If you asked the average American what makes the USA the greatest country in the world (it just is, OK? Don’t start!) I venture that high on most folks’ list would be that we’re a democracy, as in we have free and fair elections. True, half the eligible voters don’t cast ballots either out of apathy or cynicism (“they’re all a bunch of crooks”), bogus “voter fraud” laws have made it harder or impossible for particular demographic groups to participate, many of the people who do vote are single-issue voters or woefully confused and uninformed on the issues, and polls consistently show that voters think their elected officials are contemptible do-nothings who they proceed to overwhelmingly re-elect, but these small caveats aside, Democracy and Elections – really great stuff, America! Keep up the good work!
It’s popular now to blame the sorry state of our electoral system on Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that opened up the proverbial floodgates of corporate largesse to the candidates of their choice, and “dark” (secret contributor) money, but that’s a little pat. Just like it’s not money, but the love of it, that’s the root of all evil, it’s how the money is dispensed and deployed that corrodes the electoral system. After all, if all those billions were used to actually inform and invigorate the citizenry about the great issues facing the country, and for public outreach efforts to galvanize the apathetic to understand why their vote matters, we could see a rise in the level of debates, and a corresponding increase in the percentage of people voting. The influx of cash might then be considered a blessing.
Instead, the money is largely used to obfuscate, confuse, target, tarnish, manipulate and destroy any and all who stand between the donors and their agenda. Be it the Koch Brothers, powerful lobbyist groups like the NRA, ad hoc issues groups, or the political parties and candidates themselves, the sole goal is attaining power, and anything that stands in the way is road kill.
The most dastardly and corrosive element of this phenomenon is that the elections’ largest donors don’t believe in them. They don’t believe in the democratic ideal of one-person one vote, let’s have-an-honest-and open debate on the issues and may the will of the people prevail. It’s as if they’re afraid that a true representation of their positions would insure their defeat at the polls. So, instead, they subvert and undermine the “free and fair election” ideal at every turn.
When you get down to it, it’s downright unpatriotic, what they do.
So, cue the turntable to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” as I address these usurpers of our democratic process directly, and issue a pre-Election Day appeal to their love of country, which lurks somewhere deep within, buried beneath their love of self-interest…
If you really loved America…
*You would stop running negative ads that distort your opponents’ positions and falsely attack his/her character, and allow an honest representation of all sides, trusting voters to choose the path they prefer.
*You would support policies that promoted the long-term growth and health of our land, rather than short-term ones that line your pockets but are ultimately destructive.
*You would encourage all Americans to participate in the voting process, and not restrict it by ginning up phony “I.D.” issues, shortening the days that the public can vote, disqualifying college students from voting where they go to school, and other measures that selectively suppress turnout among voters not deemed sympathetic to your side. .
*You would help find the smartest, most innovative minds to run as candidates, rather than ambitious mediocrities whose only principle is helping themselves.
If you really loved America…
*You’d remove money from politics, so our leaders could devote their time to ruling wisely rather than spending four to five hours a day humiliating themselves attempting to raise money to run again.
*You wouldn’t gerrymander districts into Ebola virus type shapes so that your party’s representation in Congress far exceeds its percentage of the vote.
*You wouldn’t set up sham “grassroots” interest groups with homespun names in order to fool voters that it represents them, when they’re actually funded by industrialists whose intent is the exact opposite.
*You would be forthright with the American people that your “main goal” is to thwart elected officials from the opposition party from achieving their agenda, in order for your side to attain prominence in the future.
*You wouldn’t stir up the citizenry with imaginary “threats” that will never materialize because it galvanizes your base to come out in force.
*You would have one standard of “character” that would apply to candidates and office-holders of all parties, rather than hypocritically excusing “your guy” and crucifying “their guy” for the same offense.
*You’d pursue policies that served the greater good, rather than those that merely line the pockets of you and your cohorts.
And then I woke up!
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