Friday, August 12th, 2011
Part one - The System is Broken
In a conversation about politics, a friend and I tried to lay out a set of changes that might help get our country out of the mess it is in. First of all, we need leaders who are paternalistic and are willing to tell us “No“. Most politicians are so strung out trying to please all groups from the elderly to the religious (both of whom have loud voices) that they overlook the basic premise of their job, which is; Preserve our Nation. If politicians weren’t worried about getting re-elected as soon as they are sworn into office, they might do the right thing more often and not be in a continual state of crisis management. A few things that might help are:
Term Limits for Congressman and Senators – People making a career out of politics are flawed from the start. In order to stay in office, one must form relationships with political parties and special interest groups that will allow them to stay in office. The politician becomes obliged to their “patrons” and often loses objectivity and the sense of obligation to the people who elected them. I am always waiting for the politician who says, and means, “I am going to do the right thing, which may not be popular. If the people don’t think it is right, they shouldn’t re-elect me.“ However, since Mr. Smith isn’t going to Washington, just to keep them honest, Congress should be limited to four terms and the Senate to two terms.
Committee appointment lotteries – The ruling party (and the hierarchy within, tiered by seniority ) control the system and the flow of bills and discussions. It is not hard to imagine how a conversation between a rookie legislator and a senior one might go. “Listen kid, here is how it goes down. You follow the party line or else you might as well go home now because, you will never get a voice around here.” If the committee appointments were done by lottery, perhaps the element of chance might produce more objective and productive groups.
Issue Specific Bills – Currently, bills make it through the system after much compromise. Totally unrelated added wording is included in order to secure votes. So a 1,000 page bill on defense might have a farm or oil subsidy buried in it, or perhaps a “road to nowhere”. Bills should be limited and should name the sponsors.
Campaign Financing Reform -Media spending determines the outcomes of elections. Only the rich or influenced politicians can afford to run and win an office at State and National levels. So, unless you are independently wealthy and don’t mind financing your own campaign; you will either lose or compromise your integrity in order to get elected. Only ‘hard money’ limited to $1,000 individual donations and donations by political action committees should be allowed. Also, after the primary elections, candidates should have equal spending power which would be subsidized by the government or private donations to ‘campaign pools’ to be distributed to balance the spending by candidates. ‘Soft money’ which is money spent by independent organizations, not controlled by the candidates, should be prohibited since it often is used to attack candidates without revealing the true source of the funds. Soft money also allows special interest groups uncontrolled spending power to advance their agendas.