Every single day that passes, as we live through mind-numbing foolishness with Donald Trump, I like to remind myself that he was elected. The campaign was ugly. Both candidates were the two least liked presidential candidates of all-time. A foreign government did all it could to interfere, but Trump won the election. I also think we’d be complete fools to simply assume he couldn’t win again. With the current layout of the Electoral College, Trump could actually lose the popular vote by an even larger margin than he did this past time and actually lose a few of the states that he won, and still win the general election again.
This is a problem that goes beyond Donald Trump and gets to the root of national politics, the Supreme Court, and all of Congress. Our current system is such that the overwhelming majority of Americans despise Trumpcare, but politicians have the power to pass it anyway. The overwhelming majority of Americans want to see meaningful gun reforms and reasonable immigration reforms, but we don’t get them because our government no longer represents the popular will of the majority of Americans.
Below I’m going to share five ideas to correct this problem and help put politics back in the hands of the majority of Americans. I’ll start out with the most achievable reforms that already have some on-the-ground momentum and then work my way down to more ambitious and even experimental ideas.
Automatic Voter Registration
When you turn 18 years old in the United States, you should be automatically registered to vote. Ideally this sensible reform would be a federal law affecting all 50 states, DC, and American territories, but our federal government stopped being sensible a very long time ago. Therefore, the fight for automatic voter registration must happen in state by state, one state at a time – and the good news is that this is already happening. 8 states and DC have already made automatic voter registration into law. Illinois is close to joining them. 32 other states have already crafted legislation proposing automatic voter registration.
This should be a top legislative and grassroots priority in all 50 states. The states that don’t yet have the legislation crafted should. The states that have it crafted, but have not yet made any reasonable progress need to take this higher up on their agenda. Voter registration should not be a random, cumbersome process with random volunteers roaming the streets to give you a form they pledge to take in. Even if that’s not how you do it, finding where, when, and how to register is cumbersome beyond belief. All of this is foolish. Make it automatic.
Voting By Mail
Three states, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, currently conduct all elections in vote by mail ballots. While these states have switched to making all elections by mail only, a hybrid model where voters can choose to go in to vote or to vote by mail should be the norm. In Oregon during this past presidential election, an astounding 70.4% of voting age adults cast a ballot. It appears just 55% of voting age adults voted across the country. While many other factors have to be considered for why it is so high in Oregon, the vote by mail option is a significant part of that. Voting should be convenient and easy and the states that have adopted a strong vote by mail system have done just that.
Either put elections on the weekends or make them a national holiday
This happens all over the world. In the United States we’ve put our elections on Tuesday. That’s dumb. In modern life, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. But again, much of what happens in this country makes very little sense. When elections were put on Tuesdays 170 years ago, it was done so because it took farmers and rural voters that long to get to town to vote after the weekend. It’s 2017. This is no longer a reality for our country. It has not been a reality for generations. Holding on to Tuesday for the sake of tradition is both foolish and inefficient for the way our actual country operates.
Abolish the Electoral College
When 3 million more people vote for a presidential candidate, but that candidate still loses, the system sucks. Period. It’s broken. I think it’s broken if the candidate loses by one vote and still wins. Losing by 3 million votes, but still winning the election is preposterous. I actually think the gap could grow wider and wider in the future. Our nation is not a fully representative democracy if we do not have a one person, one vote method of directly electing our President. It disproportionately tilts favor to smaller states with smaller populations. Those states may argue that presidential candidates would never visit there if not for the Electoral College, but I don’t think that is enough reason to maintain our current system. Where you live should not mean that your vote counts for any less. If you live in a small rural state, your vote, without the Electoral College, would still mean as much as it would in New York City or Los Angeles.
Establish a Representative Senate
The State of California now has nearly 40 million residents. Wyoming has fewer than 600,000 residents. The fact that Wyoming and California have the same level of representation in the United States Senate – which may be the most powerful elected body in the land – is preposterous. A town with 600,000 people is seen as a medium sized city in California. This problem is now more pronounced than ever when United States Senators from tiny states are able to determine policy for a state like California that is literally 60 times bigger than it. This is why more and more people in California are talking about secession or even breaking the state up into 8 or 9 different states. At first I thought those talks were foolhardy, but now I understand. California is given the raw end of the deal with the way our government currently works. The House, Senate, Presidency, and Supreme Court do not represent the overall views of the state – when its population appears to be larger than nearly the bottom 20 states combined. This is fundamentally unfair.
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