Changing the Election Process

Changing the Election Process: Suggestions

Copyright, Melanie Arrowood Wilcox


There is an incredible opportunity heading our way. It will take courage, wisdom, and a willingness to sacrifice to make use of it. The stakes are greater than they have been in decades, maybe centuries.

Come the ninth of November, we will know who our newly-elected officials will be. We will be able to judge whether we have allies or opponents representing us in the struggle to reclaim our freedom. The pursuit of happiness, the desire to join together in order to promote the general welfare, and the future of our children are all on the table.

I say we grab them and don’t let go. We need to find that ethical center that has held us together since the late 1700s and gather around it.

There are many issues that need our attention. At this time we cannot trust our elected officials to represent “We the People.” They don’t serve the people; we all know it. They even acknowledge it, at least when they are behind closed doors.

One of the first things we must do to regain control of our nation is to regain control of our elected officials and our elections.

This is a list of some of my suggestions. Please start working on your own.

Let’s get them on the table before the State of the Union address in January. Send them to your current elected officials. After the election, send them to your new representatives. Send them to your local media. We have almost three months to get the word out.

The Election Process

Register all voters when they receive a Social Security number, either at birth or later in life.

Make Election Day a national holiday.

Allow at least 30 days of early voting. Polls should be open at least 2 Saturdays, 2 Sundays, and 4 days of 24-hour-access voting during early voting.

Polls should be open for the entire 24-hours of Election Day.

Eliminate the Electoral College.

Allocate representation strictly by population numbers. Districts will be drawn by computer programs.

Do not allow the release of exit-polling results until after all votes from all precincts are cast.

No laws changing how elections will be carried out or how voters may be registered or removed from voting lists may be enacted in the year before the affected elections are held.

Attempts to disenfranchise voters, including through bias or political affiliation, should be considered violations of the civil rights of individuals. These offenses require time in jail. Those responsible include all leadership and media operatives for the party found to have done this and the affiliated PACs. Additional penalties may include fines or loss of the right to vote for a minimum of 12 years of those involved in suppressing others’ rights to vote. The candidates who benefit from these attempts to suppress voting are ineligible to hold public office for the remainder of their lives.

Choosing a Nominee from the Candidates

When a candidate declares for office (no more than 9 months and no less than 7 months before the primaries), the following will occur within 30 days:

  • All personal tax records will be released to the public by the appropriate government agency, including federal, state, local, and off-shore income, property, investments, and other taxes.
  • Tax and licensing records for the businesses and organizations associated with the candidate will be made public by the appropriate government agency.
  • A complete criminal background will be released to the public by all agencies associated with the personal and business addresses of the candidate since they reached the age of military service or voting (whichever comes first), including criminal and civil charges, convictions, and penalties.

The parties may only refuse candidates, based on the results of these sources of information, at least 1 month ahead of their primaries.

The nominees are not replaceable for any reason other than death or the commission or discovery of illegal activity, either criminal or civil. No candidate may be appointed as an alternative by a party less than 6 weeks before a general election.

All primaries must be held in the fourth month before the general election. Party conventions are to be held in the second month before the general election.

Campaign Rules


Any elected official campaigning more than 9 months before the upcoming election will be disqualified, effective immediately, from holding any office (federal, state, or local) for 6 years. Campaigning is defined as using any media or the attention normally a part of serving in office as a way to make speeches not related directly to current pending legislation.


The only public campaign funds available to any candidate are those through public funds collected from taxpayers via the Federal tax forms, which will have a checkbox to help fund candidates.

Individuals (a single human being) may choose to donate up to $1500 each, or a maximum of 2% of their income, whichever is lesser, directly to a campaign but not through a party or a party’s designated fundraising agent.

Corporations and nonprofit organizations may not donate more than a single human being may donate. Corporations and nonprofit organizations may only donate to city, county, state, or federal candidates that represent the specific place where their single main  headquarters are located.

Attempts to require employees to vote as the corporation, nonprofit, corporate board, or owners of these entities prefer are voter intimidation and a violation of civil rights.  These offenses require time in jail. Additional penalties may include fines or loss of the right to vote for a minimum of 12 years of those involved in suppressing others’ rights to vote.

Campaign advertising via any media is limited to six weeks before Election Day and is limited to those paid from campaign funds.

Interviews distributed by any form of media must be limited to a total of 450 minutes per candidate per network or website or other media outlet, to take place during the six weeks immediately before the Election. These must be unpaid. If one candidate is interviewed or appears in any media outlet, that outlet must provide equal time to all other candidates who can demonstrate support from at least 5% of the registered voters’ in the same precincts as the original interviewee.



Citizens United: Corporate Welfare

Tax Breaks for Corporate Citizens

Originally Posted: 22 June 2012

(And look where we are today: Not much has changed.)
Copyright Melanie Arrowood Wilcox

Our newly-recognized “corporate citizens” receive many tax breaks, far more than our human citizens do. In thinking about this aspect of the Citizens United ruling by the current Supreme Court, I have found so many examples that it is more than a little shocking.

First, “corporate citizens” often pay less income tax than most individuals because of breaks and deductions they receive.

At the same time that these new “citizens” are building large golden nest eggs, many people are unemployed, under-employed, or never able to find work in the first place. After all, many of us are falling below the recognized poverty levels of the various state and federal agencies and of the ‘social justice’ nonprofits whose budgets are under attack because of the economic downturn. Consequently our tax rates are falling along with our incomes. This has affected the nation’s economy as a whole; there is less to help the ‘least of these’ and our social safety nets are coming undone.

“Corporate citizens” are allowed to discount much of their income because of the way it is classified. Few human citizens earn significant money from offshore bank accounts, from investments, or from estate windfalls.

Second, “corporate citizens” pay less property tax than human citizens do. This is often done as an incentive to bring a business or more jobs to an area. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always occur, although these “corporate citizens” are rarely called upon to explain why or asked to ante up back taxes for their failures to meet their contractual obligations.

Third, these “corporate citizens” are given free or reduced public services (fire, police, water, sewer, trash), even reduced postage rates, as inducement to come to, bring jobs to, or stay in a given city or county or state. Our federal government even participates in these giveaways.

Think how much our schools would improve if businesses were required to pay property taxes, as other responsible citizens do. Our schools would have more money. There would be more money, too, for soup kitchens and health care programs.

There are many examples of tax breaks for “corporate citizens,” too many to enumerate here. The advantages of eliminating some of them, and bringing them in line with those of responsible citizenship, are numerous. It is time to begin taxing these “corporate citizens” in a manner that will bring them the same sense of belonging that the rest of the citizenry has: the knowledge that we are a compassionate people who care for all its citizens, who provide for the needy, and who stand as a beacon for justice and peace in the world. It is time to expect all citizens to contribute according to their ability and to receive according to their need.

Citizens United: Establishing Residency of Corporate Citizens

Establishing Residency of Non-Human Citizens

Originally Posted: 06 July 2012

(And look where we are today: Not much has changed.)

Copyright Melanie Arrowood Wilcox

You and I are not permitted to vote in political campaigns unless we live in the appropriate district. Our physical presence, our residence, determines that district. There are different districts for local, state, and federal levels. But we are legally bound to those associated with our physical residence.

For our “corporate citizens,” this isn’t the case. The recent recall election in Wisconsin is a great example. Huge sums of money flowed into Gov. Walker’s coffers from “corporate citizens” who were not headquartered in Wisconsin. Moreover, few, if any, of the faces of those corporations — the owners, boards, and top shareholders — lived there either.

As responsible citizens with the same rights as individuals, “corporate citizens” should be limited to expressing their votes, defined as spending their money, in those districts where they maintain their legally-registered ‘home.’ For example, if Monsanto wishes to express its political opinions through donations, they must do so in whatever city and its appropriate districts where they maintain their headquarters. Individuals are not allowed to vote in places where they have ‘vacation homes.’ Likewise, “corporate citizens” should only be allowed to vote in the single place that they claim as their place of residence for incorporation purposes.

Because multi-national corporations receive money from their overseas operations, some of their political activities here are funded by those with political motives overseas. In other words, foreign business operations, and conceivably foreign political groups, can use these connections to affect our legal and business processes here. How strange it would be to find out that the Taliban are laundering money into the United States through some large multi-national “corporate citizen.”

We don’t allow retroactive punishment in our legal system. We cannot go back in time to punish someone who committed an action that was not illegal when it occurred. However, looking at the Wisconsin elections makes one realize how many people could be held liable for election fraud if our new “corporate citizens” were held accountable to the same standards as our human citizens.

Citizens United: Corporate Citizen Responsibility

Responsibility of Non-Human Citizens

Originally Posted: 29 June 2012

(And look where we are today: Not much has changed)
Copyright Melanie Arrowood Wilcox

If there is one aspect of integrating our non-human “corporate citizens” into our society that concerns me more than most it is this one: Humans have responsibilities to one another. Corporations don’t.

That is the basis of our culture. It is the reason our Constitution states the responsibilities of our government so clearly; our government is, after all, us, ‘we, the people.’ Our social fabric is woven from our convictions that all of us, from whatever spiritual or ethnic or cultural backgrounds, matter.

Corporations exist to make money for their investors. At one time in the United States, businesses and large companies (and this was before the mega-corporations that exist today) had some sense of responsibility to the communities they served. They strived to do good things with at least some of their profits. That isn’t true any longer.

A great percentage of the people who fought the American Revolution came here to get away from the establishment of a state religion in the countries they left in Europe. Yes, many were Protestant. But many were not. Philosophical differences abounded, as did views on the type of government that should be established in the New World.

Cultures clashed, especially as the decades passed and new immigrants came seeking hope here. That issue still troubles us today. How do we integrate so many differences without losing our identities as individual ‘tribes?’ It is frightening to think that our past can become…past. Ethnic and racial issues are still too hot to discuss comfortably, with compassion and hope and a place for everyone in the future. Gender equality became an issue immediately; read the letters between John and Abigail Adams for more on that. Women still struggle for recognition as full citizens today.

Now we have a group of non-humans wanting citizenship. That citizenship comes with responsibilities, however. Because responsibility is the rightful companion to rights, I believe we should require our new “corporate citizens” to fulfill their new responsibilities.

They must pay the same taxes as individuals, not the heavily-discounted ones they currently do. All their income must be considered, without excluding investments and offshore accounts, for example. Property must be taxed, as it is for individuals. If they promise to bring jobs to an area in exchange for special considerations, under contract law they should be held liable for failing to do so, just as human citizens are. They should not be allowed to skirt regulations that apply to individual human citizens.

They must also be held accountable for their crimes and infractions, just as individuals are. That will require us to hold the owners, boards, and top shareholders of these “corporate citizens” responsible for their company’s actions. If an individual causes someone’s death or illness, contaminates a food or water supply, or lies to the courts or government, that individual is sent to jail or must compensate those who have incurred a loss. So should the human faces of our “corporate citizens.” If a corporation functions in this nation, it must abide by our nation’s laws. If a U.S. corporation functions in another nation, it must abide by both our laws and that nation’s laws.

This raises the issue of who is a corporation? How do you punish a paper tiger? I think a good place to begin consideration of this is with the human faces involved: the owners, boards of directors (including the CEO, COO, CFO, etc.), and the major stockholders. These are the decision-makers and should be held accountable for their actions, whether the violation is civil or criminal in nature.

This may seem harsh. But citizenship is a serious and beautiful thing. It cannot be picked apart like a prime cut of meat, the choice pieces for the rich “corporate citizens” and the bones for the “human citizens.”

Citizens United: Establishing New Classes of Citizenship

Establishing New Classes of Citizenship

Originally Posted: 13 July 2012

(And look where we are today: Not much has changed.)

Copyright Melanie Arrowood Wilcox


When the Constitution was written by a cadre of brave men following the American Revolution, it was intended to be a living document. Wisdom dictated that it be firm enough to hold disparate groups of people together. Yet no one knew better than those few men, who had survived a violent overthrow of an oppressive government, how difficult maintaining cohesion among people with differing experiences and hopes and worldviews could be. They created a document that allowed for change, presumed a need for balance between many factions, and, with humility as well as pride, purported to last forever.

It required some amending, some tweaking, and a lot of faith in the goodwill of its authors.

Creating a new class of citizens, one whose rights are greater than those of the individual living members of our nation, is a dangerous thing. Setting up a more-equal-than-most class is inherently wrong and prohibited by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, which apply to “all men,” interpreted as humanity. Businesses, while important to our nation, are man-made things that exist only on paper or in our minds.

The Citizens United decision allows the new “corporate citizens” the right to speak, through donations, in any electoral district. It allows more anonymity than most individuals have. In fact, it permits wealthy individuals to hide their donations by channeling them through the corporations they own. It has the potential to permit foreign corporations and businesses, possibly even enemies of the U.S., to influence our elections through their connections to foreign subsidiaries of U.S. “corporate citizens.”

More troubling is that our new “corporate citizens” are expressing opinions through massive media campaigns designed to influence the outcome of elections. This, in effect, gives the owners, board members, chief officers, and major stockholders multiple votes in an election. They can vote as individuals. They also can vote through their activities in any and all corporations where they serve in an official capacity. This is not one citizen-one vote, by any interpretation.

I do not believe this was what the authors of our Constitution and Bill of Rights intended to accomplish.

This ill-conceived and poorly enacted decision by the Supreme Court must not stand. It is time for Congress to rectify this through appropriate legislation.

Trump, Evangelism, and the GOP

Trump, Evangelism, and the GOP:  A reminder of why we need separation of church and state

Copyright, Melanie Arrowood Wilcox

After reading a friend’s plaintive post on a social media site inquiring about why so many religious people, Christians especially, support Trump for President, I started thinking about the strange path the United States has followed since the mid-1900s.

We now mix religion and politics easily and without questioning the wisdom of such action. The Constitutional separation of church and state has almost disappeared from public conversation with the possible exception of the constant murmurs about prayer in public schools or city council meetings.

In my experience, I have seen many seemingly minor things come together that add up to a major problem today.

At the same time churches were experiencing diminishing attendance after WWII, the GOP was trying to increase their influence and control on both the state and federal levels.

The 1960s brought many social and political controversies: birth control, Viet Nam, abortion, women’s liberation, civil rights, and countless others. Evangelicals fell in line with the GOP in exchange for promises of support for specific causes that they thought were of concern to their parishioners. The GOP benefited because they were hoping to get evangelical voters’ support by appealing to those who were single-issue voters.

It was unwise because it violated that very important First Amendment.

Neither group cared because both rightfully believed their numbers would continue to decline without the other. They, in effect, formed an alliance. As the decades have come and gone, this alliance has grown strong.

Pastors convince their parishioners to ‘vote like Jesus would,’ or at least like they convince them Jesus would. The GOP enacts laws that are in direct contradiction to the Constitution and subsequent case law but that provide more power to, among others, the minority of Christians who are evangelicals. Remember, evangelism, whatever faith it is associated with, assumes that there is only one acceptable religion. 

All of this is fed by the fear and concomitant xenophobia that our socio-political system has produced by eliminating or significantly reducing programs that are seen as basic in our society, such as free public education, a living wage for those who work as well as care for those unable to work, or equal opportunity for everyone.

Trump is the result, yapping at the heels of extremist politicians to keep the GOP happy, while simultaneously keeping the religious right happy by verbally assaulting those who might not meet their religious strictures: “immoral” women, “alien” immigrants, and criminals whose skin isn’t white, for instance. Trump has the trappings of wealth, though most likely they are a charade. He appeals to the wealthy who want control of the government and thus taxes, workers’ rights, and other labor and business issues.

It seems unlikely to me that Trump will do anything that doesn’t increase his own wealth at the expense of others. The rest of us will be, in his mind, “collateral damage.”

I am less afraid of Trump than many others seem to be. I believe he is too ignorant of international and domestic politics, macro-and micro-economics, and historical precedents to appeal to serious leaders. That means that he is a danger to the obscenely wealthy who have been supporting him. His eagerness for war supports the military-industrial complex only so long as he doesn’t do anything that upsets the balance of power among the ‘First World’ economies or act in such a way that allows developing nations and their budding economies to realize that they won’t benefit from any relationship with Trump or any company or nation he commands.

A former journalism instructor of  mine, Jim Shumaker, once told our class in news reporting to always “follow the money.” I still believe he knew what he was talking about.




Please, Don’t Just Pray.

Copyright, Melanie Arrowood Wilcox

If you keep up with politics, especially Civil Rights issues, you have probably heard that Charlotte, NC, is convulsing with pain, righteous anger, and guilty fear.

There are many articles online about this. Here are two links to help you find out the basics.

I implore you, please don’t just pray. Please don’t light candles before going about your day. Don’t post a comment that your friends will respond to with support or disagreement until tomorrow comes.

Don’t sweep it under the rug. Don’t fret for a day and then forget that a large percentage of our nation lives with this everyday. Don’t throw your hands in the air and say, “There is nothing I can do. I don’t make any difference.”

Only we can make a difference. All of us, acting together, can make a difference.

DO something.

For the sake of all you love, the lives of all you care about. For whatever gods or truths you follow. Do something.

  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper asking community leaders to gather, more than once, and begin a process to bring the community together in peace. Follow up on their response. Be a little pushy if they don’t respond. Let the paper know there was no response. If some respond, make sure the paper gets that information too.
  • Write a blog post that shares actual news, not speculation or editorials. Use the basic old-style journalism rule: always have three unbiased sources. Invite community leaders, from all local communities, to post practical do-able suggestions. Let them be a little pie-in-the-sky. Hope and idealism are not bad things. Try to get people to read as much as they write; we must do both to learn anything new.
  • Speak in front of your church, civic, professional, or other groups about the need to acknowledge that there are problems. Offer to organize a group to discuss how your institution can proactively do something to reach across the divide. Consider inviting other groups to get involved. There is power in numbers. Whether it is simply releasing a statement of support; inviting people whose opinions, however difficult to hear, need to be heard; or creating a study group to consider offering scholarships and jobs to people, it is a first step. Take it.
  • Volunteer for a group that tries to bring justice and hope to everyone, because this trauma will only stop when we show love through our actions towards all people. Be especially alert to opportunities to bring people who don’t look alike or worship at the same places or live in the same parts of town under one roof.
  • Break bread. It may seem old-fashioned, but sharing a meal is a strong tool to overcoming fear and bias. In all of this, listen more than you speak.
  • Vote. Pick a candidate who supports peace, respect, and social justice among all people. Vote for that candidate.

I am weary of our lonely fearful reactions to others. I am tired of being asked to pray for those whose blood was spilled needlessly. I need to be able to read the news without wanting to scream.

I want peace. I am willing to work for it.  I don’t know what will help, but something’s got to give.


Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Choosing A Candidate for President

Copyright, Melanie Arrowood Wilcox

One of the things that is getting lost in this either/or campaign is the reason we vote.

Elections allow us to choose someone who, we believe, has the capacity to understand our needs, our aspirations, and our daily existence. We choose people we think will honor their commitments to represent our wishes, not those of their biggest donors or their own to be in a powerful political position forever.

Neither of the two mainstream candidates seems trustworthy. Neither has anything in common with the vast majority of citizens in this country. Neither seems to live in the current century, appearing ignorant of the pitfalls of online apps that spread rude, threatening, or vulgar asides globally in less than a minute. Both seem oblivious to the security risks of online activity. Both apparently believe insulting half the electorate will give them more than half of the votes. Both fail the ‘birds of a feather’ test, choosing rich oligarchs or corrupt politicians as associates. One foments hatred and violence. One promises the same incremental change that has left our nation stagnant for decades, if not a century or more, while we are dying “not with a bang, but a whimper.”

Our right to vote is sacred but it is under attack.

Asking us to let fear choose our candidate, asking us to ignore the reality we have experienced for decades while our parties make promises that are never kept, and asking us to do what we are told despite our own better judgment are all insulting.

Telling us to be ‘realistic’ when all of our experience highlights how little we matter to any political party or candidate assumes we are too uneducated to know what is in our best interest. In truth, the candidates don’t shy away from calling us too ignorant to know what is best for us. In truth, they describe us as ‘deplorable’ if we prefer one set of promises to another.

Telling us that this is not the time to be ‘idealistic’ begs the question, “When is the time?”

Telling us to once again elect a candidate we have no reason to believe cares about us is at best rude and insulting. At worst, it shows callous disregard for our desire, our desperate need, for rapid genuine change in direction.

We need a leader, someone who is willing to be an outcast, as most of us experience our nation. We need someone willing to stand up for change, not constantly compromise on matters of importance, such as income, poverty, healthcare, education, and freedom to pursue the lives we wish to have so long as we do not prevent others from accessing the same freedom. We need a leader who understands that they are in the employment of the people and must promote the general welfare, not support the greed and arrogance of a handful of crude and hateful people who, like the proverbial camel, could easier pass through the eye of a needle than enter the kingdom of God.

Like many, I have no idea what can be done. Our mainstream parties have lost their way.

I will vote for all state and local offices. I have no idea what I will do about the presidential office. I think many people feel the same way.