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Change the System

Posted Monday, August 20, 2012, at 12:02 PM

I have talked about this from time to time and the more time passes it becomes evident to me that it beyond time to change our political system. I am not talking about putting in phoney baloney term limits. We the people have the ultimate ability to put term limits on our elected officials, we do not need laws to help us with that.

What I am talking about is completely dismantling the two party system. Our founding fathers, especially Thomas Jefferson, were against a two party system. In today's world I can fully see why.

The Democratic and Republican Parties have a stranglehold on the political process. Third parties really do not stand a change except in local elections. True, every now and then a third party candidate will be elected, but it is the very rare exception rather than the rule.

As you all well know I am a Democrat but I am a liberal Democrat and frankly the conservative edge of the party just does not represent my views most of the time. The same can be a said for a conservative Republican and the liberal edge of that party.

What a propose is both radical (probably) and simple.

First, we must do away with the nominating process:

-The way to do this is essentially have a free for all style primary. Candidates would not be able to start campaigning until January of the election year. Whether you want to run for President, Governor, or city official you can not file or begin campaigning until the first of the year.

-Do away with filing fees. If a person want to run for office they should be able to. Election commissions should be completely done away with and instead election committees should be appointed and their sole job is to ensure that those running for office are eligible.

Second, instead of holding primaries throughout the first part of the election year, one primary should be held in late July, early August.

-At that time whichever two candidates receive the most votes will continue on to the general election still on the second Tuesday of November.

That to me would be a simple solution to the "voting for the lesser of two evils" situation faced in American politics today.

There are other things we can do to make the election process even simpler and ensure that the best abled candidate reaches the top not just the best politician.

Contributions should have a cap to ensure that those with the money are not able to get behind a candidate that will simply protect their interests. I understand that this may be considered socialistic, so be it.

If candidates live in one state but believe their chances of being elected are better in another state, just listing an address in that state will not be sufficient. That person must have true residency in a state that they are elected to. Same with local politics.

My last idea has to do with the electoral college. It has long since out lived it's usefulness. It either needs to be completely done away with or at the very least reformed. Though it has not happened often I am not comfortable with the idea that if a politician wins a certain amount of electoral votes the people that represent those votes can change their vote to someone else. I also have never liked the idea that someone can garner the most votes but still lose if he/she does not win enough electoral votes. There is just something wrong with that system.

In the new system that I am proposing maybe this would no longer be a problem as only two candidates would be competing for electoral college votes, so maybe the easy fix would be once a candidate has locked up those votes people can not go to the convention and simply decide to throw their vote to the other candidate. I honestly do not know what the best fix to the system is. It rarely happens that the person garnering the most votes actually loses but the fact that it can happen means, to me, that the system is not working.

As I stated it is time to do away with the two party system and just have an election system where the truly best can rise to the top.

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You somehow forgot Liberal Republicans but I do disagree with you to an extent and you pigeon holed anyone that considers themselves to be Progressive Liberals as communists when that really isn't the case. I would amend your list as so:

Left wingers/Communist

Progressive Liberals

Liberal Democrats


Single issue Democrats

Conservative Democrats


Liberal Republicans

Single issue Republicans

Conservative Republicans

Tea Party


Coalitions are already formed. Many of the groups you talk about already have caucuses in Congress. I believe without party control people would be more free to pick the side they agree with more without being labeled and pushed to the side.

Once elected they would form together in order to get their ideas passed but without the two party label attached the smaller groups would align themselves with the group they felt they could the most accomplished with. I do not believe that divisiveness would get worse I believe that it would improve.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Sun, Sep 2, 2012, at 9:50 PM

I forgot to include the Guns and Toast group. We also have the - The Gold group - the pro drug group - the Animal rights group - etc.

-- Posted by wmarsh on Fri, Aug 24, 2012, at 7:34 PM

We should eliminate the 2 party system also. At the moment we have:

Left wingers/Communist

Proud Liberals

Single issue Democrats


Conservative Democrats




Single issue Conservatives

Tea Party

Right Wacko's.

A free for all would be better representation of the electorate. Coalitions would be formed and there would be divisiveness between groups all the time. The founding fathers had wanted a clear cut winner (Electoral College all or none) so to eliminate the division but those days seem to be fading.

What do you think about this Mike?

Another question - Which country should the US model and does it better than us? Curious as to what your road map would look like.

-- Posted by wmarsh on Fri, Aug 24, 2012, at 6:27 AM

I am all for changing the election process. We should increase the size of congress.

Think about that for a moment. We have over 275 million people and only 435 make the laws. How stupid is that? We have 100 Senators and only 1 President.

This country is supposed to be "We the People". How can the people have a say when 536 are in charge?

-- Posted by wmarsh on Fri, Aug 24, 2012, at 6:18 AM

It's fairly simple marsh, unless Congress, the Senate specifically, can find a place to put the detainees that are at Gitmo the facility can't be closed, despite the Executive Order.

But what that has to do with changing the election process, I honestly couldn't explain. Can you explain what it has to do with changing the election process?

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Thu, Aug 23, 2012, at 5:32 PM

is the fact the hurricane may strike tampa mean that god hates the GOP/

-- Posted by president obama on Thu, Aug 23, 2012, at 12:32 PM

Forget the questions Mike.

Good luck.

-- Posted by wmarsh on Thu, Aug 23, 2012, at 7:03 AM

I will admit that I am assuming that water boarding is still going on. The reason I think that is why else would the President keep the base open after he signed an executive order to close it?

-- Posted by wmarsh on Wed, Aug 22, 2012, at 9:21 PM

Question Mike - You have expressed the fact that your party is to conservative for you. Obama is still water boarding and our Cuban base is still open. Why have you let that issue rest?

Another question. How would you handle the Iran situation? Iran is promising annihilation and Israel seems like they are going to protect themselves. Do we let the Jewish people face a nuclear attack or do we assist?

-- Posted by wmarsh on Wed, Aug 22, 2012, at 9:08 PM

I believe that by limiting the role that lobbyists and special interests have within the political system the less power they could achieve.

Benevolus, when I speak of term limits as a progressive idea I am speaking of the progressive movement at the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century when term limits swept parts of the nation along with other ideas.

The idea of splitting each states electoral votes into their districts is not a bad one. Nebraska and Main are the only states that currently do that and it probably would not be a bad idea to try it across the nation.

I agree, ontheleftcoast, the Vice President should either be who finishes second or selected from their own race.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Wed, Aug 22, 2012, at 5:32 PM

In theory, not having term limits might be justifiable, but in reality, term limits are necessary because sadly "simply voting someone out" is not quite what happens when a politician is doing a poor job.

Take a cautionary tale from ancient Venice...

Venice in the 9th century was chalk full of expert sailors who were renowned for their adventuresome dispositions. Venetians were able to fairly successfully corner the salt market. In part this was possible because of a system their government established wherein patrons could invest in, or commission an adventurer to seek new trade routes/resources/salt/etc. This financial innovation made Venice not only a trading powerhouse but also there was upward mobility because of the access to new wealth (thus, leading to political power) for new players. During the 9th to 15th century, Venice was arguably the richest place on earth.

Then, after centuries of growth, the powerful and wealthy families eventually found ways to close political power off from newcomers. In essence they did away with limits on how long someone could serve on the governing council. Once political power was sequestered to the few, rather than the many, newcomers were shut out of the economy as well.

When political power was monopolized and there wasn't sufficient political turnover, the Venetian economy suffered enormously as result of new economic policies that helped the elites maintain power (any of this sounding familiar yet?). The economic collapse meant a smaller and poorly trained navy. A smaller and more poorly trained navy meant Venice could not defend itself against aggressors like the Ottomans. Venice's power ebbed and flowed for awhile, but its decreased military potency, along with its inability to maintain previously monopolized trade routes and its unwillingness to fund new explorations for routes and resources eventually led to Venice's collapse. All this could have been avoided had the limits on how long a person could sit on the governing council would have been maintained.

Flash forward to today...term limits are a step in the right direction if we wish to avoid a similar fate, and ensure that new entrepreneurs, community leaders, etc., are able gain political power. Term limits likewise ensure that the old guard cannot maneuver to close access to political power.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Wed, Aug 22, 2012, at 10:54 AM

I agree that term limits are unnecessary as "it is the responsibility of an informed electorate to vote for effective legislators and political leaders and fire those who aren't in the next election".(per 1960's 8th Grade Civics class in Red Willow County, NE) And as for the office of the President, the heavy toll the office takes on the occupant makes it highly unlikely anyone would want more than two terms.

And before anything else, believe campaign funding needs to be reformed because catering to special interests to secure funds has a significant, if not the overriding, polarizing effect on our present political process.

Perhaps a place to start would be eliminating vice presidential candidates and returning to the original provision that the candidate who finishes second becomes the vice president, maybe then we would begin to relearn the art of compromise in our political process.

-- Posted by ontheleftcoast on Tue, Aug 21, 2012, at 5:20 PM


I would worry that without the electoral college, rural states such as Arkansas and Nebraska would be harmed. I think a much better solution to the "problem" of winning the popular vote would be a push for other states to adopt district based electoral votes as Nebraska and (I think) Maine have. At the very least it would give people in minority parties in a state a reason to vote.

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Tue, Aug 21, 2012, at 10:32 AM

I have no problem with the President on term limits. I would suggest that if you view city government with term limits you can see issues with massive roll over every 3 election cycles or so.

I would also suggest that congress would be an issue if every 2 years you had 200 or so new members in congress. If your elected leader is doing a bad job elect someone else. I think that in a term limit situation you are more likely for an official to go rogue.

-- Posted by wmarsh on Tue, Aug 21, 2012, at 4:36 AM


I am not sure how "progressive" an idea term limits are, seeing as how they have been a part of the nation since its very beginning. In fact, one can go back before the founding of the nation to thinkers like William Penn to find the idea of term limits for governors and representatives.

Term limits are actually a rather good idea in my opinion because, for example, they make it a much more difficult task for the various lobbies, corporations, etc., to exercise their influence over elected officials at all levels of government. It is an easier task, for example, for US Bank (or for the AFT for that matter) to make contributions that influence one Congressman's decisions for 3 decades, than it is for US Bank/AFT to influence say 15 people over that same period of time.

The old guard is against this change for obvious reasons, but if lobbies and special interests are a problem in our government, then term limits are a step towards, not away, from a solution.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Mon, Aug 20, 2012, at 11:54 PM

I don't personally believe in term limits at all. I understand the logic behind the term limits placed on the president, but at the same I don't believe they are necessary.

It would extremely hard to get rid of the presidential term limits and slightly easier at the state level, but if a person is doing well enough in their job that people want to continue voting for them I see no issue with it.

I know it may seem odd that I am at odds with a progressive idea but it's one that just doesn't make sense to me.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Mon, Aug 20, 2012, at 9:19 PM


Here are some examples of term limits...

Article 2 of the Constitution:

"The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows[1]"

22nd Amendment to the Constitution:

"No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once."

Are you suggesting that we amend the Constitution? Or are you suggesting that we continue the puzzling practice of assigning term limits to some leaders and not others?

-- Posted by Benevolus on Mon, Aug 20, 2012, at 8:02 PM

Mike means if we don't like our leaders vote them out. We don't need term limits as every election can serve as a limit. On the other hand if we like our leaders we should be able to reelect them as they are doing a good job.

I am inclined to agree with Mike on this one.


-- Posted by wmarsh on Mon, Aug 20, 2012, at 7:36 PM


Interesting thoughts. I would add: one of my biggest complaints with the two-party system is that the established party narratives seem to curtail ideas and restrain discourses that don't fall within the party lines. We might have more productive debates and probably better political outcomes if the solution to every problem we face wasn't a choice between a (D) solution or an (R) solution.

Ron Paul is a good example of what happens when a person with interesting ideas doesn't conform to the GOP narrative. The Dems as you point out are a more scattered-brained bunch than the lockstep automatons in the GOP, so you get some wide variation in ideas and discourse from the left, but a guy like Paul has to either conform to the GOP talking points, or face marginalization. Romney on the other hand decided to conform, even if it means he has to completely and openly contradict some of his previous (more leftwing oriented) policy decisions. Maybe we'd get a better range of ideas/solutions if more than two-parties controlled the generation of ideas/solutions?

"We the people have the ultimate ability to put term limits on our elected officials, we do not need laws to help us with that."

Not sure what you mean here, Michael. We have laws which empower 'we the people' to elect new representatives after a specified amount of time. The citizenry doesn't have the ultimate ability to determine term limits without our representatives changing the existing laws, right? Doesn't that mean we need these laws/reps to help us? What would happen if suddenly we had no term limit laws?

-- Posted by Benevolus on Mon, Aug 20, 2012, at 5:46 PM

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