News stories about voter suppression have become regular occurrences these days: this week an Alabama man was blocked from voting because he owed $4 and nobody would tell him. The other day it was Texas closing polling stations in black and brown communities, and the day before that South Carolina was refusing to count absentee ballots that had voter information packets left in the envelope with them. Just a few months ago, Georgia’s Secretary of State was overseeing his own election to the Senate. We have a voter suppression crisis in this country, partnered with aggressive gerrymandering. Politicians are deciding the results of their elections anyway. As such, I would like to propose a novel solution to this problem: we should just save everyone the hassle of voting, save politicians the hassle of having to implement all these policies to decide who gets elected, and just let politicians elect themselves.
It may sound radical, but it isn’t really all that far off from what is happening today anyway, and our political system in America is clearly functioning at peak efficiency: a whopping 14% of Americans think our politicians are behaving ethically!
In 2018, 116 million people took time out of their day to vote, many of them standing in line for hours because their politicians didn’t put very many voting machines near people that disagreed with them. Think of all the time we could save if none of us had to vote for our politicians! That’s not the only election problem this proposal would solve. If they elected themselves, candidates wouldn’t need money to spend on advertisements influencing us to vote for them. That would get money out of politics once and for all, and free up all that time that politicians spend fundraising so that they can better lead our country.
“But wouldn’t we lose all our power in the political process?” you might ask. Well, yes, but we don’t have much to begin with, so it isn’t much of a loss. 70% of Americans support an end to partisan gerrymandering, and 75% supported calling witnesses in the trial of President Trump, but neither of those things has happened.
This proposal for self-election is clearly ridiculous. Still, it serves to highlight how close we already are to this reality. It can be difficult to get past the partisan politics of trying to rip a rigged advantage away from whatever party most recently benefited from it. Right now, Republicans are suppressing voters in the south, but similar policies were used by Democrats not even a century ago. Ultimately, we have to rise above the politics of who would profit from which electoral reforms and realize that more representation benefits us all.
Our home state of Washington actually does fairly well on this front. We have mail-in ballots so that nobody has to take time off of work. We have same-day voter registration to enable people who haven’t voted recently to participate in the political process. Our districts are drawn by a nonpartisan commission to ensure fairness. None of this is immune to being torn down, however, and fair representation remains under attack across much of the rest of the country. Unless we prefer allowing politicians to elect themselves, we should probably do something about it.