Letter: A call for election reform
December 6, 2016
We flatter ourselves by thinking we are the vanguard of democracy, the leader of the free world. The truth is our democracy is badly flawed and that was never more evident than in this year's presidential election.
The three main culprits are the two-party system, the Electoral College and the interminably long campaign season. Thomas Jefferson said the worst thing that could happen would be two major parties dominating the political scene. In his day, it was the Federalists and the Whigs. We all know who it is today.
The two-party system is enforced by the federal government. Only the two major parties are guaranteed equal air time for television advertisements, and only two candidates are invited to the debates. Third-party candidates have no chance. The choice the system gave us this year was the bad versus the absolutely horrible. Unfortunately, the horrible won.
Elections should be open to all candidates who can garner enough support in the primaries. One percent could be a good standard. This year's presidential election should have been between six major candidates: Bernie Sanders for the Socialists, Hillary Clinton for the Democrats, Donald Trump for the Fascists, a normal Republican like Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio for the Republicans, Gary Johnson for the Libertarians and Jill Stein for the Greens. After the election, the winner would begin the business of forming coalitions for support in Congress.
In this year's election, Clinton took New York and California by wide margins, but Trump took many small states by smaller margins. Clinton took the popular vote by 2 million votes, but Trump won the Electoral College and, therefore, the election. This disparity took place in 2000, when George W. Bush beat Al Gore. It's good for the smaller states, but bad for democracy. In a democracy, the candidate with the most votes wins.
I have always admired the British system of parliamentary and prime minister elections. They call an election, hold the election and swear in the new officeholders all in a matter of six weeks. With the advent of modern media, six weeks is plenty of time to get to know the candidates. There are no multimillion-dollar campaign budgets. There's no time for that.
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Congress is made up of the two major parties, so there's little chance they're going to abolish the two-party system. Right now, Congress is primarily Republican, and Republicans always make out when the popular vote conflicts with the Electoral College, so don't look for them to change anything. I suppose we'd have to have a British parliamentary system to have their type of elections, and I don't want that drastic a change, but there has to be something we can do to decrease the length and the expense of our political campaigns.
What we need are national referendums on these issues. Then we can go to our representatives and say, "Who do you work for, your party or us?"
Fred Malo Jr.
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