National Voter Registration Dayj

Today is National Voter Registration Day. This observance should remind us to register to vote and vote. Nothing is more important in a democratic society. The outrageous and unfortunate increase in the dominance of money in elections since the “Citizens United” decision has made voting even more important.

On this day we must also remember and recommit to the things that must be done to clean up our electoral system:

  • reversing “Citizens United”: restoring the right of elected officials to regulate and limit campaign spending and ceasing to treat corporations as persons;
  • requiring full disclosure of campaign donations and spending;
  • elction day voter registration;
  • automatic voter registration upon gaing citizenship;
  • eliminating the electoral college and electing president’s by popular vote;
  • establishing a runoff in the presidential election, and all other general elections, so that one can vote for a third, fourth, etc., party without worrying about taking that vote way from one of the top two parties (I.e we couldvote for the Green Party in the primaries and, if need be [very likely], vote for the Democrats in the runoffs);
  • A ban on elected officials ever becoming lobbyists after the leave office.
  • Taking districting and redistributing out of the hands of polliticians. The only alternative I can think of at present is a panel/commission of retired judges.
  • Hold municipal elections on the same day as state and national elections so they will have better turnout than they abysmal showing of city elections held on their own day. A move to do this is afoot here in Gainesville. It is called Gainesville Votes (gainesvillevotes.org).
  • Voting by mail
  • Making Election Day a national holiday. No one should have to rush from work to the polls.

These reforms will make elections fairer, but others will be needed. Opponents will make bogus arguments against them such as claiming that eliminating the electoral college will hurt small states.

Actually, it is the electoral college that hurts small states. The two presidential nominees are forced to concentrate their efforts in large “battleground” states. If elections were determined by popular vote, the only large blocs of votes available would be large cities. Candidates cannot campaign in large cities because they are solidly Democratic and a firm rule iin politics is donor campaign in friendly areas (except for turnout) or “enemy” areas (for fear of causing the other sides base to turn out; that is why GW Bush did not leave the Gainesville Airport when he campaigned here in 2004). Therefore, they would likely campaign in representative areas regardless of state and have to rely on news coverage of their rallies.

Some, including many on the right, which has no credibility on the issue, will argue that automatic registration will cause fraud, but people can be screened during the citizenship process. The voter registration process is redundant.

In Gainesville,  city elections were moved to spring so that local issues could be concentrated on and objections to this effect will be made to moving back to the fall. But moving to the spring has resulted in pitiful (<20%) turnout. What is the point of focusing on local issues if almost no one is listening?

These are a few examples of objections that will be made strenuously to change. They must be overcome. The current situation is intolerable. It is time to finally make our government by the people, of the people, and for the people.

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DREAMERS

I have just finished reading a book called “DREAMERS An Immigrant Generation’s Fight for Their American Dream.” The author, Eileen Truax, is a journalist and herself an immigrant The book was inspired by the stories of many immigrants she unearthed when assigned by “La Opinion” (Los Angeles) to cover the Mexican-American community. Truax decided that telling these stories was more real than citing studies and/or statistics.

That is exactly what this book is: a collection of stories of undocumented immigrants. The title comes from DREAM in the DREAM Act. DREAM stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. Dreamers are those who would be helped by the dreamed act if it passed, namely people who were brought to this country by undocumented parents when the were minors.

Truax interviews and tells the story of many of these people. The relate how they have had to live their lives in fear of being caught by immigration authorities and deported. Those still in the country by the time they are 18 face difficulties applying for college and particularly for financial aid because they do not have a social security number.

Those who are caught are deported to a country that is unfamiliar to them.

These stories and others are told powerfully by Truax. This is a riveting book.

Is nothing sacred?

https://www.credomobilize.com/petitions/tell-congress-to-give-native-americans-back-their-sacred-land?time=1442524545 – This is a petition to give back to a Native American tribe sacred land that the Republican congress secretly gave to a coal company. This is abhorrent. After five centuries of colonization Native Americans’ land is still being taken from them, this time underhandedly. We should be giving them some of their land back. When are we going to finally do right by them, so that they can build themselves back up?