The two-party system that has been in place for most of our existence as a nation has not served us well. For over a century, we have been moving inexorably toward the abyss of national socialism under the American pseudonym of “progressivism”. It has made little difference which political party has been in power. Under the Democrat Party, we move faster and under the Republican Party, we move slower, but always in the same direction. Now we find ourselves at the very brink of the abyss.
Most of us have been unaware of the perilous path down which our national leaders have been leading us. The election of Barack Obama and the introduction of one socialist policy after another by him and his progressive Democrat followers has brought the problem into sharp focus. For the first time in their life, millions of Americans are paying attention to the direction we are going and beginning to weigh the consequences. Anger and frustration has become the normal daily state of an ever-growing number of our people. The most frequently asked question is, what can we do to turn things around? How can we stop the seemingly unstoppable rush into socialism?
It is easy to blame, Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Durbin, et al. A little reflection, however, points to another mostly unrecognized culprit. As already pointed out, we have been moving in the same direction for more than a hundred years. There is not an official in government that has been in office for that length of time. Presidents, Senators and Congressmen come and go while the condition continues to worsen. It is not the people in power that causes our problem— although they are certainly culpable and need to be held accountable — the real problem is the system itself. We have allowed ourselves, over the years, to become subjects of the Republican or Democrat Parties.
The last two elections have shown just how tyrannical these parties have become. Two examples stand out, the nomination of John McCain for President in ‘08, and in Illinois, the nomination of Mark Kirk for Senate in this election. If you need further proof, consider the bills that have been passed and signed during this Congress, against the will of the people. If you need still more proof consider the situation with illegal immigration, particularly in Arizona. Decisions are made by members of the Party establishment and millions of dollars are targeted at the voting public to get them to “rubber stamp” the Party’s decision. All too often it works, albeit often against the best interest of the Country.
We are always going to have political parties and I am not suggesting that we get rid of them. However, the Republican and Democrat Parties have become too powerful, have too much control over government at all levels, and have strayed too far from our founding principles, for us to allow the status quo to continue. Both parties must be stripped of their power for the good of the country and the survival of the Republic. If that suggestion seems too radical for some, consider that the founding documents are devoid of any reference or foundation principle to justify the prominence either Party has in the running of our government today.
The good news is that reforming our political system does not require an Amendment to the Constitution. Primary elections, winner-take-all outcomes, and the nominating processes, are all extra-constitutional and in some cases unconstitutional. Ostensibly, the political customs and traditions developed over the years are for the convenience of the voters. In reality, they are designed to secure the power of the respective political parties. The timing and order of primaries, the gerrymandering of Congressional Districts, the hurdles aspiring candidates are forced to go through and a host of others are all designed to provide job security to incumbents and protect the Party in power.
A relatively small number of major changes could correct our electoral system and bring it in line with the Constitution and intent of the Founders. A similar small number of changes in the way Washington does business would return us closer to the model of government left to us by the Founders.
The tradition of primary elections has no basis in the Constitution. Primaries are completely and solely for the benefit of political parties for the purpose of deciding on a single candidate for each office to appear on the ballot in the general election. The winner take all policy adhered to by most states is also not required by the Constitution. The Constitution does not require a majority vote for the offices of Representative or Senator. However, the Constitution does not preclude the states from requiring a majority vote for those offices. For those states choosing a majority requirement, a second runoff election could be held among the top vote getters for each office, similar to the process prescribed in Article II for choosing a President and Vice President by Congress when there is no Electoral College majority.
If we followed the spirit and letter of the Constitution and applied the electoral model put forth in the election of a President, to other elective offices, it would simplify the election process and more than likely, result in better representation. While the Constitution allows the states to determine the manner in which electors are chosen or appointed, it also allows Congress to set the time of choosing electors and the day on which they shall vote. Article II, Section 1, clauses 16 and 17 reads,
“The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.”
Traditionally, the time for choosing Electors is a multi-step process, not sanctioned by the Constitution. Electors are first chosen in the primaries and advance to the party convention. The convention delegates then usually take the candidate with the highest number of Electoral College votes pledged to him or her in the primaries nationwide and declare that person to be their candidate for the general election. This step requires a percentage of the Electoral College candidates to change their pledge from the candidates for whom citizens voted, to the Party‘s ultimate selection. (Note: the name appearing on the primary ballot is the candidate running for office, but the real candidate is the Electoral College candidate pledged to vote for that candidate, not the candidate himself or herself.) This process is not only highly confusing to voters but is constitutionally suspect in its legality, if not downright unconstitutional.
A major factor in choosing Electoral College Candidates is the timing sequence of the various primaries, taking advantage of the “lemming” factor, the popularity of the candidates building on the outcomes of each succeeding primary. The wording of the Constitution clauses quoted above may allow each state to choose their electors on a different day. However, the normal understanding would be that all states should do so on the same day, just as the day on which they actually vote is required to be the same nationwide. The nation would be better served if the primary process were done away with and a general election day determined on which candidates for state, local, and Congressional offices, and Electoral College members were elected. If runoffs are required for various offices, those elections could take place on the same day the Electoral College meets to vote.
Summation: Under this process, a single “election day” would be held nationwide. Candidates for state and local offices would be elected as well as members of Congress and Electoral College members. Party affiliation would not appear on the ballots and would not be a factor in voting. The practice of substituting the names of candidates for President and Vice President for the Electoral College candidates would still be permitted as a service to the voters. Any required runoff elections may or may not be held in conjunction with the day the Electoral College votes.
This reform alone in our election process would remove much of the power from the two major parties and make it much easier for alternative parties to form and be counted.
To be continued in future posts…