Submitted by Dylan Ratigan
Fix America? Fix the Politicians
Today we end Fix It week on my show, although we hope to keep this
recurring theme. But the largest hindrance to solutions for all of the
problems we've discussed - be it the Deficit,
Energy, Education or the Wars -- goes back to one place: the current
Political Process in our country.
We practically all share the same list of problems, regardless of
ideology: The undue influence of moneyed interest, the focus on inane
Culture Wars instead of proper governance, the low quality of our
politicians coupled with their high incumbency rates, the lack of ethics,
disclosure etc. The only question left is how to fix them and then, how
do we muster the will?
These are the questions we will address for my entire show today -
and just to get the ball rolling, here are four of my favorite
1. ONE FOR ME, ONE FOR YOU
I don't have to explain to anyone why we need to fix the campaign
finance system. The question is how do we do it fairly. Publicly
financed campaigns are one solution, but they seem to go against our
very nature as Americans. After all, who wants to be forced into having
their tax money going to politicians they don't like? Meanwhile,
infringing on the amounts people can donate gives an advantage to wealthy candidates. But I think there is pretty
easy solution to this:
I propose that we make a law that charges 100% fee on all political
spending, with the that fee going into a public campaign financing fund
that given solely to candidates with low campaign coffers on a per
petition signature basis. This means that if a well-moneyed candidate
like Barack Obama wants to spend $740 million of campaign donations, $370 million
of that can go to his campaign and the other half to public campaign fund.
Even better, if a wealthy person like Michael Bloomberg wants to
spend $108 million of his fortune trying to get elected,
half goes to other, less-moneyed candidates. As far as those "poorer"
candidates go, the more valid petition signatures they have, the more
money they should get from the fund.
In addition to curtailing the power of the dollar in elections, this
would especially help new candidates take advantage of modern marvels
like social networking etc. to jumpstart a serious challenge to
And if you don't want your money going to candidates you don't like,
then don't get in to the game in the first place.
2. DISCLOSE EVERYTHING TO ALL
It is a sad state of affairs when corporations, who clearly don't
work for us, are forced to disclose more to than Politicians who do (or at
least are paid by us). We need to put the legal onus on Politicians to
disclose every single potential conflict of interest, be it an invite to a
BBQ or getting their nephew a job with a contractor. This means that if
it could in any conceivable way be considered a conflict, it's on them
to disclose it even if there is no specific rule against it. Then, if
they are found being negligent of material disclosure, they need to be
fired, fined and possibly jailed.
3. COOL YOUR HEELS FOR SEVEN YEARS
door from Politics to corresponding positions of undue influence in
the private sector has to be stopped. There needs to be a seven year
cooling off period for all Politicians, staffers and regulators from
working in any related industry or lobbying their former colleagues.
While this might sound draconian, ask yourself, do you really think
we are getting high quality public servants with the current incentive
structure? I am betting we will get much more capable public servants
once we hinder their ability to get rich off of their service.
4. END THE LEFTY-RIGHTY FACADE
As far as I can tell, at this point the major differences in the
traditional Political Parties has basically become their stance on gay
marriage - and even that looks pretty similar once they are in power.
Both like to give away money they don't have and are unwilling to stand
up to the special interests that fund them.
Furthermore, the false choice of "Republican" or "Democrat" is
keeping some of the best candidates from making it to the general
election. If politicians want to align themselves into two Political
Parties, that is their right. But the government shouldn't allow them
to hold separate primaries. Hopefully this recent move to open
primaries in California will take off across the country.
The question now is how do we get these same complicit politicians to
make the fundamental changes that we need to the system. My hope is
that in the coming years, we will see more and more people deciding that
they have had enough and will enter into the political spectrum or push
their neighbors and friends to do so.
Also, I am waiting patiently for serious candidates in the United
States to sign a legally binding contract guaranteeing that they will
support initiatives like the ones outlined above. Don't laugh, it's
already on its way across the pond.
Politicians held personally liable for breaking their promises to the
voter? That's change we all could believe in.