We all know that the Oval Office was stolen from the American people and their demands and handed over on a silver platter by the Supreme Court to the greatest moron that the American political system has ever produced (and I mean even more of a moron than Reagan or Quayle or David Duke). We are also witnessing the conservative media's propaganda machine going full speed ahead, convincing the unthinking masses that, first, this theft somehow proves that our system of Constitutional government works and, second, quickly ignoring the entire sordid episode and pretending that Tumbleweed actually deserves to be President of anything more important than his local fraternity.
We, meaning those of us who still retain that ability of our minds to do something more complicated than reading our latest issue of TV Guide, see the entire 2000 election as the latest in a long string of horrors that the majority of Americans think might have been important, somehow, but, hey, wait a minute, ain't those battling Budweiser bottles just the funniest dang thing you ever saw? Wait, what was I thinking about? Oh, well. Time to get a sandwich and get ready for another ode to Michael Jordan and his effect on the world's political situation on Fox News.
The American people deserve better than they are getting. They may not be aware of deserving better simply because they aren't really aware of what they currently have, but they do deserve better nevertheless. What can we, as voters and activists for a more responsive government, do to provide that for them?
Well, the possibilities are nearly endless but here are just a few options or suggestions for you to consider.
First, and most importantly, we must remove all hints that our government is for sale to the highest bidders. We must have a massive overhaul of the way that America finances our political system and the campaigns that fill those seats. I don't mean the half measures and endless loopholes that are offered every election cycle and then completely forgotten until the next little drama of "Who got the most money wins" a year or so later.
No, I mean a complete overhaul of the system with penalties that are as harsh if not far harsher than those reserved for individuals who use the wrong drugs. Drug abuse pales before the insanity that passes for democracy in our electoral schemes. We must create a system that includes limited federal and or state funds for every office seeker as well as requiring the media to provide free time and space for open political debate. We must provide extreme penalties for any office seeker who accepts even a dime of private or corporate money - take a penny, spend a year in prison type of penalties.
In short, our government must be completely free of any suspicion of bribery or bias towards any portion of America save its people.
Next, we must completely rid ourselves of the insane Electoral College. The nation must revert to the principle of one man - one vote. The nation must choose between the many options that can fairly replace that antiquated system.
We could choose to elect our Presidents the same way we elect every other office in government and use the popular vote to decide our future.
We could choose to employ a system that will allow each of us to vote for the person we fully support even when the candidate has little chance of winning. That would be the IRV style of election or the Instant Runoff Voting. hat is the method of voting in which you rank the candidates in order of their appeal to your beliefs. This has the benefit of allowing you to vote first for the candidate that, while having a small chance of winning, most closely allies him or herself to your political beliefs. You would then move down the ballot, ranking the other candidates. (The article linked above explains the process more fully.)
We could continue to use a system related to the Electoral College but remove the silliness of winner take all in each state. Take New Hampshire as an example. The results of the election showed Bush with 48% of the total, Gore with 47% and Nader with 5%. Under this system, each candidate would be given electoral votes equal to their percentage of the state-wide tally. This would allow third party candidates to have some say in the outcome of the election in hat each of the other candidates would have to agree to represent the voter's wishes who voted for that third party candidate. Thus, with an election as close as the 2000 election, someone like Nader would have been able to force some concessions for Gore (such as his support for real worker protections and children's issues) in exchange for Nader's electoral votes.
A suggestion that has been getting wide acceptance is to make election day a federal holiday. This would enable every citizen to have the time to vote as well as being reminded of their responsibility to vote through the fact of the holiday, itself. This would also free up a huge supply of volunteers for everything from people to man the polls to people who could offer rides to the elderly and the disabled and those who do not own a vehicle and the like.
We could offer same day registration for voters. As has been pointed out, if the Highway Patrol stops you for speeding, they can use their in-car computer to call up your entire criminal and driving record in seconds. Why can't we use that same technology for registration purposes.
It is an abomination that people who are convicted of a crime and do their time in custody and then have no further sentence to serve cannot be reinstated as a voter. When a person has paid for their error, why must we continue to punish them for the rest of their lives? The fact is, if Tumbleweed was actually arrested for possession of cocaine, even though his daddy was able to get the charges dropped, he will now be charged with enacting legislation that can punish others for the added crime of not being rich and powerful enough to get away with a felony. If he can still not only vote but also be able to steal an entire election, why must other criminals be punished beyond their court determined sentences?
We must create harsh penalties for any elected or appointed government official who is found to have interfered with anyone or any group's right to vote. All such instances that can be determined to have possibly occurred should be investigated by an independent arm of the U.S. Justice Department and anyone found guilty of this offense sentenced to serve real time in a real federal prison. If the charges include any form of physical restraint, such as placing a checkpoint manned by state troopers anywhere near a polling place used by any minority voters or any group of voters who might have a justifiable reason to fear armed police, then the sentence must reflect that in an even harsher length of incarceration.
The buildings in which the ballots are stored and counted must become havens for those who are charged with the counting of those ballots. Any further episodes such as the insane mob that Republican Tom DeLay sent to Florida to harass and intimidate these counters must be punished to fullest extent of the law. DeLay should be spending the next couple of years in prison, watching his replacement in Congress on C-SPAN. What he did, and what the Supreme Court allowed, was treason of the highest order in that he interfered with the process of electing a person to this nation's highest office.
All owners of the media must once again be vastly limited both in the number of outlets and types of outlets as well as the number allowed within regional areas. In other words, no one nor no corporation could be allowed to own more than one newspaper within any nationally recognized region (the Mid-West or the Northwest or the like) nor could the owners of the major media be allowed to own any of the regional stations or newspapers or magazines. All media would also have strict limitations as to any questions of foreign ownership of these outlets.
Well, there you have it. Just a few humble suggestions towards ways which we, the actual human beings that the nation is supposed to serve first and foremost, can retake control of our government and its many institutions. If you have more suggestions, then feel free to pass them on and, if enough are placed before me, I'll gladly provide those ideas with a podium in a future article.
What is no longer debatable is the reality that we must take that control back or else our future is a black and horrific one. Unless we demand those changes which will avert another election by fiat of the conservatives or the liberals on the Supreme Court then we have passed that point in our history in which we, as voters, have any say whatsoever. The act of voting will become just another futile activity just like writing to your representative and demanding that the value of the human beings in America must be considered before any pro-Corporate America legislation is even introduced.
It is, indeed, up to us to force these changes. It is we, the minority of thinking Americans, who must fire the first shots in the revolution for our future. Your government and the politicians who crave that power will never allow that change unless we force it upon them. The 50% of Americans who refuse to vote or, worse, those who vote a straight party ticket since any other form of voting requires an open and accessible mind, will never force those changes. That leaves you and I. Will you take the time? Do you care enough to fight for what's right? These are questions only you can answer but the results will ring throughout our nation for years and generations to come. Yes, gentle readers, it is absolutely that important.
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