Saturday, July 17, 2010

A 1974 Ford Pinto

In less than four months, our country is having an election and, frankly, I’m depressed.

Not in a partisan, us-against-them kind of way; I’m far too realistic and jaded to concern myself with party politics. Ideas excite me, political parties both amuse me and bore me.

No, I’m depressed because I fear our system is so broken that a fix only distracts the voters from the real condition. Politicians and a complicit, duplicitous media (more interested in the stench of celebrity than in honoring the spirit of the First Amendment) are merely morticians applying makeup to a corpse.

There’s a lot that needs to be done in this country but we won’t get there under the current system. Short of creating a Parliamentary system (my preferred solution, giving rise to a multi-party system, one among many advantages), the House and Senate need to :

  • Restrict races to six weeks; if a candidate can’t articulate a clear vision in that amount of time, they’re just more muddle for the game. The endless media circus we call political campaigns is an essentially endless process. Allow the electorate catch its collective breath and force the media to pursue real news.

  • Pass The Fair Elections Now Act to get the mega-rich and large corporations out of the business of buying politicians. Influence peddling has become the primary purpose of politicians and our representatives too often side with paid interests rather than voting in the interests of their constituents. Legislators are so busy rounding up favors to fund their next campaign that they forget why they’re in office.

  • Pass filibuster reform. It’s silly that the Senate requires 60 votes to pass critical legislation and the only argument in favor of the filibuster is that it protects the rights of the minority party. What drivel. The only purpose of the filibuster is to create gridlock, preventing the Senate from getting any work done, and creating a tyranny of the minority.

  • Enact Legislative reform. Rules for legislation in the House demand that amendments are germane to a bill and no riders are allowed. Unfortunately, the same doesn’t apply to the Senate and too often, good bills are killed by bad amendments or riders. Conversely, bad legislation often gets passed riding on the coat tails of a good bill.

Look, if your pet legislation is so crappy that no one will vote for it, get a clue. And if you oppose a bill, be honest and lobby against it, round up votes or get over the fact that things don’t always go your way. Defeating a bill with a poison pill amendment or grabbing some pork through the use of a rider is puerile.

Call me a dangerous radical (or depressed idealist) but until our government can pass the four reforms above, we have a 1974 Ford Pinto of a government.

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