Thursday, August 16, 2012

COMMENTARY: Four ways to immediately improve government


In a poll released this week, it was revealed that Congress has a 10 percent approval rating.

It's shocking because that's a little too high for my liking.

As we enter another election season, there are growing frustrations by many Americans about the way our government works. I'm one of them and most everyone I know do not respect the current political situation and political climate.

However, instead of just complaining, I have four ideas that would dramatically improve all levels of government overnight.

These are simple ideas, but ideas that most Republicans and Democrats would reject because it would threaten their jobs and make them work harder for their constituents.

I say too bad.

Here are four ways to immediately improve government and set it on the right course for all Americans.

1. Term limits. If limiting the number of terms worked for the greatest American ever, why can't it work for all our congressional representatives and senators? George Washington refused to serve a third-term as president, believing he would become a defacto king, thus turning back the new American system of government to one that resembled the monarchy in England. If George Washington thought it was a good idea, why shouldn't it work for U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi or U.S. Rep. John Boehner? (That last sentence is the only time George Washington should be mentioned in the same sentence as Boehner or Pelosi, by the way.) Democrats and Republicans share one thing in common: Turning political positions into career positions. Politicians are not just liberal or conservative. They're careerists. Each election, I hear local, state and national politicians mention their desire to serve the community. If the idea for a public official is to truly serve the public, part of that should be passing the torch to a new group of leaders.

2. Campaign finance reform. As a self-professed Libertarian, this one is even a bitter pill for me to swallow. If people want to spend a lot of money on politics, why should we stop them? However, campaign finance reform the right way would be a major step in the right direction. Take a look at the history of political donations since 1989. Is there any wonder why politicians ignore us? Even if we donated $25 to a politician, it's unlikely he or she will listen to us if they have a $2,000 donation waiting from a billionaire, corporation or union. If we are serious about saving our government and making it work for the people again, it's time to say good-bye to the National Education Association, Koch Industries, Goldman Sachs and these deep-pocketed political action committees. It's always struck me as funny when I hear Republicans complain about union donations and Democrats complain and demagogue the Koch Brothers - but somehow ignore the common link and refuse to take care of it with draconian campaign finance reform legislation. Taking out the big money in politics would help improve it. As a side effect, taking out the big money would help independent parties like mine (the Libertarian Party) and the Green Party.

3. A lot more town-hall style debates. The 2012 election, like all presidential elections in my lifetime, is being trumpeted up as the most important election in our lives. If that's really the case, why will we only get three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate this fall? All of these debates will also be moderated by members of the big-media, who quite frankly are out of touch with the needs of the average citizen. We need town-hall debates - one that squarely puts a presidential or congressional candidate on the hot seat due to questions from Americans. Town-hall debates bring out the best and worst of a politician.

4. A serious crackdown on gerrymander. This is another common link between the two parties that rule over us. Whenever a state Democratic or Republican party wins big, gerrymander likely happens when the issue of redistricting pops up. The Kansas Republican Party attempted to gerrymander Wyandotte County to the first district this year. It's not just the Republicans. Google "Gerrymandering and Democrats" and you'll find the Democratic Parties in Illinois, North Carolina and Minnesota are looking to take advantage of the system. Gerrymandering is corrupt. Both parties are extremely guilty with gerrymandering. Sorry. If there was a serious crackdown on it, less corruption and less inaction would happen. Along with benefiting the parties, gerrymandering helps the careerists keep their jobs.

These four ideas would not save government.

But they would improve the political process overnight.

Unfortunately, they're unlikely to happen. The two-party system exists primarily because of big money and the current political system as it's set up.

If Americans are serious about wanting a better government, however, I believe they need to put their ideologies aside and adopt these four ideas. Then, we can wield swords on the issues of entitlements, military spending, education and taxes.

Conservatives love the idea of term limits. Liberals are bigger fans of campaign finance reform than conservatives are. My plan has some compromise in it.

Until these four ideas become reality, the fix will always be in for the two parties. Each election cycle, it will be garbage in and garbage out.