As I travel across the state, meeting and talking with voters about Main Street Democrats, I hear the same questions over and over, “what can we do to improve the state of politics? Why do we have such hyper partisanship? Can’t the two parties work together for the benefit of the state?”
Voters may not be ready to believe that the entire political system is broken, but slowly they may be getting there. The rise of candidates such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders demonstrate the angst that voters are feeling today.
Too many times I have heard people say to me, “I don’t feel like anyone in Raleigh cares about what we have to say.”
We can fix that problem. We can make government much more citizen friendly, much more accountable, much more responsive and much more transparent. We can modernize our system to reflect our voters and our society today.
Here are three big ideas that will radically change the face of our state’s politics – creating major institutional change – giving voters more say and more power:
- Make ballot access for Unaffiliated voters easier
- Create an independent redistricting commission
- Call a State Constitutional Convention to modernize our Council of State
If we allow unaffiliated voters to run for office, we would immediately improve the state of government. What’s the old saying about competition making everybody work harder? If Independents could get easy access to the ballot to run for local, county and state offices, it would hold both political parties accountable. Voters would have more choices and the entire state would get better government.
For decades when the Republicans were out of power, they supported an independent redistricting commission. Now that they have been able to draw a set of lines (even though the constitutionality of these district lines remains in question) it doesn’t appear the GOP has any interest in such a proposal.
However, for the good of the state, both parties should support an independent redistricting commission. I agree that there will be politics involved in the commission, but we need to show the state that Main Street Democrats believe it is better for the voters to pick their politicians than allowing the politicians to pick their voters.
Our Council of State system for the executive branch was put together during Reconstruction in the late 19th century. Throughout our state’s history, we have been reluctant to give our governor a great deal of power. It wasn’t until 1980 when the governor could serve two terms and it wasn’t until 1997 that the governor had veto power.
But does it make sense to have 10 statewide elected offices today? We should look at updating our state Constitution to modernize state government. We need to look at how that document granting rights and freedoms to our citizens can reflect where North Carolina is today as a state and where we want to go through the 21st Century.
Calling a state constitutional convention will allow the voters to decide how they want their state governed. It will allow the state constitution to be modernized based on our society today and will give the voters a chance to set how the state legislature is governed through terms, salaries and even limits on sessions and terms. Finally, it will allow the voters to set a new framework for our courts to improve their operations and to mandate the adequate funding for our courts.
You never change unless you’re willing to offer reform. The Main Street Democrats believe that voters across the state want the government to work again. They want less partisanship and more results. Our three big ideas will help change the scope of politics in North Carolina and improve our state government.
Rep. Ken Goodman represents District 66 in the North Carolina General Assembly. He is the chairman of the NC Main Street Democrats group, whose mission is to promote common-sense policies that improve the day-to-day lives of our citizens through a platform that is attractive to pro-business, Main Street voters.