I’ve been running for President for over a year now, and I’ve become even more convinced that moneyed interests have captured our democratic system. Especially since the decision in Citizens United, the amount of money that it takes to run a campaign is ridiculous, and it ensures that the rich will have both an easier time running for office and a direct line to politicians who rely on their donations to win elections.
Almost all politicians complain about needing to spend hours every day on “call time” – sitting there, reaching out to wealthy donors and pleading for their support. Why is this something we accept? Aren’t our leaders supposed to spend their time fixing our problems, not catering to the whims of the wealthiest? This is a primary reason our politics has become so broken, and we have to fix it.
I also believe that the way we vote has resulted in a system that no longer works for most Americans. Two of the past five elections have been won by the candidate with fewer votes. Third-party candidates frequently bring important considerations and voices to the political process, but they’re drowned out by the two major parties, and – fair or not – are usually called spoilers by the losing party.
I’m for overturning Citizens United and reforming (though not eliminating) the electoral college, but those would require constitutional amendments. That process would take too long considering our democracy is breaking down now. We need to focus on solutions to these problems today, and we can do that through reforms to the way campaigns are funded and the way Americans vote.
Reform #1 – Democracy Dollars
The easiest way to minimize the influence of super-rich individuals and SuperPACs in our politics is to drown that money out with contributions by normal Americans. Under my Democracy Dollars plan, every American would receive $100 per election cycle to donate to candidates of their choosing. This would amount to a potential $20 billion+ a year, much higher than the amount spent by these moneyed interests if even a small proportion of Americans utilize them.
It would also save our leaders from spending hours every day calling and begging for money. That’s time that would be better spent looking out for the interests of the people they represent, and it would keep them human, as making those calls is soul-crushing.
Reform #2 – Ranked Choice Voting
A democracy requires the people to feel that their elected officials represent them. Our current, one-round voting system frequently results in that not happening. People feel they can’t vote for a third-party candidate they prefer, and they often vote strategically instead of for their favorite candidate. In primaries, this often leads to more extreme candidates because centrists lose out to the wings of the party that don’t represent the average voter.
If we move to a ranked choice voting system, we’ll end up with candidates that better represent the preferences of voters. It would reward candidates with broad support, and some studies show it decreases negative campaigning. It would also break up the two-party duopoly that currently dominates our elections.
There are many other reforms I’m proposing to address many other problems with our democracy – you can read about them below. But, to me, diminishing the influence of those with the largest amount of money, and reforming our first-past-the-post voting system, will do the most good in the shortest time.
Restoration of Voting Rights | Proportional Selection of Electors | Automatic Voter Registration | DC Statehood | Puerto Rican Statehood | End Partisan Gerrymandering | Make Election Day a Holiday | Lower Voting Age to 16 | Democracy Dollars | Ranked Choice Voting | End Citizens United | Modernize Voting