Stars are aligned | Three Things Thursday
The health of our republic depends on Americans being able to talk with each other. It depends on having a government that can function, and a culture that draws Americans towards civil service.
… So says a new report from a bipartisan commission created by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to analyze the state of American democracy. With historic levels of distrust and partisanship amongst the electorate, things are bleak -- but they can be fixed. The commission recommends enacting ranked choice voting, reforming campaign finance, and expanding the House of Representatives.
We’re in the midst of a national movement. Americans are demanding reform. Here are three things to read this week:
Police reform, prison reform, judicial reform, social services reform: they’ve been at the forefront of our collective consciousness this week, as the movement for civil rights valiantly continues forward.
This week, our partners at RepresentUs came out with a new video in their Unbreaking America series. “Justice for Sale” looks at how lobbyists, unions, and special interest groups have used our criminal justice systems to turn profits at the expense of the American people.
Actor Omar Epps and Florida activist Desmond Meade break down the system’s failures: 91% of Americans want to see criminal justice reform, and despite recent progress with major bipartisan legislation in Congress, lots of work remains to be done. Critically, the film shows that if you want to make progress on any issue, we’ve got to deal with the issue that dictates them all: our broken political system.
Despite what partisans may make it seem, there’s nothing new about absentee voting. This week, our friends at the right-of-center think-tank R Street published a new report on the conservative case for absentee ballots, which finds that not only have Americans been using absentee ballots since the Civil War, but also that it’s a secure, trusted, and desirable way to vote.
Absentee voting (or vote at home, as we more often call it) has become a political flash point, as of late, with conservative opposition mounting against the system. President Trump cites widespread voter fraud in absentee voting: this is false. Absentee voting is one of the most secure ways to vote. In Oregon, a state that’s been universal absentee since 2000, has a voter fraud rate of 0.000004%.
The battle around vote at home is a great reminder that politicians will do and say what’s politically convenient. Case in point: three of the California GOP leaders suing Governor Gavin Newsom for expanding absentee ballot access in the state have all voted absentee since at least 2004. (Some of them for longer). We can’t allow political lip service to suppress American voices this election cycle.
Finally, comedian Jon Stewart sat down for an interview with the New York Times. The interview was wide ranging, but centered on Stewart’s upcoming film that parodies partisan campaigns in a small town. Stewart’s insight, while long, bares reading:
“What is broken about Washington isn’t the bureaucracy. It’s legislators’ ability to address the issues inherent in any society — and the reason they can’t address them is that when you have a duopoly, there is no incentive to work together to create something better… We’re incentivized for more extreme candidates, for more extreme partisanship, for more conflict and permanent campaigning, for corporate interests to have more influence on the process, not less.”
Better incentives, better leaders, better governance.
We can do it.