Draft GPUS Platform Amendment Political Reform

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Section title: A. Political Reform

Section subtitle: Halting corruption, empowering people

Our Position: Greens want to crack down on public corruption and strengthen the voice of the people at all levels of government.

The defining characteristics of American politics are rampant corruption and anti-democratic rules that give power to big corporations and the wealthy, especially at the federal level. Our federal campaign finance system is so corrupt that corporate and wealthy elites purchase nearly any outcome they want.

Our winner-take-all voting system has produced low voter participation, no real choice or competition in countless elections, and far too few women and minorities in elected office. The failure to fulfill its promise leaves millions of Americans too discouraged to vote. Greens support fair systems of voting that will draw more Americans back into civic life.

Everyone deserves to influence the decisions that affect their lives. Greens want to return power to the people, and bring vibrant grassroots democracy to every part of the United States. We aim to bring transparency and honesty to all levels of government, and to enable citizens to hold public officials fully accountable.

Green Solutions

Electoral reform for a better democracy

  1. Proportional representation voting systems such as choice voting (candidate-based), mixed member voting (combines with district representation), and party list (party based); and semi-proportional voting systems such as limited voting, and cumulative voting.  All are used throughout the free world and by U.S. businesses, and community and non-profit groups to increase democratic representation.
  2. Abolish the Electoral College and provide for the direct election of the president by instant runoff voting.
  3. Instant runoff voting in chief executive races, (mayor, governor, president, etc.) by which voters can rank the candidates in their order of preference (1,2,3, etc.). This system guarantees that the eventual winner has majority support, and allows voters to express their preferences knowing that supporting their favorite candidate will not inadvertently help their least favored candidate.
  4. Multi-party democracy for partisan elections. This is the best way to guarantee majority rule, since it offers more responsive representation to more people.  Throughout American history, smaller parties have often aired crucial new points of view that were ignored, marginalized or silenced by the major parties.
  5. Eliminate all ballot access laws and rules that discriminate against smaller parties and independents, and otherwise place undue burden on the right of citizens to run for office.
  6. Replace the corporate-controlled Commission on Presidential Debates with a new publicly-funded People’s Commission on Presidential Debates, to open the presidential debates to smaller parties and their candidates.

Curbing corruption and ending corporate control

  1. Full public financing of federal, state and local elections, including free and equal radio and television time on our public airwaves for all ballot-qualified candidates.  This is perhaps the single best investment that we can make to stop corruption and empower citizens.
  2. Prohibit corporations from using their treasuries to influence elections, preferably by constitutional amendment abolishing corporate personhood, or as a condition of receipt of a corporate charter by federal chartering of corporations.
  3. Tough new federal anti-bribery and gratuity laws to stop corporations and the wealthy from purchasing government action, and vigorous enforcement of anti-corruption laws by the Justice Department.
  4. Prohibit elected officials and their staffs from accepting for their own benefit any gifts from lobbyists or the general public.
  5. The U.S. Senate and House ethics committees must punish members of Congress for corruption and wrongdoing, instead of just letting them off the hook, as they currently do. 
  6. Require outside counsel to investigate ethics complaints against members of Congress.
  7. Replace the Federal Election Commission with a vigorous watchdog empowered to enforce federal campaign finance laws.
  8. Expand revolving-door lobbying "cooling off" periods for members of Congress and their top staff to at least two years.

Transparency and good government

  1. New "sunshine laws" to provide citizens with all necessary information and access to their political system. 
  2. Place our most important federal, state and local government documents on the Internet, especially texts of bills, searchable databases of voting records, draft committee and conference reports, and court decisions.
  3. Reinvigorate the independent investigative agencies, such as the General Accounting Office and the inspectors general.
  4. Allow any member of Congress to require a floor vote on any congressional earmark, to stop wasteful spending.
  5. Twelve-year term limits for elected officials except President of the United States, which should remain at eight years.