Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm glad Obama is calling for "health insurance reform" not "health care reform"

Great news.

President Barack Obama is holding a press conference tonight on the topic of "health insurance reform" and not on "health care reform." I just received my email from the White House (or the DNC) with the vastly superior language.

The problem is with our broken health insurance and not with health care. That's why it is so smart for the President to define the terms of the debate and focus on the problem - not allow opponents to confuse swing voters by discussing health care and raise fears of poorer care in the future. Few defend the parasitic health insurance industry and by correctly identifying the source of reform as insurance the opponents of the President will have to defend the insurance industry.

This shift in language is a great sign of progress and cause for more optimism.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Founding Fathers would have loved the European Union (they would have let Canada join the US!)

The Articles of Confederation (the United States' governing document from 1781 until before the Constitution replaced it in 1788) allowed Canada to join the United States at any time it wished, simply by accepting the terms of the Articles of Confederation. Here's the language:

Art. XI Canada acceding to this confederation, and joining in the measures of the united states, shall be admitted into, and entited to all the advantages of this union: but no other colony shall be admitted into the same, unless such admission be agreed to by nine states.

Even better, any other colony could join up if 9 of the 13 states agreed to it. That's pretty flexible! With a 70% vote of the states, any colony could have joined the United States of America.

Can you imagine Mexico and Canada joining with the United States today in a North American Union? Look at our friends in Europe for an example of the power of a new, modern form of government. The European Union has transformed a continent of perpetual war and bitter enemies into one of the world's strongest economies with almost 500 million people.

Building a North American Union would be one of the smartest long-term investments in our economic well-being we can make. Here, we spend billions on patrolling borders and wasting millions of hours for people and cargo to pass through heavily-fortified checkpoints. And for what? To make it more expensive to for all of us to build businesses, create jobs and improve our quality of life throughout North America.

I can already hear conservatives and those afraid of fundamental improvements in our government resurrect our Founding Fathers and our sacred Constitution as weapons to dismiss any discussion of a North American Union or integrating Canada and Mexico into the United States as un-American or fundamentally unconstitutional. It's nice to learn that the original government of the United States of America explicitly embraced the same progressive spirit now seen in the European Union.

You know, the best way to honor our Founding Fathers is to emulate then, not worship them. They spent their political capital fundamentally improving their governments and they weren't afraid to reject altogether the deficient governments they inherited. We ought to be infused with that same bold spirit of government-making to imagine and create modern institutions.

Monday, July 06, 2009

2010 Illinois primary election calendar shortened: candidate petitions in one month

Lisa Madigan already deserves credit for single-handedly achieving a long-held goal of voters and reformers: she has dramatically shortened the 2010 Illinois primary season. Consider that petitions hit the street in one month and almost no one has decided what they are running for yet. Usually a primary campaign season drags on for more than a year. This time, we're looking at a six month sprint to the February 2 primary, all because of Lisa.

Only when Attorney General Madigan decides what she will be running for in late July (or maybe even early August) will the dominoes fall on the most exciting Democratic primary in ten years.

We'll likely have a contested Democratic primary for the US Senate, Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, Treasurer, Cook County Board President as well as open seats from all the legislators who compete for those seats sparking even more contested primaries. This is exciting!

As an election attorney, it's also a good time for me to remind potential candidates to make sure you hire an attorney to draft your petitions and to fully and thoroughly review them before submitting them. I have seen dozens (hundreds?) of well-intentioned, intelligent, decently-funded candidates knocked off the ballot because they chose not to hire an attorney to navigate the treacherous, technicality-filled waters of Illinois ballot access. Candidates, my number is 312.933.4890 and my email is dan (at) . Don't be a statistic!

But for voters, especially the million or so Democratic primary voters, the next seven months will be prime time in setting the direction of the most important Democratic state in the Union (the home of our President). There will never be a better time to get involved in Democratic politics (from the perspective of influencing the direction of the Illinois Democratic party). So pick a candidate and help them out!

Petitions hit the street August 4th for county, state and federal candidates. They are due November 2nd (but most candidates will file on the first day they can, October 26th, to try to get the top spot on the ballot). So they need help now -- or at least, as soon as they know what they are running for.

November 9th is the last day to file objections to those petitions, and thus November and December will be filled with line-by-line challenges to the petitions of those candidates that did not collect far more than the required signatures of registered voters in their district.

The holidays knock out the last two weeks of December, and then we're looking at a final four-week campaign season between New Years Day and February 2, 2010.

The only downside to Lisa's shrinkage of the primary campaign season to less than six months will be a nine-month general election campaign for all the statewide races between the nominees of the major parties (a bit long for my taste). Well, that isn't her fault -- the General Assembly didn't move the primary back from early February. They probably should (on behalf of all the campaign workers freezing outside while walking precincts in January .... how about a May primary?).

After eight years of relative stability, the next two cycles are going to be full of churn (because remember, the 2012 cycle will involve all new districts). This is going to be fun!