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June 17, 2016

Too Long

The election cycle for President has become way too long. It is untenable and other countries' processes show that it doesn't need to be this long. Here are my thoughts on how to bring this under control:

1. Money.

All money raised by all candidates goes into a pot and is then distributed equally to all candidates, or the top 5 at least. In this way, money cannot unduly influence the results by having someone with a multiple million dollar war chest simply swamping someone with a much smaller war chest.
I also think that war chests should be limited, to limit the influence of money on politics. Not sure how to do that, though, except by above.

2. Primaries/Caucuses

First, pick a system and stick with it. Since there are laws against making a person show or tell their vote, this means that caucuses should be done away with (as they are a very public way of voting, where everyone in the room can see for which candidate you are choosing to vote). Secondly, all primaries should happen at the same time, across the nation, rather than over months. This gives no undo sway to any particular state and means the candidates have to travel to most states and get their message across equally.
Registered independent voters should get special ballots that show all candidates on it for a primary. 

3. Results

No results from any primary or election may be reported on or disclosed in any way prior to the last polling place closing. In this way, the east polls cannot influence the west's voting. Everyone can simply wait until the next day to see who won/lost.

4. Time

The election is held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November (note: the wording is complicated because the month can start on a Tuesday or later day). This means the election is held November 2 through 8th, depending on when that Tuesday falls. I don't see any reason, whatsoever, that an election cycle, from declaring, to primaries, to DNCC/RNCC, to election, needs to last longer than six months. So, candidates must declare no later than May 1st. The primaries should be held two months later, in July, and the winning candidates would have four months to debate, set their agendas and platforms, and campaign.

5. Voting

The act of voting needs to be made more simple, but also as error-, fraud-, and influence-free as possible. Voting via the internet is an absolute requirement. I mean, if you can do your taxes online, you should be able to vote online. No matter how they vote, all voters should get a physical copy of their results in case of suspected fraud, by which they can verify who they voted for. For example, if you vote online, you should receive an automated email response that shows "These are the candidates and ballot measures you voted FOR:" and a list. If fraud is suspected, the voting commission can ask the voters in that area for their confirmations, make a copy, and recount the votes or check the results. This should happen with electronic devices at polling stations, or manual processes, as well.

6. Gerrymandering

We need to change the laws to do away with gerrymandering. By changing the district shapes and locations, parties have made it almost impossible for an incumbent not to get re-elected. We need politicians to have to sway voters of all stripes, so their districts should have a good mix of all parties in it. This moves everyone back toward the middle, rather than polarizing, and means we have a Congress and other offices that can work together, rather than a divisive group of far right or far left people who refuse to work together. Compromise is possible. It also means you may have a Democrat win a district that is predominantly conservative, and his/her message and voting record will have to reflect the population and the will of the people he/she is representing, rather than her own politics.
I think these are a good first step toward making the election cycle shorter and more fair. It makes people running for office have to actually campaign and it levels the playing field between all the candidates. I think you would also see the general public invest more of their time, effort, and interest in the election process, and would see a commensurate gain in voters each cycle. There may be more ideas that can be added that would further tighten up the election process. I'll add more as I hear, or think of them.

June 14, 2016

Has Hate Won?

I think, sometimes, that hate has won, that America will eat itself from the inside and splinter into  many smaller nations. American could become the new Middle East, with many nations constantly at war with one another over ideological differences. I think this way because of how people are talking, and not talking, to each other.

The recent shooting in Orlando is a tragedy. But, to me, the bigger tragedy is reading the posts filled with hate about the shooting. If you evince any sympathy for those who were killed, or if you think that America needs to look at its gun laws and make revisions, you are instantly vilified as "left," "Liberal," "Democrat," "stupid," and a bunch of curse words that amount to being a woman or being gay. On the other side of things, people are "stupid," "Conservative," "right," and "Republican." I definitely agree with the "stupid" axiom, as that is true of either side and how they are reacting. You also see a lot of Bible quotations espousing the killing of gays (but, as always, taken out of context), calls that we don't need more gun laws (or that we need to take away all the guns), that there will be more mass killings if someone tries to take away the guns, comments about the mental health, race, and religion of those who believe one way or the other. The hate, and how it is expressed, seems endless. And the goalposts of hate constantly shift and move whenever any rationality and love seeps through.

Which is why, as long as people are going to become rabid on topics, rather than talking them through and seeking compromise, hate wins. As long as people buy into this "us vs. them" rhetoric, hate wins. As long as people continue to teach that some groups are somehow "less" than others, be they a different gender, a different sexual preference, a differing religion, a different race, a differing political ideology, or whatever, hate wins.

I'm willing to bet that the gun enthusiasts and gun-banning advocates can reach common ground, somewhere in the middle, where closing the loopholes in gun shows, making background checks mandatory, and requiring some sort of gun safety course and/or licensing is required to get firearms. I think the two sides can even reach agreement that some weapons do not need to be sold to civilians, and should stay in the purview of the military and police. But it takes cool heads and a willingness to listen and put away the hatred to do it.

I think we can even agree that the person is at fault, and not the firearm, if we talk it through. I think we can figure out that not all people of one religion, nor all people of a particular race or creed, are filled with hatred. We can probably come to common ground and agree that this person did what he did and that he is to blame for it, not the victims or their lifestyle nor the person's religion or race.

But, right now, seeing all the hate being hurled at one another across such a silly divide, for all political divides are ultimately silly, makes me think that hate has won. That the population has fallen for it, and is spending too much time hating and vilifying each other rather than looking for solutions and growing our strengths.

I wonder what kind of community we could have if we stopped hating and starting simply disagreeing?