January 23, 2014

WILLIAMS: United States of Me


---- — I have always joked, “When I’m dictator, there’ll be some changes made.” I often ask conservatives, “Tell me your vision of America if you totally got your way?”

None of them ever answer in any detail. Here’s what would happen if it was up to me.

1) I would appoint a bipartisan commission to make the election laws uniform. I’d have my commission draw a completely new electoral map so that districts were as neutral as possible, not favoring one party over the other. All states would use the same machines and the same voting hours and the same types of identification.

2) I would do away with the electoral college in favor of the popular vote for presidential elections.

3) I would institute public funding for campaigns. Every candidate would have the same amount to spend and no more. No more PACs, no more soft money, no more millions from out-of-state residents to influence state elections.

4) Obamacare would be changed to a single payer plan – Medicare for all.

5) I would be inclined to pardon Edward Snowden for whatever crimes he may have committed. I see him as more of a whistleblower than a traitor. He opened our eyes to secretive practices on the part of our government that we needed to know about. As a result of his actions, at least some changes are being made in the way the federal government spies on us while maintaining massive amounts of our personal information.

6) I would close Guantanamo Bay as soon as possible. I think it is a stain on our national honor.

7) I would order all states to legalize gay marriage, which I see as a civil right.

8) I would order all states to withdraw their punitive restrictions on abortion, a constitutionally protected right.

8) I would legalize marijuana nationally. Maybe I’d even legalize all drugs since our War Against Drugs has been such an epic fail with America having more people incarcerated on drug charges than any other first world nation.

9) I would mandate more drug treatment centers in lieu of prison.

10) I would immediately halt the killing of wolves and wild horses. We treat these animals as we originally did the Indians, cramming them into reservations because we want their habitat for ourselves. “Oh, my God,” we say, “wolves kill our cows and horses eat the grass we need for our cattle. We must kill them!” But when greedy corporations poison our water or our air, we give them another tax break.

11) I would adjust school budgets so that every school got the same amount per student. No American child should attend school in a crumbling building with tattered out-of-date books. It is to the benefit of our entire society for all our children to have access to a good education. I would end teaching to tests in favor of learning to think and being able to articulate your conclusions.

12) I would encourage union membership by America’s labor. No, unions aren’t always perfect but as it is now, workers have no representative to serve as their advocate, so management has it all their own way — and you can tell by the ever-growing inequality of income in the U.S.

13) I would raise the minimum wage so that any American who works 40 hours a week is above the poverty level.

14) I would insist on some changes in gun control laws – a background check for every purchase, stronger penalties for straw sales, the banning of high-capacity magazines.

15) I would create a path to citizenship for the dreamers who have lived in America since they were children.

So, there you go. Call it whatever-ism you like, but those are my ideas. I’d love to hear yours?

Vicki Williams is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached through the newspaper at