I understand that many of you have been begun to detest Presidential Election of 2016. It has been a long slog through mud, decay, and slime. Personally, I’m thrilled at the prospects. No, no, no, not because the 4 candidates nominated by the major national parties are such fantastic examples of human beings that I’m excited to have any one them lead the US. I like this election because it has torn away a few more of the veils that concealed the inner workings of what we so blithely call American Democracy. Its not pretty. Its not inviting. But it is hopeful. Hopeful because exposing all the rot, decadence, and corruption in the political realm provides us a real opportunity at significant realignment. The history of political realignments in the US reveals the resilience of the Two Party system. The major parties shatter and from the rubble two “new” parties arise. Even within the limitations of a 2 party system realignment offers an opportunity to recenter the entire spectrum. It is not necessarily incremental. That is the value of alternative parties and main$tream party factions. These can become the foundations of the parties as they reorganize.
Even a cursory analysis of the current situation confirms that the Republican party is in shambles. The looming defeat of The Prima Donald will likely shatter it completely. The exciting part is that the Democratic Party has also straining to keep itself together and I don’t see how another Clinton Administration will heal it. Especially if the Progressive faction takes the initiative and keeps up the pressure as Bernie Sanders and his cohorts suggest they will. But, the chaos that will result from both major parties crumbling at roughly the same time offers a real chance to break the 2 party system. That is no small task because the duopoly is so baked into almost every level of governance in the US.
Start with electoral reform. A modest proposal is to establish a national standard for which candidates appear on the ballot for national races. i.e. President. This standard would help alternative parties, A.K.A. “third” parties, clear one of the main hurdles that keep them from being truly viable, getting on every ballot. The current system requires alternative parties to spend their time and resources gaining ballot access in every jurisdiction, while the 2 main$tream parties can start campaigning. This is unfair and undemocratic.
We also need to give people more time to vote. In 2016, 34 states and the District of Columbia provide for early voting or freely available absentee ballots. This is not fair for voters in states and localities that limit voting to half a day when many people are at work. I suggest we go further. Make election day a national holiday and schedule it on a Monday so that it becomes a 3 day weekend. Hold election day parties, parades, and other events that are non-partisan and do not include campaigns. Use the election weekend events to highlight civics education and encouraging people to vote.
I know that these reforms are not enough. I understand there are other ways to open up the system and crash the main$tream parties. Let me know your ideas.