Rick Hubbard: Our political system is broken, and we need to fix it

This comment was written by Rick Hubbard, a retired attorney and former economic consultant living in South Burlington.

I’m a Vermonter native and just entering my ninth decade as I write to explain why, beginning October 1st, I will be walking across America from Los Angeles to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., to help repair our shattered democracy.

Our federal political system is not working properly today. It does not serve our common interest properly. We are heading toward authoritarianism, rather than promoting our representative democracy.

Here’s how bad it can be:

Most of us have lost faith in Washington.

We desperately need candidates and representatives who will reform our democracy to properly serve our common interests.

The system has been hijacked, to ensure that those in power retain it.

Unscrupulous politicians are ready to corrupt and destroy the very institutions and rights that brought them to power.

There is little connection between election and serving the will of the people.

The two major parties prioritize the interests of their respective candidates’ re-election, the interests of their own party and the largest contributors of campaign funds, before our general interests and the common good.

They rig the system and set the rules to stifle competition from independent and third-party candidates.

They control the money, the debates and the primaries. They even draw their voting districts.

Congress is regularly deadlocked, and there is little progress on issues important to most of us. Small percentages of our representatives can prevent actions that benefit the largest percentage of us all.

Meanwhile, nearly half of American families cannot earn enough to afford basics like rent and food.

We see that the rich are getting richer, while many see the collapse of the middle class.

The working class faces low wages, dead-end jobs, debt, homelessness, a lack of health care, and very few educational opportunities.

For the first time since the Great Depression, life expectancy in the United States is trending lower, with drug overdoses and suicides on the rise. Once a world leader in health care and education in advanced economies, we are now in the bottom quartile of health care and the bottom half of education. Unaffordable prescriptions and medical bills are the reason most Americans file for bankruptcy.

Our country is getting poorer, sicker and divided, and our families are paying the price. There is an urgent need for a properly functioning government to serve our common interests.

The good news is that we can fix it.

The states make the rules that administer elections, even federal ones. So passing laws in our state to make things better makes the federal election work better.

Here’s what we can do:

We can make our political system more just, inclusive, competitive and representative.

We can have independent committees that delineate voting districts.

We can make it illegal for lobbyists to donate to politicians, so the representatives we elect will better serve our interests.

We can have campaigns publicly funded, not just by 2% of us as now, but 100% of all registered voters, using a small credit or a deduction from the taxes we’ve already paid to support the candidates we’ve chosen. That will dramatically change who candidates have to pay attention to.

We can reform our political process to have more competition, more turnover, and a better representation of our common interest, or if that cannot be achieved, set reasonable limits on the tenure of elected officials.

We can adopt an open and inclusive primary that lists all candidates, regardless of party, and allow 100% of all registered voters to vote in it. We can use ranked-choice voting to elect only candidates supported by a majority of us, as well as allowing independents and third parties to run without spoiling the election.

We can activate voter registration and home voting automatically and securely. We can get more people to vote in safe elections, and we can make voting easier.

Millions of us are already participating and have already scored over 100 victories in cities and states across America. But millions of us need to join, which is why I invite you to join us.

People near you are fighting for these improvements and need your help. So please register and be a part of the next victory in your state. Organize and join nonpartisan citizens’ rallies to reform our democracy in your community, at dates and times in coordination with others across America in their communities.

And vote only for politicians who will reform our democracy.

If enough of us work together, we can fix the system so the government can work for you, your family and the rest of us – not just for a group of special interests and insiders.

We can do it! We can reform our democracy, avoid authoritarianism, and unleash progress toward our common interest. Join us! Thanks.

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Tags: avoid tyranny, common good, reform democracy, rick hubbard, walk across america

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