Memorandum subject: Electoral Reform Possibilities in 2015 for 2016 Background



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MEMORANDUM

Subject: Electoral Reform Possibilities in 2015 for 2016

1. Background. When Tom Steyer acknowledged publicly in 2014 that his $74 million spent to advance Climate Change initiatives had not yielded the results he expected, it became clear to activists everywhere that no issue – however well-funded the activists might be – could be addressed within the current political environment characterized by a two-party tyranny and the merger of what Matt Taibbi has labeled Griftopia – the merger of political and financial crime such that the public interest is no longer remotely addressed by public policy processes.

2. The Opportunity. For the first time in modern history, real possibilities exist of electing a bi-partisan but independent ticket with a pre-announced coalition cabinet, and a public demand for electoral reform measures in 2015 such that we can, in 2016, also elect a sufficiency of new Members campaigning for 20-30 vacated seats in Congress who refuse affiliation with either side of the two-party tyranny, so as to restore Article 1 of the Constitution, enabling evidence-based governance in the public interest. It is possible, with the initiatives presented below, to bring back to the electoral process the 100 million eligible voters who chose not to vote in 2012, and to fully engage – and register – the 60 million or more new voters, generally unmarried women, youth, and people of color. Within the circus environment created by Donald Trump and to a lesser extent Bernie Sanders, the way is open for a bi-partisan ticket and transpartisan team to energize a national conversation focused on the restoration of integrity to the US electoral process and our government.

3. What Is To Be Done? There are seven specific initiatives that require a minimum of $1 million in seed money, but ideally $10 million, after which this initiative should be self-supporting via the BigBatUSA.org website (wiped clean of its present content) that seeks to raise $1 billion a year in a democracy fund, comprised of $10 or more from each of 100 million citizens. Even more important than money is the ability of a single sponsor or a small group of sponsors to offer such a compelling story to the corporate media that our initiative becomes the primary topic of conversation, displacing the current obsession with the bombastic offerings of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, each in their own way representing the death of their respective parties. At this time both the mainstream and progressive press are ignoring electoral reform.

a. Virtual Article V Constitutional Convention – Michael Levin as Moderator

b. Living Room Conversation on Unemployment – and Why Government Lies a Lot …

c. Electoral Reform Summit & Electoral Reform Act of 2015

d. Fantasy Cabinet Build – Online Public Engagement in Picking a Best of the Best Cabinet

e. Balanced Budget Build – Online Public Engagement in Building a Balanced Budget

f. BigBatUSA.org – Democracy Fund Non-Partisan Fund-Raising

g. Virtual People’s Assembly – Empower Youth, Elderly, Ethnic Group



4. Who Is Doing What? The bottom line is that no one is pursuing an integrated national electoral reform strategy. US Representative John Delaney (D-MD) with his Open Our Democracy Act, Christina Tobin of Free & Equal, Lawrence Lessig and his Citizen Equality Act, and Peter Ackerman with his effort to expand the debates are all noteworthy, but not integrative. Everyone else is doing what they can on single issues from ballot access to gerrymandering to getting money out of politics to opposing electronic devices proven to be enablers of fraud, but their efforts are generally local and futile. The table below lists a tiny fraction of the organizations that could be brought together in a National Electoral Reform Coalition that in turn attracts economic and social justice groups and others to this common cause – electoral reform is ROOT, without it, no issue will receive an honest complete hearing.


21st Century Democrats

Advancement Project

American Association of People with Disabilities VOTE Project

American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights

American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS)

American for Campaign Reform

Americans for Democratic Action

Americans United for Change

Americans United to Rebuild Democracy

America Votes

Ballot Access News

Center for Democracy & Election Management (American University)

Center for Effective Government

Center for Election Science

Center for Progressive Reform (CPR)

Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) / OpenSecrets.org

Center for Voting and Democracy (also known as FairVote)

Century Foundation Electoral Reform Project

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

Citizens in Charge

Coalition for Free and Open Elections

Commission on Federal Election Reform

Committee for a United Independent Party (IndependentVoting.org)

Common Cause

Constitution Party

Democracy 21

Democracy for America (DFA)

Democracy Matters

Election Defense Alliance

Electology Electoral Knowledge Network

Fair Vote (also known as center for Voting and Democracy)

Fund for Constitutional Government

Free and Equal Elections Foundation

Free Speech for People (equivalent to Move to Amend)

Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

Government Accountability Project (GAP)

Green Party

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law (Gerrymandering)

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

League of Women Voters

League of Young Voters

Libertarian Party

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund

MoveOn (enabling education and voice for distracted public)

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Voter Fund

National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

National Committee for an Effective Congress (NCEC)

National Committee for Voting Integrity

National Council of La Raza

National Stonewall Democrats (LGBT)

National Voting Rights Institute (NVRI)

New Voters Project

Occupy NYC Politics & Electoral Reform Working Group

Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC)

Progressive Democrats of America (PDA)

Project on Government Oversight (POGO_

Project Vote

Public Campaign Of, By, and For the People

Public Citizen

Public Leadership Institute / Progressive Majority Action Fund

Reform Party

Rock the Vote

SaveOurVotes

Sunlight Foundation

US Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs)

Verified Voting Foundation / VerifiedVoting.org

Voter Participation Center

VotersUnite


5. Electoral Reform Act of 2015. First, let us respect Representative John Delaney (D-MD) and his Open Our Democracy Act, which seeks to allow Independents to vote in primaries, begins redistricting reform as a national endeavor, and makes Election Day a holiday. He is joined in sponsorship of that Act by Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) and Representative Scott Peters (D-CA). Let us also respect Lawrence Lessig and his proposed Citizen Equality Act of 2017 that calls for universal registration, tightly-drawn districts, and public funding of all qualified candidates. These two Acts, as worthy as they are, are fractional and futile. Below are the elements of a proper Electoral Reform Act that embraces all the good ideas from across the previously listed electoral reform advocacy groups; these are presented not as a final solution, but as a starting point for a national conversation leading to a demand for legislation in 2015.

01 Universal Registration

  • Opt-Out Option

  • Prisoners Remain Voters


02 Free & Equal Ballot Access
03 Tightly-Drawn Districts
04 Free & Equal Public Funding


05 Free & Equal Media Access
06 Inclusive Debates

  • Restore League of Women Voters

  • Debates in Every State

  • Cabinet Announced in Advance

  • Cabinet-Level Debates


07 Open Primaries
08 Election Day Holiday

Visitors to Disabled

Free Public Transportation
09 Paper Ballots

Counted Publicly On Site

Military and Embassy Sites

Exit Poll Validation at all Sites

Mail/Internet Triple Validation
10 End Winner-Take-All Voting

Instant Run-Off or

Range, Concordent, Other
11 Legislative Process Integrity

End Party-Line Voting

All Legislation Published in Advance

No Secret Provisions

Process for Citizen Guidance to Representatives
12 Article V Constitutional Convention


  • 1st Religion & Freedom of Expression

  • 2nd Right to Bear Arms

  • 12th Electoral College

  • 14th Birthright

  • 17th State Appointment of Senators



We are at a tipping point in our democracy. The way is open for a public mobilization, demand for electoral reform, and the restoration of integrity to how we govern ourselves.



Representative Delaney of Maryland, and his colleagues from California and Colorado, could – if combined with a modest philanthropic effort out of Maryland and a larger philanthropic effort out of Colorado and California, yield a non-violent revolution virtually overnight.

6. Timing. September 2015 offers an opportunity to organize the first four “strikes” against the present tyranny.

STRIKE ONE: Blow up Donald Trump by sponsoring the Virtual Article V Constitutional Convention moderated and broadcast over radio by Michael Levin, thus assuring a serious national conversation about birth rights (14th Amendment), state rights (17th Amendment) and other aspects including the Electoral College and restoration of the vote to prisoners.

STRIKE TWO: Blow up the US Government / corporate media / captive academics and think tanks that “go along” with false reporting on unemployment, which is at 23%, not 5% (U1) or 10% (U6). Among youth (including those with new college degrees), older workers, unmarried women, and people of color the unemployment rate is closer to 40%.

STRIKE THREE: Money is needed to get Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader, Jesse Ventura, and others to come together for an Electoral Reform Summit, but this can be done. An opportunity exists to lionize Representative Delaney and convert his Open Our Democracy Act (HR 2655) into the Electoral Act of 2015, and then immediately challenge every Senator now running for president to co-sponsor the Act in the Senate, or explain why not. In combination with the first two events, this is a transformative public consciousness intervention with unlimited potential. Tom Steyer, the Silicon Valley Black Sheep Billionaires, and the Colorado progressive democracy philanthropists have the power to make this revolution happen now.

STRIKE FOUR: Once the Electoral Reform Act has been introduced into both chambers of Congress, the existing website BigBatUSA.org can be wiped clean and converted into a national fund-raising and direct democracy site with four features:

a. Create Your Cabinet (“Fantasy Cabinet” or Best of the Best, multiple versions visible online)

b. Create Your Budget (Line Item Budget Online, open public Wikipedia-like discussion online)

c. Get a Grip on Reality (True Cost Economics data for every policy, product, service, behavior)

d. Buy Your Country Back ($10 at a time including the Donald Trump – Matt Taibbi drink game)

If seed funding can be achieved and the personalities can be organized, this has the potential to raise $1 billion in fairly short order. That money would be used in part to revitalize Occupy and mobilize constituents to sit-in on the front lawns and home offices of every Senator and Representative until they all sign the Electoral Integrity Pledge and agree to schedule a vote on the Electoral Reform Act of 2015 for 4 November 2015.

The home run here is not just enabling a bi-partisan Independent ticket to win the executive, but to enable independent and small party members to capture the 20-30 seats being vacated in Congress for 2016. Providing they agree to not caucus with either of the two-party elements, this creates a substantial independent swing vote can could break the current practice of party line voting on bills written by lobbyists and never even read by Members.

7. Obstacles. The primary obstacle to our success is the current state of delusion among Democratic Party progressives including key influencers such as Thom Hartmann and Raquel Maddow. Not only do they remain committed to the “lesser of two evils,” but in some cases – Maddow for example – they are simply ignorant, disparaging the “unemployment truthers” who call into question the false statistics being proffered by the US Government.

Another obstacle is the comatose state of the progressive right. Right now Donald Trump is appealing to the white supremacists, using money and bluster that succeed only because there is a vacuum – the empty suits on one hand, and the silent thoughtful right on the other.

A third obstacle is the refusal of the Green and Libertarian and Reform Parties – despite their inconsequential numbers, never-the-less important voices to be respected – to work together toward a coalition government. They insist – as do the Democratic and Republican parties – on single party tickets, party platforms, and the honoring of promises to major donors who have sought to buy advantages against the public interest.

A fourth obstacle is the lack of a “home base” for all the Independents and those now classifying themselves as No Party Preference (NPP), a particularly relevant group in California and other Western states. IndependentVoting.org has failed to meet the needs of independent minded candidates and voters. BigBatUSA.org could meet this larger need.



8. Potential Starting Points. An immediate opportunity exists to bring together Dr. Cynthia McKinney (who could announce her candidacy), Ralph Nader, and Robert Steele – and perhaps Jesse Ventura – in a Washington DC event in mid-September.

The Democratic debate is on 16 September, the Free & Equal Festival on 19 September. Monday 21 September is proposed. Prior to that date a workshop could be convened (14 September?) of all interested electoral reform and social justice activists in the tri-state area, with satellite events organized in NYC and Portand and Seattle, in order to more deeply develop the concepts in this memorandum, and agree on a Statement of Demand and a public declaration intended to attract the attention of individual funders and individual progressive media personalities who might wish to reconsider their commitment to the Democratic Party as the lesser of two evils, and contemplate instead the restoration of true deep democracy in the USA.



A minimum of $25,000 would appear to be needed to fund travel costs and honoraria for the speakers and selected progressive democratic influencers (Matt Taibbi, Chris Hedges, Thom Hartmann, Tom Englehart come to mind). Beyond that a plan should be developed, in partnership with Maryland, Colorado, and California philanthropists, for bridge funding that leads to the creation of BigBatUSA.org as a self-supporting nation-wide democracy movement.

Version 1.5 dated 6 September 2015 -- robert.david.steele.vivas@gmail.com



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