Note: I am not currently running for Congress. This webpage is all that remains of my attempt to run in 2016. I had two main goals in that attempt: (1) discuss the problems with hyper-partisanship and offer a solution, and (2) discuss the American economy and offer some ideas and solutions from a liberal perspective.
My name is Michael Coblenz, and I am running for Congress. I am running to try to change politics so that we as a nation can honestly and effectively address the challenges we face.
The American people are frustrated and angry. They hate politics and politicians and don’t think either party has a clue how to solve the nation’s problems. They are desperate for solutions. They want new choices, which is why outsiders are doing so well in the current Presidential primaries.
We have a multitude of choices in everything we do in life, and it’s time we had more choices in politics. Our only choices now are arbitrary, extreme, and divisive.
People occasionally run as independents or third party candidates but they seldom win and so minor parties gain no electoral or political traction. The reason is that the structure of our electoral system is gamed to favor Democrats and Republicans. It’s time to change the system to give people more choices.
We’ve had viable minor parties throughout U.S. History and it’s time to reform our system of elections to allow them to return. The people want a choice, they deserve a choice, and I am going to devote my campaign to trying to give them that choice. Some of my ideas to achieve this are set out in bullet points below, with links to more detailed analysis.
There are obviously many more issues to address during the campaign and I address some of them on other pages on this website. You can find those by clicking the tabs on the menu.
Major Proposals to End Partisanship:
1. Multi-Seat Congressional Districts: Multi-seat Districts existed from the Nation’s Founding until the 1960’s. This system allowed the development and participation of third parties. This means more voices, more ideas, and a reduced ability for one party to lock-up the system. Congress changed the law to eliminate multi-seat districts in 1968. It’s time to admit that single seat districts are a failed experiment, and return to multi-seat congressional Districts. To learn more click: Multi-Seat Districts.
2. Modified Term Limits: Simple term limits are a popular antidote to the problem of incumbency, and long serving politicians. But straight term limits will strip power from elected representatives and give it to un-elected bureaucrats and lobbyists pushing their own agenda. Modified term limits, which limit the number of consecutive terms a politician can serve but do not limit total terms, will break the incumbent lock but will allow Congress to retain institutional expertise. To learn more click Modified Term Limits.
3. Right to Vote Amendment: Believe it or not the Constitution does not guarantee a citizen the right to vote. It is implicit in the Constitution, but it is time to make it explicit. A Constitutionally guaranteed right to vote will make it difficult for politicians to restrict the ability to vote. It should be easy to vote, and hard to restrict voting rights. To learn more click Right to Vote
4. National Popular Vote for President: The President is elected to represent all the people of the nation. But because of the antiquated Electoral College system a person can will a majority of the popular vote and not become President. The system was designed in the horse-and-buggy days and is no longer necessary for a modern democracy. More importantly, a national popular vote would change the nature of Presidential campaigns, forcing candidates to campaign in population centers across the country, rather than allowing them to focus solely on swing states. To learn more click National Popular Vote.
5. Congressional Apportionment: In the first Congress there was one Representative for every 45,000 people. The number of Representatives in Congress grew after every census from 1790 to 1910. In 1910 there was one Representative for every 200,000 citizens. Now there is one Representative for every 750,000. The United States is now one of the least representative of all major democracies. 435 Representatives is not cast in stone, and is an historical anomaly. It’s time we allow the number of Representatives to again increase with the population. I propose a Constitutional Amendment mirrored after James Madison’s first proposed amendment, and say that there shall be no less than one Representative for every 500,000 citizens. To learn more click Apportionment.
6. Eliminate Gerrymandering: In 2012 Democratic Congressional candidates received roughly 1.3 million more votes than Republican Congressional candidates across the country, but Democrats only won 201 seats and Republicans won 234. In 2014 Republicans received 52% of the vote, but won 57% of the seats on the House. This happens because state legislators create bizarrely drawn Congressional districts that give one party an unnatural advantage. It is a practice long ridiculed as Gerrymandering (named after Founder, Framer, and governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry.) It is anti-democratic and it is time that it is ended, by Congressional action preferably, but by a Constitutional Amendment if necessary. To learn more click Gerrymandering
Those are my major proposals, but I have a number of minor proposals that I believe would also improve our democracy.
A. Multi-Day Voting: Why is Election Day one day? It may have made sense in the 18th Century, but why not allow easy early voting up to a week before “Election Day”? This will allow as many people as possible to get to the polls, and will also show that government thinks voting should be easy.
B. Modify Tax Check-Off: The Federal Tax form has a box that you can check to give $3 from your tax return to either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. Why not broaden that to allow the tax check-off to go to the political party of the tax-payers choice?
C. Instant Run-Off: This will be more of an issue in multi-seat districts, but with the power of modern computers it is possible to vote for a first or second choice, and if, in a multi-seat district there is a tie, a voter’s second choice can get the vote.
Financial Statement: Paid for by Coblenz For Congress