By Rick Hubbard
Editor’s note: Rick Hubbard is a retired attorney and former economic consultant living in South Burlington.
I’m a native Vermonter now just entering my ninth decade of life and I’m writing to explain why, beginning Oct. 1, I’m going to walk across America from Los Angeles to our U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., to help fix our broken democracy.
Our federal political system isn’t working right today. It isn’t properly serving our common good. We’re headed toward autocracy, instead of strengthening our representative democracy.
Here’s how bad it is:
Most of us have lost our trust in Washington.
We urgently need candidates and representatives who will fix our democracy to properly serve our common good.
The system has been hijacked, to ensure those with power keep it.
Unscrupulous politicians are willing to corrupt and shatter the very institutions and rights that brought them to power.
There’s little correlation between getting elected and serving the will of the people. The two major parties prioritize their candidates’ reelection interests, and the interests of their party and biggest campaign money contributors, ahead of our public interests and 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 own voting districts.
Congress is so regularly gridlocked, there’s little progress on issues important to most of us. Small percentages of our representatives can block actions that benefit the greatest percentage of us all.
Meanwhile, almost half of U.S. families can’t earn enough to afford basics like rent and food.
We see the very rich becoming much richer, while many see the collapse of the middle class. And the working class faces low wages, dead-end jobs, debt, homelessness, lack of health care and too little educational opportunity.
For the first time since the Great Depression, life expectancy in the U.S. is headed down, as drug overdoses and suicides rise. Once a world leader for health care and education in advanced economies, we are now in the bottom quarter for health care and bottom half for education. Unaffordable lifesaving prescriptions and medical bills are the reason most Americans file for bankruptcy.
Our country is getting poorer, sicker, more divided, and our families are paying the price. There’s an urgent need for a properly functioning government to serve our common good.
The good news is that we can fix it. States create rules that run elections, even federal ones. So passing laws in our state to improve things makes the federal election work better.
Here’s what we can do:
We can make our political system fairer, more inclusive, more competitive, and more representative.
We can have independent commissions draw 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 by only 2% of us as now, rather by 100% of all registered voters, using just a small credit or rebate back from taxes we’ve already paid to support the candidates of our choice. That will dramatically change who candidates must pay attention to.
We can reform our political process to get more competition, more turnover, and better representation for our common good, or if this can’t be accomplished, set reasonable term limits on elected officials.
We can adopt an open, blanket 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 those candidates a majority of us support, plus allow independents and third parties to run without spoiling elections.
We can enact automatic and secure voter registration and vote-from-home ballots. We can have more people voting in secure elections, and make it easier to vote.
Millions of us are already involved and have already racked up more than 100 victories in cities and states across America. But millions more of us need to join in, and that’s why I’m inviting you to join us.
People near you are fighting for these improvements and need your help. So please sign up and be part of the next victory in your state. And organize and join nonpartisan citizen walks to Fix Our Democracy in your community, at dates and times in concert with others across America in their communities.
And vote only for politicians who will lead to fix our democracy.
If enough of us act together, we can fix the system so government can work for you, your family, and the rest of us — not just for a handful of special interests and insiders.
We can do it! We can fix our democracy, avoid autocracy, and unlock progress toward our common good. Join us! Thanks.