Forgive the total irrelevance of this post to my published purpose. But I had something to say, and this blog is my soapbox, so here we go…
I am resigned to the fact that, in its current state, the United States Congress can accomplish nothing worthwhile. The Republicans are practically all up for sale, and the Democrats would be too if there was anyone who wanted to buy them.
Has anyone noticed how the votes in Congress all tend to go the highest bidder? We shouldn’t have to wonder why our country is run by the mega-corporations. (Lobbying reform is very important, but my beef today is going to be election reform.)
The obvious fact is, if you can afford a massive tv, radio and newspaper ad campaign, your chances of getting elected greatly improve. So how can we voters complain that money buys votes in Congress, when that’s exactly what’s happening in the elections. The high-rollers, the big spenders, are going to be the eventual victors.
So, if you want to get elected, you have to court the billionaires. And once you’re successful, you’re beholden to them. Thus, the billionaires are really the only ones being represented in Washington.
My solution? Not a campaign reform bill… a campaign ban! (of sorts)
Campaigns today have gotten completely out of control, with any given candidate starting the ball rolling 12 – 18 months in advance, and spending money totalling billions of dollars that could be feeding hungry people. And for what? Propaganda. Very, very little of any campaign is devoted to real discussions of issues, qualifications and character. Anymore it’s a mere combination of Grandstanding and Mudslinging. Not to mention all the governing that doesn’t get accomplished during that time.
Obviously, however, candidates need opportunities to become known by the people. But as long as their opportunities hinge on the size of their wallets, we will never have an effective goverment. So here’s my proposal for elections to the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House:
1) Whereas, it will be unlawful for anyone to formally announce one’s candidacy for public office more than six (6) months in advance of the first primary election, at which point, public speaking and interviews regarding the nature of one’s candidacy may lawfully begin. These two activities will not be restricted. However, absenteeism from one’s current duties in office in order to engage in these activities will be duly noted.
2) Whereas, a fee will be charged of each candidate desiring to enter the primary elections. The fee shall be $4,000 for the House of Representatives, $12,000 for the Senate, and $20,000 for the White House. This fee may be provided by a political party, or by the candidate’s own treasurer. Each candidate in the primaries must be verbally sponsored by an approved political party [note: new parties can become approved through public petitioning.] The treasury of an individual candidate may be funded only by gifts from individuals (other than the candidate or the candidate’s immediate family,) not to exceed $200 per benefactor.
3) Whereas, no political party will be permitted to provide the entry fee for more than two candidates for the same position in the primary elections. However, they will be permitted to verbally sponsor as many as they like. [note: Political parties will try to keep their pool small, so as to avoid spreading the votes of their support base too thin.]
4) Whereas, it will be unlawful to “advertise” or “market” one’s candidacy in the mass media. Those who report the news will be expected (but not required) to provide balanced information about each candidate running, for the education of the public. Although mass media outlets are free to take an editorial position in endorsing particular candidates, any exchange of money, goods or favors between said media outlet and the endorsed candidate will be unlawful. Official pamphlets will be produced by the government providing the employment, criminal, voting and attendance records, plus a brief statement from the candidates on key issues. These pamphlets will be widely circulated.
5) Whereas, official debates will be hosted and broadcast (on a network station or PBS,) very similar to the current practice. One debate will be hosted during the month prior to primary elections. Every candidate will be invited to participate, and also offer a personal speech. Three debates will be hosted during the two months prior to the general election, and several opportunities will be given to each candidate to broadcast personal speeches.
6) Whereas, primary elections will be open, and not based on political party. All candidates running for a given position will be on the ballot, and voters will be given 5 votes to use. They may give all 5 to one candidate, give 1 vote to 5 different candidates, or divide them up in other ways. The two candidates with the most votes received will advance, even if they are both from the same party.
7) Whereas, there shall be no Electoral College. It is stupid and useless.
8) For the general elections, each voter is given one vote to use, and the candidate who earns the most votes will be the winner.
9) Whereas, all offical debates and speeches will be hosted and broadcast at the expense of the United States government, using entry fees, and tax money when necessary.
10) Resolved, representation in Congress and the White House shall be returned to the voters of the United States, and undue power shall be revoked from corporations, special interests and the wealthy.
I know a lot of this sounds socialistic, and kind of un-American. But remember, capitalism and free market principles are for the market, not for the government. There is nothing un-American about placing constraints on government operations in order to increase and maintain the quality of egalitarian representation therein. In fact, I think it’s the most American thing we can do.