There are very few political statements that can be made anymore to which virtually everyone will agree, but here’s one: Our republic is totally dysfunctional. The game that the political elites and the power brokers play is ruining the United States of America. It’s time for We, the People to change the rules of the game.
First, we do not need term limits. We have those every two to six years. They are called elections. Given the number of politicians who are continually returned to office, what we really want are term limits on other people’s representatives because we usually send back the same guy to represent us. Forget term limits; instead, let’s insist that members of Congress live under whatever law its members pass. No special retirement plan, no special health care, etc. etc. If it is good enough for us, it’s good enough for them. If We, the People were to insist on that simple principle, members would self-limit their terms for the simple reason that they gain nothing by hanging on. It might even attract what the Founders envisioned, which are citizen-statesmen, who serve out of a sense of civic duty, and then go back to whatever it is that made them successful in the first place. George Washington and Harry Truman were both happy to return to their farms despite the fact that they could have run again, and if our current politicians emulated those two gentlemen, the United States would be a happier, more efficient, better-led place than it is now.
Second, we don’t need campaign finance reform, we need campaign finance elimination. The two major political parties have a monopoly on political speech because if there is one thing that Democrats and Republicans agree on completely, it’s that no other political party is going to get a slice of the Power Pie. Policies are not advanced in the public interest, but as a means to a bigger piece of the Pie. There is no other way to explain how politicians and entire parties switch policies in the blink of an eye, yet without batting one. It’s a special talent, I suppose.
What we do need are publicly financed campaigns for all federal offices, and to distribute those funds equally across as broad a political spectrum as possible. Let’s give ourselves some options, and shop for solutions at the mom and pop parties rather than the large monopoly parties. After all, mom and pop stores often are more in touch with their customers. If a political party can garner a certain percentage of support in any state, then it receives an equal share of the campaign finance money, allowing them to sell their ideas in a competitive market. For example, say at least 15% (or maybe even 10%) of the population of a state identify as Libertarians (again, for example), then they receive one-third of the campaign money. If they get 15% and the Green Party also receives at least 15%, then that money is divided equally four-ways. Independent candidates may be accommodated in the same way.
We’ll give all the parties four weeks to invest their share in any way they choose, be it buttons or bumper stickers, TV ads or newspaper ads, or slogans disguised as ideas. Four weeks is plenty of time to convince us for whom we should vote. (And while we’re at it, we could base the total amount for the campaigns on the federal debt. The higher the debt, the fewer campaign dollars parties will receive.)
Our current batch of political “leaders” equate being in power with being a player in the nation’s business, forgetting that the government is meant to be the referee. It’s time for We, the People to throw a flag on political monopolies. Let’s make sure that the playing field is level.
Third, it is important to understand that we have been a party to our own ruination. The way we allow our country to be led by our federal representatives is akin to handing the car keys to a bunch of speed-crazy kids, who just want to drive our car without maintaining it. We’ve been in the back seat, just along for the ride, and now we look up to find that our car is dirty and dented. Furthermore, they have steered us in the wrong direction, for clearly, this is not where we want to be.
We need to make these political drivers pull into a rest stop, so that we can get out, stretch our legs, and recognize how we all came to be in the same car in the first place, that is to see what binds us. We are NOT bound by a common religion, language, or ancestral heritage. We are not bound by race nor ethnicity. We are not bound by any commonality save one: We all believe that our individual rights, chief among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, were established upon our individual births, and that we have formed ourselves into a government designed to protect these rights, and not to grant them, because such rights are not the government’s, nor any human institution’s to grant.
If we no longer agree on that, then our American journey has become nothing more than a joy-ride with no real purpose except to kill time until our demise.