Thursday, November 11, 2010

Automatic Registration and Permanent Mail Ballot with Tax Filing

The Democrats will be able to pass little or nothing over the next two years, so especially now it's best to focus largely on the long term and structural:

1) Make it far easier to vote – This is so crucial to Democratic success; you really wonder why they never pushed for it more. My specific idea is a law to make it so everyone, when they submit their income tax form, is automatically registered to vote – and put on the list to be permanently sent a mail ballot for every single election, no matter how small. And the same would be done when getting a drivers license, or with any filing with government. This would result in virtually 100% voter registration, and virtually 100% receipt of easy, convenient, no driving anywhere or waiting in any line, mail ballots, for every single election, no matter how small.

This would be an enormous boon to the Democrats, as Republicans vote disproportionately by a large margin – the older you are the more you vote, and seniors have all the time in the world to vote; moreover, the passionate, the whipped up by outrageous propaganda, (and the insane), are very motivated people; they'll make the time. It's far easier to vote if a ballot arrives in your mail, with a prepaid return envelope. And the ballot arriving in the mail makes it hard to forget an election. This could tremendously increase relative Democratic turnout. You can put a law like this on referendums all over the states, as well as trying to push it through nationally when you control congress.

2) Plan now for how and when you will end the filibuster, and build support for it behind the scenes now – try-and-see is far kinder to good ideas, ideas that are good for the vast majority, and far harsher to bad ones, thus try and see is a great ally of the Democrats and a great enemy of the Republicans and their best friends ignorance and deception – nothing decimates lies and misleading like try-and-see. And ending the filibuster tremendously increases the odds of try-and-see. If we had try-and-see we would have had, for example, Medicare-for-All and Cap-and-Trade permanently a long time ago. For more on this see here.

3) Push for the Presidential popular vote plan, where an electoral majority of states commits its electors to chose only the winner of the national popular vote. This would result in the winner of the national popular vote always winning, no matter what, unlike in 2000. So it would, for all practical purposes, end the Electoral College. Like suggestion1 above, millions of DNC money could greatly increase the odds of its success.

You wonder why the Democrats never put much effort or money into these things when they can do such great good long term. As an economist, it just doesn't seem very efficient or utility optimizing.

I should add that one good big thing that the Democrats might get by the Republicans, perhaps the only one, is free trade agreements. So now would be a good time for Obama to really push for them, and he seems to understand this. I would love to see a free trade agreement between NAFTA and the EU, a GFTA, which could later be joined by Japan, and with momentum, the vast majority of the world. But that's pretty ambitious for the next two years.