Monday, April 8, 2013

The First Thing We Have to Do BEFORE We Solve Our Problems - Job One

It sure does seem that it is near impossible for our dear country, the US, to address and solve its many problems; the deficit, unemployment, immigration, gun violence, the cost of health care, and so on, seem unsolvable when politics enters the picture.  The gridlock is worse than ever and seems to get only worse with time.

How do we get out of this cycle of governing from crisis to crisis, most of our own making?  The central problem is the system; our broken down democracy is barely democratic anymore.  Laws end up not being made based on the well being of the citizenry.

Many elections are decided by the money one candidate or another can attract, usually by "selling" their legislative votes to the wealthiest special interest donors, such as health care businesses, defense contractors, unions and so on.  Other elections are basically rigged by gerrymandered electoral districts; the election is over after the primary votes are counted - the victimized political party has no chance in the general election because of the gerrymandering.  Voter suppression is even making a comeback, typically targeting certain classes of voters and the net result of all these undemocratic practices is dysfunction.  What a shock!

We will NOT solve our deficit problem when legislators are beholding to large donors who may have not care about what is best for the country but instead what is best for themselves and have a disproportionate share of the wealth with which to pursue their selfish interests.  Exactly how does one determine the point when a donation is no different than a bribe?
 
The solutions are simple and cheap.  There should be very low limits for campaign contributions, such as $100 or $200, depending on the level of the election, and it must apply to people and corporations.  Furthermore, if a candidate obtains a certain level of low donation support, they can qualify for public campaign financing, and be able to compete with the Romneys, Bloomburgs, Bushes, Obamas and Clintons of the world financially.

Furthermore, Political Action Committees must no longer have a free ride; if they cannot be constitutionally eradicated then they must be held accountable for falsehoods, frauds and outright lies told in order to affect elections via fines, lawsuits and prison.  It is outrageous that almost any amount can be raised, anything can then be said, affecting any election, all without the slightest consequence for the most blatant lies and misleading statements that, after all, could change our nation's history for the worse!  Yes we have free speech, but fraud and libel are illegal; why is fraudulent political speech by non-candidates an exception?

Gerrymandering must be outlawed; it truly is no problem to devise objective methods of creating voting districts.  Computers could do it without regard to ethnicity, political affiliation, age or anything other than population and geography.  What is the problem?;

The Electoral College?  It must be amended so that the President is elected by popular vote.  Politicians are currently plotting to institute different electoral college schemes in different states that would favor one party over the other.  How could subverting true democracy be good for us?  The President must be elected by popular vote.

Filibuster? It has devolved into the Senate needing 60% in favor in order to pass a law; this is nowhere in the Constitution.  It must be ended.

Finally, term limits must be instituted at all levels of government; 8 years for executives, 12 years for lawmakers and 20 years for judges.  Public office must return to being a service, not a career.

Until we create a system that is truly democratic and makes political office a service and not a job to be bought and sold, we will solve nothing.  It is Job One.
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