If "Let the people vote!" is now the dominant, deeply-considered political philosophy, I don't see why we can't all dream about what we want to see on the ballot. There's no cow too sacred, so add in your ballot initiative ideas in the comments.
Here are a few federal policies I'd like to see on the ballot in 2012. There's no federal ballot initiative process (yet), but these are sure winners and there's no reason to think inside the box.
10. Cap bailed-out Wall Street execs' salaries to 150% the average American salary. The only thing the left, the right, and liberals and conservatives who aren't power brokers all agree on is that these folks aren't cool and don't deserve to make tens of millions of tax-payer money as a reward for destroying America's economy.
9. Allow people to take their water bottles on airplanes again. Look, we know that a water bottle can't hold enough liquid explosive to actually take down a plane. The ban on outside drinks is more akin to the ban on outside drinks in movie theaters - only there so that they can jack up the prices on Coke after security and make a handsome profit. Anyone who's been forced to endure a parched throat on an airplane because they would not eat their pride and pay $3 for a can of Sprite would vote for this.
8. Eliminate the Social Security tax cap. Social Security is plenty popular in American, and old people vote more than young people. The beauty of this one is that the Social Security tax cap only benefits people making over about $106K/year, and that number is small and getting smaller. It's a way to benefit people generally, elderly people specifically, at the expense of people who are already making a lot of money, plus it would virtually eliminate the estimated 1% Social Security funding shortfall over the next 75 years.
7. Increase the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour, then fix it to the inflation rate. Increasing the minimum wage is always popular. The only people who seem to oppose reasonable increases in it are millionaires like John Stossel who say things like "I can't tell the difference between $7.25 an hour and $50 an hour because they both sound like peanuts to me" because they don't like the idea of poor people having a say in how much they make. It takes money to live in the US, and there's no reason that people shouldn't have a right to vote on an issue like this.
6. Stop the escalation of conflict in Afghanistan. The war there is polling better than the one in Iraq, but people are still opposed to drawing up the conflict. If we really need a presence there, then let the neocons and Thomas Friedman make their case to the American people. The people need a voice in this system, which obviously their elected leaders, who insist on escalating the conflict, can't provide.
5. Provide free, universal maternity care coverage. 51% of Americans are women and 100% of Americans were born, so this one would be popular. While our government is filled with people like Sen. Jon Kyl, who doesn't think men should have to pay for things they "don't need" like maternity care, most Americans understand that infant mortality is bad and that women shouldn't have to shoulder the cost of our species's reproduction by themselves. Kids are a great way to sell ballot initiatives, and this one has "You want to kill babies and Mom!" written all over it.
4. Guarantee a maximum class size of 20, funded by cuts in the Defense budget. Do you support never-ending war or strong education? Sure, there'll be some fear-mongering, which might make this one harder to win, but it's not like it would ever get through Congress anyway. And remember: kids, kids kids. Reducing class size is one of the best ways to improve academic achievement, especially for minority students, and funding it nationally would reduce disparities in education between rich and poor school districts.
3. Make representation proportionate to state population in the Senate. This is a great idea for a national ballot initiative since, like asking a genie for more wishes, most people will vote to give themselves more votes. Plus it makes the organization fair, since I don't really see why certain Senators from states with almost no one living there (like North Dakota) can act like they can decide everyone else's health care future. We haven't voted on how the Senate is composed in a while, so why not give it a go now?
2. Pull out of Iraq. It's polling terribly because Americans want out. Sure, politicians have fun sending other people's kids to die and kill citizens of other countries in order to steal their resources, but Americans have been stuck with the bill, both in terms of human life and dollar bills. Sure, most people probably wouldn't vote against it because of any concern for Iraqis, but I still have enough faith in Americans that they'd come to the right conclusion. Let the people vote!
1. Create a strong, federally-run, required public option in health care that's open to everyone and can negotiate prices as it pleases. Nothing near that seems to even be on the table right now, but I wouldn't be surprised if it could win an election with the people. Americans overwhelmingly support the public option, and folks know that we're being looted by a system that costs over twice as much as other comparable nations' that provides less health care. I would have put single-payer up here, but that is too easily demagogued. This one's been demagogued for months now and is still popular, so it's a wingnut-tested winner.
Let the people vote!
And if you think that any of these ideas is half-baked, silly, or just bad policy, don't stand in the way of democracy! Let this go to the people and make your case to them. Because why should we stop at letting people vote on homophobic, transphobic, know-nothing, nativist, Ron Paul-esque, or anti-tax initiatives when we can open up the entire legislative process to everyone?
It's the self-esteem generation, and everyone can legislate on any issue now. The power of their baser instincts will guide them, and we can at least get items on the ballot to trump the baser instincts of our elected officials.
Or do you think that people might not be objective or knowledgeable to take on some of these topics?