What Politicians Should Start Paying Attention To

It’s 2018 and races for all levels of government are starting to become sensationalized based off of their hot topic positions on issues consistently highlighted by the mainstream media. But what they won’t talk about are the simple bipartisan issues that have been left on the sidelines for all too long. It’s time to stop worrying about what’s trending on Twitter and start worrying about reform everyone can get behind.

Overturning Citizens United v. FEC

According to a recent poll published in the Washington Post, 65% of Americans overall believe money in politics causes political dysfunction in Washington. If politicians weren’t apart of the ‘pay-to-play’ game, they would probably take a stance on that issue. It’s now up to the American people to elect officials that believe money is not free speech, and instead, is a tool to purchase goods and services —with that good or service being a nice tax cut or regulation repeal. To overcome the struggle of raising money, since overturning this Supreme Court decision would limit PACs on their ability to collect donations, we would implement a public financing system that matches private donations 1 to 1, similar to how Montgomery County does it in Maryland. This prioritizes appealing to the populous, and rewards politicians with a public match when they receive more donations from individuals.

Ending the Electoral College and Super-delegate Votes

Since the beginning of the Electoral College, five presidents have been elected without the consent of the populous. The purpose of democracy is to have a direct say into the governmental process, and when 3 million Americans were denied their right to have their voice heard in the White House. The Electoral College, in its foundation, was based on slavery and the influx of Southern representation. With a direct vote, the Southern states never would’ve had the ability to get a President that favored slavery, so having an electoral college based on Congressional representation, which included slaves as 3/5ths of a person, gave the South more influence to how the election would swing. This ancient system of elections should not exist in a country that has moved on from slavery and has recognized that 1 person = 1 vote. Every gubernatorial election is popular based, yet the executive of the entire nation is chosen by just 270 electors or more.

In regards to the super-delegate vote, this only applies to the Democratic Party. Establishment politicians should not have a final say as to who wins or loses the primary. As a voter, their vote for President should be equal to those who aren’t elected officials and are common citizens apart of a registered party. A party’s nominee should be selected on a majority-rules basis, with the elected officials having the right to a ballot only–not a ballot and a non-dedicated delegate vote. This puts the power of the nomination process back into the hands of the people, who are apart of the Democratic Party. The controversy behind whether or not primaries and caucuses should be semi-closed or open is another issue the Democratic Party has to discuss with its members, and it should be happening now in the Unity Commission.

Ditch Electoral Caucuses for Ballot Primaries/Elections

Speaking of caucuses, they have been proven time and time again to be ineffective and unfair to the general public. These forms of elections are only open to those who are free on the primary day and time, and those who can get transportation at that designated time, date, and location. It doesn’t allow a flexible schedule for all voters in the area, and voter turnout for caucuses is extremely low in states that have it, like Iowa. According to Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, “only one in six of the eligible adults participated” in the 2008 presidential caucus. It’s also a non-private way of voting, as it reveals someone’s political stance to anyone there participating in the caucus, unlike a private ballot that’s only viewed by the Elections Board, and not the general public. Allowing voter privacy with the flexibility of early voting in both the primary and general elections, could increase turnout on a nationwide scale, improving representative accountability.

Universal Background Checks/Ending Unchecked Private Sales

A New York Times report asked 32 scholars who were criminologists and public health officials what they think would solve the issue of guns in America. The answer was self-explanatory and virtually supported by every American: universal background checks. If this were implemented, this would require any and all firearms purchase to be verified by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), not just private individuals conducting a full-blown business of arms sales. As of right now, it’s not federally mandated for singular sales of a weapon to be NICS verified by private individuals. NICS is actually an easy system to use as well, as anyone with an Federal Firearms License can get results in minutes if whether or not someone is reasonable enough to own a gun. If we require all gun sales to be NICS verified, those who aren’t private arms sellers, and are just an ordinary gun owner selling their used weapon, we would need to publicize this system. This could prevent more mass shooters and domestic violence abusers from obtaining a gun online or at a gun show, where it’s not mandated in most states. Only eight states, along with Washington, D.C., have mandated universal background checks for all private sales. Other issues that need to be addressed are the errors associated with NICS not being properly updated. We must hold our law enforcement officials accountable to ensure they’re giving the FBI any useful information into their database, such as reports of domestic violence, suicidal thoughts/threats, or illegal prescription or hard drug usage. These failures were highlighted when Dylann Roof was able to obtain a weapon even after his conviction of possessing a drug without a prescription.

Closing the Tax Loopholes for Large Corporations

According to Americans for Tax Fairness, an overwhelming 70% of all Americans support closing loopholes for large conglomerates and the rich over sequestration cuts to Social Security and Medicare. If this doesn’t speak loud and clear for the American people that the GOP is against what the majority wants, then voters still aren’t paying attention. Consistently, Speaker Ryan and the Freedom Caucus has threatened massive cuts to entitlements to make up for the deficit when entitlement spending is the most non-negotiable subject in the budget. It’s really simple: cut entitlements, the voters will cut your re-election bid off.

Better Infrastructure

According to a recent poll, 79% of Americans agree our infrastructure is in need of a major budget boost, but that doesn’t include a border wall. The ASCE, the country’s leading report card grader on our infrastructure, rated us nationwide at a D+. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like my roads or sewage systems to be near failing. But with a $21 trillion debt, we can’t afford to take it out on the nation’s credit card. We need to increase the tax base in order to afford this, and we can remake this money back, since it’s a public investment guaranteed to create jobs and stimulate spending.

Bubble Sheet Ballots for Voting

Just like in high school and college, your ballot should resemble a “Scantron” sheet that can be manually recorded and digitally counted. Consists of no potential hacking, since paper isn’t hackable, and creates a hard copy for the data collected by the ballot machine. Hacking an election should impossible, so let’s stick with good old fashioned pencil and paper, and just count it like test scores to make it efficient.

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