How to reform Nevada politics
As we celebrate a fresh beginning to another year, it’s a good day to imagine a political future for ourselves that would motivate progressive voters to actually vote.
What if Nevadans had not been swept away by term limits fever and had chosen instead to maintain their voting power? Barbara Buckley might still be leading the State Assembly, guiding a progressive legislative agenda to help working people thrive rather than boosting profits of mega-corporations. Instead, we have an unfortunate reality show featuring a cast of characters with little experience and even less sense of what it means to be an elected official representing more than your own extreme views.
What if candidates were not allowed to run for another office without resigning the office they currently hold? That is, they had to make a clear decision about their political aspirations for the next few years and take their chances, instead of clinging to the safety net of their existing position. And while we’re at it, how about prohibiting the game of musical chairs after the election when appointment to another elected office suddenly seems more attractive?
What if we followed the example of at least 13 states and established an independent commission to handle redistricting? We could reduce the influence of the national parties, focused entirely on congressional seats, and return the decision to a bi-partisan group of Nevadans committed to the ideal of representative democracy. We could then count on more competitive legislative seats and reward the party that fields the best candidate to represent the district as a whole, instead of having to choose between the more extreme candidates who win a partisan primary.
What if stricter campaign financing laws were in place in Nevada to prohibit the “bundling” of campaign contributions from companies with multiple subsidiaries? We could reduce the influence of casinos, foreign mining companies, and large corporations. Candidates would have to focus more on their constituents for campaign support and thus be more accountable to voters.
What if there was transparency in campaign contributions through real-time electronic reporting instead of the game of hiding shadowy donors until late in the election cycle? And what if we sanctioned random audits to discover exactly where the money was coming from and how candidates spend it, revealing who is really pulling the strings in Carson City?
What if we made lobbyists report their spending on our elected officials year round, instead of just during the 120 days of the legislative session? Better yet, what if we completely outlawed the gift-giving that routinely goes unnoticed, such as the trips to fancy resorts, the expensive golf games, and the fine dining that builds relationships and garners favors that are returned later, hidden from public view.
Finally, what if we put aside the idea that President Obama has not been an effective leader and looked at the facts? Obamacare has worked. More than 10 million Americans have gained access to health care, producing an uninsured rate at its lowest level in 50 years. Rising health care costs have also slowed significantly.
Unemployment is trending downward and gas prices have slid dramatically as the economy improves. The president has taken action on immigration after Congress refused to act. He’s begun normalizing relations with Cuba, finally ending the cold war with our Caribbean neighbor.
In the New Year, let’s resolve to confront the lies and the exaggerations promoted by the torrid sensationalism of Fox News that don’t come close to the truth.
Let’s empower ourselves to engage in our Democracy and make sure our voice is not drowned out by the noise. Let’s vote our own interests instead of those of the so-called “job creators” and take our Democracy back from those whose primary goal is to enrich themselves.