I had a really interesting conversation with navyboy last night. We started talking about Fahrenheit 9/11
, but ended up talking a lot about why our elections suck so much and what to do about it. We both agreed that two things would make a huge difference.1) Public Campaign Financing
Any person who could collect a threshold number of signatures would qualify as an official candidate and would get an equal share of public money to spend on a campaign. Candidates should only be allowed to spend public money, not their own, and not money from contributors. No one would ever have to raise money again, which would seriously reduce the power of moneyed special interests. This would also prevent people with personal fortunes from effectively buying an elected office.2) Abolish the Electoral College
I think the Electoral College
is a huge problem and responsible for a great deal of voter apathy. Why bother voting if you know your state is going to go one way or the other? Presidents should be elected by a direct popular vote. I'd love to see it done with instant runoff voting
or a similar voting system that broke the two-party chokehold on American politics. For those who think that the Electoral College is some sacred cow that can never be changed, keep in mind that originally the President wasn't even elected by the populace - state legislatures chose the electors. We've changed the system before, and we should do so again.
Unfortunately, there are strong, entrenched interests who would oppose both of these reforms. The current power structure likes the current campaign finance system - after all, that's the system that put it in power. And small states don't want to give up their disproportionate power. So what do we do? Keep talking about it, I guess.