Here we are on election day, ready to put x, y or z into office or continue the same. High school civics tells us that a democracy is a form of government by the people wherein we elect representatives to do our bidding. Everyone should know that.
We each have a philosophy of what government should be and the majority rules. Smart democracies don’t make it a winner take all but try to provide for input from all sources. For so many years in our country the middle was where the business got done and the lunatic fringe just swayed us a little to the right or left depending who had the reins. That was then.
I have pointed out in the past that with few exceptions no one gets all the votes. We consider a landslide to be 55-45 but that still leaves a lot of people who did not see quite eye to eye with the winner. Mandates are few and far between but we just can’t seem to wear victory nor defeat very gracefully. Up yours now substitutes for a hand shake and the whole prospect of “we will get them next time” sets a stage for contention and not compromise.
Now you will say it is politics as usual. I say it is politics getting worse. Incredibly we are wusses. It is so easy to throw up your hands and pout. My vote counts for nothing. In the last presidential election 90 MILLION people didn’t vote. Good for you. You exercised your right not to participate. Bad for us.
Unfortunately this turnout leaves the whole process in the hands of very few. An average person can’t get nominated but if they do they don’t have the wherewithal financially to get elected. There are party machines to make sure their select ones get the nod. Then the money machines further winnow the field and then they set about getting payback for their largesse and we all sit here cursing the system while doing absolutely zip about it. The entire process from nomination to election is dependent on one thing…money.
The estimates on expenditures for this election come in around for $4 billion. Most of this has gone into negative advertising. The most bizarre part is that it works. Time after time you can see a race mosaic change colors depending on the amount of mud slung. People are actually swayed. Guess that says something about all of us.
But if we stood up and demanded they talk about issues and not berate their opponent the money would have no effect. Is it just me or is this patently obvious? But as dutiful robots we take what they feed us. I actually think this relates to not only politics but life in general when we accept crummy service or bad attitudes. But that is a whole other story for a different blog.
Enter the hero or heroine. Webster tells us they are someone to be greatly admired for their fine qualities or exceptional deeds.They are willing to make sacrifices and take a risk. Hold that thought.
We have a bad habit of hero worship today whether it be in academia or rap music. We have a great desire or need to look up to people for the slightest bit of excellence. Is it because they are so good or because we are so ordinary or wanting? LeBron, Peyton (maybe not this week), Lady GaGa, Hilary Clinton, Oprah…all bathe in the adulation.
To me the closest thing to a hero is the Sergeant at Arms in Parliament in Ottawa or that female teacher in state of Washington who confronted the student gunman. But in a very practical way they were just doing their jobs. Instead of calling them out for attention I wonder if we should just simply say that’s how we should all be? Is it a sign of our complacency when we call someone out for just being ordinary. I remember after 9/11 the NYSE gave Dick Grasso, the boss, $5 million for just just getting the Big Board open after several days of being down. Wasn’t that his job?
Point being? We are at a critical point in our relatively young democracy where we have to make a decision. First is are we really going to get involved or let the monied and power brokers call the tune? Leave it there and we get what we paid for or should I say what they paid for.
Secondly and more paramount is what are you going to demand? Are we going to meekly let them sling crud and dodge any culpability or are we going to develop a fourth estate of our own? Money talks but so do the people. Look at the umbrella revolt in Hong Kong. Everybody thinks they are gong to burn out but it doesn’t quite look as if the revolt has run its course. Catalonia? Arab Spring? Why not us?
Right now I would demand action on three things. I would say I want a bill on tax reform, immigration and trade. On taxes I would throw out every loophole except for mortgages and charitable contributions..Lower rates and simplify both personal and corporate. Any other break or deduction would have to be brought up and voted on in a specific bill not a hidden line in a defense appropriation. It would also be a roll call vote.Everything out i nthe open. Having trouble compromising? You work 10 hours a day, seven days a week and no adjournment until it is done. Handle them all the same way.
Yes, we need heroes and heroines. We need as described above people of exceptional character who are willing to sacrifice and take a risk. But it’s not just the politicos and bureaucrats. It’s us too. That’s right. You and me. Averages Janes and Joes. If this thing is really worth it and even more so what will ensure a prosperous future for us and our kids then it is time to stand up and be counted. A good friend told me he was just too busy to worry about it. Maybe he was being blatantly honest but how incredibly sad.
Ted The Great
The $4 billion spent on the elections is obscene but even worse when you consider there were only ten Senate and 50 House races that were considered competitive.
In 2010 the financing of congressional elections was as follows:
11% Candidate’s personal or family funds
48% large donors..up to $2500
23% PACS Political Action Committees
13% Small donors…up to $200
change.org is a site where one can start a petition drive. It outlines every step in the process.
Both Harry Reid and John Boehner have incredible power in what gets to the floor for a vote. I would propose a website of all bills and amendments to current bills be posted on a website, tell where they are in the queue and why they are not moving forward. I would also post how long the houses are in session for that week and what they accomplished from the week before.Lastly both leaders would have to hold a press conference twice a month with unlimited questions from the press.
The 113th Congress was in session 133 days or an average of 2.6 days a week. They spend 40 weekends a year at home. They have 110 days of recess ,travel and state work. The average American works 240 days a year. Kathy and I went on vacation 9/15/14 and Congress was already out of session and they still are out. I am going to have a very tall scotch.