We need to vote more. A lot more.
America has a voting problem. America should have a voting problem. How are we supposed to be good at something we hardly ever do?
We still vote for congressional representatives on the schedule set out by the framers, and for senators per the rules of the seventeenth amendment. The pace of life around the world has increased exponentially since then, especially in America, but we still vote on horse-riding and Model T schedules, respectively. We have become a debt-bearing nation, and as our shoulders grow heavier we continue to believe that voting in the other guy, or a third party, will fix our problems. Our belief in this is so resilient that it almost perfectly manages the colloquial definition of insanity.
The obvious side effect of our vote-almost-never system is the corrosive dominance of “values” voting. Values voters see the campaign as the end product of elections, and not the beginning. There will always be values voters, but the way to force them (and everyone else) to work is to make them show their work, more often.
The most common criticism I’ve gotten for this theory is not that voting more often would be ineffective, but that it would be impractical to move representatives in and out of congress so quickly. This is nonsense. There are presidential elections in other countries where the winner takes over the next day. If they can figure it out with presidents, we can figure it out with mere congresspersons. It would likely mean a smaller hand-picked staff, and more permanent staff. This could create new problems, but none as big as the one we have created.
The sheer mass our problems stops us from seeing them clearly. The only sane response to them would be to agree on a long-term plan of slow growth, and we cannot effectively do this. There is no “we, the people” and we, the people, are to blame. This country is built upon the ability of the people to make good decisions for the body politic, and it no longer works. We do not need one great politician to lead us out of it. We need hundreds of them. We need people who want to make laws, and make the country better, the Pollyanna principle that’s the founding one of our government.
At the absolute least, we have as much information in a month as 19th century voters did in a distinctly smaller and infinitely less complicated did in one two-year term. We are not able to act on that information until it is too late. Increased voting, semi or biannually for representatives and once every two or three years for senators, would act as a stimulus for government, with millions and millions of votes being added to the grand experiment each year. It would also add billions of dollars being spent on elections, but the exchange rate for competent representation would have no choice but to improve as leaders focused more on achievements and less on irrelevant positions. The alternative would not be attractive.
A possible criticism of this plan is that it would marginalize people who have little interest in government affairs. This is crazy. Every American is equally in charge of this country as every other one. There are 300 million of us, and we can’t agree on a damn thing. We need more chances, and not a few more. We need a lot more, or things will continue to compound into squalor beyond our level of comprehension, and we will continue to look for a reset button we do not have, and only a child thinks is real. Maybe if we practiced putting our heads together we could do a lick of good.
So you’re saying vote less often? My point is that I don’t think the electoral cycle is limited at all, specifically for Congress.
The problem as I see it is that long term solutions aren’t discussed BECAUSE of the currently limited duration of the electoral cycle. Climate change and sustainable economy will always get left to be taken care of with short term, marginal, politically un-risky solutions.