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Thursday, March 1, 2007


In Hilltopia you’ll see quite a bit on politics. Politics is a weird thing; it affects us directly, yet so many of us avoid directly addressing it. I find that very strange. So often I find that the political situation either locally or nationally is the bull in the china shop that everyone is trying to avoid addressing. Horrifically, this new level of political correctness is exactly what is partially ailing so many situations in our communities. I can only address so many of those situations, but who cares? I can certainly give it a go. With that being said, let’s dive into some food for thought.

One of the biggest challenges to democracy now is the level of behind the scenes giving that is affecting what our representatives say and do. Too often a politician isn’t doing the right thing but is simply doing the action that has been paid for. There needs to be more transparency in campaign funding and political giving in general. All political funding should be easily traceable and verified. Each source of giving should have a name attached to it. The public should be able to clearly see who is contributing to a politician’s campaign. Dates, amounts and names should be recorded. Again, everything needs to be easily verified.

There should also be a limit to the amount a candidate should be able to collect. The democratic process should remain a public one. By limiting the amount collected, the political race doesn’t become one of who can get the most money to spend on an effective campaign. Instead, all politicians can collect up to the same amount. After that, you have to win on your track record, political platform, beliefs, plan of action, sales ability, and presentation to the public. The political game is currently one of pandering to the biggest wallets in order to get their money (and in turn be committed to serving the big wallet’s interests). And to make matters worse, the general public has no idea who the politicians have sold out to in order to build this war chest of money.

A set number of public debates should become mandatory in order to run for public office. No more hiding behind flashy ads, campaign managers, and public relations representatives. The politician has to get in front of the American public and present their views directly and in the company of a moderator and the other candidates. This would truly help create a “No Spin Zone”.

Criminal records should be made public. Hey, we’re hiring this person to oversee our well-being. I want to see what I’m buying. You should want to see what you’re buying into as well.

On top of all of this change, audits need to be conducted to make sure that everyone is playing by the rules. And to keep things clean, criminal charges should be brought against the candidate if there is any foul play. That’s right, no Scooter Libbys taking the fall for misrepresentation. The criminal charges are levied against the big boss if there’s any shady play. Somehow I think the process would clean itself up if the big boys had some skin in the game.

Spending, the great American pastime. All American governments should create a legitimate budget. The budget has to stay in the black with the exception of emergencies and war. And any spending over a set limit should be voted on by the people themselves. Any spending initiatives voted on should pass by a 2/3 vote. That is, there should be a clear mandate by the American people that this major investment is necessary and agreed upon.

Accounting, the fast and wild world of accounting. Ok, not so much. All governments need to practice “pay as you go” accounting. All expenses are paid for by income sources currently present. That is, there is no putting off expenses and working the books in such a manner as to show excess funds when in reality, the budget is in the red. And again, failure to present the budget in a manner not indicative as suggested above results in criminal prosecution for failure to disclose accurate information to the American public.

And to keep everyone honest, more public addresses and speeches made by politicians to the American public are made under oath. That is, say what you mean, mean what you say, and if not, you’re breaking the law. Let’s take the spin out of politics. Too many speeches and statements are made to the American public under false or at the very least, not completely true pretenses. Our founding fathers worked towards a political system that allows for a clear and honest dialogue between elected leaders and the American public. I’m not so sure that the same intent is being practiced as effectively today as it had been practiced then. A new effort to push for improvements in presenting clear and honest information to the American people is far overdue.

In closing, I’m not a professional politician nor do I claim to be an expert in any or all of these areas presented. But I am a participant in this great society and I think it’s not only my privilege and right to discuss these ideas, but it’s also a responsibility as an American citizen. Apathy and neglect are current plagues upon our political systems. And as a result, I think much of what we believe to be true and right about our American society has been twisted due to changing times, modern growth and special interests. The greater American public can begin to bring back our basic American ideals, we just have to push a little more and remember what it is that we truly want as a society. We can shape our destinies with practical application, we need only to begin.

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