I’ve been half-paying attention to the various presidential campaigns warming up around the nation, and already I’m sick of most of them. It’s more than a year before the next presidential election. We should be focusing on issues for NOW not for 18 months from now. And yet, as always, politicians will spend the next year demonstrating why they are better than the next candidate, while avoiding saying anything of substance. It seems to get worse each time around, and frankly, I’m getting fed up with it.
But how to change?
Term limits. The usual argument against term limits is that is keeps good politicians from being re-elected and doing more good. On the other hand, bad politicians do get re-elected and continue doing more bad. Lately, it seems to me that the number of bad politicians (both ethically, as well as just bad at their job) far out-numbers the good politicians. Therefore, term limits might keep a handful of good politicians from being re-elected, but it will definitely keep the bad ones out. If I ruled the universe, I would impose a 1 term limit on every political office, with perhaps the exception of federally appointed judges, and even there I’m on the fence.
Lobbying. The usual argument for lobbying rests with free speech, a kind of put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is level of support for what you believe in. In reality, it’s nothing more than legalized bribery, and anyone who says it isn’t is probably get paid to say that. If I ruled the universe, I would allow lobbying of politicians to continue much the same way it does now (for I am a big believer in free-speech), with one minor hitch: All lobby firms would be required to be charitable institutions, and all lobbyists would have to donate their time to their cause. They would not be allowed to make money from lobbying. They can still choose to do it, and express themselves as they may. But the firms cannot make a profit and they cannot pay their staff. It has to become a hobby of love, rather than a big business.
Campaigning. Ugh! Let me just skip the preamble and say that if I ruled the universe, I would ban all campaigning prior to three months before the election a Presidential election, or 1/16th of the total term for the position, whatever is smallest. Outside that window, it would be illegal to campaign and those politicians who chose to do it anyway would be barred from the ballot. Still, there is the gray area of free-speech. So, when I person was elected to a position, they would sign an agreement, upon taking the oath, not to campaign outside the set window. If they chose not to sign the agreement, fine, but then they don’t get the job. It’s still their choice.
Debates. These days, they are a waste of time, and our forefathers, to say nothing of the Greeks and Romans would scorn us for what we today call a debate. Nothing of substance ever happens in a debate. You never see a politician concede a point or change his or her mind. If I ruled the universe, I would do away with debates as a waste of time, until such a time that politicians could keep an open mind and argue points rationally.
Common knowledge. We have too much of the “let them eat cake” syndrome in our politicians these days. They are too disconnected from the reality of every day life. If I ruled the universe, all politicians would have to publicly demonstrate some basic knowledge, like the price of a gallon of milk, or the cost of a typical doctors’ appointment. It would be a “pop” quiz, taking place at the discretion of the news media, and the timing could differ for each politician. You don’t have to know the information, but it would look pretty bad if you didn’t.
I guess we’re all lucky I don’t rule the universe.