I've avoided addressing the political mockery and the bizarre goings-on in this country here on my blog for over a year. That does not mean I have been able to escape the madness.
As we all know, so much has happened to affect American society in the past year including the assault on Blacks by police, the retaliatory attacks on police, the Syrian humanitarian crisis, the death of a Supreme Court justice, terrorist attacks and so many other world-altering events, which only help to place the Presidential election in context.
From the moment Donald Trump entered the race I predicted that left to his own devices he would self-destruct. Let's just say that the fact he hasn't imploded certainly isn't from a lack of effort. While I detest everything he represents I will give him credit for serving as the catalyst for change. At this writing it is still undecided as to who will be elected but there is an outside chance that Trump will win and that would surely extend the disaster this election represents. Regardless of the outcome, through his rise and that of his opponent we've seen how broken our election process really is. To be clear, I am no fan of Hillary Clinton but I favor her over Trump, which only underscores in my mind how desperately we need to rebuild our political process. How did we end up with these two choices among 325 million people? And how is it that if Clinton wins our nation will be governed by members of two families (Bush and Clinton) for at least 28 and more likely 32 years? The good news is: maybe this travesty of an election will represent a turning point, or at a minimum, modest improvement in how we elect people to office. Perhaps it will help Americans demand better in the future. Again, I give Trump credit. As the Chinese proverb states, "Without chaos, there can be no creativity."
If I had my way, here are the three things we'd do to improve the democratic process and move closer to the country we pretend to be:
1. The Electoral College (EC) would be abolished and the direct vote of the people would prevail. Yes, I've heard the scholarly experts explanation about why the EC should remain but I don't buy it. The EC is an antiquated system designed to limit the power of blacks, women and the influence of a few heavily populated states but also to override the votes of people who were considered not as capable of making an informed choice as their elected leaders. Those days are past.
2. Term limits would be imposed for all elected officials. Public office would be seen as a service not an annuity. How is it that the vast majority of members of Congress are now multi-millionaires with lifetime incomes provided by taxpayers? Once in, it is very hard to unseat an incumbent. That is largely due to and has perpetuated the control that lobbyists hold over elected officials. There isn't an elected office holder today at the municipal, county, state or national level, including a judge or law enforcement officer, that isn't beholding to some special interest money. As an addendum to this item I'd mandate that pay to elected officials would be suspended if they failed to operate under a balanced budget.
3. All national, state and municipal election cycles would be limited to six-month periods and paid for from public funds with set budgets. We're in the electronic age, people. We don't rely on the Pony Express any longer to communicate. Within seconds, information is transmitted around the globe. Fact checking is done almost as fast. Data exists to accurate predict how much money and what media mix is required to sell Tide. The same data sources are used to establish effective means and levels of political advertising and it ISN'T billions of dollars. There is only one reason we extend campaigns so long: MONEY. Politicians want to build their personal "war chests", which special interests are all too eager to do for them and the media want both the extended coverage opportunity for ratings and the windfall billions in revenue from political ads. It's pure nonsense that primaries, caucuses and conventions require planning time and the public requires time to familiarize itself with candidates and issues.
In 72 hours the fate of the nation will be largely decided. Next Wednesday, pundits will be quick to tell us it was a long, contentious, messy and arduous process but still the best on Earth. I say, "Bullshit!" I hope the turmoil we've suffered through to get to this point results in a major change in the way we select our elected officials and more importantly, the quality of people who are chosen. This race will have proven nothing except how faulty and worthy of collapse our political process is.