Wednesday, November 05, 2008

thoughts for a post campaign world

So I wrote this Monday and have been too lazy to post it. I haven't re-read it or edited it or it would never get posted so here is my take on fixing our political system warts and all.


Since it has been impossible to escape, I have been thinking a lot about elections lately. There are so many things that piss me off about our elections that I have been brainstorming ways to make it better. So here are my thoughts broken into 2 parts—voting and campaigns—on how we should change this massive pain in the ass that happens every 4 years with a minor pain in the ass in the middle (BTW if you don’t agree, let’s see if you have any better ideas).

1. Federal election laws not state election laws!!! I think that congress should set standards that every state needs to follow. Everything from registration rules, poll times, number of precincts, and type of ballot (whether paper or electronic) should be the same everywhere. Now I think there could be room for states to tweak things (if the polls should be open from 7am-8pm and your state wants to be open longer then you go for it), but a minimum needs to be set.
2. If you have a state issued ID card or Driver’s license then you should be registered to vote in your state (and not to be all big brother but really everyone should have an official ID). This kind of feeds into the first one but it is important enough to be called out in my opinion. This would make it that much easier for everyone to vote and to help to eliminate the need for voter registration drives (and voter registration fraud—note not actual voter fraud).
3. Change Election Day to a Monday and make it a national holiday so no one has to work.

1. Debates – Having 3-4 debates that try to cram in as many topics as possible in such a limited time or having some bogus town hall format where “undecided” voters get to ask lame questions was proven once again to be almost completely worthless. How about we have a series of moderated debates (maybe 5-6) that are each on one specific topic (economy, health care, foreign policy, etc). This would allow the candidates to go into greater detail and hopefully make the campaign more about issues than personality.
2. Show us the goods – instead of these sorts of vague policy positions, I think the candidates should have to draft their top legislative priorities (5, 10, or maybe to match the debate topics) and actually draft the legislation they would submit to congress upon getting elected. Of course this doesn’t mean congress would pass the bills but at least we can truly evaluate their positions and priorities.
3. Campaign Spending – some people are concerned with just how much Obama raised this year, and if you aren’t you should be (imagine a candidate you hate with that much of a monetary advantage). I think candidates should be forced to use public financing. This will limit the amount spent and maybe make it a little fairer. And no, I haven’t figured out how to handle the primary season but one option could be:
4. Hold the conventions earlier. Then if one party picks a nominee first there will be less time that they could use money raised during primary season to attack the other party’s potential nominees
5. Infomercials for all – as another part of limiting money spent on campaigns, I think all major party candidates should get a half hour infomercial with the party in power getting to go last (kind of like making them the home team). Also give them an equal amount of time for commercials and such, but they can decide when they want to place them to best reach their core demographics. I mean the FCC should be able to make this an issue of “the public good” and force the broadcast stations to do this.
6. Fix the primary/caucus season mayhem – I really believe that 2 states that don’t reflect the demographic make up of the country shouldn’t have so much sat in our political process. Why not have the parties separately or together have some sort of drawing for the order. You can decide how many states get to have a primary each week starting in Jan and then randomly draw names for the order each election. This allows for any state to potentially have a major say in who the nominees and ultimately the president might be.

That’s all I have right now but I’m sure I could come up with a million more. And no I’m not sure how to scale this to local races or how to limit outside groups having their say but you have to start somewhere right?

And yes I know some people will say this infringes free political speech and to that I say bullshit. No one is limiting WHAT you can say just how much money you have to say it.

What you have a better idea? Then let’s here it!

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