Reflections on the intersection of economics, history, politics, psychology and science

This episode is a deep dive into the foundational requirement of a democracy – having elections and voting. Despite the founding (and often touted) principles of American democracy, it is shockingly inconsistent how we implement it. All U.S. citizens do not have an equal voice, the result of structural inequities in the system (e.g., the U.S. Senate), the leveraging of power to maintain power (e.g. Gerrymandering), the influence of money in primarily privately-funded elections, and a stubborn reliance on 18th and 19th century tools to solve 21st century problems.

The podcast gives a historical perspective on the progress – and setbacks – to fulfilling the goal that “all men (and women) are created equal.” We take a deeper dive into why we vote for certain positions and not others, how we fund elections, how we structure and organize elections, and how we seem to consistently stumble in offering equal voting rights to all American citizens. The hosts also examine a number of related issues, including whether mandatory voting is an appropriate solution, whether convicts should have the right to vote, the potential benefits (and issues) around publicly-funding elections, critiquing the public initiative process, and whether states should have power over federal elections. 

The hosts end with a number of potential suggestions, including a new “Voters Bill of Rights”  to protect the right for everyone to vote, make it as simple as possible to vote securely, separate economic and political power from influencing who can vote, encourage civic participation, and foster a culture of debating ideas. They also ponder over whether we can re-imagine our political “boundaries” in an environment where communities of interest shouldn’t necessarily be defined the way they occurred centuries ago. 

Key Terms Used

Boiling Frog, Conservatism, Direct Democracy, Gerrymandering, Laissez Faire, Originalism, Prisoner’s Dilemma, Public Good, Representative Democracy

Related Resources

Not as Laissez as You Think

The Inherent Corruption of Conservatism