President-elect Trump is outside the box in just about every thing he does. Good, bad, or horrendous, the fact is, we’re living in unprecedented times. It’s time we all get out of our respective boxes and think very differently.
With a mis-leader who campaigned on breaking rules, we need lots of brainstorms to find outside-the-box responses and solutions.
I’d like to start with campaign reform ideas. Not just campaign finance reform– but the entire campaign process.
It’s not just global temperatures setting record highs. As of two weeks post election, the 2016 presidential campaign season is estimated to have cost in the neighborhood of $6.6 billion.
Campaign spending has skyrocketed faster and higher than the cost of healthcare, GDP, and income, as Time Magazine reported. Unprecedented in American history.
From the letter to the Spirit of the Law
Let’s look at the spirit of the law—it’s overall purpose and intent.
The founders of the United States designed a system to prevent corruption by preventing consolidation of power.
Lots of people today are saying we should eliminate the electoral college. But what happened this year is an anomaly and result of decades of gradually degradation of checks and balances on power.
A hundred years ago, there were no primaries.
If we eliminate the electoral college now, that will truly be the end of our democracy and morph straight into tyranny, just as Plato predicted. If its not already too late. But that’s another discussion.
The intention–the spirit of our U.S. election process–was to serve as a means of sourcing, vetting, and then electing good, qualified candidates for leadership.
That’s what an election in a representative democracy is supposed to do.
I’m certainly not saying it’s doing that now. Nor has it in years.
But would you not agree – that is supposed to be the function and purpose of our democratic process?
In non-Democratic societies where the voice of the people is suppressed, elections are purely a sham, just for show.
How do we find good, qualified candidates, and unity, as in the UNITED States of America,
Did $6.6B put people to work, and strategically help grow our economy?
Did it invest in our future—our children? Did it care for our veterans and elderly? Did it help repair our crumbling national park facilities, clean up lead in our pipes or Superfund sites, or rebuild our ailing bridges, electrical grid, or wifi infrastructure? How about hiring a tutor to help us with our infrastracture grades — we currently score as a dismal D+.
How can we improve two things:
1) the sourcing and vetting of candidates for elections, plus
2;) reduce the amount of money spent. Or use the money spent more wisely, more fairly, and more equitably?
An aside: Want to stop all the protests? Treat the monkeys fairly. Really. Even monkeys will tell you that, as this 2:36 TED Talk excerpt shows.
In light of all these ideas questions in our brainstorming session, here are some election reform ideas I’ve come up with, for 2020.
Ten Outside-the-Box Election Reform Ideas
1) Election Spending Tax (EST). Every candidate and PAC gets charged a tax, dollar-for-dollar, equal to what they spend on producing and buying space in the media. (Sorry mass corporate media, after this year’s election, you deserve to lose ad revenue.) We earmark that EST money for the states, reinstating that back-in-the-good-old-days idea from President Nixon called revenue sharing, to reduce local property taxes.
That $6.6 billion would provide $132M to each state. In Wisconsin, that would amount to $284,483 to each of our 464 school districts. Households in my district of 1,135 students would receive a property tax credit of between $150 to $250 per student.
If corporations really are people, and money equals political speech, then is it not fair that corporations should pay a tax on that privilege? I think a $250 stipend to every student in the country, for the privilege of “speaking” out to influence our elections, would be fair.
2) Set up Sister Districts. Years ago there used to be an organization called Wisconsin-Nicaragua Partners, which instituted this idea. Communities in Wisconsin “adopted” communities in Nicaragua. There were cultural exchanges and charitable giving. So why not do the same for our schools? Here in Wisconsin, there are a number of very wealthy suburbs. How about each of the wealthy school districts “adopt” a Sister District that’s not so wealthy. There could be cultural exchanges with potluck joint PTA meetings, fundraisers, mentor programs, and charitable giving. Let the wealthy district lend a helping hand to give the poorer district’s kids a hand up–not a hand out. Take them under the wing, lovingly, and teach them how to fly.
OK. This wasn’t a campaign reform idea. See what happens when you get outside the box? Other ideas happen.
3) Waive the tax for any low-budget videos featuring talking heads only–the candidate just speaking to voters, on camera, without high-priced, slick ad agencies. Prior to the 1960s, for nearly 200 years, that’s how all our candidates spoke–just facing the audience. Use technology to level the playing field for all challengers.
4) Shorten the election season to 6 months–90 days each for primary and general.
5) Limit terms of office by leveling the playing field for challengers. Establish a dedicated public broadcasting station, mirrored on cable, online, and published to YouTube, and give all candidates free equal airtime on that channel. (I don’t support arbitrarily term limits without including a clear method of recruiting new qualified candidates chosen by the people. Think we’ve had puppet candidates now? Who will feed the mill of new candidates if we arbitrarily set term limits on members of Congress?)
6) Here’s an idea aimed at getting better quality leaders, who are more responsive to the people, and happier voters. For any federal election to be valid, require there to be at least 66% voter turnout in the general election. If there’s lackluster candidates and less than that turn out to vote, the encumbent admin goes into overtime, and a new primary election in 3 months followed by new general election 3 months after that–all new candidates required.
All salaries in Congress are frozen 2x the length of the overtime.
Maximum 2 overtime election attempts. After 3 strikes, if no worthy candidates can be drafted, the country reverts back to being a British colony, and all federal politicians are immediately subject to forfeiture of all worldy possessions including their homes and cars, requiring them to live homeless and start over from scratch–the penalty for dereliction of duty.
7) Change the constitution to make our election days fall on a Saturday instead of a weekday. It would be a really simple, 1-word edit. Change second Thursday to second Saturday. Thanks to Bernie for this idea.
8) Automatically register all voters whenever people turn 18, and when they relocate. Another idea inspired by Bernie.
9) Hello. This is the 21st century. Create an online voting system.
10) Require all candidates to have a public LinkedIn profile. Let them compete on their actual qualifications for office, and let them make the case publicly, on LinkedIn. That’s what all the recruiters are using these days.
So there’s my brainstorm of an idea. What do you think?
Laurel Kashinn is a certified ghostwriter, resume writer, Orthodox Christian, student of A Course In Miracles, and mom living and writing in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.