I don’t know about you, but I sure am glad that we’re finally getting a break from politics.
Yet I’m still getting text messages from Herschel Walker begging me for money; I thought he was the rich one. I can’t even vote for him.
Our campaigns go on for WAY too long and there’s too much money involved to shorten campaigns into sensible projects. We risk turning the presidency into something so drawn out and costly that only the billionaire class (or the people they own) will bother to participate.
It sure seems like we might benefit from making it easier for other political parties to play in the sandbox of democracy. When voters only have two options, it tends to push both to the extremes. For decades, you had to have a D next to your name to win office, now you have to have an R.
Party primaries become THE election when one of the only two available options is effectively rendered irrelevant and thousands of citizens feel that they lack representation.
The Libertarian Party managed to get some candidates on the ballot this time. Maybe we should open it up to allow others to participate and give voters more choice with systems like ranked-choice voting that save money on run-off elections.
By splitting up the vote among lots of choices, we would undoubtedly increase voter participation and enhance the debate to become more about public policy proposals than dueling personalities.
Of course, that ain’t gonna happen. The powers that be will never willingly make things more challenging for themselves. Actions that effectively limit who can vote, where and how just do not convey confidence in one’s ability to win hearts and minds without arbitrary guardrails to minimize effective opposition.
It would take a populist grassroots campaign to change anything that benefits the status quo.
Unfortunately, it will only be a matter of days before the 2024 presidential campaign kicks off, assuming it hasn’t by the time you read this.
There are some common sense reforms we need to protect the integrity of our elections and give politicians incentive to behave ethically.
First, we should require -- not simply encourage -- candidates for president to share their last three federal tax returns for public scrutiny. A recent former occupant of the White House refused to share his financial and medical records, first by giving us excuses about how he’d love to share but the IRS wouldn’t let him during an audit. Years later, he’s fighting the release of those documents in court. It makes you wonder what he’s so desperate to hide.
If someone wants to become president, shouldn’t they get a thorough and complete inspection? I mean, this is the person with the authority to kill every single creature on the planet by virtue of having the nuclear codes. We should probably require a test to demonstrate they aren’t a psychopath, a fanatic or an idiot.
Secondly, we should require -- not simply encourage -- candidates for president to put their business holdings into a blind trust controlled by a non-partisan independent caretaker. Otherwise, there’s just too much temptation to enrich oneself. Too much to ask? Then go sit down over there and hush.
We should never again have a politician billing the taxpayers handsomely for lodging at his or her resort or signaling to foreign powers that overnight stays in their hotels will buy influence.
Thirdly, we need to limit the power of future presidents to make short-term appointments of loyalists to their cabinets to evade Congressional confirmation.
Fourth, any candidate making allegations of election fraud should be required to personally appear in court and present evidence/sworn testimony under cross-examination and risk of perjury -- rather than allowing provocative claims to be made in press conferences where there’s no accountability or consequence for being deceitful.
We should also make Election Day a federal holiday so people don’t have to face long lines before or after work.
Anyone running for anything should be required to publicly disclose into a searchable government database information about their donors including names, addresses, and other information any time they spend money to communicate with voters.
If you aren’t willing to attach your name and reputation to your advocacy, what does that say?
It’s critical that we prohibit online voting to protect our elections from hackers and foreign agents. Mandatory paper backups are also a must.
We need to promote public trust with non-partisan redistricting commissions and get faster results by pre-processing ballots received before Election Day with permanent, no-excuse absentee voting, accessible drop boxes and early in-person voting.
Candidates who fail to exhibit gracious behavior toward losers in victory and humbly accept the results in defeat should be cast out into the political wilderness of obscurity.
Congress should also expand the definition of “electioneering communications” to include online advertising, which is increasingly replacing the large-scale TV and radio campaigns.
I’m for whatever will get Herschel to leave me alone.
— Steven Stiefel is the publisher of the Times-Journal. Email: email@example.com.