Or how to throw a cinder block to a drowning party. By Tom Geoghegan
It’s actually a pretty simple 3 step series of actions that can be enacted if Democrats do win the White House and do get the Senate back. Even easier of they got the House but that’s a long shot anyway.
- End gerrymandering. There’s a lot of sentiment towards this already and it should be bipartisan. Georghegan makes the case that Democrats have been complicit in this and they have. It needs to go. Period. And it can. It’s hard to overstate the negative power of gerrymandering when millions more people in certain states (OH, MA, MI, for example) vote one way but their legislative bodies are stacked the other way because those voters have been stacked in Rorschach test shaped districts.
It used to be argued that there was no fair alternative to gerrymandered districts. But that is no longer true. California, Arizona, Iowa, and New Jersey not only discourage partisan redistricting—as Florida does—but actually have procedures like independent or bipartisan commissions to ensure that it does not occur. For years we could not even imagine these alternatives. Now we have them—and we know they work.
2. End the filibuster – a step which was largely already achieved in 2013
3. Geoghegan touts making voting mandatory, which would be fine, but even if it weren’t mandatory, just make it easier, with more universal rules. And for crying out loud make election day a national holiday. Even better move it to the weekend, but that would take a Constitutional amendment so that’s not happening.
Enacting compulsory voting is neither unconstitutional nor impossible. The states can force citizens to serve on juries, so why can’t it force them to vote? Compared to sitting six months on a medical-malpractice case, voting once every two years is a small burden. Besides, unlike a jury, you wouldn’t literally have to do any voting at all. It is perfectly legitimate to cast a blank ballot. A compulsory voting law does not interfere in that respect with your right not to vote. It is not a burden on your right of expression.
Progressives believe that more democracy makes society more democratic (and that that’s good). It’s a simple almost “duh” idea, but it needs to be asserted and defended because deep down there are many people in our republic who disagree and are very happy to keep as many people from voting as they can, by any means possible. Many conservatives have out loud and proud advocated ending the 17th amendment that provided a popular vote for senators – they’d happily put it back in the hands of corrupt state legislatures, if they could get away with it. They’d gleefully bring back laws restricting suffrage if they could get away with it. But since they can’t get away with it they use the bullshit rubric of preventing voter fraud to make it harder to vote.
Time for Democrats to stand up for the idea the party was named after.