OP-ED: Time to Think Big
By Stefan Jones, Washington County Democrats Communications Team
You know what?
We should admire conservatives.
They make a goal — ban abortion, attack the very notion of public education, gerrymander a state to ensure permanent power in the legislature, destroy social safety net programs, cement white supremacy in American politics — and work toward it, year after year, decade after decade, at enormous expense and effort. They pursue their goals without shame, using every wretched political tool — hatred, fear, class resentment — to get people motivated.
It is time for us — Democrats, liberals, progressives, the whole big tent — to set some big picture goals of our own. We don’t have to employ their wretched tactics, but we need to emulate some of their strategies, like running candidates for every office, from the proverbial dog catcher on up, because they know that local power translates into state power translates into national power. We need to cultivate talented lawyers to become judges. We need think tanks and media organizations on our side.
As for the goals, it isn’t enough to think on the “bills and programs” level. We need to consider what it will take to make accomplishments like the ACA, Social Security, and departments like the EPA permanent, and make new programs achievable. And to protect representative democracy and the rule of law.
I’m going to throw a few out there:
Expanding the Supreme Court is a big thing now, but we may not to take that drastic step if lower federal courts quash challenges to progressive legislation before they percolate up to the SCOTUS. We need to create more federal judgeships at every level. Make qualification and experience a must, but also diversity.
Expand the House
We need to expand the number of representatives in the House, so all citizens get equal representation in that body. This increases electoral votes too.
If it takes a thousand new representatives them, so be it. But if we apply the Wyoming Rule we’d only need an additional 134!
Voting Rights Amendment
The Voting Rights Act was defanged thanks to the determined opposition by conservatives in the states which were under its eye. We need to fix that. But ultimately, we need to make the right to vote, and to register, and to have our votes respected, to not just be protected by law, but by being a part of the constitution.
The VRA might start: “All adult citizens shall have an inviolable right to vote, and elections shall be secure, accountable, accurate, and fair.”
There’d be a whole lot of details after that. Make Election Day a federal holiday. Make registration automatic. Eliminate every restriction that penalizes the poor and uneducated and marginalized. Make polling places plentiful and accessible, and make voting by mail an automatic option totally on par with in person voting. Require hand-marked paper ballots, with laws to preserve them in case of recounts and challenges. Require and FUND secure tabulation and reporting systems.
And make it clear, IN THE CONSTITUTION, that government officials are to be elected, not to be appointed by legislatures. (If circumstances dictate, require a new election rather than throw the decision to a state legislature or congress.)
Equal Rights Amendment, Mk. II
Begin it with “All human beings are equal under the law.”
And then spell out that it bans discrimination not only based on sex, but race, class, LGBTQA status, and more.
And Finally . . .
. . . get rid of the Electoral College. Perhaps start with a universally accepted Popular Vote Compact , Maybe come up with a scheme that requires candidates to visit small towns and less-populated states, but . . . it has to go.
Disclaimer: Op-eds are the personal views of the author only, not necessarily the Washington County Democrats. Please review our Terms of Service page, User-generated content, to fully understand our publication process. Your op-ed submission is welcome here.