What concerns me most about the election held last Tuesday is that it is being treated like a normal event, like everything is groovy and now we can get on with the rest of our lives. Have we all entered some kind of bizarro universe?
Commentators are talking about red states, blue states, morality voters, and other issues, when the main topic we should be discussing is how badly the campaign process functioned and how hard we should be working to bring our 18 th Century democracy into the 21 st Century.
For example, consider these ten questions:
1. What would you say if your bank manager told you that you really didn’t need a receipt for your bank transactions and that you should trust him to make sure that your accounts were in order? By delaying the purchase of optical scanner voting machines with auditable paper trails, the Congressional Republicans have left thousands of Americans with no way to conduct a recount in their districts. Reports of machine malfunctions and seriously inaccurate vote tabulations are coming to light, and should be pursued vigorously, but the bigger non-partisan issue is this: why are we allowing corporate voting machine companies to privately own the tools of democracy? Why are companies such as Diebold, owned by mega-fundraisers for the GOP, allowed to keep the codes and procedures for vote tabulations secret even from those jurisdictions that purchase their machines? And why can’t they provide a paper trail when they do so for millions of bank transactions every year? (www.blackboxvoting.org and www.democraticunderground.com)
2. Why do we allow any group of voters to be intimidated into not voting? Where is the non-partisan outrage now that the partisan fury has subsided? Can we get rid of archaic state laws used to challenge voters, and pass a Constitutional right to Vote – something not presently embodied in our nation’s founding document? (www.ourvote.com)
3. Why do we allow states to be categorized as Blue or Red when up to 49% of the voters in some of those states are not followers of the victorious party? Isn’t it time we had some form of proportional representation in this country so that we can be like most of the other industrialized democracies of the world? (www.fairvote.org)
4. Related to the previous question, why do we have only two viable parties in this country? We had a choice for president between two major party candidates who supported war and who did not support universal single-payer healthcare insurance. There are pro-gun anti-tax Democrats and pro-abortion gay Republicans out there, but the lack of third parties allows us to be only two-dimensional people. With instant runoff voting, reduced barriers to entry for third parties, and public financing of elections, we each can feel completely supportive of candidates and parties, instead of always feeling like we are voting for the lesser of two evils. (www.nvri.org)
5. Why do we accept as a given that candidates must raise millions and take months off from their jobs to run for office? Is that why we have so few school teachers, nurses, and other process-oriented professionals in our legislatures and state houses? Is this good for the quality of public discourse, or the representativeness of our elected officials? (www.publicintegrity.org)
6. Related to the previous question is this one: why are television and radio stations allowed to make mega-profits on campaigns? We the People own the airwaves and they rent them from us. We should demand that each candidate for office gets a certain amount of free air time, and each campaign should have at least one publicly-sponsored debate that is aired in its entirety for local viewers.(www.commoncause.org)
7. Why are over 95% of our Members of Congress re-elected every two years, most with no real opposition? And why were so many incumbents at every level allowed to go through the electoral cycle with no debates or other head-to-head events with their challengers? (www.opendebates.org)
8. Why do we cling to the 18 th Century relic called the Electoral College instead of moving toward direct election of our officials – like most of the other democracies in the world? Is it fair that only the concerns of the third of us living in the so-called “swing states” were considered important, instead of the concerns of all of us? (www.reclaimdemocracy.org)
9. Why are simplistic notions like “morality voters” allowed to go unchallenged? Every person has a personal set of morals, even if some of them are considered immoral to others. Is killing a fetus worse than killing Iraqi civilians in what some consider an unnecessary and unjust war? (www.fair.org)
10. Speaking of morality, where is the moral outrage directed against the leaders of churches that advocated the election or defeat of candidates from their pulpits? These religious leaders threaten the tax-exempt status of all of our houses of worship, and threaten their congregations with massive fines resulting from violations of federal or state election laws. (www.pfaw.org)
Given these and other questions, democracy-loving Americans of every political persuasion should be demanding that Congress and our state legislatures get to work immediately to make fundamental changes in the way we vote. The future of democracy in this country could well depend on the actions we take over the next few months.
Phil Tajitsu Nash is CEO of CampaignAdvantage.com and co-author of "Winning Campaigns Online."