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Thoughts on Government Reform
beer, meetmeme, Backyard
[Cross posted as a reply here]

A reboot [voting no confidence on the entire Executive and Legislative branches] would be chaos for a while, but is that really any different from the usual session startup? But there is no reboot clause, so we need another solution. Armed conflict is not going to be a solution for many reasons. Therefore the government has to be changed slowly, and with more input from the general population.

I think Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is one of the first steps. If all elections had IRV, people would feel better about voting for their preferred candidate and less worrying about "letting the other person win"/"lesser of two evils." It might take a while to catch on. But I would bet that as more and more people ranked candidates that we would see a shift away from major parties. Starting with smaller elections we would get more participation from non-Democrat and non-Republican parties. Fringe groups would get a few more votes but not make it past the first round. However, the more votes to fringes receive, the more likely it is that someone in the centrist groups would think about incorporating a plank or portion of one.

I do not think that a parliamentary system would improve things on this side of the pond. I think the primaries sort of show that we would get the same people in place. But, then again, we might save some money and time listening to politicos if they skipped that step. Seems to me that the primaries are pretty much for show anyway. I still vote in the primaries, I just do not believe that it really changes anything.

More difficult than IRV would be to remove the money from the system. This requires a drastic rethinking of the election process and the advertising that it entails. No swiftboaters, no winning a state because you spent four times the amount (of the other candidate) on your legal team, none of that. My vision is that there would be debates, which the news channels would show free of commercials and free to the candidates. As with the Attorney's, the news companies exist at the pleasure of the government. "Oh really, you do not want to lose the ad revenue for one hour? How would you like to lose your broadcast rights?" That would require massive oversight as to not be abused. But it is possible. You need a pro-citizen government though, as opposed to the business-centric government currently in place.

Another way to help get money out of elections is the churches. And, as a side benefit, fill the tax coffers at the same time. Tax the churches. Property taxes, income taxes, etc. Religion has spread in this country because the government has let it alone. However, that has changed over the past many years and now religions are political platforms. When the Republicans organized a day at churches for Republicans to speak, it went too far. The groups that participated should have been stripped of their tax status and had to re-apply for 501.x status. It is my belief that all religious institutes should have to prove their charity status in order to get any tax relief. Open the books and show us the money. When the churches can prove they provide a REAL service to the community, that services all people, free from preaching, then they can get their status back, as governed by the 501.x rules. There would be none of the "but christians are better people and the community is better for it" arguments, as all the statistics I have seen do not support that claim.

IRV, money out, religion out (or at least taxed to be in). A good start, I think.

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The reason we use a representative democracy -- at least as I understood it back in high school -- was because all of America couldn't vote on every issue being proposed, for logistical reasons.

That was then, this is now. By the end of this century, I wager that all voting will migrate online. If 200,000 people can vote each day on who the best quarterback is, I'd wager you'd get better turnouts if you made it so people could click on a radial button next to their favorite law/candidate from home.

(Deleted comment)
I think it is a good idea to split the votes of the states via percentage of popular vote. I think we would go that route over removing the electoral college, although I could certainly see it leading to that. It might need to be an interim step.

The only downside is the math. I have a feeling there would be way too many lawyers and recounts involved to see if you could swing one vote the other way.

You also need a less supine press. It really doesn't matter how you mess with the voting system if there isn't a premium put on critical analysis -- not only clear reporting what was said and done, but actual "no that's just not true" bullshit-calling. Any journalist that has 2+ different viewpoints presented and the best they can do is say "well this certainly is an interesting discussion" should be fired on the spot. People can't be forced to think before voting, but at least they stand a chance if there's good data presented to them.

I remember that bit on CNN. I think I would have walked on stage and fired her on the spot. That might have even made for better ratings.

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