We Counted Most of Your Votes — Happy Now?

I posted the following in response to the Radio Open Source blog’s question to the effect of “Are you happy with the 2006 election results?”

These days, I’m happy when Democrats win, relatively speaking. But I’m not overjoyed.

First, Democrats in office don’t guarantee much of anything. With the “unitary executive” still in the White House, there is virtually no chance they will affect foreign or military policy. They would have to precipitate a constitutional crisis to do that, and they just won’t — the Democratic Party of Watergate is long gone. Moreover, Democrats cannot maintain party unity the way the Republicans have under DeLay and Frist. They would have to risk being tarred with the “liberal tax-and-spend soft-on-crime tree-hugger” label in order to reverse the massive transfer of wealth that has funded both Republican supporters and Republican campaign chests. And not many Democrats are willing to be called names in order to do the right thing.

Second, even if Democrats win now and in 2008, democracy is still in intensive care. The bogus voting machines and corrupt state election officials are still there. In the campaign arena, money trumps all other means of communicating with voters. The “pundits” who cover politics most intensively can no longer tell the difference between a bald-faced lie and a ham sandwich, or else are willing to let the conglomerate network owners silence them. Most voters have no appreciation of history or civics and stay away from the polls even as soldiers are fighting for their — or someone’s — right to vote.

Third, millions of votes nationwide simply do not count for much. I live in Massachusetts, where all the races were decided by significant margins. We get to vote for unimportant offices like Clerk of Courts, while we are unable to vote for members of agencies that affect our lives every day, like the Turnpike Authority and MBTA. Nationally, because of the Electoral College system, voters in most states are ignored. This system is a relic of the 18th century, when states as such had a much greater importance in our national life. Today, with voters moving several times in their lives, it is beyond ridiculous.

The Democrats will have a significant agenda in the House, and in the Senate too if they win it. And no doubt, the prosecutors will be busy putting Republicans in jail. But there has to be a greater agenda for our national democracy in the next two, four and six years. Here are my three priorities, which no national political figure has addressed:

1. Abolish the Electoral College and have a direct popular vote for President.
2. Overturn the Supreme Court decision striking down campaign finance reform on the basis of “free speech.”
3. Convince centrist Democrats and Republicans to form a centrist third party that would immediately have a sizeable caucus in Congress. Fringe groups can never gain traction, but a centrist third party will be able to abolish the two-party lock on the political process and form alliances with core Democrats and core Republicans on an issue-by-issue basis.

Let’s get some major political figures to even start speaking of these issues, and I’ll be happy indeed.

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