Whom should I vote for?
It’s not whom, it’s what
“Democracy is on the ballot. Our democracy is in trouble. This is our last chance to save it!”Is it that bad? Unfortunately, yes. The players in Washington and many states are ignoring their constitutions and the rule of law. They are doing everything they can to stay in power. A government built on the ideas of serving the people and partisanship with compromise has devolved to tribal warfare.
We don’t want to tell you whom to vote for. There are too many races up and down the ballot. But we can recommend what to vote for: A More Perfect Union, the one we were promised in the Constitution.
Ask your candidate(s) if they:
- Support the checks and balances built into our federal and all state constitutions
- Support the absolute right to a free and fair election
- Believe in representation that fairly reflects voters’ preferences
- Believe in consistently applied rules regardless of which political party is in charge
- Believe in the rule of law and the principle that no one is above the law
- Commit to ridding our system of the legalized corruption from moneyed interests
Now these are too general. You’ll have to examine your candidates’ pledges to more specific reforms. Here’s a guide, starting at the top of the ballot.
The choice is fairly obvious, but neither one is perfect.
President Trump has ignored our Constitution and trampled the norms of the office. To quote him directly: “Then I have an Article II, where I have the right to do anything I want as President.”
In case you need more evidence, here are Trump’s greatest hits:
- Withheld military aid to Ukraine while asking its President to investigate Joe Biden, for which he was impeached
- Routinely pardons political criminals and personal associates (Roger Stone, Rod Blagojevich, et. al.)
- Ignores Congressional subpoenas
- Violates the Foreign Emolument Clause constantly and has gained $23M from political entities paying Trump properties for services. The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington counts over 2300 conflicts of interest between Trump’s businesses and his role as President.
Joe Biden has a relatively clean record as Vice President. There is no shortage of charges to the contrary by Republicans. They most recently charge that his son, Hunter, tried to arrange a meeting for a business associate in the Ukraine while Joe was VP. This has been fairly thoroughly debunked, although Republicans won’t agree. The stems from their theory that Biden’s pressuring of Ukraine’s President to fire their top prosecutor was to protect the company, which has also been debunked. Wikipedia has a decent summary of all the back-and-forth with links to many sources.
The valid concern might be that Hunter used poor judgment in joining Burisma’s board in Ukraine, trading on his family name to land the job with expectation that Hunter might pull some strings. Shame on Hunter, but not on Joe.
The next president should commit to:
- Upholding the rule of law
- True independence for the Department of Justice including the FBI
- Completely divorcing himself from all commercial interests
- Cooperating with Congress, both majority and minority parties
- Taking the new pledge allegiance to the Constitution daily, a reminder of the oath of office.
- Leading the effort to reform our government by working with Congress on the reforms below.
The president is the one national leader who can set the tone and lead the charge. We’ve seen what happens when that leader takes the dark path. We can do better.
Congress – House and Senate
Congress is supposed to be the most powerful branch of the government because it represents We, The People. However, Congress was designed to require national consensus among people and states. The days when significant legislation like Social Security, Voting Rights, Medicare, and the EPA attracted huge bi-partisan majorities have given way to tribal obstruction and gridlock. Why?
Congresspersons have twisted the very rules of Congress to suit partisan objectives. The good news: the House and Senate can change these rules by themselves. The bad news: they don’t want to. Ask your congressional candidates to support these rules changes:
- Reciprocity: A bill passing one chamber must receive a vote in the other within 30 days. Especially in a divided Congress, this will require all members to go on record as having voted, which is the only way voters can hold them accountable at election time.
- Presidential appointments (Senate): All should receive a vote within 120 days, otherwise consent is granted. This will put a stop to the obstruction and court-packing.
- Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Enhancement Act, which stalled in the Senate in 2020 after passing the House.
- Pass one of the seven constitutional amendments to overturn the Citizens United decision.
- Allow a substantial minority of chamber members to force a debate and floor vote on any bill. The House Problem Solvers Caucus negotiated rules changes in 2019 to allow a 2/3 majority to force such votes, bypassing the power of the speaker. The Senate, under control of the Marvelous Mr. McConnell, should allow 33 Senators this power. Even if the majority votes them all down, at least all members are on record.
- Reform the filibuster: Require Senators to actually stand up and talk if they want. This will cause far fewer threatened filibusters and cloture votes, which have skyrocketed in the modern era.
The way we nominate and confirm Supreme Court Justices is a travesty. A lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land represents too big of a political prize, and it draws out the worst behavior among senators of both parties. McConnell used extra-constitutional means to deny Obama a nomination; now he’s ramming through Trump’s nominee by ignoring his own made-up rule.
Solution: Justices should have 18-year terms, one expiring every 2 years. Every president gets to choose 2 per term. The Senate should vote up or down within 120 days. If a justice wants to serve a second term, they must be nominated and confirmed again. And this time, they can be asked questions about their real SCOTUS votes and written opinions. No more hidden agendas.
- Redistricting: In most states, legislators will redraw maps based on the 2020 census in 2021. Unfortunately, the only way to stop gerrymandering is by electing reformers, now that the Supreme Court has punted on the issue.
- Voting rights are primarily a state issue. Federal oversight can be strengthened (John Lewis Act), but the US Constitution delegates elections to each state.
- State legislatures can also adopt some of the congressional rules changes noted above, and pass resolutions in support of US Constitutional amendments being considered by Congress.
Which candidates pass these tests?
Share your preferred candidates in the comments.