Politics these days are incredibly divisive. Tribalism runs rampant and negativity is the rule more than the exception. Still, I'm going to wade into this and hopefully no one will get too upset.
One of the most recent political conflicts is the results of the Iowa caucus, which, as of writing this, still haven't been fully counted. So my first controversial opinion is...
1) I like the caucus system!
This is mostly for early contests, but when it comes to selecting a candidate for a party, I much MUCH prefer caucuses over primaries.
Even after all of the problems in the Iowa caucus, I still much prefer this system. Why? Several reasons!
First off, it's transparent. Everyone there can see the votes and tallies. If something is reported wrong, the problems are public. And this time they're even MORE transparent. This is why there were so many delays this time around. The problems have BEEN THERE, but this time we have transparency to fix them.
Second, it's a conversation. It isn't just voting and leaving. It's a discussion on who you like and why. Minds can be changed. The goal isn't just to figure out who people initially like best, but to choose the best candidate to run in the general. That takes discussion and consideration.
Finally, it requires passion. You have to stay for about two hours staying strong for your candidate. Again, it's about picking the candidate that will do the best in the general election. Shouldn't passion have something to do with it? This is a great indicator as to which candidates will have people out canvassing and volunteering for the general election in November.
I truly think that this is democracy in action, letting people discuss their party's candidate before sending them off into the general election. Although I have to admit that...
2) The parties have too much power!
They are always fighting each other, it seems. Sometimes even when they agree on something, they want to block the other side to prevent a 'legislative victory'. It wasn't always this way, but the Constitution tends towards a two party system. Back when there were more than two parties, that didn't work out well, either.
If a candidate for president doesn't get enough votes (which is a lot easier if there are multiple parties splitting everything up) the decision goes to Congress to decide, which is still controlled by the parties. So the voting system tends to equalize at just two parties fighting over power. And they have a LOT of it. But how can we limit it somewhat?
3) We should institute Ranked Choice voting!
Our current system for most elections, including the Presidency, is 'First Past The Goal'. When someone gets half the votes*, they win! If they don't, it goes to Congress to figure out. Most of our elections are this way. Some are just about who comes in first, though, which is equally as bad. Why? Because it makes similar candidates into 'spoiler' candidates. If there are three viable candidates and the first has 45% of the vote, the second has 35% and the last one has 20%, the first wins! Yay! But if the last one hadn't run, those people would have voted for the second place winner, giving that candidate 55% of the vote. Making that last candidate a 'spoiler' for the second one.
With elections between the two parties as close as they are sometimes, even a candidate taking 3% of the vote can matter. So how does Ranked Choice fix this problem? Instead of just putting down a YES vote for one person, you rank them, 1st, 2nd, etc. Then when votes are tallied, if no one gets over 50% of the votes, last place is removed and all of those votes go to their next in the list in what is known as an 'instant runoff'.
Why will this help? Well, it removes the spoiler effect, first of all. But because there can be a second (and third, etc) choice, it makes candidates a bit less confrontational. After all, they're now vying for second place, third place, etc. This has the added benefit of reducing the power of the two parties, since they have more reason to play well with other 'third' parties.
How will this impact the presidential vote, though? Well, with extra parties, it's more likely that we split the *vote and it goes to Congress. And that can get weird, so avoiding that is a good thing. Wait, why do I keep putting an asterisk by *vote? Because it's not our vote that is the final count, but the Electoral College! And no one likes that, so we should get rid of it, right?
4) I like the Electoral College!
It's true! I really do! And the reason is simple. We are the UNITED STATES. And I like the idea that a state has individual power. The number of Electoral College votes for a state is determined by the number of representatives in Congress. Every state gets 2 senators, so that's fixed. In the House, though, it's determined by state population. So larger states do get more power, but since a small state still get the 2 from the Senate, they get more power per person.
And while that is an issue, I'll grant you, I still prefer a system that makes each state more individual. Say what you will about our presidential selection process, it sure is nice to see candidates trying to win over states that are small and large. That doesn't happen everywhere. Cities have more people and often have more power, which can cause a lot of tension. The Electoral College helps spread out the power.
And we could do Ranked Choice for that, too! If there's no viable candidate, drop the lowest and go with the states' next choice. Then the decision wouldn't just fall to Congress, who could ignore the popular vote entirely. And I think the power of the people should be the loudest voice and they should get to vote for who they want to without having to limit themselves to two choices. Even if their chosen candidate is a long-term incumbent because...
5) I don't believe in term limits!
Well, that's not entirely true. I think we already have term limits, called elections. I just don't see the benefit of forcing a popular representative to step down. There are controls on power that we should use rather than limit how many terms a candidate can run. Why is the most likely winner removed from the list of candidates just because he or she will get TOO MANY votes? That doesn't make sense to me.
Yeah, but it limits corruption! They get all cozy with lobbyists! New representatives get cozy with lobbyists, too. And moreover, a lobbyist can keep his job for decades building power and relationships. When a new representative comes in, they might not understand the system well enough to fight against that entrenched power. But an incredibly popular representative can ignore the influence of a lobbyist because he or she doesn't need the campaign money.
So I think it actually hurts more than it helps to limit who the people can choose to represent them.
Which brings me to my last 2 items which are a bit more specific. And before you go nuts, please read the entire section. And then go nuts.
6) We should redo the 2nd Amendment.
Do we need a well-regulated militia or not?! What does it mean to 'bear arms'?! At what point does a law 'infringe'?!!
Let's just dump the thing and start over.
7) We should guarantee life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
These are words we believe in! Let's set it to law!
If you're a citizen, you should be guaranteed access to survival-level resources (life), resources that don't force you into something you can't stand (liberty), and resources that allow mobility (pursuit of happiness). So I think we should institute a Universal Basic Income (UBI). Not exactly as the presidential candidate Andrew Yang has presented it, but similar. It should be enough so that if you lose your job, you can survive. If you want to quit your job to try a different career you won't die. And if you want to move somewhere new, you can (once in a while).
I would calculate poverty level for an area and guarantee that income. Everyone gets that amount sent to them every month (maybe use your ID as a debit card). It will actually be a tax rebate that everyone gets. It will be the largest tax rebate in history! Who doesn't want that? The cost will be offset by a reworking of the income tax to, let's say, pre-Reagan levels. It's something the United States has done in the past, so it's just historical. We could even go crazy and go back to our golden years in the 50s/60s!
I wrote about this more in-depth here, if you care to read more.
So there you have it! 7 controversial political beliefs I hold! Feel free to talk me out of them in the comments below!