The Naked Emperor

25 February 2007

Election Burnout

It seems my wife actually reads this drivel, and makes intelligent comments.

Last night she mentioned something about Hillary saying Bill was "the most popular man in the world right now" , and thought I should opine on that. She also mentioned Obama, and the race so far.

But as she well knows, my brain has a mind of it's own so to speak.

I hadn't heard Hillary's comment. Something politicians just will not get is the fact that we just do not hang on their every word. Between the Emergency Room, my housecall practice, my wife, the farm, normal day-to-day problems and trying to have an occasional bit of fun, who's got the time? And we don't even have any two-legged kids.

Let's face it, it's February 2007 right now. The Presidential election isn't until November 2008, with the winner taking office in January 2009. Do these people honestly think we've got time to devote our entire attention to them for that long?

And this isn't the beginning, they've been running for months now.

Let's apply a little common sense here. Politicians spent two years or more running for President, a job that only lasts four years. Have you ever interviewed for a job that will last only twice as long as the interview?

Also I heard on the news that Hillary and Obama are each trying to raise $100 million before the primaries. Not the general election, just the primaries. This is for a job that only pays $300,000 each year, for a total of $1.2 million. Has any person with more than two brain cells ever spent over 100 times their lifetime earnings just to get a job?

In other words, this whole system is way out of control.

It gets worse. The Supreme Court decided that political dollars equal political speech. So now we have lots of interest groups on all sides raising tons of money, and throwing that into the fray as well. Billionaires use these groups to exert an inordinate amount of sway on the candidates. (i.e. Buying them). As an ordinary man, how can I compete with all this?

The short answer is that we can't. Before too long, if we can't be a part of the process, we get annoyed and just quit caring. See voter turn out numbers for proof of this.

We've got to do something about this. Now while pitchforks and torches sounds really good about now, it would probably be counterproductive. Damn.

I just happen to have a few ideas on the subject.

First, our elections take way too long. Other nations manage with much less time. Let's face it, none of these candidates has two years worth of valuable things to say. Most of them don't even have a good five minutes worth.

So we voters listen to these people saying the same thing over and over and over and over. Frankly, it's quite boring. So we hope for the occasional train wreck or cat fight.

See Hillary and Obama right now fighting over David Geffen. It's just like being back in grade school. Someone yells "Fight, Fight" and we all go over to watch until it's over. Then we go back to playing with our marbles.

So let's first limit the amount of time we spend on this.

I think that for Congress, sixty days is sufficient. Thirty days for the primary, and thirty days for the general election. Then we can all go back to our lives. For President, let's double that. Just four months. That should be enough hot air for anybody. This time limit includes campaign contributions too.

Question - Do alarmist politicians rantings contribute to global warming? Maybe we can cut down the election cycle for environmental reasons? Should they have to file an environmental impact statement for every speech?

That part was easy. Now here is where I get into deep doo-doo.

Yes, I believe strongly in free speech. I also believe that free speech has limits. After all, you are not allowed to yell "fire" in a crowded movie theatre.

As I said, the Supremes have equated money with speech. But how can we have fair elections when a billionaire can spend unlimited sums on "issue advocacy" or "I hate candidate X" ads? Their money gives them a much greater voice than I or anyone I know. My message may be better, but with him blaring his at such volume, mine will never be heard.

That, to me, fundamentally violates one man - one vote. To be honest, they spend such excessive sums so they can have the politician return their calls. But why shouldn't the average voter have as much right? We lowly voters should have as much chance to buy our politician as anyone else.

Therefore I think that the maximum given to any candidate from any source should be $500. I know politicians will say this is too little. But we're supposed to be electing you to manage our (repeat "OUR' not your ) money, to make our tax dollars go as far as they can. If they can't get elected with this amount, then they would be incapable of managing taxes well and shouldn't be elected in the first place.

Another point is where the donations to a candidate come from. Many years ago, a former Klansman got elected to the Louisiana Legislature. Amazingly, over 80% of his donations came from outside the district. No offense, but if you don't live in my district, SHUT THE HELL UP. I won't tell you how to vote in yours, and you don't tell me how to vote in mine. If you are not a legal resident, you have no right to interfere in my elections.

Since money equals speech, therefore you can not give money to any candidate not running in your district.

The same applies to corporations and non-profits as well. If your organization is not heaqduartered in the district, you cannot give. In other words the National Fredonian Society could only give money in it's home district. Any subsidiaries or related organizations, either financially of practically are covered by this. You can not give in more than one district.

I also believe that an election is the most personal and important thing we ever do in a democratic Republic.

It should be private, like sex. We don't need outsiders yelling "helpful" suggestions, or strangers in the process.

While we are near the subject of "issue advocacy" ads, I'm all in favor of them. Within reason.

First they must only be printed or aired in the district wherein they are headquartered. You can not publish an ad in my district with money raised in Fredonia. If your group is nationally headquartered in Fredonia, you may air there and only there. If there is a similar and totally independent group with similar concerns in my district, they may air here. But they must be totally, and I do mean totally independent.

And you may not air while there is an election underway. You only need to be quiet for six months out of every four years.

During that time, it is important for other voices to be quiet so we voters and the candidates may listen to each other. You can air all you want at other times, as long as the money is local and you can afford it. Let's apply a little parlimentary proceedure to this mayhem. Everybody gets to speak, let's take turn nicely children.

Before I depart, I want to bring up another thing to do with candidates and money. How they spend it.

A well known phenomenon is "walking around" money. Large sums of cash that go away on election day. The truth is that candidates use this for "get out the vote" efforts. They get as many fools as they can, give them each five or ten bucks, tell them who to vote for, and bus them to the polls.

This is common and is an attempt to buy an election, pure and simple.

From now on, all of the candidates expenditures and collections must be by check or credit/debit. And the donors and recipients must be published. The FEC will check for vote buying after each election.

One last thing. Any money left after an election must be donated to charity. No warchests. The next election we will start fresh, all candidates equal.

Well, now that I've made sure that both the Democrats and Republicans are gunning for me, my work is done for the day.

And if we did all this, maybe we could get back to our busy lives and not have to worry about what a candidate is wearing.

Until later,

The Naked Emperor


Post a Comment

<< Home