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Orange, Riverside County, CA November 2, 2004 Election
Smart Voter

We Need Real Democracy in Our Republic!

By Kevin Akin

Candidate for United States Representative; District 44

This information is provided by the candidate
Winner-take-all elections dominated by monied interests keep most Americans from real representation in Congress.
Do you know of a member of congress who is utterly incompetent? Want to replace him or her? Well, sorry about that, it is almost impossible in our "democracy." You see, the dominant two parties map out district boundaries in most states to ensure the re-election lf all incumbents, no matter how worthless they may be. Even one-party states like the old Soviet Union had higher rates of defeated incumbents that the USA today. (Soviet elections had one candidate, but voters could vote "no," and sometimes did.) An astonishing 98% of incumbents who run are returned to Congress.

The other reason incumbents are returned is money. They have it, their challengers generally don't. Most of the money is from corporate interests. Direct corporate donations are no longer legal, but they are hardly necessary when a candidate can get donations from the corporation's owners, officers, executives, employees, PACs, lobbyists, and the same from each corporate subsidiary. Tens of thousands of dollars can come in from each corporation in an industry, and the totals run into the millions for many members of congress. Of course, they are not free to vote for anything that would annoy their corporate supporters, but most of our representatives prefer money to freedom any day.

When a district is, say, 55% Republican, it always elects a Republican. Members of other parties are not really represented at all. In the case of the 44th District, even Republicans who are not wealthy campaign contributors are not represented, but that's another subject. So over one-third of Americans really have no effective representation at all from their congressman-for-life.

is this the only way to do this? Well, no. And most countries don't do it this way.

Most countries have proportional representation in legislative bodies. Most countries has strict limits on campaign funding. Some countries have instant runoff voting, that helps ensure that those elected are acceptable to a real majority. Some of these ideas originated in the U.S.A., but have not been allowed to flourish because they restrained the power of the corporate wealthy.

One plan I saw for reforming the California legislature would elect legislators from 8 districts instead of 80. Each district would have 10 elected members. A party that got around 30% of the vote would get 3 members, a party with around 40% would get 40, and a party that got around 10% would get one member. All points of view with any sizeable backing would be represented in the legislature. Instead of the top party forcing things through, at the expense of everyone else, all points of view would be heard, and agreements between parties would be needed to pass legislation. The legislation might be rarer, but it would be more representative and probably better.

A similar plan would work for electing members of congress from California. Make 5 congressional districts, of which two elect ten members each and three elect eleven members each, and we would elect 53 representative just as we do now - but what a difference! Based on past vote totals, at least some of these representatives would come from the Peace and Freedom, Green and Libertarian Parties, in addition to Democrats and Republicans. No clever changes in district boundaries would leave anyone in a safe district, to be re-elected endlessly without any actual ability. And every voter could go to a sympathetic congressional representative with similar politics.

Some states have only a few representatives, so in a few states it would require around 33% or 25% of the vote to elect someone. But Congress would look a lot more like America.

Of course, proportional representation would not get through our present legislature, but it could pass as a ballot initiative. First, though, we need to have enough people thinking about it and talking about it. Show this to a friend, and help build the movement for real democracy.

Several smaller parties favor proportional representation, but the best one is the Peace and Freedom Party. Support the party, and help maintain its place on the ballot, by checking "Peace and Freedom" on the form when you register to vote.

-Kevin Akin

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