Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Two Simple 2020 Initiatives to Change the Political Landscape

 

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 CheatBy 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 Domestic Policy
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  1. aardo vozz Member

    Regarding education , I think it would be a great idea if colleges and universities were forced to take the losses on student loan defaults. ( I’ve seen this proposal on Ricochet and elsewhere). 

    • #1
    • February 28, 2020, at 5:27 PM PST
    • 14 likes
  2. Bruce Caward Thatcher
    Bruce Caward Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Wow, great ideas.

    For all that the Left (and the Right) are always sniffing about the august importance of “the vote”, neither seems to ever care to keep it legitimate.

    I think the biggest game-changer for all of us would be to focus on total vote-reform.

    If “The Vote” is soooo important (and it is) it should be treated as such. Vote fraud should be a punishable crime.

    In our day of computer-aided account organization, a 99.9% accurate vote count should be a standard we can achieve. If we have to go to finger-dipping in blue ink, then so be it. Don’t want to know who you voted for, but we should be able to tell who voted. And they should be proud to have it known.

    Perhaps we could make voting day a national holiday; everyone (not self-employed, like me) has the day off. There are Election parties, maybe fireworks. You proudly spend the day in line, reconnecting with old friends. It becomes a thing. It’s once again taken seriously, because it’s no longer seen as pointless or obviously corrupt.

    Dead people don’t vote any longer, because the system registered their demise. Illegal aliens don’t vote, because they aren’t in the system.

    (Sarc on: Just imagine how much this one part would change the whole open-borders question.)

    Felons don’t vote, because their illegitimacy is in the system. Most importantly, every individual voter is only allowed to vote ONCE, in one place.

    All early voting, and non-resident voting, is eliminated. If you can’t organize your life to be available on that day to stand in line with your friends and fellow citizens to cast your “all-important” vote, then bow out for this round – it’s not a law that you HAVE to vote, It’s a measure of its importance to you. The only exception would be for those who are under a government-service obligation – all military personnel, others working in public service who must be at their posts that day. Accommodations have to be made for them, as they do not, and should not, have the flexibility to forego their duties at whim. The rest of us can.

    Who, who is in favor of one man, one vote, could be against any of this? (“Man” means “person”, in this case “legal voter”, so stop it.)

    I’m not much of an accountant, but I understand there are a lot of them out there. With computer software, a system should be able to be developed that can verify the total # of votes that were cast, and match them to the total individual voters who cast them. Any illegitimate votes would be instantly recognized, and turned over to law enforcement.

    The Lefties keep claiming these kind of ideas are racist. I say WTF? – they are the opposite of racist. Every individual American citizen, black, white, green, woman, man whatever, as long as they are registered and legitimately qualified to vote, will be included as 1 vote. If you’re black, and you registered, and you show up out of your busy schedule that day and cast your vote, that’s one vote. No hanging chad, no nothing – one vote. If you’re white and you didn’t bother to register, or you are too busy to show up, then sorry, no participation for you this time. Zero racism involved – same rules for everybody, no exceptions.

    This should be the one unambiguous time where every individual soul can experience equality before the law – each of us gets ONE vote, exactly as valuable as our brother’s.

    Something like this would probably generate strong resistance from both sides, because I’m sure both sides have their fiddles. But maybe it’s time for these particular fiddles to end. Modern technology is changing a lot of things about privacy, lots of ways to track sales and direct advertising and all that. The encryption stuff involved in our credit card transactions are supposedly impossible to break; can’t something similar be set up to make the voting process (at least more) legit?

    • #2
    • February 28, 2020, at 5:46 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  3. Cow Girl Thatcher

    I have been thinking for years that the main reason college costs went up was because there was no longer any impediment to students getting loans. It used to be more difficult to borrow that money. Then, when it became like an Oprah Show–“You get a loan! And YOU get a loan! And YOU get a loan!” the colleges just got smart and jacked up their prices. “Hey, if every single applicant can get whatever money they ask for, then let’s get some of that.” I was finishing my bachelor’s degree (started 15 years, one marriage, and five children before) in 1991 in California. Each semester, my tuition was significantly increased and I’m pretty sure the costs weren’t increasing at the same pace. And yes, indeed, there is a suffocating number of Assistant-Assistants to the Assistant of the Vice-Dean of Hurt Feelings. Reform Colleges Now!!

    And you have a great idea there Bruce Caward about the whole voting mess. I especially second your idea of having all elections held in November–none of this “We’ll sneak one in on June 20th when only our friends are paying attention.”

    • #3
    • February 28, 2020, at 6:08 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  4. I Walton Member

    All great ideas and while I’m ignorant and out of date I don’t want the Feds involved. Federal financial support should be terminated at most, once cleaned up, they could support some specific high cost graduate scientific and highly technical programs, perhaps outside of the universities.

    • #4
    • February 28, 2020, at 6:15 PM PST
    • Like
  5. Freeven Member
    Freeven Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Increasing voter turnout is not a high priority for me unto itself. If it could be demonstrated that the additional voters would be better informed than they are now, sure. But I think the more likely scenario is that a bunch of people who are uninformed and can’t be bothered to go to the polls now will be led to vote us more quickly toward socialism.

    • #5
    • February 29, 2020, at 2:08 AM PST
    • 1 like
  6. Stad Thatcher

    I believe all primaries should be closed (limited only to voters registered in that party). I also believe there should not be any non-partisan elections. This is primarily aimed at school boards and the flawed theory that a non-partisan election results in bipartisan support for schools.

    • #6
    • February 29, 2020, at 5:14 AM PST
    • 1 like
  7. The Reticulator Member

    In Michigan, school elections used to be held at their own times and places. Now they occur as part of regular elections, at regular polling places. No feds were involved in this change, which is good. The new system has its plusses and minuses compared to the old way. It’s not all for the good, and not all bad, either. 

    • #7
    • February 29, 2020, at 5:38 AM PST
    • 1 like
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):
    Perhaps we could make voting day a national holiday; everyone (not self-employed, like me) has the day off. There are Election parties, maybe fireworks. You proudly spend the day in line, reconnecting with old friends. It becomes a thing. It’s once again taken seriously, because it’s no longer seen as pointless or obviously corrupt.

    One of my sisters has advocated this for years. I note that this is the case in South Korea.

    • #8
    • February 29, 2020, at 4:44 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Increasing voter turnout is not a high priority for me unto itself. If it could be demonstrated that the additional voters would be better informed than they are now, sure. But I think the more likely scenario is that a bunch of people who are uninformed and can’t be bothered to go to the polls now will be led to vote us more quickly toward socialism.

    Even given your view, why support elections strewn over the calendar, when local politicians can rally a small group of voters to make the decisions for everyone? How have local elections been working out as far as your concern about socialism?

    • #9
    • March 2, 2020, at 6:26 PM PST
    • Like
  10. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Stad (View Comment):

    I believe all primaries should be closed (limited only to voters registered in that party). I also believe there should not be any non-partisan elections. This is primarily aimed at school boards and the flawed theory that a non-partisan election results in bipartisan support for schools.

    I agree in principle. And, I think that the parties have become quasi-public entities. There is so much interplay at every level. States and localities pay for elections, including primaries. Who provides the voting logistics, ballots, boxes, counting…? While private organizations should be able to control their own membership and decisions on leadership, and while there is clarity in making political parties entirely accountable for their own candidates, there is a vast pool of independent voters in every state.

    • #10
    • March 2, 2020, at 6:36 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Tedley Member

    You’ve proposed many excellent improvements to the voting process, such as closed primaries. But here is something to consider: Those of us residing overseas, whether for business or retirement (from the military, in my case), would have a very difficult time participating due to costly airfares. If there were an option to execute the vote at an embassy or consulate, that could be an acceptable workaround. 

    • #11
    • March 3, 2020, at 5:41 AM PST
    • 1 like
  12. Freeven Member
    Freeven Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Increasing voter turnout is not a high priority for me unto itself. If it could be demonstrated that the additional voters would be better informed than they are now, sure. But I think the more likely scenario is that a bunch of people who are uninformed and can’t be bothered to go to the polls now will be led to vote us more quickly toward socialism.

    Even given your view, why support elections strewn over the calendar, when local politicians can rally a small group of voters to make the decisions for everyone? How have local elections been working out as far as your concern about socialism?

    It’s an imperfect system, no matter how you slice it. But efforts to increase the turn out of uninformed, current-non-voters isn’t an improvement.

    • #12
    • March 3, 2020, at 6:00 AM PST
    • 1 like
  13. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Increasing voter turnout is not a high priority for me unto itself. If it could be demonstrated that the additional voters would be better informed than they are now, sure. But I think the more likely scenario is that a bunch of people who are uninformed and can’t be bothered to go to the polls now will be led to vote us more quickly toward socialism.

    Even given your view, why support elections strewn over the calendar, when local politicians can rally a small group of voters to make the decisions for everyone? How have local elections been working out as far as your concern about socialism?

    It’s an imperfect system, no matter how you slice it. But efforts to increase the turn out of uninformed, current-non-voters isn’t an improvement.

    I do not know that the number of voters in presidential and off-year congressional elections would be higher, however what I propose would ensure that local and state governments would no longer go for a much lower turn-out of just the voters they prefer.

    • #13
    • March 6, 2020, at 2:09 AM PST
    • Like