Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Let's talk about the process

For all the people who are happy about Jeanne Richardson's victory in the District 89 Democratic Primary, there are those equally saddened, and worn down, by Kevin Gallagher's defeat.

We need to move forward. Jeanne won because she has been around for a long time and people knew her, agreed with her positions, and felt she was better suited for the job, and I can easily support her in the general election.

However, this process, especially in Democratic Primaries, wears people down and creates intramural warfare. On the one hand, as my Godfather notes, it shows who is the best vote-getter and who knows how to win elections. True that, but we have to devise a better way to run elections so that one does not feel beaten down afterwards and one can celebrate, regardless of the outcome.

Politics in this day and age has come down to money, organization, money, message, money, and, did I mention money? No, I didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday, it has been that way for a long time. Unfortunately, there are some within the Democratic community who say that it is this way, it SHOULD be this way, and want to keep it that way.

Then there are the rest of us.

What we need, at ALL levels of politics, are the following things:

1) Smaller legislative districts, so that ground-work and organization plays a larger part than money. Eliminate ALL at-large districts (yes, I'm talking to YOU, City Charter Commission!) and make more and smaller districts. This gives advantages to community activists who will work fiercely for their areas. 1752 Congressional Districts? GO FOR IT!

2) As much as possible, public financing of elections. I believe that SCOTUS got it wrong in 1976 when, in Buckley V. Valeo, they equated political contributions with political speech. To me, unless you limit the contributions to $50 a throw, all this means is that people with more money have freer speech.

Don't think this is a problem? Neither do developers, and we all know what great things THEY have done for Memphis and Shelby County. Look how well the Grey's Creek guidelines have been followed!

3) Brutally tough ethics legislation; let them buy their own damn booze and food! Restrict how much lobbyists can spend, contribute AND make them account for EVERY dime through COMPLETE disclosure! How much does business spend on lobbying each year? Isn't that money that should go to employees and stockholders? I mean this for EVERY level of Government.

4) A FIVE-YEAR LIMIT before former legislators can become lobbyists. Yes, I hear spit-takes all over the country, but this is necessary to stem the turnstile effect. We cannot outlaw lobbyists altogether, but we can regulate the hell out of them.

I have this strange idea that no one should be allowed to make money off politics and goverment because it is a SACRED trust. Make sure you HAVE a job before you go into this line of work. Oh, and one other thing:

5) Treat state legislators as you would Congressmen: make them FULL-TIME, give them enough money for REAL staffs and pay them a commensurate salary. It's not 1834 and there is no such thing as a part-time legislator in as complex a world as we live.

It is time to bury the idea of people of wealth serving as politicians so that they can protect their class, as Republicans would have us do. It is time for REAL change, starting now.

Your thoughts?

UPDATE: PD reminds us of the following:

Vote by Mail.

Special and regular elections are a whole lot cheaper and you get higher turn out.


polar donkey said...

Vote by Mail.
Special and regular elections are a whole lot cheaper and you get higher turn out.

LeftWingCracker said...

Damn, I forgot Vote by Mail.

Thanks for stepping in for me at P&H, I heard y'all won!

Tom Guleff said...

Someone buy this man a drink.....

Shea Flinn said...

Don't forget multi member districts with a preferential voting system. It would revolutionize our democracy.

LeftWingCracker said...

Are you talking about IRV, Shea, or proportional representation, or something else?

Shea Flinn said...

Proportional representation. The winner take all districts really bother me, and under a system where we had say 11, senate districts with three members each their would be more room at the table for ideas. The current majorities but would be unaffected, but BCR would more than likely be represented by at least one republican, and the germantown democrats would also have at least one democrat actually representing their address.

Democracy would be opened up by lowering the threshold of success so that a small neighborhodd run campaign would have a better than average shot of meeting that threshold. It would not matter so much using broad based advertising platforms as it would actually showing up at association meetings which would in turn happen more often becuase they would become much more influential. It solves a lot of problems created by gerrymandering and winner take all districts. Our democracy couls use a little evolution.

mike said...

I'm slowly being won over by proportional voting as well. When you have only two parties and their leadership agrees to run things for the leadership's own benefit and not that of the voters, you need a change.

But why is the County involved in partisan primaries at all? It should be a matter for the parties to handle. That way, LWC, you can run things to your own satisfaction without having to change State law.

LeftWingCracker said...

Well, Mike, I think, like a lawyer, you knew the answer to that before you asked.

If each Party were in charge of primaries, then they would be billed by the State and/or County for having such primaries.

Since the SCDP couldn't afford that, and the SCRP either couldn't or wouldn't pay for that, we would be back to caucuses and conventions to choose the nominees.

Can't you just imagine how THAT would go? That, my friend, is UN-democratic.

Will Beaty said...

God, at this rate, the current Legislative session might as well be full time! Are they going to be done by July?!

Still, LWC, I don't see the idea of a full time legislature being accepted by our brothers and sisters in the rest of the state. Can you imagine all of the businessmen and lawyers in the current General Assembly wanting to choose between their practices and being legislators?

John said...

You right about public financing. It's mind boggling that we essentially give money to corporate interests in the form of corporate welfare, etc., which increases their profits immensely, and then our system allows them to use those profits to buy more political influence.

We won't get off this hamster wheel, and make politicians more accountable to citizens than donors until we have real public financing of elections.

mike said...

John, we have public financing of elections already, though not to the degree you want. And yet, how many of the big names have spurned it, preferring to raise their own without limits?

And if you say that everyone should be made to participate without exception, then you really need to stop and think about things!