Reference: How Voters Can UNRIG the Two-Party Shell Game

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Nancy Bordier

How Voters Can Unrig the 2012 Elections with Transpartisan Voting Blocs and Electoral Coalitions

Voters did not get what they said they wanted from the 2010 elections. In fact, they got the opposite because the two major parties rigged the elections.

The parties have been rigging elections for decades by gerrymandering election districts and passing campaign financing and election laws that prevent third party candidates from beating major party candidates.

These rigged elections give voters no choice but to vote for one of the two major parties. So voters do the only thing they can do, which is to routinely kick out the major party incumbents in the futile hope that the new major party candidates they elect will not flout their will to the same degree. But regardless of which party candidates they vote for, they get roughly the same policies. These typically sacrifice voters’ interests to the special interests that fund lawmakers’ electoral campaigns.

Unless voters are empowered to put an end to rigged elections before the 2012 elections, using mechanisms like the one proposed below, the middle class and working Americans will be ruined financially by the lawmakers and special interests that are enabling the business and financial sector to take more than their fair share of national income.

The top 1% of the population is now pocketing 24% of national income, up from 9% in 1976. The richest 1% got most of the total increase in American incomes that occurred between 1980 and 2005, while the wages and salaries of most workers stagnated. The heads of the largest American companies now earn 500 times what an average worker earns, giving the U.S. one of the most unequal distributions of wealth in the world.

With all that money going to the top, 60 million Americans are barely able to pay for the basic necessities of life, such as housing, food, medical care and transportation, according to research completed before the current recession. 58% of Americans rate their personal economic situation as “fair or poor” and 44% of Americans report that they do not have enough money to make ends meet.

Yet the nation’s lawmakers refuse to give priority to job-creating economic growth over policies that increase the wealth of the richest Americans. These policies do not generate enough jobs for those seeking employment. They also encourage outsourcing, which permanently destroys jobs and increases chronic unemployment and underemployment.

The 2010 election results and their aftermath reflect these clashing priorities. They show that it doesn’t really matter what voters say they want, or how they vote, even on crucial issues like jobs and the economy, because lawmakers will reframe whatever mandate the voters try to express so they can claim voters support whatever polices they choose to enact.

Polls show unequivocally that voters are far more concerned about their jobs and the nation’s economy than the nation’s budget deficit, and want the nation’s lawmakers to give top priority to spurring job-creating economic growth. They are adamant that lawmakers “‘keep their hands off Social Security and Medicare’ as they attempt to address the national deficit”, according to one post-election poll.

But the newly elected representatives in Congress have joined with incumbents of both parties in announcing their intention to do just the opposite. They plan to reduce Social Security and Medicare spending as a deficit reduction measure, and enact $100 billion in budget cuts that will stymie job creation and economic recovery.

Simultaneously, they are reframing voters’ demand that government intervene to spur job-creating economic growth by claiming that what voters really want is not government intervention to create jobs, but smaller government that leaves job creation exclusively in the hands of the private sector.

Polls show that wary voters are incensed by the hypocritical contradiction between lawmakers’ hands-off stance with respect to government intervention to spur job creation, and their hands-on stance in giving billions of dollars in public funds to bail out banks and financial institutions that engaged in fraudulent securities transactions. But rigged elections prevent voters from doing anything about it.

What portends an even greater disconnect in 2012 between voters’ priorities and the priorities of major party representatives are the unlimited funds that the Citizens United v. FEC decision now allows special interests to spend to put words into voters’ mouths and cloud their thinking.

The onslaught of corporate cash enables them to bombard voters 24 hours a day with slick but deceptive political advertisements. A prime example of what is to come was the reframing during the 2010 election cycle of Tea Party supporters’ original opposition to the bank bailouts. Special interest front groups morphed it into generalized opposition to government and government spending, following the Reagan playbook.

Tea Party candidates who received special interest campaign funds immediately began spouting special interest talking points. They extended Tea Party supporters’ revved up opposition to government and government spending to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare — even though most Tea Party supporters oppose cuts in these programs.

Tea Party supporters who voted to oust Democratic incumbents in 2010 by electing Tea Party candidates running on the Republican line found themselves represented by lawmakers eager to join the ranks of mainstream Republican and Democratic lawmakers poised to make major cuts in Social Security and Medicare.

So even when a spontaneous surge of grassroots populism makes a dent in U.S. electoral politics, the major parties’ rigged elections prevent populist voters from electing representatives whom they can mandate to enact the policy priorities that sparked their political activism.

Clearly, the middle class and working Americans are on the path to financial ruin unless voters can unrig U.S. elections before 2012 and free them from the iron grip of the two major parties and their special interest backers.

They can do so only by circumventing the gerrymandering, campaign finance and elections laws that the two major parties have passed to ensure the election of their candidates. For it would be foolish to imagine that elected representatives who owe their election to these laws would be willing to overturn them, or that constitutional amendments can be passed to nullify the Citizens United decision in the near term.

The only mechanism that allows this circumvention is the Interactive Voter Choice System (IVCS). It empowers the overwhelming majority of Americans whom polls show want to oust most major party candidates from Congress to form voting blocs and electoral coalitions with electoral bases large enough to run candidates who can defeat major party candidates backed by special interests.

Voters across the political spectrum can use IVCS to align with labor unions and advocacy groups to build these voting blocs and electoral coalitions around common policy agendas, agendas that put an end to the reframing and flouting of the popular will by the two major parties and their representatives. These agendas can serve as legislative mandates that blocs and coalitions can use to screen, select, nominate and hold accountable candidates they elect to office to implement the mandates.

IVCS-enabled voting blocs and electoral coalitions can do everything that formally organized political parties can do, including running bloc and coalition candidates on existing party lines on the ballot. Their members can even take over organizational control of existing parties, if they wish, as well as create unique new political parties controlled by their voter members, who set their agendas and select their candidates.

Regardless of the stance that voting blocs and coalitions take towards political parties, the blocs and coalitions will be more powerful electorally than any political party because they will be able to build winning transpartisan electoral bases at any time to ouflank and outmaneuver those of stand-alone political parties and their candidates.

These electoral bases will be comprised of broad-cross sections of voters across the political spectrum who actively participate in setting bloc and coalition agendas, negotiating which priorities to include and exclude from their agendas, and which candidates to include on common slates of candidates. Thanks to these agenda-setting and coalition-building capabilities, IVCS-enabled voting blocs and coalitions will render traditional political parties obsolete.

These blocs and coalitions will also be able to prevent the fragmentation of the electorate into losing splinter groups and third parties too small to win elections against major party candidates. They can do so by using IVCS consensus-building tools, such as the Voting Utility, to continue negotiating and even voting on which priorities they wish to include in common agendas until they can identify the combinations of priorities that attract the number of votes required to beat major party candidates they oppose. This process enables them to set flexible, evolving agendas, and build malleable and expandable electoral bases that can outflank and outmaneuver those of the two major parties. By so doing, they can unrig U.S. elections without changing laws or passing constitutional amendments.

For more information about how IVCS works, a prototype of a website being built around the system can be accessed at www.reinventingdemocracy.us.

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