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Prall: Time to update elections

BY JACOB PRALL | NOVEMBER 06, 2014 5:00 AM

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By the people, for the people: An idea that revolutionized the world. Entire pillars of our society are founded in this principle, yet the system it represents still functions as it did 200 years ago. The creation of the Constitution was based on 18th century ideals and 15th century information technology. How can we “upgrade” our democracy for the new millennium?

The printing press changed how government and subjects interacted forever. Pamphlets could be used to persuade a populace to remain dormant or kick them into the fires of revolt. Unsurprising, then, that the information technology of the modern era has caused similar wildfires across the Middle East.

This is just the beginning. The Internet is fast, accessible and links the global community as one.

Why, then, do we rely solely on a system in which we the people elect others to make the big decisions, in which we have federal Judges and executive officers who will never face an election, and where an Electoral College ultimately decides the fate of our presidential elections?

Politics has become something inaccessible to many by way of expenses. To start a campaign, even for a small public office, requires immense resources. Countless leaders are buried and swept away in failed ventures to acquire the funds they need. No wonder so many politicians turn to the largest corporations in the world to line their pockets.

Therein lies the problem. Politics can be accessible to the everyman, just not in how our system works. The lack of transparency and difficulty of entry in politics effectively shuts out large portions of the people who have to deal with the decisions of their government every day.

A pure democracy is not feasible, that is certain. Every decision, every day, can’t be voted on. But this generation has the task of looking at the information technology of their lifetime and applying it to our elections.

If we democratize the existing democratic process, we can start to take the power of the dollar away from the political process. Instead of spending their days calling the wealthy ones that have previously donated for more money, we could take the pressure of pleasing the elites off of congress. Suddenly, when one vote is what a person is worth, no matter her or his economic power, we will be once again created equal in the eyes of our political system.

Holding elections the way we do dissuades the working class to take place. Many people can’t simply take off work in the middle of the day, drive downtown, wait in a line, and then come back. Especially when the barrage of media and corporate spending leaves them disillusioned, and voter ID laws disenfranchise potential voters.

The country leans heavily Democratic, according to Gallup. Why, then, is the GOP poised to take the entire legislative branch? This idea of bringing the power back down to the people may, in the short term, be beneficial for the Democratic Party. Things change quickly, however. The Grand Old Party would have to adapt, sure, but it already has to. Republicans have to govern a United States that doesn’t resemble the nation it was in 1985.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” We should begin to involve everyone with the power of technology, not just those who can afford it in an outdated system.​


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