Friday, December 23, 2005

Voting Rights and Election Reform

If you can’t win by the rules -------- either cheat -------- or change the rules.
Democratic Party of Dane County: Membership Meeting: Alternative Voting in the US. Jan 11, 2006 7:00 PM Concourse Hotel, 2 W. Dayton St., Madison

Patrick Barrett, UW professor, will speak on "Alternative Voting Systems in the United States" Patrick Barrett is the Director of the Havens Center for the Study of Social Structure and Social Change at UW-Madison. One of the main projects for the Center is the Midwest Social Forum (formerly RadFest), an annual gathering of grassroots organizations and community activists committed to progressive social movement building.
In their desire to reverse the decades long trend of national election losses, Democrats are actively searching for ways to achieve election victories so it is of interest that the Madison Dems will be starting their New Year thinking about how to change the voting system in America.

UW Sociology Professor Patrick Barrett runs the Havens Center which is the UW Madison Sociology Department Socialist Think Tank. In addition, Barrett is a Fellow at Liberty Tree Foundation, a group actively promoting voting reform in America. I suspect the Dane County Democratic Party membership, including Kathleen Falk and Dave Cieslewicz, will hear a theory of voting reform similar to those Barrett outlined in 2004.
Progressive Strategy in 2004, and Beyond: At the possible risk of oversimplification, there are three fundamental and interrelated problems that plague our political system, and that should therefore constitute the central focus of our political efforts. First and foremost is the weakened state of social movements that have historically served as the single most important counterbalance to the enormous influence that money, wealth, and corporate power exert in our society.

In order to maximize that movement's full potential, and avert the obstacles and setbacks that earlier social movements encountered, two other systemic changes are urgently needed. One is the replacement of our two-party system with a multi-party system. … Finally, we need to enact a series of fundamental democratic reforms designed to transform the basic rules of the political game. The three most needed reforms are electoral reform, campaign finance reform, and media reform, … Of the three, electoral reform is perhaps the most immediate necessity, for it would open a wedge in the current political system, making it possible for a multi-party system to emerge, and thus greatly expanding the prospects for all sorts of other changes, including campaign finance and media reform. The specific electoral reform that is called for is instant runoff voting (IRV).
Barrett and his like minded Wisconsin State employees are serious about scrapping the two party system as part of their overall concession that the current election process in America will not vote for their socialist goals. Details of election reforms the socialist left believes will serve their collectivist and statist goals are covered in their concept of a Voter Bill of Rights.

Totally absent in this progressive wish list is any concept that voting is a political right rather than a human right. This is a fundamental difference between the right and the left and it goes to the meaning of what makes an individual a citizen within a citizen controlled government. The left wants mass movements with voting defined as a human right, or in other words, voting as an entitlement arising from individual human life. For those of us who fear mob rule and group goals imposed at the expense of individual freedom, the challenge will be to counter this argument with a clear and positive defense citizenship.