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The Cracks in our Democracy (and how John fixes them)

A friend of mine in the lands of Facebook, Josh, wrote about the dissonance affecting the right wing of American politics, and it made me almost start a long reply to his Facebook post, but then I remembered I'd been meaning to write about this.

An American flag, torn in two, with attempted stitching to put it back together.
Can Our Democracy Be Stitched Together?

The right wing of American politics has been completely co-opted by the Orange Menace. They no longer talk about policy, because there doesn't appear to be any. They don't stand for anything, they stand against 'libtards', they oppose 'outrageous socialist agendas', and they 'defend you from the invasion of our southern border'. There is no policy statement anywhere, I mean literally, the Republican Party hasn't released a platform in years. The current troop of right-wing political candidates held primaries where the only goal was to shove your tongue so far into the Orange Menace that he would notice and tell the Christofascists to vote for you. So, that's what most of America has to choose from this Election Day; an event between a (mostly) right-center, corporate, Democratic Party, and a Christofascist mockery of what used to be the Republican Party, now a far-right tool of a handful of uber-wealthy corporations who seek only to control everything around them. We know all of this though, so let's talk about how John would fix it, because that's the big deal here. First, we have to remember that the most damaging thing that has been done to American democracy in the last 20 years is the Citizens United v FEC (558 US 310) decision of 2010 that threw open the doors to nearly unlimited corporate spending in politics. Money is not speech, and Citizens United has given us more than 1,500 corporate PACs, that is, a political action committee funded by a corporation. We also now have more than 1,500 non-connected PAC. A non-connected PAC can take money from, well, anywhere, it's why most members of Congress have their own non-connected PAC. These PACs may accept unlimited funds from a connected PAC, like the aforementioned corporate ones, an individual, or an organization. It's literally unlimited money being used to affect elections, and because of the sheer amount of it, it's nigh impossible to know how it's spent, and more importantly, where it comes from (this is the primary way in which a foreign national or government can donate to a political campaign). So, step one, we have to overturn Citizens United, and then take it one step farther, banning ALL monetary spending on political campaigns. Campaigns should be funded by the government; federal, state, and municipal, at an amount that makes sense for each office. After that we have to end gerrymandering, by mandating that all Congressional districts are drawn by computers. I have this radical belief that Congressional districts should ALL have EQUAL populations, as members of the House of Representatives should represent people, and all people should have equal representation. Right now each member of Congress represents a different number of constituents. Before Montana finally got a second seat following the 2020 Census, the population of Montana was the most underrepresented, with their lone member of the House representing more than 900,000 people. In Wyoming, one house member represented 568,000 people, making them among the most well-represented (this goes into issues of the electoral college as well). So, my radical move would be to eliminate state borders in the drawing of Congressional districts, and draw 435 equally populated districts, with a computer. No packing, no cracking, no gerrymandering. Then we move on to how elections are run. All primaries should be open and non-partisan. I firmly believe that the two-party system has left many Americans feeling left behind, look at the number of states where the largest group of registered voters are independents (OR, CO, AR, AK, NC, RI, CT, MA, NH), and tell me that huge numbers of Americans don't feel like the two-party process isn't working for them, so, open primaries (meaning all candidates and all voters in one primary), followed by Ranked Choice voting in the general election. In my perfect election world, whoever wants to run for an office gets to run for the office, and everyone gets to vote in one giant primary with all of those candidates. Everyone who meets the filing deadline and the signature requirements (I feel these are important) gets X dollars to contest the primary campaign with. A signature requirement proves viability for the primary (and some sort of work ethic or ability to get on the ballot), and then we're off. Primaries are open, and we pick a number to move forward to the general election. I like four people, no more than two from the same party, and some level of viability, like 'you had to earn 10% in the primary', or 5% maybe. If no one reached that level (because the primary was contested by sixty people) then the top four move on. Then we get to a general election that is ranked choice. I won't explain ranked choice voting, I'll instead give you links: FairVote Ranked Choice Voting Video CGP Grey - First Past the Post Voting And the follow-up: Alternative Vote Explained We could continue this down a giant rabbit hole, I'm also a fan of Proportional Representation through larger districts, meaning taking two or three Congressional districts, making one huge district, and then electing two or three members out of it based on proportional representation rules. We can combine proportional representation with ranked choice voting to give more people representation in a Congress that would (hopefully) move away from being only two parties.

The Orange Menace shooting important part of democracy.
The Death of Democracy - from Twitter - original source unknown

But really, I believe that if you strip money away from politics, stop letting politicians pick their own voters (through gerrymandering) and move to ranked choice voting, we get a much better democracy. None of these things can happen though. Anyone know why? Oh yeah, money, and because the two parties who are currently doing almost nothing for Americans, want to keep getting paid to do nothing... Today's uplifting message is brought to you by John. Thank you for your time.

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