best for the majority of the American people. I can, however, discern when something is harmful to the United States and the majority of its citizens. When I see something that will cause harm to the nation and most of its citizens, I can use my brain to create a solution to the problem. However, I'm pragmatic; and to paraphrase Harry Truman, 'We'll try this solution, and if it doesn't work, we'll try something else.' ”
"Do you think that your campaign reforms are sufficient to place a check on the power of the multinational corporations?" Marge asked.
"Hardly," I continued, “You cannot easily limit any corporation's economic power and influence, without the elimination of corporations. Even in the Soviet Union, you had design bureaus, which provided many of the same functions as a corporation. Corporations can be highly useful instrumentalities of commerce. But because of their inordinate economic power and influence, corporations' power must be severely limited by preventing them from having any direct political power, privilege, or influence.” I said.
“The Revolutionary War was—at least in part—caused by the too cozy relationship between George III, his government and the British East India Company. All of these entities exploited the American colonies and colonists for King George, his government, and the East India Company's mutual benefit."
"Both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison feared two threats to the Constitution above all others: corporations and an aristocracy. They thought that a potential aristocracy had been dealt with in Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution,"No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States..." Jefferson and Madison also wanted an amendment to the Constitution (as part of the Bill of Rights) that declared 'monopolies of commerce' i.e., corporations, unconstitutional."