Innovating Democracy: Key Issues for the 2020 Election and Beyond

(dramatic music) – Good morning. (audience murmuring) My name is Dan Lindheim, I’m Faculty Director of the Center on Civility
& Democratic Engagement. The Center was created
by the Class of 1968 around it’s 40th reunion. Some classes give benches, the Class of ’68 gave a Center. The Center’s mission stems
from a fundamental tenant that real political participation, coupled with meaningful public debate, is crucial for democracy. The Center focuses on preparing leaders to engage people across the many divides, to find solutions for
pressing Public Policy issues. In our pursuit of
productive and civil debate, we typically present panels involving people of disparate views. To that end, in addition to inviting
Steven Hayward today, somebody in the Berkeley mainstream of solid Conservative credentials, we decided to demonstrate that Berkeley is open to people of all views, and invited people of more
Progressive leanings as well in the case of both Stephen
Silberstein and Bertrall Ross. So the first speaker is Steve Silberstein. Steve was originally a programmer in the UC Berkeley library, working on computerizing the card catalog. In 1978 he co-founded Innovated Interfaces which develops automated library systems, and now includes as customers more than 1,500 library
systems around the world including many UC campuses, California State University system, as well as many city and
county library systems. Steve is a trustee of the
UC Berkeley Foundation, is a member of the Board of Advisors for the Goldman School of Public Policy. He also serves on the Board of the Marin County Employees’
Retirement Association, and on the Board of National Public Vote, which he’ll be talking about today. (coughs) Excuse me. He holds a BA in Economics and
a Master in Library Science from UC Berkeley, and a Master’s Degree in Econometrics from the University of Stockholm. Maybe most important, if you’ve ever been to
the Free Speech Cafe, you owe every debt of
gratitude to Steve Silberstein because he is responsible for it. Steve. (applause) – Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be here. I want to talk about two things. One is called ‘National Popular Vote’, which is the movement to
reform the Electoral College. So, whoever gets the most
votes becomes the President. And second, about something we now
call ‘Voting at Home’, it used to be called ‘Absentee Voting’, then it was called ‘Vote by Mail’. This is a movement to
make it easier to vote by having the ballot mailed to you three weeks before the election so you can fill it out
at home and mail it back. Most people in California
are familiar with that because 70% of California voters do that (stammering) and pretty soon it will be 100%, it already is 100% in some counties. So on the Electoral College, to change it so that whoever
gets the most votes wins, most people think you have
to amend the Constitution or pass some kind of Federal legislation. And that’s not true. You don’t need any change
to the Constitution, you don’t need any Federal
legislation whatsoever. The way it works is that
according to the Constitution, each individual state legislature has absolute, total power, to decide how that state’s
votes will be awarded in the Electoral College. Now, most states give
all their states votes to the person who won their state. But two states today do not do that. Nebraska and Maine have a
kind of complicated system where they allocate the votes. Massachusetts has changed the way it allocates its Electoral College votes 13 times in the over 200 years
that they have been a state. So there’s no doubt about this principle. So what we are doing is asking the state Legislature
of individual states to give all of the
state’s electoral votes, to whoever got the most votes not in the state, but in the country. And when a group of
states agree to do that, the group having 270
Electoral College votes, that is half the votes, when that group of
states agrees to do that, it’s done. So where are we in this? We’ve gotten 16 states to pass the law. Actually the states, they enter into an inter-state compact, a contract, with each other. These 16 states have entered
into this contract saying, “We, as a group, are
gonna give all our votes “to whoever got the most
votes in the country “as soon as a few more states do it, “so that we walk in with a block “of 270 Electoral College votes.” Now, these 16 states have
196 Electoral College votes, so we’re 74 votes short. And we expect that we will be able to get the five or six more states that we need in the next couple of years. So, everything goes according to plan, this is the very last election, coming up, where we’ll have the election determined by these battleground states. You know? And you all know this, that the whole election is fought in Ohio and Florida, and maybe a couple of other states. If you vote for President in California, you’re wasting your time. Because it doesn’t make any difference. What makes a difference is
those battleground states. Now, the consequence of
the loser winning is, the really bad thing about it
is not that the loser wins. What’s really bad about it is that the campaign and the President concentrate all their attention on those battleground states. So Florida gets whatever
the hell it wants. Georgia, next door, gets nothing. Okay? Ohio gets everything it wants, Indiana, next door, gets nothing. So the amount of pork that the President hands out is 7% higher in these battleground states. And you see the whole issues that the campaign is fought about, you know, what are the issues, right? The issues are the
issues that are relevant in those few battleground states. And of course, that isn’t
good for the country. So we are just spectators
to whatever the heck goes on over there. The only way you can
influence this, is uh, move there.
(audience laughs) That would be a smart idea. In fact, that was suggested to me when I first got interested in politics. “If you really want to be a player, “move to Ohio.”
(audience laughter) And I’ve been to Ohio. (audience laughter) I like Ohio. (audience laughter) But, I want to stay in California. Or, you can take your hard-earned cash and give it to you know, the party, or a candidate, and they’re gonna spend all that money trying to convince one or two other people in Ohio, Florida, whichever
the battleground state is, on what to do and you can just sit here in California and watch, and so on. So where are we on this? So, Democrats tend to be for this, and Republicans tend to be against it. This is, of course, some kind of memory of the Bush v. Gore 2000 campaign where the Democrat won the popular vote and lost the Electoral College. Or, the more recent one, where Hillary won the popular vote, and Trump got the election. But, there are Republicans who are for it. So, it has passed the
Oklahoma state legislature, which is a Republican body, and… Was that a time signal? Am I outta time, Larry?
(audience laughter) Something I said here? (audience laughter) So, there are some
Republicans who are for it. Even Donald Trump said, after he won, that he preferred the
national popular vote. He said, if he had to do a campaign
by the popular vote as opposed to the battleground states, he would’ve won the popular vote. He would’ve campaigned differently. And that’s exactly the point. He would’ve campaigned differently, the issues would’ve
been entirely different. So that’s where we are on that. I’m happy to take questions
about it later on. So what that does is
makes your vote count, across the country. Because right now, as I said, in the presidential election, the only votes that count are the votes in the few battleground states. The next thing is, what can we do the make
voting easier for people? And in here in California, we’re used to these voting by mail. We get our ballots delivered to us, we fill them out at our leisure, around the kitchen table. Most states don’t have
that kind of system. There are six states that do. But there’s a lot of states where in order to get an absentee ballot, you have to have a letter from your doctor or you have to be pregnant, all kinds of complicated excuses. And it’s practically impossible to do. So this disenfranchises
lots and lots of people. So what we’re trying to do with the vote-at-home movement is change the laws in these other states so that it’s easier for people to get what they call an ‘absentee ballot’, so that they can vote at home. When this happens the turnout goes up. It goes up in the presidential elections and it goes really up in the
non-presidential elections. It goes up among young people. The old folks like myself who are retired and got nothing else to do, we can take the day and sit around in the polls and schmooze and so on. But most young people have a job to go to and kids to take care of. And also where it really
increases the turnout is in the down ballot races. So most people when they go to the polls and the ballot is like this long. Most people know who the President is and the issues in that campaign. But a lot of people don’t know who their State Legislator is, who their Congress person is, who their School Board person is, and so on. So they don’t vote on
these down ballot races. So that’s part of the
reason that we have a, you might say, a distorted government. When they vote at home, they vote, generally, for the entire ballot. When they don’t know who the people are, maybe they got some mail
or something like that they can look at their picture, or they can go on the internet or whatever and figure it out. So it’s a really big improvement and if you’ve got any spare time you can – I’ve only got five more minutes left, wow. Well I think that’s enough for now, okay? (applause) – Thank you Steve, I was really glad you
made that last comment about the down ballot because certainly we don’t want people not to vote in California here. (laughter) Bertrall Ross is the
Chancellor’s Professor of Law at Berkeley Law where he teaches courses on legislation, election law, and constitutional law. He received his JD from Yale Law School and has a Masters in The
Politics of World Economy from LSE, from London School of Economics. He also has a Masters in Public Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public
and International Affairs. And a BA in international
Affairs and History from the University of Colorado Boulder. He clerked in the middle
district of Alabama and on Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He’s written extensively on a
wide variety of legal issues and most recently has published on the topics of partisan gerrymandering, inequality and political participation and increasing the political
participation of the poor. Bertrall. (applause) – It’s great to be here. How’re you guys doing? Good morning. I would say that I would take up Steve’s extra five minutes, but I just read an
article in the Chronicle saying the winds are about to return and I’m worried that
PG&E might shut us out so I’ll try to keep my comments brief before the power goes out, to give everyone a chance to speak. So I’m at the Law School and my main focal point in terms of thinking about Law of Democracy issues is on participatory inequality. And my focus on participatory inequality is on class-based
participatory inequality. Now, over the last 40 years, since the United States Census
started keeping records, there has been a consistent 30% to 35% voter turnout gap between the richest 20% of individuals
in the United States and the poorest 20% of
individuals in the United States on the basis of income. Now, that’s kind of the problem. I want to suggest that that’s a problem. Now if you think about it historically, we might not think about it as a problem. If you looked at sort of
the framers were doing in constructing the Constitution and setting up a Republican
system of government, Part of the goal was to ensure that only the most virtuous and most Independents are able to vote. And they deemed those without property to not have sufficient independence to preform their duty of voting in a way that would advance
the Republican goals of this country. And so the idea was that
there would be representatives who would be even of
the more virtuous elite, the elite property holders in our country, who would hold office, and those of maybe the
less virtuous variety who were also property
holders would elect them, and those that just
didn’t meet the standard of virtue in that they
did not hold property would be excluded from our populous. Well our polity, not our populous. They’ll still be here. But they won’t be able to vote. Now, we’ve evolved in our understanding of sort of the notion of
independence and dependence. We’ve also evolved in our understanding of the role of representatives. A late 20th century innovation has been the idea that our democracy should be inclusive from a participatory perspective. And that has lead to movements to extend the voting rights
to African Americans, and other racial minorities, though the Voting Rights Act. And to extend, sort of, the opportunities to participate
in governance for women, though the true implementation
of the 19th Amendment. But our attention has not been really focused that much on the poor. The poor, we all recognize, should have the right to vote. Should be, perhaps, a part of our polity. But we never really think
about the marginalization or we don’t think enough
about the marginalization and alienation of the
poor from our politics as best reflected in the fact that there is a huge gap in participation between the richest 20% and the poorest 20%. So when we think about this gap, and we think about the lack
of participation of the poor, our minds might immediately turn to active forms of voter suppression. We might think of Voter ID laws which impose a cost on voters, individuals that want to vote. Even if you make Voter IDs free, you still have to obtain the birth certificate and
necessary documentation to obtain a Voter ID. And you have to make the effort or spend the time to go to whatever DMV or whatever agency to obtain that Voter ID. We also focus on registration barriers that have been set up
with respect to voting. States that require you to register well in advance of elections. We’ve also looked at voter roll purges. And voter roll purges apply to individuals that perhaps haven’t
voted in prior elections, that the State uses that
fact that they haven’t voted to purge them for the voter rolls, and therefore require
that they re-register. And our focus on this is, I think, appropriate, right? Active forms of voter suppression, things that make it harder to vote, do diminish the likelihood
that individuals will vote. And they do have an impact in terms of, perhaps the most competitive races, given that those who are deprived of the opportunity to vote may shift the election outcome in these closely competitive races. But I would argue that if we’re really concerned about the participatory deficit in this huge gap, focusing on these active forms of voter suppression are not enough. These active forms of voter suppression, again, operate on the margins, but if we really want to get at the gap, we have to think about why people vote and why people don’t vote. And maybe attacking the problem from a more diverse,
pluralistic perspective. So thinking about why people vote and why people don’t vote, we have Rational Choice Theory. Anthony Downs back in the 1950s, writing about the Economic
Theory of Democracy. And what he did was to offer a equation, or a calculation as to, (stammering) a calculus that predicts voting. And what his calculus
is pretty simple, right? There’s multiple parts, but I’ll keep it simple. If the cost to voting exceeds
the benefits from voting, people won’t vote. All right? Simple cost-benefit calculus, includes other parts, but I don’t think those other parts are particularly relevant for the conversation right now. Now, we talk a lot about the cost, and we think about active
forms of voter suppression as one of the costs. But what we often miss in this equation are the benefits from voting, right? If people do not perceive that there is a benefit from voting, you can lower the cost to essentially zero, and they still will not vote. So where do these benefits come from? Well, the benefits come
from the opportunity to see a difference
between the candidates, in terms of effecting
a person’s wellbeing. If the person that’s trying to vote or is thinking about voting, does not perceive that
either of the candidates will make any notable
difference in their lives, then why vote for either candidate? If they don’t feel that they have a stake in the election because neither candidate, neither party, is paying attention to their needs, why vote? And often, even if there are candidates that are attentive to their needs, they may not have the information
to make that assessment as to which candidates might
be attentive to their needs. So Anthony Downs and his
rational choice theory of voting, paid a lot of attention to, sort of, this differential between the candidates in terms of policy, platforms, and how they might impact
individuals differently. He also paid a lot of attention
to the role of information. And the availability of
information to individuals, to be able to make that assessment as to which candidates might better advance their interests. Now I’m not saying that there’s no difference between the parties in terms of of their attention to lower income individuals. I would pause it to say that the Democratic Party, at least from a lip-service
campaign platform perspective, are more responsive to the poor. I will sort of push back on the idea from a policy perspective that they always follow through on their campaign lip-service. And I think that the Republicans have, at least over the last 30 years, been less attentive to the interests of the poor, at least from their economic
interests perspective. We can talk about cultural
interest perspective during the Q&A. But ultimately, the fact that there hasn’t
been as much follow though, in the policy perspective, and there’s also not as much engagement with candidates and
campaigns with the poor has diminished the effectiveness of this difference on the
incentives for the poor to vote. So, how do individuals derive information about candidates in particular elections? Well you might sort of focus on TV ads. And that’s kind of been the primary avenue of delivery of information, since of the advent of the TV age. The advent of TV age and the shift to radio and television ad in particular, shifted campaign resources away from what was a traditional
form of campaigning, getting boots on the ground, knocking on people’s door, talking to people. To this kind of more generalized, blast a TV ad for 30 seconds into an individual’s living room, and hope that that convinces them, persuades them to vote, by providing them with enough information to make that voting decision. But what we know from
social science articles and empirical studies is that campaign ads are
almost entirely ineffective. They do not provide the
tailored information that individuals need to make a decision about
whether this candidate, or one of the candidates, will be attentive to their needs. Instead what’s been found is that what individuals often need, is a more tailored form of information. Information that is more
responsive to the situation and circumstances of the individual. And allows for a sort of an engagement with the individual on those terms. And the primary vehicle for this more tailored information, has been mobilization. canvassing. So when campaigns get
their boots on the ground, engage people door to door, that has been shown to
have an important effect providing people with information, and encouraging them to vote. What I’ll tell you right now, is that the canvassing and
door-to-door canvassing, according to studies by
Allan Gerber and Don Green and others that followed them, has had a much more
positive effect on turnout, than any negative effect
from voter ID laws or any form of voter suppression. The difference in effect
is actually quite large. And yet we don’t pay attention to what might be distortionary effects of campaign mobilization activities. So just as individuals make a calculus as to whether they want to vote, campaigns make a calculus as to who they want to contact. And their calculus is based on, (stammering) “Who would my contact more likely impact in terms of their voting behavior?” And, “Who would my
contact likely more impact “in their decision to vote for me?” So what do they do? They make a calculus based
on a couple of things. They make a calculus based on whether this individual
has voted in the past. And they make a calculus on the basis of a variety different
sources of information, (stammering) that serve as predictions as to whether that individual
is going to vote for me in this particular election. They could be partisan affiliation, they could be, sort of, other sort of data about their subscription behavior, about their television viewing behavior, and other factors that gives the campaign some prediction about
whether that individual might vote for them. So in this calculus of contact, the most important factor, I would suggest, is the fact of whether they
voted in the past elections. Because campaigns have
made the determination that it is much less costly
to mobilize those individuals who have voted in past elections, because they’re more likely to
vote in the current election. With just a little bit of a nudge. With lesser of a nudge of those who haven’t voted in prior elections. As a result, along with this disparity that I talked about at the beginning, between the rich and poor in terms of voting behavior, there has been a disparity in terms of political parties and who they contact. And this disparity and the gap (stammers) this mobilization gap, is only slightly smaller than the participation gap. There is generally a 15
to 20% mobilization gap between the rich and the poor. In terms of political parties are
more likely to mobilize and contact the rich at
a level of 20% greater than they are the poor. And so if you think
about this correlation, correlation is not causation, of course, but, interest in correlation, and combine it with studies
that show the effectiveness of mobilization on getting
people to turn out, we see, sort of, the major
source of the problem. A part of the problem
that’s long been ignored. And what I would say in
terms of innovating democracy is to refocus our attention
on this mobilization gap. How dow we incentivize political parties to engage the poor more? Right? And that’s the part of the challenge is political parties terms
of calculus of contact, they may sort of have this democratic inclusive ideas behind them, but they may not want to
prioritize democratic inclusion at the expense of their
opportunity to win elections. And as a result you kind of have to sort of think about carrots, maybe sticks, as a way to incentivize the parties to mobilize the poor more. And some of those carrots might be, as we have in the
Presidential campaign context in which we used to
provide matching funds, or we still do, but no sane candidate would
take the matching funds. But, we used to provide matching funds, to candidates if they opted in to this Presidential funding system, that was operated by
the Federal Government. When you think about regenerating that, and reorienting that, towards a mobilization matching fund. In the sense that those campaigns that engage in mobilization activities that are targeted towards communities that typically do not participate will receive extra funding or a match of their mobilization funding from the Federal Government, for that mobilization activity. You could also imagine
vouchers playing a role. To the extent that you
give everyone vouchers, or it may be to the extent
that you discriminate, and only give low income people vouchers, and these are things that individuals can give to candidates or parties, in the form of vouchers that the state or local government gives that represent a value of money. So think about the Seattle vouchers in which individuals are
provided with $50 or $100 to give to a campaign of their choice. You could think about sort of extending that voucher system as a way to incentivize
parties to contact individuals. Because if parties stand to
benefit not only from vouchers, from a vote, but potentially from money, in the form of vouchers, it might provide enough of the impetus to engage these particular
low income voters. Another third idea, and I’ll conclude on this point, is well, maybe campaigns
shouldn’t have access to the information that
they have access to. So, the most important
factor that I just described in terms of campaign
mobilization decisions, is the voting behavior of individuals. Whether and how often they
voted in past elections. Only states keep that information. And states can, if they wanted to, withhold that information. And if states withheld that information, one question would be, whether that would change
campaigns mobilization behavior. And one of the things we’re trying to test is whether states that do
withhold that information have different sort of
campaign mobilization behavior than those states that
share that information. And to the extent that the information, the sharing of information, could have an effect on
mobilization activities, then maybe that could be another response to this mobilization gap. I’ll end that there, and
thank you for having me. (applause) – [Steve H.] I’m a huge Tony Downs fan. – Thank you, – [Steve H.] I think Tony
Downs is still alive. – Professor Ross. We actually had a student who we financed a couple years ago, who worked on the
Seattle-related voucher project. He didn’t convince me back
when he was doing the project, but maybe the reality is a lot better. Our next speaker is Steven Hayward, he’s a visiting professor at
Goldman School of Public Policy and senior resident scholar at IGS, the Institute for Government Studies. He was previously the Ronald Reagan Distinguished
Visiting Professor at Everdine’s Graduate
School of Public Policy, and the inaugural Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at University of Colorado, Boulder. I guess we have two Boulder contacts here. So go Buff’s I guess. Go Bears. (audience laughter) From 2002 to 2012, he was a fellow in Law and Economics at the American Enterprise Institute. And has been a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco since 1991. He writes frequently for
the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, The Washington Post, The National Review, Washington Examiner, and the Claremont Review of Books, and other publications. He’s the author of six books, and he writes daily on Which I’m told is a leading
conservative political website to my enduring ignorance. (Steve H. snickering) (applause) – Thanks, thanks. Well thank you, Dan, and thank you all for coming out in the teeth of a imminent football game. I’m really impressed and delighted. I’m also delighted that
this allows me to share one of the biggest perks of being a Conservative unicorn at Berkeley, or as I tell my friends back east, an inmate at Berkeley, (audience laughter) is that you get to be President of the Berkeley
City Republican Club. (laughter)
(Steven whistles) And you also get to be the member. (audience laughter) I’ve been looking for a phone booth to have a meeting with myself in, but we don’t have them anymore, right? So, what I wanna do is
frame a couple of issues in a somewhat roundabout way. Both the title of this panel, ‘Innovating Democracy Key
Issues for 2020 and Beyond’, and then also the general umbrella of the Center for Civilian Engagement. I wanna frame it with (chuckles) my two ‘Essential Laws of Paranoia’. My first law, I call it ‘The Law of Insufficient Paranoia’. Which runs that no matter how
bad things look on the surface it’s invariably the case
that when you look closer, you find out that things are
even worse than you thought. (audience laughter) And, I think this is true of academia, although, not for the
reason you might expect from someone like me. When I say “Worse than you thought”, I don’t mean the standard
Conservative complaint that Universities are deeply Leftist. They’ve been on the Left for decades, this is not news. In fact, I think that Berkeley, my perception, having spent
a bit of time here now, is actually less dogmatically
and ideologically Left than a great many private
liberal arts colleges I can point out. You know, there’s the
whole historic reputation of Berkeley that you can never live down, and that’s just life. Well, the problem I have in mind behind my Insufficient Paranoia comment is best analyzed actually
by one of the most prominent, and, to my mind, formidable Centered-Left
thinkers of our time, and that’s Cass Sunstein
of Harvard Law School, who served in a important senior position for President Obama. I commend your attention his article, and also a chapter in his recent book ‘Conformity: The Power
of Social Influences”, and if you know Cass Sunstein, I’m sure Bertrall is familiar with him, Cass Sunstein never publishes an article that you couldn’t publish
in 15 different versions. It’s his special super power, right? It’s amazing. Anyway, the title of the original article was called ‘The Law of
Group Polarization’. You can look it up, there’s free versions available online, ‘The Law of Group Polarization’. And he wasn’t concerned
as much with the usual concept of group-think, he’s about something worse. He explores in this article how homogeneous groups of
people become more extreme the more they hang out together
and deliberate together. And he wrote his paper because he thought this phenomenon was under study. So I’ll quote him here. “Members of a deliberating
group move toward “a more extreme point of view “in whatever direction is indicated “by the members’
pre-deliberations strategy.” In other words, it’s not at
all to be surprised in my mind that a homogeneous group of academics concerned with whatever problem, racism, voting, foreign policy, whatever issue you want to pick, deliberating and talking
to each other in isolation, become more extreme in their outlook and finally, begin offering categorical generalizations that explain too much. So one of the implications
Sunstein argued, and I’ll quote him again here, is that “Social Homogeneity can be “quite damaging to good deliberation. “When people are hearing
echoes of their own voices, “the consequence may be far more “than supportive reinforcement. “Particular forms of Homogeneity
can be breeding grounds “for unjustified extremism. “Even fanaticism. “This leads…” he goes
on to, what he calls, “social cascades. “The serious risk with social cascades “is that they lead to wide-spread errors, “factual or otherwise. “The social process is polluted by “the dominance of conformity…” I like that phrase quite a lot. If you swap out ‘academic process’ and ‘academic homogeneity’
for ‘social process’, I think you have an accurate
description of the defect, I’ll start here, for Liberals of not having
enough serious challenges to their views and disposition. So the decline of Conservatives in the social sciences and humanities, and universities, going back 25 years now, is well documented. And, I think, as I just suggested, I think this is a disaster for the Left, just as I think it is a
disaster for the Right, that too many people only
get their news from Fox News. I think these are reciprocal
kinds of problems. All the different contexts. One’s academic, one’s media. But I’ll give an example
just from my own experience. I have a rule about Twitter. I only argue with people I know, and that I like, ’cause it’s such a sewer. I don’t know why we call it ‘Social Media’ when it’s so obviously
anti-social in its effects. In any case, there’s two
faculty members here, both very far on the Left, both very smart, and we’ll have Twitter arguments. Although we tend to shut
them down very fast, before third parties come in and drag it down into the sewer. I was having one recently
with one of them, actually this fellow has left the faculty, but we’re still encountering each other, keep up on Twitter, and we were having an
argument about something, and we’re starting to go back and forth, and he says, “well this proposition.” I say, “Yeah, that’s correct.” “And this proposition.” “Yeah, that’s correct too.” “And this proposition.” “Yes, you’re right about that.” and then, his next question was, “Well then, we agree, don’t we?” I said, “No, actually we don’t.” (audience laughter) He says, “Why not?” and then in 200 characters
’cause that’s Twitter, I say, “This is why.” and his next response I fully expected. “I’ve never heard such a thing before!” and I said, “Yes, that’s why I’m here.” (Steven chuckles and the
audience laughs with him) Okay, to be continued. And we are continuing it
‘offline’ as they say. My second Law of Paranoia concerns what I call the ‘Asymmetrical Paranoia’. And this will draw us
into our particular issues which have begun to be introduced here. ‘Asymmetrical Paranoia’
in colloquial speech means each side assumes that the
other side is 10 feet tall. Or to put it a little more sharply, each side thinks the other side is especially evil and perfidious. And so, for example, Donald Trump thinks that there were 5 million
illegal or ineligible votes cast against him in the 2016 election. There’s no serious evidence
for this proposition beyond a couple of very small
anomalies and irregularities that always occur in American elections with more than 200,000 voting precincts. All of them locally governed and run by, largely, by volunteers. And actually, maybe this is
a place to drop in a thought which I wasn’t quite sure where to put it. Around how many of you
have ever volunteered to work a precinct? Some of you have? Yeah, we have sort of civic minded people. I’ve observed a few and
I’ve actually observed the meetings at Registrars of Voters. You know, three or four
days before the election, where you get the volunteers in. “and here’s the ballot, “here’s the new procedures.” and all the things, the changes since the last election. And often all these volunteers are people who are enthusiastic
because it’s their way of participating in the civic process. They’re not necessarily ideological. Not paid. And it’s more the glories of our system. Now, I can go on a long time
why I think this is true. That will end with, if we go more to a more predominant national popular vote system. It won’t end right away, it’ll take 10 or 20 years, but there’ll be persistent demands that both parties in Washington will want to centralize, standardize, and ultimately professionalize
our election day process to ensure the integrity of a system that now emphasizes the popular vote. That may be a perfectly
acceptable trade off, but it is a trade off. And, one of my grumps
about reform or innovation is that we don’t acknowledge trade offs, and I think it would be very sad, myself, but, then we should not be surprised if we wake up 10 years from now, after changing the system, and wonder why public
enthusiasm, public support and confidence in our political culture has dropped by another five points. As I say, the trade offs may end up being positive when you add them up, but let’s be clear about they exist. Conversely, I think the
claims of vote suppression popular with the Left
are similarly exaggerated or overestimated. Not wrong. It varies from state to
state and place to place. But, there’ve been a lot of
criticisms about specific claims about Wisconsin in the
last election, for example. Including from very Liberal academics like Rick Hasen at UC Irvine, who I never agree with about anything. I know Rick’s on, right? Or Etienne Hirsch of TUFTS(?). I do point to one macro level thing, and this gets back to
something Bertrall was saying. Donald Trump almost won Minnesota. It’s been almost 50 years since
a Republican won Minnesota. It was Richard Nixon’s
49 state sweep in 1972. Why was Trump there 10 days ago? They think Minnesota’s in play, and you mentioned canvassing. The Trump operation is heavily canvassing Minnesota right now, doing exactly what you’re saying. They think they’re gonna flip that state. By the way, I mean, about Minnesota, they’re very proud of the fact, well, put it this way, I’ve
been invited a few times to the Hubert Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota, and I always like to have fun saying, “What’s wrong with you people? “You’re the only state that never “voted for Ronald Reagan even once.” Which always gets huge
cheers from the audience. So, Minnesota. Nice, right? A more interesting problem, I’m gonna end with this here I think, is what I’m calling ‘Voter Self-Suppression’. I don’t mean that literally, but I’ll come back after a minute. One quick comment on
gerrymandering before going on. I’m old enough to remember Phil Burton, the great Congressman from across the bay, in 1981 boasting of his house map. Calling it his contribution to modern art for all the bizarre shapes that he made. Which is why they thought
to have given Democrats five additional house seats in California beyond their intrinsic
two-party vote split here in California. And, Republicans hated this, they went to court, they lost, they ran two ballot
initiatives that failed. And, my point is is that I’m not much impressed with
complaints about gerrymandering since it became a crisis of Democracy only when Republicans got good at it. By the way, I’m in favor
of having a computer do it, and I can tell you why
and how if we go on. Now, being a right-wing extremist, I’m against innovation. The title of that…
(audience laughter) It’s not literally true. I’ll give an example of what
I just said a moment ago about the volunteers and
our selection process and avoiding trade offs. There’s the, I’m sure
Mr. Silberstein knows the Make Every Vote Count Foundation, they’re probably allies of yours, but their description is they want to “Persuade Americans about
the merits of reforming “the Presidential selection
system in two ways: “To encourage all major party nominees “to campaign everywhere, “causing more voters to be
engaged in the election, “and to guarantee that the winner “of the national popular vote always wins “a majority of the Electoral College “and then becomes President.” Refer to the case with the second part, it’s collegiate and serious. But, if we have that system, major party nominees will
not campaign everywhere. They’re going to direct their resources to where the largest number of votes are. That will be good for California. A lot more campaign spending here. It will, as a first pass, double the cost of Presidential campaigns. We worry about money in politics. Hillary Clinton’s campaign
spent a billion dollars only to be upended by
$100,000 in Facebook ads by Russians, apparently. And, my first pass says
you can double that figure. Because, you’re gonna wanna
do extensive canvassing. It has the most in California, in New York, and both parties will try
and run up their vote totals where the most number of voters are. And, having been in
Ohio in 2012 in October, I can tell you, one of the blessings of
living in California right now is we’re not barraged with as many of the political Presidential ads as a battleground state. Oh my, it’s just ridiculous. Anyway. Now, I might feel better about innovation if, how am I doing here? Okay, I’ll get through this. I might be more enthusiastic about it if we spent more time looking at how past reforms had gone wrong, or past innovations. I’ll give you my first example, is if you go back to the
political science literature in the late 1950s, early 1960s, broad consensus about the
problem with our parties is they’re too heterogeneous. By the way, Tom Hayden
made the same complaint in the Port Huron Statement. You’ve got Liberal Republicans, you’ve got Conservative
Democrats in the South, you got all these people in
the middle who are indistinct and it makes sort of clarity
and ideological coherence impossible to get in our politics. That lasted a long time. I point out in one of my
books on President Reagan that when he took office in ’81 with the first Senate
Republican majority in 26 years, there were 16 Liberal Republican Senators in Republican caucus. People like Mark Hatfield,
Mac Mathias, Chuck Percy, and my favorite, Lowell
Weiker of Connecticut who Reagan, in his diary, referred to as “A no-good, pompous, fat-head.” (audience laughter) Nice guy, right? Today, there’s maybe one. Susan Collins a little bit of the time, not really. In other words, we now have homogeneous political parties, and what do political scientists
now, today, say of this? “It’s terrible! “This is horrible! “I wish we had those old heterogeneous “political parties back!” My point being is, maybe the wee political scientists aren’t such geniuses
in reforms and changes. Notwithstanding the anomalies we observe. Second one is President Trump himself. I do not believe Trump
could’ve won the nomination under the pre-1972 Rules
of Presidential Selection. That’s possibly true of
Ronald Reagan in 1980. I think that’s not true of Obama, I think he would’ve
thrived and been selected by the party under the old rules. A lot of reasons why we did it. Democrats were upset that Hubert
Humphrey got the nomination without entering a single primary in 1968, and Republicans followed along saying, “Let’s have primaries.” I think campaign finance
reform has also weakened political parties such that there is no party establishment anymore in either party. Let me just talk about
how the party helped Hillary Clinton against Bernie in 2016, I think that’s very much small ball. I will say that I was still, up to the moment that Donald
Trump walked out on the stage with that great back lit scene of the convention in Cleveland thinking to myself, “Surely, Bob Dole is gonna
show up at any moment “with a great big hook
and put an end to this.” But no, there isn’t a party
establishment anymore, so that’s not possible. And so, this is, Donald Trump is a fruit
of reform in some respect. Real quickly, I see I have
20 seconds left on my clock. Let me come back to this. I mentioned vote self-suppression, I’m much taken with the
fact that the turnout in municipal elections around the country, New York, Philedelphia,
Chicago, Los Angeles, is now down about 20%. People aren’t turning, and that represents in my mind, a collapse of civic political culture that has nothing to do with any, there’s no voter suppression taking place on Los Angeles, or
Philadelphia, or New York. And it’s just within the last 20 years you’d see 55% turnouts in New York and a lot of these cities. Now, some of this may be the
collapse of any effective Republican opposition in these towns. I don’t think that’s the whole story. I think it does get back to some of the things Bertrall said about information and I’m
a mutual fan of Tony Downs. And that opens up to some wider, I think, deeper issues than just ballot access and amnesty ballots, most of which I’m sympathetic to. Anyway, thank you very
much for indulging me an extra 30 seconds. (applause) – So, since Steve went last and took a few, made a few comments
about prior presenters, I wanted to give you an opportunity to add anything you’d like, or, let anybody say anything to any of the other panelists at this point, before we go into more pointed kind of questions. Do either of you want
to engage with anybody? You don’t have to go after Steve. – Well…
(audience laughter) (presenters laughter) So, I’ll make a wild suggestion to appeal to poor people to vote. Two Presidential candidates
have talked about handing out a check of $500, One common of $500 a month to
every person in the country, and Andrew Yang, $1,000. I would say if you handed out those checks to those people who voted, you’d have pretty damn close to 100% participation. (audience laughter and applause) You know, so the tax
code could be modified to give a tax credit, a refundable tax credit, for people who vote. You get a tax credit
for donating to charity, for drilling for oil, for putting solar on your roof, why not get a tax credit, a refundable tax credit for voting? And that would motivate people and would show that voting does pay.
– [Male Audience Member] Yeah! – I’m…
(loud applause) – I guess people like receiving money. – Yeah. Now, I’m entirely sympathetic to that. But I’ll just kinda, sorta share a caveat. We do have, you know, a system of not necessarily
encouraging people to vote, but requiring people to vote
in other countries, right? Compulsory voting. In which it’s not a carrot in terms of you get money for voting, it’s a stick, you get fined for not voting, right? And yes, that has increased turn out, diminished the gap. The challenge and the
problem has been that, what we see in these
compulsory voting states is a lot of random voting. People aren’t voting based on any sense of who the candidates are, they’re voting because they
don’t want to get fined. And therefore they’re not
gaining the information necessary to make informed choices. So, I think providing a carrot
to incentivize people to vote could be part of the solution, for sure. But, I think there has
to be something coming on the other side, that gives people the information to be able to make informed choices in their voting behavior. I don’t just want turn out
at 100% as a end-all-be-all, I want informed turn out at
as high a level as we can get as the goal of our democracy. (applause) – I think paying people votes
would guarantee 110% turnout. (audience laughter)
– That’s my hunch. Just a hunch on this. But, I’ll say more broadly though, since you started off, Steve, with the Universal Basic Income idea. This is interesting, because this is one area
where there is some crossover between Left and Right on that idea, which may owe its origin
to Milton Freeman, 1959, if you recall the Negative
Income Tax, right? And that got renamed over the years. Guaranteed Annual Income. Now we’re calling it
Universal Basic Income. So, strange bedfellows on this. You say $1000 a month? I think, is that Yang? Right? So, the hated Charles
Murray wrote a book in 2007, where he advocated for
Universal Basic Income of $40,000 a year per person. He did a lot of math on this, and most people don’t
know his book exists. And, he went through a
lot of the math on it, and, you know, it would be taxed away once your income rises, So you and I would get nothing. He’d also added to it, this is 2007, remember, he added to it a requirement that everyone must buy
health insurance out of it. A universal mandate, isn’t this get interesting? So, there’s people on the Right who support the idea in
a pretty serious way. And then, on sort of, the Center, Bill Galston, was an advisor to Clinton, he’s at the Brookings Institution. I had him out here last year to talk, and he was asked about this, he said, “I’m against
Universal Basic Income.” So this is interesting and curious that the usual rigid divisions
are not there on this issue and we’ve had several
runs at this, you know? With most famously under Nixon with the Family Assistance
Plan and a few others, and I can kind of see that
maybe this might happen down the road. – Any questions or comments? – So let’s start with a couple
of just more direct questions before we open it to the audience. First, Steve, is there, this is presumably the national
public vote is coming in. Popular vote. What did I say? – [Steve S.] Public. – The national popular vote is coming following the Trump election. Is there, from a Democratic point of view, a counterintuitive or
counterproductive argument that could come out of this? It seems to make sense at this moment, but, is this sort of clever by half potentially moving forward. – So, in reality there’s
no real way to determine whether a national popular vote favors Democrats or Republicans. What we know is that the campaigns would come out, would be run differently. So just because the last two times, and it’s happened five
times in our history, the Democrats, you might say, lost, and the Republicans won. It could be, and many Republicans believe, that a national popular vote
would benefit Republicans. I point to the 2004 election. This was the re-election of George W. Bush against John Kerry. Now, Bush won the popular vote, by 3 million. That is, the same margin that
Hillary won it last time. He came within 50,000
votes of losing Ohio. And, in fact, election night, they thought, the Bush campaign thought
they were gonna lose Ohio. And they actually had a
speech prepared to say, “The heck with the Electoral College!” ’cause they would’ve lost the President. They did all kinds of
voter-suppression in Ohio, if you remember the newspaper stories, it was a night with a lot, election day was a day
with very heavy rain, there were not enough voting
machines in poorer districts. African American districts. The lines were like 8 or 9 hours long, so on and so forth. So there was a case where the Republican won the popular vote, came so close, even with all the suppression
that they engaged in, to losing Ohio and losing the Presidency. So it cuts both, it cuts both ways. – Then I just had a
second sort of detailed question, what happens, since this is all predicated on state legislatures approving the proposal, and then you have this compact
when you get the 270 votes, what happens if a state legislature changes its mind subsequently? – [Steve S.] Yeah. So it, this is an interstate compact or contract, so like every contract, it has a provision for withdrawing. So you can withdraw from the contract, but you have to do it six months before the election. So you have to withdraw in
June for the November election. So of course, in June, no one knows how the
election’s gonna turn out. We might not even know
who the nominees are. So, there is an orderly provision, but it can’t be done two
days before the election or two days after the election. In reality of course, we expect to get the compacting states to be more than the 270
Electoral College votes. So, it could be 290 and so on. So if one state were to withdraw, – [Dan] It wouldn’t matter.
– It wouldn’t matter. And of course, the campaigns would be run as national campaigns. And the last thing that a campaign wants is for the rules to change
in the middle of the game. (stammering) There’s provisions to protect it and it’s unlikely to make a difference. – Bertrall, I was taken by your emphasis on making, getting, the poor to come out. Back in the olden urban
days of Tammany Hall, and all of the other machines, the poor did vote, and also got some kind of
recompense for doing such, which sort of brings
together your two positions. I’m assuming that’s not what
you’re suggesting at this point and, going back to machine politics, but, how do you provide
incentives to people who, by definition, have not received the benefits of political society? How do you make political
society relevant, and beneficial to them? – I mean, this is kind of an
optimistic and maybe idealistic account of how politics could work, but this is kind of my notion. If you give political
parties the proper incentives to engage a wider swath of voters, and particularly bring more poor voters in to their campaign calculus, what you ideally would see
is a bit of a feedback loop. Campaigns would engage these
particular individuals. And, in their reaching
out to these individuals, what they would quickly realize is that the typical
scripted canvassing approach is probably not gonna work for people who haven’t voted in past elections. You’re gonna have a much more dialogic… There will have to be much
more of a conversation, of a back and forth variety in which the individual
that you are contacting are conveying a sense of where they are, how they’re feeling, what their views are, what their senses are. That information is fed
back to the campaign, that campaign maybe has a response for that individual right then, “This is a policy that will be responsive “to those particular needs.” Or maybe they don’t. Just thinking about New Hampshire
during the 2016 primaries. You had Chris Christie, who was banking on New Hampshire. He came in with his campaign
platform that wasn’t really focused on opioids at all. But then, he went to
homes in New Hampshire, he talked to people. He got a sense of what people
were experiencing there. And all of a sudden opioid addiction became a primary focal point
of his particular campaign. So, I imagine it’s sort
of a feedback operating it in which you engage people
that are non-participants. In the process, they provide a sense of
what their needs are, right? That feeds back into the campaign, campaign platforms adjust and modify, campaigns re-engage these
particular individuals, they put forth their
proposals for responding to the problems that they’re facing, and then that provides the
encouragement or incentives for these people to vote to
get that person into office. And then, ideally, once in office, there would be a responsibility
that these candidates feel towards those individuals
that they campaigned to get their votes knowing that once you make
a person a voter, right, that they could easily use
their vote for the other side if they don’t feel like you
are satisfying your promises to them or at least making
an attempt to do so. So that’s kind of how I imagine, it’s a iterative process, it would probably be a long term. It wont happen in one election, but I think over the course
of multiple elections and multiple mobilization activities and mole’s contacts with
particular individuals, it could have that more inclusive, incentivizing effect to it. – So I just want to make a quick comment about Steve and the ads. Anybody who has been
in a battleground state knows that you’re just overwhelmed by the ads. And for somebody coming from California who is not used to it, it’s particularly overwhelming, but anybody having watched
the Championship Series on both the National
and the American League, will have noticed that
Trump’s ads have been coming across at all of
these baseball games. So we’ve had at least a
little bit of exposure to that and since there are at least
two more games to go in the, well, I shouldn’t say two more, there are potentially
(Steven H. laughs heartily) two more games to go in the (collective laughter) AL Championship Series that you might see some more ads in that regard. – One of the criticisms
of national popular vote, which Steve brought up, is elections would become very expensive because they’re expensive as they are now when you’re only campaigning
in a couple of states. Imagine if you had to campaign
in the entire country. The truth is that campaigns cost exactly as much as the
candidates can raise. Not a dime more, and not a dime less. The only question is, where that money is spent. So, right now, in the Presidential campaign, all that money is dumped
in Ohio and Florida and a couple of other states and nothing comes to California. Under a national campaign,
the Ohioans and Floridians would have a few less ads, and we in California and
Wyoming and North Dakota would have a few ads. So, it’s not true that a national campaign would bankrupt the country. The campaigns would, again, try
to raise as much as they can and they would spend it
evenly across the country. – Steve, did you have a comment? – Yeah, I mean, it strikes me that, two points. One is there’s a lot of unpredictability on these kinds of changes and
so, I’ll just give you one. For instance, if we had, instead of the scheme that’s proposed of
the compact among the states, which may have Constitutional problems, I’ll leave that for another day, if you’d had the Maine and
Nebraska system in place for all 50 states in 2012, Mitt Romney would have
won the Electoral College, ’cause he won more Congressional districts across the country. So I don’t think we’d
be very happy with that, but that’s something that’s different from winner-take-all. The other is 2012 is
an interesting election because it’s the first time
a President has ever been re-elected with a lower
amount of popular vote than his initial election. That never happened before
to a re-elected President. And, you’re talking about finding
voters through canvassing, 2008 is really the first election in the era of social media, and being able to target
and identify voters. And 2012, the brilliance
of the Obama campaign, if you never saw it, I think it’s probably
still available online called ‘Inside the Cave’, about their digital
operation to identify voters. And, I have friends in
Brooklyn who talked about how it’s a strongly Democratic area, but, they wanted to get
every single vote out. And, their micro targeting was
unbelievably sophisticated. So, that took a lot of money, and yeah, per you, the TV ads are wasted. I’m not sure why they still do it, except the political
consultants make coin off of that in their commissions, and it’s kind of corrupt in a certain way, but, I think that’s
going to happen bigger, and obviously favors the incumbent because they get an earlier start, they raise more money early, they get uh, and that’s why the Obama digital operation
was so decisive to finding, they left no votes on the table anywhere, they got ’em all. Go find ‘Inside the
Cave’ and look at that, ’cause that’s our future, I think it’s gonna get more sophisticated. – So, questions from the audience. We’re not using cards because I find cards to be stifling of speech, but please ask questions if you could. There’s a question here, front. And please wait for the mic,
because this is being videoed. – Hi, good morning. I am Dr. Churchill from Lincoln Party. We are Independentss and I
come to a lot of these panels and I never hear anyone
speaking of how are you going to get the Independentss out to vote. By latest polls, they represent, because of how incivility, the divisions between the
main parties becoming toxic, the Independents today
self-identify as close to 57% of the people eligible to vote. How are you gonna get
these people out to vote? My question, thank you. – Did everybody hear the question? Basically, how to get Independentss out to vote, and Independentss now
represent a large portion of the population. So the question is how
do you get them to vote? – So the way to get them out to vote is what California and other states do, is they mail the ballot to every voter three weeks before the election. So, fill it out, and mail it back. – I think that there is, in addition to easing the
voting through mail-in ballots and other forms, I think you have to also, and this kind of goes to
Anthony Downs’ idea that the likelihood of being a pivotal voter increases the likelihood
that you’re gonna vote and it’s going to increase the
degree of political activity by the parties and who
they’re reaching out to. I think that the focus on
partisan gerrymandering has been too much on
proportionality or symmetry. Trying to ensure that the delegation that the state is sending to Congress or the state legislature is the same proportion of
members in the two parties in those two themes with
the voters on the ground. My thought is that the real
problem with gerrymandering is the construction of safe districts. And, also, you combine it
with closed primary systems. And you combine those two things, and this kind of goes
back to Steve’s point in terms of this sort of, we’ve gotten these more
homogenized, harmonized parties and more polarized environments
in which you clearly can differentiate between the two parties, and maybe we agree with that or not, but we take out the competitive impulse in terms of elections that
it creates an incentive to just focus on your base. Right, to flock towards your base. And I think that in a
competitive environment there are a lot more difficulties
and there are a lot more problems with doing that and you’re more likely to lose elections and therefore you may be
more inclined to reach out to those more Independents voters, identify what their needs and wants are, see if you can incorporate
that into your platform, see if you can encourage
those individuals to vote. So in addition to making
it easier to vote, I think just making
elections more competitive could have an effect of
encouraging more activity and engagement with Independentss. – Quick comment. Most Independentss, I mean, less so in California, most of them are outliers in so many ways, most Independents tend to
lean one way or another, but are just disgusted with politics. And one of the big question marks of a popular vote scheme, whether it’s a pure popular vote, or whether it’s linked, in this proposal, to the Electoral College, it’s not clear whether it will encourage serious Third Party candidates, which is what a lot of
Independents say they would like. The Electoral College right
now discourages Third Parties, and we still had two serious challenges in the last, you know, two generations. Wallace in ’68, who wanted to use his votes to
make a deal with the winner, and Ross Perot in ’92, he didn’t win any states, but he certainly affected how it went. And one of the unpredictabilities
of whichever form of change we might decide to embrace, is whether the Third Party,
and whether we have a run off, like they do in France. Are we gonna go to France’s system and have a run off between the top two? I can tell you a lot about the
defects of that, but I won’t. – [Audience Member 1] Hi,
question about the popular vote. You know, with the finances of each campaign being limited, don’t we worry about the notion that each voter is gonna get the
same amount of attention in a popular vote? That may not happen because
they have limited finances and they gonna just go by numbers, and you gonna just replace one set of discrepancies with another. (rustling) – I don’t understand. – [Audience Member 1]
If they have limited, if they have certain finances, they’re gonna focus on areas with a large population that
they may be able to turn around rather than smaller rural areas where the numbers are not that important. – Now, in a popular vote election, you’re gonna focus on
voters wherever they live. It’s cheaper actually to
reach voters in rural areas. So the bang for the buck is much higher. But, they will go everywhere
where there are voters, because it’s the number of
votes that you get wins. It’s a myth that everybody in the country lives in California, or everybody in the country lives in Los Angeles and New York. (female laughter) – The room’s on a timer, and so we have somebody dedicated to-
(laughter) – Manual override. That would be a tough
class to teach in for sure. I’m sympathetic to the
national popular vote. But, my concern is kind of
something that you articulated, is less so the focus on
urban versus rural voters, but on poorer versus, or people that have voted in past election versus people who have not
voted in past elections and there are correlations between voting in past elections and
your income class, right? And so those that are
more costly to mobilize in the sense that it requires
more mobilization activity, more effort to get individuals to vote, if funding is scarce, they are perhaps less likely
to be targeted in a campaign. So that’s my concern. So I think that my idea would be to match a
national popular voting system with the ideas that I
have suggested in terms of some sort of mobilization matching fund, to the extent that you
target areas that include a lot of non-voters, you get funding from
the Federal Government that is paid for by
the tax check off thing that we do right now for
Presidential Matching Funds that are not used for
anything anymore, right now, because no sane Presidential
candidate would actually take the matching funds. – [Steve H.] You can thank Obama for that. – Yeah, you can thank
Obama for that, exactly. McCain-
– One of his greatest achievements from my point of view. – Right. McCain was the last one to do it, and he realized immediately that was the dumbest decision
that he ever made. And so, that will kind of have
to be done to ensure that there is that engagement
with those individuals that I think need to be engaged. Because you’re right, as he was saying, there is only, elections only cost
what campaigns can earn or could secure from donations
and what they can spend. – Other questions? Over here. – [Audience Member 2] Um,
so I guess one confusion that I have and I’m
hoping you can resolve it, is when we talk about a
national popular vote program, is that also talking about
nationalizing the election more like a German model? And then, do you see potential for that because when you’re talking
about campaign finance, a lot of it is assuming
that the same model would be necessary, where, effectively, you
have lobbyists and ads to essentially buy votes or
sway things a certain way, but do you feel like there
could be a different model where the whole idea of campaign finance and needing to essentially influence people’s votes through ads, and lobbying kind of goes away and we could have something where there was more debate or discussion, or, like, some other mechanisms to explain what would actually happen, and is there a way to take
campaign finance out of it and is there potential
for that in this kind of, creating like a nationalized election? I’m probably too idealistic. – I’ll give it a try and, by the way, I love idealism, I always encourage it in
students and citizens. And so, I am sorry to say,
the blunt answer is no. (chuckles) You’re not gonna get the money out of it, I think it’s gonna get worse. For a lot of reasons that
critics on both left and right have pointed to, it’s Page and Gill, I forget the guys who have
done the really good work about how it’s the
preferences of the wealthy that are winning in our
political system these days. They’re absolutely right. Not all those preferences are
Right Wing preferences though. Remember that Wall Street
was heavily on the side of Hillary Clinton in the last campaign. I joke these days that
I’m for a Wealth Tax because all these Liberal
Silicon Valley Billionaires need to be punished for- Okay. Anyway, no, it’s going
to intensify the problem in part because if you’re campaigning where most of the votes are,
and you wanna get the most. You know, Trump wanted to get
more votes from California. Those are also the most
expensive places to do that. Whether it’s ads, or
whether it’s the canvassing, and other operations, it’s going to intensify the pressure, and I think yeah of course you’re limited by how much you can raise. I don’t think there’s going
to be any trouble getting the money to double the amount of spending on a Presidential campaign. That’s just the world we live in now. Sadly. – Question here. – [Audience Member 3] Hi. – Wait, hold on, wait. – [Audience Member 3] Yes, thank you. On the national popular vote, is the winner 50%? Or, just whoever wins the most votes, and so then we get the
possibility of a minority President. And how are third parties
going to factor into that, and are you looking
towards maybe some kind of ranked voting system to kind of resolve that kind of situation? – There’s so many different
reforms that could be done. So, with the national popular vote, as we’re doing it, it’s the person who gets
the most votes period. We do have, you might
say, minority Presidents under the present system. Bill Clinton, for example, got less than half the votes
when he became President, although he was the national
popular vote winner. So, it’s a majority of the votes, but plurality. Other types of reforms, to have run offs or campaign
finance, or ranked choice, those are other things. We’re just trying to
establish one simple thing: candidates should campaign
all over the country, and whoever gets the
most votes should win. That’s two big, big improvements
over the present system. And it’s easily doable. As we’re well along the
way to getting that. – [Audience Member 4] We have
the idea, my friend here, that possibly there could be
like a common pot of money that taxes can be contributing
toward political campaigns and the exact percentage of how
much money gets contributed, that is beyond my thinking, but there’d just be like one big pot. You’re a Democrat, you’re a Republican, you’re an Independent, whatever. It all goes in one big pot, and then all possible
candidates can access the pot on an equitable basis. That way, if you’re a
person who your supporters don’t have a whole bunch
of money, no problem. Because, guess what? You are equally entitled under
this proposed back row idea, to equal access in the pot. Just thinking. I don’t know if it’s gonna work, but hey, we’re just
throwing this out there. It would create more equity. People who are poor would
be better represented. And, maybe because they have
contributed through taxes, there would be more of a feeling of, “Hey, I paid for this
thing, I should vote.” So, just putting it out there. – So if every–
– I have one last question. How can we use innovation
to take the money out of the campaigns? It’s disgusting how much
we spend on our campaigns. – I mean…
– The European model. – I would say in terms of
the public financing option that you presented in the back row, is something that states are doing. There are however, First Amendment limits to what states can do. They can use a public financing system so long as it doesn’t
discourage contributions or spending by particular candidates. But the public financing system cannot shut off private contributions. The court has, and spending. And so the court has clearly
said that the First Amendment gives heightened protection to spending and it gives pretty strong protections to contributions such
that you can establish contribution limits, but you can’t eliminate
contributions all together. And so, that’s gonna
be sort of a challenge because we have a public financing system, again, the Presidential Fund, right? Campaign Fund. Is a taxpayer funded system that provides Presidential Candidates with money if they abide by certain rules, which limits how much
they can spend ultimately. But you don’t have to. You can’t be forced into that system. And you can always opt
out, and you can always supplement public financing
with private financing. – That’s pretty close to
the system we had until 2008 with the check off on your
income tax for the fund, and there were caps on
how much you could spend, and Obama smashed that all up, because he realized he could
raise more money privately and spend whatever he wanted. So that’s, it’s still on our tax forms, that’s now gone, but the thought experiment
you would have to do, and why we would have to think
about refinements here is, let’s think about the last 48 hours. Hillary Clinton has
tweeted that Tulsi Gabbard is a Russian asset and
they’re setting her up to run Third Party. So, should she get an equal
amount of money to run as a Third Party candidate? What about Jill Stein, who
got 1% in the last election. Maybe beyond the marginal
difference in Wisconsin, are we going to have eight
candidates all running big, well-funded campaigns, and then, are we going
to elect a President with 22% of the vote? And that President will
probably be Donald Trump. I could think out and game
these things out a little. Or we could have a run
off, which we’ve never done in this country before. And, as I say, if you
look at the run off system especially in France, I’m not sure, I’ll just mention one thing. So Trump, he oscillates
between 36% approval ratings on a day where he tweets too much, which is almost everyday, and 45% when people
aren’t paying attention. Emmanuel Macron, the winner of
the run off system in France, a few months ago, his
approval rating was 18%. So, I’m not sure this kind of scheme with (stammering) we don’t like to, I know everybody hates
the two-party system, I totally get it, but the multi-party system
might actually produce a circumstance in which more
of the public is dissatisfied with our political circumstances. – Are there other questions? Over there in the back. – [Audience Member 5] Thank you. Is either party more
motivated or more effective at mobilizing the voter turnout
from the bottom quintile? – That’s a great question, and this actually was part of, an interesting backstory to the National Voter Registration Act, which is commonly known
as ‘The Motivator Law’. In which, the goal was to
make registration materials more available to individuals
by requiring the agencies, state agencies, like
the DMVs in particular, provide individuals with
registration materials. And the idea that it was gonna
increase the registration of those that are not registered to vote. It passed, but there was a lot of Democratic opposition to that. And the reason why there was
Democratic opposition to that, is because if you are a Mayor of a city, you won with the electorate as it exists. And, if you changed the
electorate by adding more voters, it creates uncertainty with respect to whether you’re gonna
win the next election. And so, part of the challenge has been, with respect to encouraging
campaigns to mobilize low-income voters is
that they’re uncertain of how they will vote. And so, you have, you don’t have that sense that, you know, with African-American voters, they develop a loyalty
to the Democratic party after Lindon Johnson’s push
for the Voting Rights Act. And so you know the more you get African-American voters to vote, the more you’re likely to
get them to vote Democratic. So that’s the uh, no-brainer for Democrats to try to mobilize, and it’s a no-brainer for Republicans to try to suppress them, right? But with respect to low-income
voters, it’s not as certain. And that lack of certainty
does diminish the incentives for parties to engage these voters, which is why you don’t have
political parties engaging in mobilization activities
directed towards them. It’s more expensive to mobilize them, but it’s also the uncertainty factor that limits their
willingness to mobilize them. So yeah. – So we just have a couple more minutes, and I was wondering, giving each of you a chance
to say your last piece, either directed at
somebody or on your own. – Well… – Steve, I’ll let you go first. – I’ll start. So, the defects of the
current circumstances are always easy to make out. It’s always a little
harder, as I’ve suggested, to anticipate what changes might come. I think there’s two things to think about. One is that yeah, it’s
correct that for 16 years, for four elections cycles, you had two key battleground states. Florida and Ohio. That’s not carved in stone forever. And, who thought Pennsylvania,
Wisconsin and Michigan would become swing states? The maps change over time. It was only 30 years ago that California was still a reliably
solid Republican state in Presidential elections
until President Clinton flipped it and flipped it hard. President Clinton also won Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, a lot of states you may now consider as these deep, unchangeable red states. I can remember when Democrats
used to elect Liberal Senators in states like Idaho. With Frank Church. And so, maybe the two parties become, switch places again. I think you don’t want
to assume that things are always carved in stone. And the other thing I would
say about a popular vote, this is what worries me
about a big giant country like this is, the Florida thing was a total disaster, but the Electoral College
confined that to one state. By the way, there’ve
been two other elections. ’76, Carter and Ford, a shift of 12,000 votes in Ohio and Hawaii would have given Ford
the Electoral majority. And I think in 1916, I forget the number, but it’s like 8,000 votes in California would have given the Electoral College to, who was the candidate? Republican. The Supreme Court Justice. Nevermind. Think about the 1960 election where you know it’s thought
that they stole some votes in Illinois and that secured
the election for Kennedy, that election was 100,000 votes. We learned later, President Eisenhower wanted
Nixon to challenge the result, he thought this would be bad. Now imagine doing a nationwide recount of a close election like that. By the way, the interesting
historical thing, is that it’s not really clear
Kennedy got those votes. Not from Illinois. There’s some irregularities
of the ballots and counts in Alabama and Mississippi
that nobody knows about. We don’t know who got the most votes actually cast that election. So, razor close vote like that, let’s take what happened
in Florida in 2000, and let’s do that in every state. Won’t that be a fun day? – So I guess I’ll close by saying that political inequality, and just to identify the links between political inequality
and economic inequality. Democracy is supposed to act as a check on economic inequality, because at a certain point of
extreme economic inequality, the median voter in terms of income is going to have an income below the mean, and so they should demand redistribution from their representatives. That’s not happening, and why is it not happening? Because we don’t have a
particularly inclusive democracy. Lack of inclusivity of democracy shifts the positioning
of the median voter. At the cost of fewer checks
on rising economic inequality. If you want to think about
what are the major problems in our society right now, is that rising economic inequality. And so, in terms of
innovations to increase participatory opportunities for the poor, whether it be national popular vote, whether it be a voucher system, whether it be a
mobilization matching fund, I think that we need to think
about these innovations, but taking Steve’s point seriously, we may want to think about
them in smaller laboratories. See how it operates in particular cities, see how it operates in particular states, see if it’s gonna have the
affects that we want it to have, and then try to think about
nationalizing out that project that is particularly successful. But we have to start that innovation now, and I think it’s important
to do so if we want to have any chance of protecting
the Republic that we imagine that we live in. (applause) – So I think we run every
single election in this country under the principle that
whoever gets the most votes should win. Except one. The Presidency. Makes no sense, but we go around the world and
try to institute democracy. Like in Iraq, do we say, “you need an
Electoral College system”? (audience laughter)
– No. We say, “whoever gets the
most votes should win, “and the candidates should
go after voters everywhere, “wherever they live.” The present system we have now is, they go after the voters
of the three or four battleground states, and the rest of us just
sit around and wonder what those people are gonna do, what we’re gonna get stuck with it, whether it’s good or bad. So, it’s time to change the system, it’s very doable, so that the President is the person that gets the most votes. The candidates campaign
all over the country. About time. (applause) – So I’d like to thank
all of the panelists, I’d like to thank the audience, we were very happy you came, and if you want more information about The Center on Civility
and Democratic Engagement, there’s information outside as well, thank you all, and go Bears! (applause) (upbeat music)

5 thoughts on “Innovating Democracy: Key Issues for the 2020 Election and Beyond

  1. Eliminate The Electoral College – Twitter per a suspension prevents you from examining the activities of u.S. military veteran @maxrafaelwaller who became @mrwaller3 that are critical in evaluating behavior

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