Karl Gallagher (libertarianhawk) wrote,
Karl Gallagher

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Kinky's Proposed Reforms

Kinky Friedman has some proposals for how to improve Texas politics. Apparently he's coming out with a book to discuss them in more detail, but most of these are ideas I've seen before so I'll take a crack at them just from his short version.

"Redistricting reform. I propose using the Iowa model of a nonpartisan redistricting commission."
Oh, hell yes. Redistricting is a huge problem. Right now incumbents are picking their voters instead of the other way around. I can think of more elegant ways to do it (let any legislator make a proposal, select the one with the smallest total boundary length) but I'm not fussy.

"Initiative and referendum. Real political reforms occur when citizens are able to place their own initiatives on the ballot."
This has its own problems, but it's a useful way to by-pass the incumbents on things both parties agree on. I support this.

"Same-day voter registration. This will make it possible for people to register and vote on Election Day."
"Mandatory voting. Every citizen is required to show up at the polls and have his or her name checked off; if you don’t show up, you’re fined something nominal, like twenty bucks. "
We have a consensus in this country that it's too much to ask someone to sacrifice two years--and possibly all--of his life for the privilege of voting. But I don't think asking them to register a few weeks in advance is too much. Likewise I don't think the voters we have now are too well informed on the issues and need to be diluted with the ignorant. If people need more motivation to go vote, let's give them something worth voting for.

"Fair ballot access. I had to collect more than 45,000 signatures in two months, and they all had to be notarized. [Make it easy for new candidates to get on the ballot]"
"Publicly funded campaigns. Publicly financed campaigns would eliminate the influence of special interests and would level the playing field for all candidates. "
These two contradict each other. If you implemented them together you'd have a lot of candidates just wanting to support themselves and a few buddies as they fool around for the campaign season. Whatever you pay for you get more of, so if we fund candidates they'll come out of the woodwork unless we have tight requirements to weed out the jokers. I'm all for easy access to the ballot. To go with that we should have easy fundraising, with no restrictions on donations except making each one public.

"Fair and open debates. A nonpartisan entity should be created to develop fair and clear criteria for the inclusion of all qualified candidates. And there should be many debates—the more, the merrier."
No matter how many times you stand the candidates on a stage together you're just going to get soundbites and conflicting assertions. If you want a useful debate, do it online, as text, with threads where the candidates can reply to each piece of an argument separately and link to supporting evidence. That'll get us some interesting results.

"Lobbying reform. Stop the revolving door between state service and lobbying. Place a ban on any Texas elected official or Texas state employee becoming a lobbyist in Texas within two years of leaving or retiring from his state position."
Sounds like treating a symptom to me. If we have a huge budget people will pound on the doors to get a slice of it. If we make the budget smaller they'll find more profitable things to do.
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