The 2016 presidential campaign likely will be remembered for its record-setting length, bitterness and sleaziness. What good can we salvage from this mess?
Reports indicate early voting numbers are way up this year. More than 20 percent of voters are expected to cast ballots before Election Day. I read this as a sign not of a dispirited electorate but rather a motivated one.
The presidential battle was waged months before Nov. 8 through stepped up voter registration drives, especially by the Democrats, who targeted Hispanics and millennials. If voter participation rates increase among these groups in 2016, and they likely will, it may be a hopeful sign that Republican voter suppression laws can be overcome through aggressive registration and “get out the vote” initiatives. Ultimately, such laws need to be repealed.
With the exception of Ross Perot’s 19 percent showing in the presidential election of 1992, third-party candidates have been distant also-rans. That may continue to be the case in 2016, despite the media paying more attention than usual to the Libertarian and Green Party candidates.
The extra attention may be due to public interest in alternatives to the major party candidates — but also because of the gaffes ofLibertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein. Still, raising the public consciousness to alternatives is a positive.
Given the likely splinter of the Republican Party after this election, the country should have even more choices down the line. But citizens need to demand quality in addition to quantity.
More than 900 initiatives were filed with state offices across the country this year — a record. Of those, 162 were certified for ballots. And of those certified, 71 originated as citizen-led petition campaigns.
Voters will decide marijuana questions in California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Maine and Arizona.
Coloradans will vote on adopting a single-payer health care system.
Californians get to vote on banning large-capacity ammunition magazines, which have been used by killers in mass shootings.
Voters in Maine and Nevada will decide on background checks for gun purchases and sales.
Five states seek voter approval to raise minimum wages for workers.
A Drug Price Standards Initiative in California would peg drug prices of state agencies to what the U.S. Veterans Affairs pays: about 42 percent of market rate. The pharmaceutical industry has poured $109 million into defeating the measure.
The presidential campaign exposed the essential character of this war. A self-professed sexual predator who touts limited government casually promised to re-criminalize abortion and punish women for having one. Meanwhile, a seasoned public servant, citing the damage wrought by state interference, vowed to respect women’s autonomy and keep government out of reproductive health decisions.
The choice was never clearer.
Jamakaya has been an award-winning writer, historian and feminist activist in Milwaukee for 40 years. Her writing has appeared in dozens of local and national publications. See more about her at http://www.Jamakaya.com.