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They are simple but not easy. Then again, things worth doing are seldom easy, especially when entrenched interests are threatened. Nevertheless, sometimes there are simple solutions that can actually shift the political landscape. So, consider changing the dynamics of elections at the state and local level, while recasting the college scene without a dime of additional spending.
1. Change your state’s election rules to truly empower voters, increasing participation and ballot box integrity.
The left always raises the specter of voter suppression, crying “count every vote!” The right always raises the specter of ballot-box stuffing, of determining close races with extra ballot boxes full of ballots from fake voters or real voters whose votes were “harvested,” whose names were used by party operatives, and who actually fill out the ballots from the old-folks’ home. Yet neither side has campaigned for the obvious solution, perhaps because operatives, pundits, and politicians do not really want to really face all the voters.
You are likely aware, as every politician definitely is, that the further off the presidential year November election, the lower the turnout. This has been a good rule of thumb for decades of observed voter participation. The presidential election gets the most attention and may be seen as the most consequential, so it gets the heaviest turnout. The congressional election, two years off the presidential election, has generally generated the second-highest turnout. This is when a third of all Senate seats, and every House seat, are on the ballot. Move elections off those two dates and you almost guarantee significantly lower voter participation.
There are major cities whose elections are not even in November, taking place in the spring of various years. Such elections not only determine who rules locally but also have the voters directly obligating the citizenry to spend through taxes or bonds. Yet, as low as 10% of all eligible voters cast ballots! It is no good to talk of people getting the government for which they vote or do not vote, as such a posture forfeits the fraud and manipulation claims, as well as the voter suppression claim.
Republicans or independents, in each state with a voter initiative or proposition process, should put forward state constitutional amendments doing two things:
- Direct that every election that actually determines spending, passes a law, or elects officials at any level of government under state authority shall be held on the presidential or congressional off-year election dates.
- Direct that all voting shall take place in a one-week period and voters must cast their votes in person.
At the national level, Republican legislators, or President Trump, should propose to Congress a constitutional amendment doing the same thing, and requiring that the first Monday of November, in the two consolidated election years, shall be a paid federal holiday, which must also be honored by all employers by paid time off on that Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. This is one day of labor cost every two years for the benefit of the protections and certainties of a constitutional republic. Don’t like it? Then shut up about the way elections actually are going and the resulting damage done to our society.
The voting days proposal addresses the loud claims of both progressives and conservatives. By maximizing turnout, you greatly increase the difficulty of cheating with a few extra votes. As Hugh Hewitt wrote almost two decades ago, If It’s Not Close, They Can’t Cheat. By maximizing turnout, you serve the goal of every voice being heard, every vote counted. And, by making the event a civic holiday, you reduce barriers to participation by those at the lowest wage levels, living paycheck to paycheck. President Trump, and Republicans who support his new or renewed voter coalition, should push this hard, first offering it as a very reasonable proposal and then beating the snot out of the Chamber of Commerce and DNC when they or their surrogates object or reject the proposal.
2. Truly improve educational outcomes while reducing costs and debt in the college/political complex. The outrageous inflation of college costs is directly linked to the outrageous bloat in administrative personnel and salaries. If you still think that college students are going socialist and also becoming violently intolerant due to professors, you have a 30-year-old cassette tape stuck in your memory bank.
The administrators now run the universities and can even threaten tenured professors with loss of their jobs through false accusations and kangaroo courts finding racism, sexism, or other violations of intersectional justice. So, a real reduction in administration, if forced to start at the top positions and if fenced off from blue-collar, credentialed medical and computer network personnel, would almost necessarily produce multiple good effects.
Accordingly, we should see state constitutional amendments and federal law directing the following:
- Reduction of administrative positions and total compensation back to the inflation and student population adjusted 2000 level. That is a 20-year rollback. Direct it be done in front-loaded increments, spread over five years.
- Forbid any reclassification or creation of new supposedly instructional positions.
- Allow current authorized faculty positions to receive either a class load reduction or extra pay for a period of service as both professor and administrator. Require all faculty to be available to serve in both capacities over time.
The key here is to make it a fight between bureaucrats on the one hand and students and their professors on the other. Shrieks of lost competitiveness fail when you pound away on protecting every dollar of professors’ pay, of always paying for the best teachers and researchers. States that go this route can boast of giving their graduates much better starts to their careers, with equal or better training and much less student debt. Here, as with election reform, there is an opening for bold new thinking by politicians who refuse to hear “it can’t be done” and “let’s have another study or commission.”
What state will lead the way? Will President Trump make these two issues a part of his reelection platform?Published in