Former governor David Walters, now running an electric-power business, offered up some ideas at the Oklahoma County Democratic Party convention in March. The list is here, and I've picked a few to highlight in this space.

Prohibit office holders from "free ride" elections. The general citizen does not understand how we can elect someone who then spends all of their time running for another higher office. Officials should like other employees either do the job they were hired (elected) to do or resign to pursue higher office.

Actually, the general citizen does understand it, and doesn't particularly like it. I'd support this in a heartbeat.

The State of Maine has successfully implemented a system that operates off a taxpayer checkoff that allows candidates to opt into a publicly funded campaign so long as they do not run negative campaigns. This remarkable program, too involved to describe here is taking special interest financing and the constant requirement for fundraising out of the legislative and statewide races in Maine.

What's clever about the Maine system is that by making candidate participation voluntary, it seems to sidestep Buckley v. Valeo, the 1976 Supreme Court decision that, among other things, voided government spending limits on campaigns. One problem is a lack of funding: barely 10 percent of Maine taxpayers actually check off the $3, and the state has to make up the difference. I have my doubts about this concept, but at least one political scientist has come around to endorse it after seeing it in action.

Appoint, with Senate confirmation, more positions that are currently elected statewide. The Governor's job needs to be strengthened (classed as one of the weakest in the country) and we have no business having Superintendents of Education, Auditors and Inspectors and Insurance Commissioners out beating the bushes for contributions and running political campaigns. Elected officials are not known for bold risky moves and Oklahoma needs its government to be bold in order to take the great leaps needed to catch up and get off the bottom of too many lists.

Well, some of them are known for bold risky moves of dubious legality, but I suspect this isn't what Walters means. Still, these elections can get remarkably filthy, and maybe we would be better off letting the Governor fill these slots.

Put the Minimum Wage on the ballot. Do to the Republicans what they did to the Democrats with the Gay Marriage ballot initiatives.

I'm not sure it's such a great idea to hike the minimum wage, but I'd have no qualms about putting it on the ballot.

Adopt the Massachusetts programs on making health care accessible to everyone, launched by a Republican Governor. The states are leaving the federal government in the dust on this issue. By expanding insurance programs, Medicaid and Medicare coverage can be dramatically increased.

This strikes me as a tad premature: the Massachusetts system is too new to have a track record. And I think Walters fumbled that last sentence, inasmuch as the whole idea is to increase coverage available through the private sector rather than through the government. Still, if the states are "leaving the federal government in the dust," that's a good thing: there's no way to impose a one-size-allegedly-fits-all system on three hundred million people. Better that Massachusetts, or Oklahoma, should come up with something both workable and local.

Stop being fixated on Ethanol... it takes more energy to make it [than] it generates. This bubble will burst and Oklahoma doesn't need to be peeling bubble gum off its face.

Or egg. A little E10 is a good thing: a lot of E85 is a whole lot of nothing.

There's a lot more; not all of it strikes me as doable — how does Walters think we can possibly eliminate sexually-oriented spam? — but at least it's something resembling the "reform agenda" it's represented to be. If you're an Oklahoma Democrat, you ought to read the whole thing (here's the link again); if you're not, you should probably read it anyway, just to see if it gives you any ideas of your own.

The Vent

#528
  7 April 2007



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