Monday, March 10, 2014

A New Voting System: Issues, Not Parties

What was hardest for me in last election was that there was hardly any meat to chew.  Very few issues were addressed by the campaigns and in the debates, and those that were addressed were not addressed directly or properly.  I used to vote based on the issues I'm most concerned about, and where each candidate stood on those issues.  I had next to nothing to go on this time around.  Instead of having to pick from the lesser of two (or more) evils, I think we should do away with the party system entirely.  Instead, Americans should be presented a list of issues, and the voting would have three parts: (1) rank the issues that are most important to each person, (2) vote what action or direction should be taken on each issue, and (3) decide who you want to put in charge.  Then the leaders would be tasked with executing America's decisions, based on the most highly ranked issues, regardless of their own personal beliefs or partisan stances.  The politicians can be graded on whether or not they accomplished the goals America asked them to work on, and thus potentially earn re-election if successful.  That would be a true Democracy!

Every election year, there's talk of whether or not the electoral college is still relevant.  On the one hand, it is an antiquated system created when we just didn't have the ability to get accurate information to all parts of the country.  On the other hand, a popular vote alone might lead to under-representation.  I think this debate hints at something much greater and deeper: that the voting scheme we use today was made for the days when people were uneducated and uninformed.  Now, many more Americans have access to decent education and higher education, and we have information overload through the Internet and other media.  If a business model was made for the 18th century and isn't working today, you'd do away with it.  Why would we run our country any different? 

So often, I find that I full-heartedly agree with a candidate on several issues, but am completely disgusted with their stances on others.  Do I vote for that candidate, or find someone more palatable overall?  We should not have to make these kinds of split-hair decisions.  It gets worse, too.  Often, the candidates I could agree with most easily overall have weaker stances on each issue, and are third party candidates.   So then I have to decide if I want to vote for a candidate not all that likely to win, because he/she does not have an R or a D after his/her name.  On the off chance he/she does win, we will have to deal with the consequences of a perhaps less-experienced politician with inadequate defenses.

Maybe now is not the right time to completely revamp our political system, with the fiscal cliff looming and unemployment painfully high.  But if and when we get out of this financial mess, I'd like to see a group of politicians from both sides get together to develop and propose how a government in the 21st century could run.  We need fresh ideas to change the course of this country, not infighting and bazillion dollar campaigns.  Scrap tradition and disregard the nuances and tactics our founders established; imagine how a newly founded country in these times could be built and structured.  I'm not saying do away with the values or our rights, just think out of the box to look for new ways to preserve and protect our values and rights.  The good news is, creativity is a strength of America, and we have a wealth of intelligent people that could envision a new democratic process and make it happen. 

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