Monday, November 12, 2012

A Few Election Stats

One more post-election wrap-up here, now that Florida is officially in the blue column. This gives the President re-election with 332 electoral votes to Romney's 206. The popular vote also went to the President with 62.1 million votes (51%) to Romney's 58.8 million (48%), a 3.4 million vote advantage.

I'd say this is a clear mandate, but is this a landslide? Let's look at how the Republican pundits described what they would consider a "landslide" before the election:
  • George Will predicts "321-217 Romney landslide"
  • Glenn Beck, "landslide for Romney, electoral college 300+ R"
  • Michael Barone predicts "Romney trounces Obama in electoral college 315-223"
  • Larry Kudlow "predicting a 330 vote electoral landslide" (for Romney)
  • And let's not even get started on Karl Rove...
So, clearly the Republican pundits agree that 332 electoral college votes is a "landslide" - but I'll stick with clear mandate. Or was it?

When all the dust is settled, there will still be 40% of eligible voters (about 78 million) who chose not to participate last Tuesday. And, that figure includes about 13 million voters who participated in 2008, but couldn't be bothered with it again only four years later. More analysis will need to be done to determine how much of that drop-off in voting was due to voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy, and how much due to apathy, but I'm betting on apathy to beat Sandy in a landslide.

You know from my last post that I have some ideas for fighting voter apathy. I'll have some more to say about that later. But for now, here's an interesting info-graphic about who did (and didn't) vote this year (also shows how much more effective the Obama campaign was at using social media).

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Democracy Pledge

Tuesday evening's election result was a great success for the future of our country. No, I'm not talking about the re-election of President Barack Obama (although I am quite happy about that). No, I'm today I'm talking about the election of Angus S. King, Jr. as the new U.S. Senator from the great state of Maine. King will join Bernie Sanders of neighboring Vermont as one half of the Independent population of the U.S. Senate. As King, the former two-term independent Governor of Maine, said on his website:
... Angus promised Maine people that the only consideration he would take when casting his vote would be the interests of Maine and the country, not a political party's agenda. In electing [him] ... voters rejected the bitter partisanship that has brought our political process to a standstill, and embraced a new Independent direction. 
Yes, despite my campaigning for Barack Obama's re-election, I am still an independent at heart and by registration. One of my core beliefs is that our country is at its best when the largest number of citizens possible participate in our democracy. As a left-of-center independent, I thoroughly reject the false dichotomy that all Americans can be put into two neat divisions of Republicans or Democrats. I also view the negative influence of big money on elections as one of the main reasons for voter apathy.

Put together, those beliefs make a simple formula:
More Choices - Corrupt Money = Higher Voter Turnout and a Working Democracy
So, in order to achieve this, I propose a "Democracy Pledge." Candidates of all parties ("major" and "third") are encouraged to take the Pledge by promising to champion at least three of the following reforms. Voters are encouraged to support those candidates who have taken the Pledge, and to promote the Democracy Pledge concept.

The Democracy Pledge Platform consists of the following:
  1. Repeal Citizens United; Pass a Constitutional amendment stating that only people are people, not corporations! - (See Move to Amend)
  2. Reign in Super PACs; Make candidates responsible for message and spending of independent groups acting on their behalf. Limit contributions to both candidates and PACs at all levels.
  3. End the Electoral College; The Electoral College was a compromise to balance the power of slave states and free states. We need to either end or vastly reform the electoral system to put more emphasis on the popular vote.
  4. IRV (Instant Run-Off Voting) or Preference Voting; Makes every vote count and allows for more points-of-view in the electoral process.
  5. Early Voting in All States; A minimum of two weeks, including at least one full weekend.
  6. Change Election Day; Tuesday made sense in the 1840s, but now it is an inconvenience for the majority of working Americans. Either move election day to a weekend, or make Election Day a holiday.
  7. No Straight Ballot Voting; Require voters to choose a candidate in each race, rather than pull a "straight ballot" lever.
  8. Fair Debates; Change the Bi-Partisan Commission on Presidential Debates to a Non-Partisan Commission. Any party or candidate that has achieved ballot status in enough states to reach 270 electoral votes must be included. Encourage those states where debates take place between statewide office holders (i.e.: Governor or Senator) to enact similar open debate provisions. - (See Open Debates)
  9. Voter ID; Identification requirements that are onerous or require any expenditure on the part of the voter are an impediment to participation and potentially un-Constitutional. Any ID requirements that are enacted must be minimal, sensitive to the concerns of all, and with any financial burden falling upon the state making such a requirement.
It is not my point here to promote any one candidate or any one third party or ideology; it is to promote democracy. It is also not my point to automatically oppose major party candidates. To get any reforms passed will require allies across the spectrum who believe in democracy and participation. If we can get any number of these reforms enacted, we can broaden political discussion, minimize the influence of money, and increase voter participation.
"In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some diehard's vote." - David Foster Wallace

"Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party." - Winston Churchill

"Democracy is not something you believe in or a place to hang your hat, but it's something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles." - Abbie Hoffman

"Just say 'No' to the two party system." - Me

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