Honored Social Butterfly

Democrats need to be ruthless



Democrats need to be ruthless on fixing voting. They're paying a steep price for neglect.



Voting reforms should be top priority for all Democrats, now in states and later in Washington. What good are policy gains if you can't sustain them?


Let’s get real about fixing voting. There are some things Democrats can do now in the states, and there are some they can do the next time they control the House, Senate and White House.


Yes, Republicans are missing from that sentence. Democrats need to help themselves, not engage in another futile effort to get Republicans on board with what ought to be a no-brainer. The urgency of this cannot be overstated: It should be the top priority for every Democrat in America. Because what good are policy gains if you can't sustain them?


I can't fault elected Democrats for going for wins like the Affordable Care Act when they are in control, and playing hardball to get them. The ACA certainly benefited from steely determination — and pushing the envelope on Senate procedure — in the face of long odds. President Barack Obama’s nominations were another example; many moved along only after then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democrats voted to eliminate the filibuster on them and allow approval by a simple majority of 51.


In 2009, after majority Senate Democrats turned a five-page bill protecting historic war sites into a 466-page package of 160 conservation-oriented public lands bills and pushed it through, Republicans were resentful for years. One Democrat told me that "of course" there was no incentive to negotiate with Republicans: "We didn't need to, so why would we?" That is a fact of life on both sides. 


But as aggressive and ruthless as Democrats have been in pursuing policy goals, their achievements are under constant legislative, executive and judicial threat because they failed to put in place political machinery to protect them. That neglect is having painful consequences for health care, the environment, consumer protection, Wall Street regulation, the tax code and the national debt. And more backsliding is inevitable, given the makeup of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court.


In the best of all worlds, Congress would standardize voting procedures; pour money into equipment, training and security; require nonpartisan redistricting commissions; adopt a national Voting Rights Act that requires federal approval of voting changes in all states (not just some as in the original act); and make Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico states with two senators apiece, one House member for Washington (population close to 700,000) and five members for Puerto Rico (population 3.3 million).


It's only fair that they become states. Vermont and Wyoming have fewer people than Washington does, yet they have full voting rights and representation in Congress. As for Puerto Rico, well, a seven-member congressional delegation surely would have raised an immediate ruckus over the federal response to Hurricane Maria. That alone underscores what happens when people have no real representation. 

Honored Social Butterfly

January will see a great change in our Government - ONE branch in Washington will actually begin dealing with the problems afftecting our great Nation, and many State Governments will devote more time to fixing problems than fixing elections.


The solution to Gerryumandering is simple - amend State Constitutions so they ban using ANY demographic data (voting history, race, income, gender, education levels, etc) EXCEPT POPULATION when drawing the congressional and legisaltive districts in the State. Then require a redo in any year where the distribution of elected officials to State or National office differs from the total vote distribution among all parties on the ballot.


No more Ohio's where 50.2% of the vote yields 63% of the seats in the State Legislature and 75% of the representatives in Congress.

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