Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Political Fantasy...

"The government is owned by special interests!" "They don't care about the will of the people..." "The banks own our government", "I'm tired of career politicians...", "Corporate interests first, Politicians interests next and American people's interests a distant third..." 

These are all things you may have heard people say, said yourself, or even heard me say at one time or another. So...

The following can only be described as my political fantasy, not the Anthony Wiener variety though. As such, I expect some of you reading this will shake your head at my silliness. The following could feasibly occur, however, with the help of course of people more powerful than me. If I were a billionaire, perhaps I could make this happen. But until then, I dream and we collectively languish in a country with a filthy, broken government system.

Politically, I describe myself as an Independent. This basically means that I have no allegiance whatsoever to any political party and frankly, I find them completely detestable. Political parties exist for the simple purpose of getting people elected, often at any cost. Further, I believe one of greatest evils of our time is that the Political Parties have been successful at polarizing the American people through lies, exaggerations, and fear. As a result, most people are unwilling to rationally discuss ideas for improving our country. Instead, they just end up sounding crazy by accusing the other of wanting to kill grandma or some other ridiculous claim. Boogie man politics is king, and boogie man political discussion with people spoon fed talking points is often unproductive at best and often damages relationships and practically ruins some social networking experiences. We've come to a place where, if there's disagreement, we discount the legitimacy of the disagreement and assume the other person is just stupid or has ulterior motives. 
Like many of my friends on both the left and the right, I am at my wits end with how are our government plays political football with decisions, lawmaking, wars, economic policy and the like that deeply affect the lives and deaths of Americans. And yes, I'm talking about ALL of our elected officials. I have no doubt that there are a handful of decent people in there, who actually take their role in governing seriously. But frankly, those guys and gals are fighting a losing battle and eventually lose their office to someone with a slicker campaign, become discredited as a kook, or get swallowed up in the game. There is no excitement for rationality, compromise, or common good for that matter. There seems only to be some excitement in trashing the opponent and winning. Winning, by the way, does not include you winning, though they do try to make you feel that way. It's only in the way that your football team wins and feels good for only about a week.
Elections seem to never end as decisions in congress are made by our government along party lines and not on the merit of legislation. Politicians are usually more concerned with how their vote on legislation looks and how it might affect their huge campaign donors and as a result their re-election bid, rather than how it will affect the American people. Since re-election is so important to them, they then find themselves making decisions often with the very heavy hand of corporate and special interest campaign contributors guiding them.
How much did you contribute last year? I'm sure for most of you it wasn't very much at all, if anything, and why should you? You couldn't compete with the Dominion Resources, GE's, Pfizer's, Bank of America's and Exxon's of the world, and believe me, you're interests are not as important to them as their corporate cash cows. However, when you do invest in someone's campaign, while the money usually isn't that significant in comparison, it's extremely valuable for them for a couple of reasons. First, now you're financially invested. Now you feel a sense of ownership in the campaign. Secondly, you become more emotionally involved. It's this kind of emotional involvement that now has you more easily believing all of the excuses and lies that will follow as to why their campaign promises couldn't be realized. In some cases, you're so bought in that you might even find yourself defending someone from your party who has obviously lied, cheated the system, shown great moral failings, or stolen. This happens often because people are so caught up in the game that they no longer are guided by principles, but rather by the need to win (again the kind of win that feels good for only about a week). 
Elections require lots and lots of money. The 2008 campaign was the costliest in history, with a record-shattering $5.3 billion in spending by candidates, political parties and interest groups on the congressional and presidential races (Source, Politico.com). Seriously now, that's a lot of cash for a government to be so bad. Now where does all of this money come from? It comes from special interests, corporations, Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, foreign lobbyists, etc. There are alot of groups out there that don't care one iota about your well-being that have the government at their disposal.

So you see, the two primary concerns for politicians are re-election and funding of re-election and election campaigns. As long as huge sums money are a need for elected officials to fund campaigns, they will focus on the needs of those supplying the huge sums of money funding their campaigns. 
We need a Constitutional Amendment that makes it illegal for politicians to directly or indirectly receive funds or gifts from pacs, corporations, etc. while campaigning, during terms, and up to 24 months after their term ends. The theory here is that with the distraction of special interests and re-election out of the way, politicians would have no excuse but to focus on the business of the people (fingers crossed).
So at this point, you might be saying "..great, genius idea, but people have talked about this kind of stuff forever.."
Yes, you're right, they have.
However, the climate now is perfect to actually make it happen. According to a Fox News poll, more than 70% of Americans favor limiting terms for legislators.  Further, Americans have little trust in people running for office. In October of 2010, one poll showed that 76% of Americans showed little to no trust in the government. Important note, this number was not party specific and government trust has been deteriorating for the past 50 years. 
With these in mind, my belief is that an aging billionaire, who has interest in legacy, could mobilize Americans of all parties to push for a Constitutional Convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to include single 6 year terms for both the House and the Senate. Further, add an Amendment specifically governing campaigns, campaign finance, truth in campaigning and outlawing government officials from receiving gifts of any kind for corporations, foreign governments, special interests, etc.
We would definitely still have very different ideas on government, but these ideas could be debated properly without the influence of folks making a buck helping decide the outcomes. 
The reason we need a billionaire to get it rolling is that it would take lots of money to get the message out. A campaign for Americans by Americans would need to be funded. However, the same energy and passion that mobilized people to elect Barack Obama would likely be two-fold, since most Americans, regardless of Party affiliation, favor term limits and the elimination of corporate influence on our government. You would have people united as Americans, regardless of Party affiliation, to regain the lion's share of influence on government. The way to do it is the same way our current President got elected. Begin with people on the ground in all fifty states. Advertise the vision and organize initial volunteer meetings. The movement begins.
Seriously, the good folks in Egypt made their government change. I know we can. We've got the people to get it started, too. With 9+% unemployment, I'm sure alot of those folks might have something to say, besides, they've got nothing else to do. 
My billionaire of choice is Warren Buffet. A successful bid to change our constitution and our country's future for the better would place Mr. Buffet among the most highly regarded figures in American History. A movement like this would fundamentally change our country forever, in a way that, our children and their children will benefit from dramatically. So, if you know Mr. Buffet, pass this on. What do you say sir? Let's make things right.
Go now to www.getmoneyout.com

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