There’s a coffee house down the street run by a couple of young Japanese kids. It’s sits on the edge of Kuala Lumpur, a crazy diverse quilt of a city, with sharia law and minority rule, and a real push and pull of a roiling global economy. Kuala Lumpur reminds me of Dodge City, or something like that, where there’s law and order and lawless pirates side-by-side. It’s the edge of the world, like some of those places the team in Star Wars always ends up, with alien bands and bounty hunters. But it’s also filled with a dynamic young, modern cadre of international workers who sit in coffee houses and debate things, like the American election. Do you you think if you go halfway around the world you can avoid The Trump?
Sitting on Jalan Kernichi the other day it occurred to me as we deal with a rabid minority president, we might consider ways to move toward a more functioning democracy. And by democracy I mean one citizen, one vote. There seems to be a deep fear of majority voting within the ranks of the GOP. It’s easy enough to understand.
“Americans are more racially and ethnically diverse than in the past, and the U.S. is projected to be even more diverse in the coming decades.” Pew Research
Republicans have tried every trick in their playbook to avoid the reality of a diverse non-white (and urban) population. Voters oppression, gerrymandering, voter fraud accusations, fake news, biased media outlets, super-PACs, name it they’ve tried it, and I’m sure there are dozens more insidious tactics to deploy against the original and radical idea of democracy — majority rule.
The Congress has been calling ‘mandate’ with a minority vote for a decade, and Trump brings home the bacon. America is about as far away from the ideal of our Founders as it has ever been. Those gun-toting revolutionaries would have some pretty pointed things to say about the crony capitalism of Trump and the minority tyranny of the GOP.
Here are three ideas that move us toward our goal — true representation of We The People.
1. No term limits.
I put this at the top because I know it will cause the most stir. Term limits is a mantra of the left and the right.
“Term Limits stands up against government malpractice. We are the voice of the American citizen. We want a government of the people, by the people, and for the people- not a ruling class who care more about deals to benefit themselves, than their constituents.” termlimits.org
That’s the idea. Somehow term limits magically end corruption and return citizen government. But it’s not reality. The reality is the American government is too complex, the global economy too fluid, to bring amateurs to the table over and over. Term limits institutionalize instability, and instability delivers us a renegade and destructive force like Trump. Instability allows us to be manipulated by propaganda and promotes a sense of unease that unscrupulous people prey upon.
The ballot box is our greatest term limit. Let’s ensure fair and open elections, and use law to guard against corruption.
2. No Electoral College.
The Electoral College was set up to protect against majority rule. There’s no other way to see it.
“Electors were viewed as a compromise between a true popular election and an election by more qualified citizens. Some of the founders wondered if it would be wise to permit average citizens to vote but wanted to stay true to their republican principles. The Electoral College was their answer.” votesmart
I think that’s maybe the polite way to put it. Slaves were denied the vote; women were denied the vote, native-American, immigrants, pretty much everybody who didn’t own land and wasn’t white and rich was denied the vote. That’s a pretty poor ‘principle.’
I can see the danger here. A majority opinion might be something truly awful, but it would be democracy, and looking over our current non-transparent corrupt government of the rich by the rich, I’ll take the chance.
My experience is most people are good hard working folk. I trust them a lot more than the scion of a real estate mogul raised in a golden tower of privilege elected by an elite minority.
3. Mandatory voting.
In the middle of the election, a friend of mine in Australia told me he felt mandatory voting laws protected Australia against extremist governance. The idea surprised me.
“Australia has got mandatory voting. You start getting 70–80 per cent voting rates, that’s transformative. We really are the only advanced democracy on earth that systematically and purposely makes it really hard for people to vote.” Barack Obama.
I agree. I think there’s a great natural middle of opinion. Essentially, mandatory voting seeks the greatest satisfaction by the greatest number of people, and isn’t that what democracy is supposed to be? I’ve seen many polls say most Americans are for gay marriage, most Americans would rather not have anti-abortion laws, most Americans believe we should help war refugees. You see polls like these, and then you hear Mitch McConnell crowing about his mandate from ‘the people.’
What people? The 15% of eligible American voters who voted for you?
I say put this governance to the vote, the real vote.
I believe ideas like these strike fear into the hearts of the rich, white minority that currently reigns in Washington. They spend billions of dollars to protect against democracy. It is their single greatest fear. I vote for the voice of We The People.