So after over a year of political craziness, we’re now in the thick of the 2016 Presidential Primaries. Am I the only one who thinks that the way we do this is totally inane? It feels like the minute one election ends, we’re already on to talking about the next one. We’re subjected to months of speculation, ads, campaign nonsense, talking heads, the whole works. Plus, even with recent developments in the judicial system, corporate money reigns supreme in our electoral process, and it will be years (if ever) before we can excise it. This has led us to some less than enviable positions, the biggest one being that there is a real chance that a man who ran for little more than his own ego could be the candidate for one of the major parties. To say that our political process has become a three ring circus would be an understatement if I’ve ever heard one. There isn’t a whole lot we can do, but I have a few ideas about how to make this happen. Also, it should be noted that I’m not a Constitutional scholar, so who knows the legal validity of this idea, but I think you can make a case under Article II, Section 1 for all this.
My idea is super simple, and in two parts:
First, every state has their primary on the same goddamn day. Let’s say 6 weeks before Election Day. Every single last one. If you want to counteract the money, and limit who’s going to be serious about doing this, make them spread the wealth around. Mad because it means that NY, LA, and Chicago will become way more important than Iowa? That’s kind of the point. Democracy is about the people. Not the chosen few special white people in rural states. Sorry, folks, that’s the deal. Oh, and you can’t campaign at all until 6 weeks before this Primary Day. Announce you’re running, have a book or listening tour if you want, but you can’t make a stump speech, call someone, or knock on a door until that day. Suddenly, dumping all your money into Iowa or New Hampshire seems stupid, doesn’t it?
Secondly, Congress needs to set real standards on voting. OK, so states could have a real 10th Amendment freakout about this, but if you’re careful to word it that it’s just for Federal elections, it should get trumped. Part of this is giving teeth back to the FEC to enforce against gerrymandering, which we all know is a pipe dream, but this doesn’t happen without it. But also, it’s about making sure that voting machines are up to snuff, making their source code open source and on consumer level equipment (seriously, why could someone not cook up a hardened Raspberry Pi with some software to count votes? Plus, states won’t be stuck in that fucked up position when their election machine vendor goes under and they can’t get parts or service for their broken machines) that would be cheaper for governments to implement and more secure because you can put the best that the open source community has to offer into it. Oh, and voter verifiable paper trail, too, natch (optical scan ballots would be the best bet here).
Now, will this fix everything? No. But it’s a start. Let’s dream a little, shall we?