Dean Clough

October 13, 2021

Portico Darwin: I Alone Can Fix It

On Monday, I bemoaned the capture of our state and federal legislatures by money.  I will remind you of my broad indictment:

When the downstream impacts are considered, the US is the most corrupt country on Earth.

Today, I will explain the 3 solutions I proposed on Monday, Federally Funded Federal Campaigns, Open State Primaries, and Ranked Choice Voting.

My motivation for this two-part post came in large part from a Freakonomics ongoing series, loosely about how America is an outlier in so many ways when compared to its OECD peers.  The United States is truly exceptional when compared to places like Germany, the UK, Italy, Canada, and Norway.  Like on these:

But we're exceptional in how wrong we are!  We are getting demonstrably worse outcomes in each category than similar nations.  That is why I tend to go on and on about our maladies and worse:  that we do nothing about them. 

And we do nothing because of corruption.

Today, however, I offer solutions for removing the money whilst also turning down the insane partisan heat.  None of these are original to me, but I compile them for your convenience and consideration.  Watch how easy this will be!

Federally Funded Federal Campaigns
The major candidates running for president, vice president, the House, and the Senate are all given funds by the US Government to conduct their campaigns.  Take the average spend across all campaigns for the last 10 years, and allocate it appropriately.  Index the dollars given to inflation.  Whatever, figure it out.

I believe this would go a very long way towards curbing the influence of lobbyists and donors.  Because if a candidate does not have to raise money (constantly) from wealthy special interests, perhaps they could govern realistically and more objectively?  Example:  does anyone really believe we should still be extracting coal for use as energy?  Versus offshore wind farms?

There are of course, just a couple of small problems with this great idea.  One is that it infringes upon the First Amendment.  It also flies in the face of the horrible Citizens United decision, and probably other statutes intended to guarantee free expression.  I still think it's the only way to truly get the money out.

Open State Primaries
This is best explained with an example.  Lisa Murkowski, one of Alaska's US Senators, was one of just a handful of Republicans voting to convict Trump after his second impeachment, for inciting the January 6 insurrection.  Trump has therefore (predictably) vowed to do everything possible to derail her 2022 re-election campaign. 

But because Alaska, along with an increasing number of states, has open state primaries - meaning that everyone who wants to run for a given office enters the same primary, and the top vote-getters move on to the general election.  So Senator Murkowski, overall quite popular in her state, just no longer with the MAGA fringe, will still likely be re-elected, despite opposing Trump.  If she had to run in a traditional, gerrymandered Republican primary, she wouldn't have even made the general election.

Open State Primaries are really one-half of the picture, the other being:

Ranked Choice Voting
Ranked choice voting is a way out of our awful two-party duopoly and tribal polarization.  I'm going to quote from both Andrew Yang's site as an intro, and then from's site for the actual definition.  

From Yang's site:

"You’ll often hear people say that voting for a third-party candidate is a waste of a vote, or they’ll worry that the third-party candidate will be a spoiler.  And these fears are absolutely valid in our current first-past-the-post voting."

This means that people are often picking between two candidates they dislike in order to choose the 'lesser of two evils.'"
"Ranked Choice Voting is a way to ensure elections are fair for all voters.  It allows voters the option to rank candidates in order of preference: one, two, three, and so forth.

If your vote cannot help your top choice win, your vote counts for your next choice.

If a candidate receives more than half of the first choices in races where voters elect one winner, that candidate wins, just like in a single-choice election.  However, if there is no majority winner after counting first choices, the race is decided by an 'instant runoff.'  The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and voters who picked that candidate as ‘number 1’ will have their votes count for their next choice.  This process continues until there’s a majority winner or a candidate won with more than half of the vote."

Imagine if we had federally funded federal campaigns, combined with open primaries and ranked choice voting.  Unintended Consequences, anyone?  Maybe, but if we're going to pull out of what seems an inexorable national decline, we must think and act bigger.

Easy, right?  

This part isn't narcissism, it's fun!  I had the pleasure of discovering (virtually) this multi-use site in Halifax, England.  You can go to and learn more.  I corresponded with their PR department and they're sending me a key chain.  It's pretty darned funny! 

Dean Clough Mills.jpg

Big thanks from both myself and the lifetime achiever Steven Simon to Byron Browne IV, who thoughtfully sent along this, a must-watch video of an impressive college football game halftime show:

"In celebration of Rush:

Ohio State University Marching Band Half Time Show."

The Unwashed Masses were clearly in a media-sharing mood.  Arthur weighed in with this very timely and prescient clip of Carl Sagan with Johnny Carson.  With a bit of Mr. Handsome tossed in.

"I rarely watch cable news past the first minute, but this one is worth it:

 Carl Sagan Predicted The Mess 2021 Would Be 25 years Ago."
Wow and maybe now you know why I bitch and moan so much?

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.

Oh, OK.  You say I want a revolution?  Yes, I do, but one of enlightenment and goodwill among all people, with no violence.  Here are The Beatles with . . . "The Beatles".   


About Dean Clough