Three Things We Must Do Immediately to Fix Our Democracy

Voting sucks. There are a lot of reasons for this beyond the obvious, and I won’t spend time delving into the philosophical underpinnings of an election. You’ve certainly heard the two-wolves-and-a-sheep quote from Franklin and the conversation-with-the-average-voter quote from Churchill. All of those things are true, but they deal more with the fundamental flaws of democracy as a system, and not the mechanics or logistics of actual voting. But if we’re going to continue this experiment in democracy in the modern age, the least we can do is change a few things about how we run our elections.

1. Why Tuesday? – Unlike most developed nations on Earth, the U.S. continues to cling to this antiquated schedule for the benefit of farmers or some such nonsense. It is time for this bullshit to end. If we insist on continuing to elect leaders to represent us in government, we have to at least make the process equitable and accessible for all voters. Not just the ones who can afford to take off work on a Tuesday to go to the polls. Elections should be held on a Saturday or Sunday, and during months of pleasant weather. Period. And to really encourage maximum participation, we must combine this with a campaign to normalize early voting and voting by mail.

2. The National Popular Vote Compact – Are you tired of the Electoral College? Who isn’t? This effort promises to unhook our wagon from this tired old horse and let us return the power of “one person, one vote” to the people. This approach has the added benefit of eliminating battleground states because the candidates would no longer be competing for a handful of electoral honeypots. They would instead be competing for the overall popular vote across the whole country, which would mean that they would spend time campaigning in virtually all fifty states.

3. Ranked Choice Voting – our current two-party system is a millstone around our collective necks. The two major parties have no interest in actually solving the problems that Americans face – there is much more money and power in simply talking about them while prolonging the agony. As Einstein said, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” We need fresh ideas. And those are not going to come from Republicans or Democrats. So-called “third” parties, like Libertarians for example, have incentives to think outside the box, but they must grapple with the widely held belief that choosing another party in an election is wasting one’s vote. But what if you could stipulate on your ballot that you wanted to vote for the Green Party candidate and that if they didn’t garner a majority of votes, your vote would automatically switch to the Democrat? Wouldn’t that make you reconsider casting your vote for something other than red or blue? Ranked Choice Voting would completely upend the current two-party regime and give Americans a whole host of alternatives. 

So, who’s with me? If these three not-so-simple but straightforward initiatives appeal to you, join me in supporting them by writing your elected representatives and demanding that these common sense changes be made. We get the government we deserve, and without these changes, we can expect more of the same.

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