How do we move from a political swamp to a healthy democracy?

Success for politicians. No results for America.

  • The parties thrive by exploiting “wedge” issues based upon ideology.
  • There is a perverse incentive not to solve problems but keep controversy alive with false “either/or” alternatives in order to motivate the active partisan voters.
  • Compromise is seen as treason. Bipartisanship is seen as weakness.
  • Major problems (job creation, healthcare, education, immigration, deficits, etc.) are largely unaddressed and worsening.
  • Fewer laws are being enacted by congress.
  • Solutions address reality, not ideology.
  • Solutions integrate many perspectives and make sound tradeoffs.
  • Solutions make real progress, and they are improved over time.
  • Practical solutions to solve our nation’s important problems.
  • Legislative and executive actions that actually work and make things better.

Limits to Competition

  • Congress has an 11% approval rating and a 96% reelection rate.
  • The most extreme partisan activists act as ideological gatekeepers for both parties in all primary elections.
  • The rules are stacked against any candidate running a viable campaigned outside of this two party monopoly.
  • Candidates have to build support among moderates and independents, not just ideological extremists – in both primary and general elections.
  • Redistricting is based upon objective, not partisan, criteria.
  • Presidential debate rules are changed to allow participation by viable 3rd party candidates.

Few Voters (“Customers”) that Matter

“Customers” that matter a lot:
  • Big funders/special interests.
  • Partisan primary voters (only 20-30% of the electorate, sometimes as low as 5%).
“Customers” that don’t matter much:
  • Non-voters (40% of the electorate) may express their opinions in surveys but play no role in the political system.
  • Average voters (e.g. non-primary voters – 30-40% of the electorate) only matter to the extent that swing voters may choose the least bad candidate in a closed 2-party system.
  • An engaged majority determine the candidates in primary elections.
  • Big money is still important but is less partisan, more transparent and less linked to lobbying and jobs.
  • Restrict revolving doors.

Barriers to Participation

Beyond the resignation based on limited choice and dominance of money in politics, voters face…
  • Onerous voter ID laws
  • Archaic Tuesday election day
  • 40-60 % do not vote at all.
  • 20–30% vote only in general elections
  • Increased incentives to vote (My vote matters, and I have more choice of candidates.)
  • Eliminate onerous voter ID laws
  • Make voting easier (vote-by-mail, same-day registration, automatic registration, shift election day)
  • Achieving a healthy benchmark of 75% voter turnout (like Australia, Israel, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, North Korea), versus 55% for U.S. in 2016

Oversized Role for Money

  • Since Citizens United, big donor and special interests have largely merged into a single category.
  • A tiny elite (0.52%) contribute nearly 70% of the total to federal candidates, PACs and Parties.
  • Big money funds campaigns, supports lobbying and provides revolving door career opportunities – all linked and mostly hidden.
Money will always find a way into politics, but…
  • Create greater transparency
  • Prohibit lobbyists from bundling
  • Restrict revolving doors
The influence of money lessened as candidates required to serve greater good to be reelected.