WinLoseorDraw’s Commentary on the Electoral Process

On Modifying the Electoral Process

WinLoseorDraw’s commentary

I disagree with the general tone of Mr. Nader’s comments. I do not see the same level of conspiratorial domination of the electoral process by Corporate America. Even though Corporate America is actively promoting its own interests, those interests coincide with the interests of the rest of America to a large extent.

However, I do agree with Mr. Nader that the two main parties in America are perverse and tyrannical.

Concerns about the flaws and unintended consequences of any system of competing parties is not new nor indigenous to the United States. In Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift satirically complains in several passages about the problem of “party and faction” in England. *

The Democrat and Republican political parties are outdated institutions that have lost all pretense of standing for anything, if they ever did. Their two primary purposes are to fund raise and to blur and obscure the actual issues. Their only goal is to high-jack and control governmental power. They create meaningless platforms in order to facilitate the myth of a united front. They have a blustering dedication to an ideological core which does not, in fact, exist.

The parties are trying to appeal to the largest possible constituencies in order to win the elections. The outcome is that the two parties compete to grab bigger and bigger chunks of the political landscape. They prepare their party platforms in a very tortured way to do this. In other words, they are telling you what they think you want to hear. They lose their basic identities because they mean different things to different people, and they end up promising a lot but standing for very little and delivering even less.

It is important to draw a distinction between parties and candidates. It is important to make this distinction because, as far as I can see, any points of connection between the two are a lot more tenuous than most people seem to think.

Instead of asking candidates about their party affiliations, we should just ask them what they believe in and where they stand on the issues.

Before every election, each candidate should present brief statements on each of the key issues of the day. Today, among others, those issues would be: abortion rights, immigration policy, foreign trade and aid, enemy incursions, tax reform, and the budget deficit. The candidates should publicly draft these statements without the aid of sophist spin-doctors skilled in saying little with a lot of words. Their statements should be published before the election. Once elected the President should be obligated to promote his or her stated ideas and ideals, and he or she should not be able to work against his or her stated goals without congressional approval.

They should also submit a budget before the elections; and after the elections, we should require them to attain congressional approval to deviate from that budget.

The candidate statements could be posted and reviewed on social media, and a series of pre-votes could be used to narrow the slate of candidates down to a reasonable number.

If we had this new way of vetting candidates, we could completely eliminate the impact of lobbyists and big money donors.

Another problem with our electoral process is the problem of the popular vote. Everyone should be able to express their opinion in the form of a vote, and that vote count should be the deciding factor; but those votes should be based on the stances the candidates take on the issues, not on how attractively they have prefabricated their image.

The center piece of a Democratic government is the popular vote, but people often cast their popularity vote for less than ideal reasons. The Founding Fathers were aware of this conflict. They just didn’t know what to do about it. They must have posed the following question: How can we be Champions of Democracy but avoid the unintended consequences of the popular vote? The answer they came up with is a good one — Representative Democracy.

Historically, elections have gone to the most generous, not the most qualified. Take, for instance, our first President, George Washington. Before becoming President Mr. Washington won election to the Virginia House of Burgesses in part because he gave away large quantities of whiskey before the voting. We were lucky that time. The results were to elect a generous and a well-qualified individual. However, don’t forget that he was elected long before any of the qualities we have come to admire had revealed themselves.

I believe that for many decades to come the current election cycle will remain the prime example of the popular vote going awry.

Having a lot of money or political and financial backing should not be the deciding factors in our elections.

When the campaign began last year, we had six candidates who declared for one the two major parties and seventeen who declared for the other major party. Where did they all go? Some of the twenty-one drop outs were people we might like to vote for, but we will not have that opportunity. We will not have the opportunity to vote for any of the drop outs because the parties have effectively engineered our choices down to two. There are, of course, other parties and other candidates, but they have no chance of winning anything.

We would be much better off right now if we were looking at a slate of twenty-three viable candidates instead of just two.

Here’s the problem. We elect the President the same way we elect the prom Queens. As it currently exists, the popular vote is not a good way to pick a President. It’s not even a good way to pick a prom Queen. A well informed and issues orientated popular vote, on the other hand, could once again take its station as guardian of a Democratic society.

*The book is commonly known as Gulliver’s Travels but the actual title is Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships (1726, amended 1735).


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