5 Suggestions to Overhaul the Elections
I am not a professional politician. I am only an enthusiastic spectator in the stands. From my seat, during this round of the electorate, I have witnessed what is beyond my imagination. All the rules, written and unspoken, seem to have been thrown out the window. What we have learned is there is nothing conventional about this election.
Change is good. In fact, the best campaigns have been based on change. Sadly, many of the changes we are observing are driven more from fear then from the notion of change. Many Americans feel betrayed, unheard and unfairly represented.
Like them or lump them, the dark horsed, front-runners in both parties are leading the pack because they are un-orthodox in their approach and their views. They represent a deeper sense of change.
If we do not address the underlying tremors that the everyman is feeling, namely of being duped or swindled with empty promises and unachievable goals by the entitled, this experiment called America might fail.
Thus, I humbly suggest 5 inter-connected items that need to change for future elections and the future of our Republic.
• We Must Have a Shorter Election Process
I contend that Donald Trump is our collective punishment for an 18-month electoral process.
The election has been exhausting and we are not even near the convention, yet alone November. Primaries have only been completed in one third of the States. The media is hip deep in what-if scenarios and interviews that has dragged out the process longer than necessary. Meanwhile, other important news items are shuffled to the bottom of the pile, if they even make the mound at all.
There are countless strong democracies that elect leaders in significantly shorter processes. Some are as short as six weeks and others four months. Take a look at Canada, Israel, Great Britain and Germany for a clinic on how it could be done. None are almost two-years long!
Inestimable energy, resources and oomph are drained over this elongated process. Right-wingers and left-wingers end up fatigued and simply begging for the process to be over. Make it shorter. Everyone wins.
• No Public Office While Running for President
No one should be permitted to run for President while they hold public office.
You heard me correctly. No public office. You can hold public office before you decide to run for president and afterward too, but not while running.
Obviously, public office could propel one's candidacy a great deal. But too many people lose out when you are holding office and run for President.
Governors that are out of State for 250 days of the year, Senators that miss votes, Judges that are not on the bench are all derelict in their duties while aspiring for a greater role. It is unfair to the citizens of the state in question. It is also unethical.
Could you imagine a CEO of a Fortune 500 company missing ¾ of a year's worth of work, still receiving a full salary and benefits, while she interviews for a more prominent position? It is absurd. So is the current system. The constituents of the state or district of the person running lose. That is why college athletes that dream of the big leagues cannot try out for the professional teams until their season is over. We should do the same.
• New Term Limits
The Presidency of the United States should be one, six-year term.
Most Presidents spend the first four years of their first-term trying desperately and strategically to get re-elected. Countless resources of the Oval Office, including secret service details, the ability to leverage his role tactically and pushing policies that garner votes but do not necessarily spur the country, make the American taxpayers and citizens the suffer.
One term of six years is a sufficient time to govern and make real, direction-based choices. Further, the choices of the President can be purer and less politically motivated if the goal is to strengthen the fabric of our country and not best posture oneself to be re-elected.
• No More Super Pacs
This country went a long way to reform campaign finance only to have it undone by a legal loophole. This is some of the reason why the 'everyman' is acting out.
I am familiar with legal loopholes. They are used all the time in all types of settings.
Religious people use them to avert categories. Accountants apply them regularly to benefit the bottom line for the company. Congress uses legal loopholes to filibuster bills. Attorneys use them to aid their clients. I get it. Loopholes are great. But The SUPER PAC loophole is idiotic.
Give a nickel to any person running for office and I guarantee you an un-ending blitz of automated e-mails, texts and phone calls asking for more money. These funds are used for hiring staff, airing television commercials, private jets, lavish lunches, consultant fees and thousands of other things that remind us, the true victor of the election is the one who can amass the most spoils.
If the electoral process is about equanimity, how much money raised or spent needs to be curbed in a significant form. The Presidency cannot be accessible solely for the rich or the seasoned fundraiser. No restrictions on campaign finance can unhinge our entire electoral system.
• I Pledge Allegiance
Why are we quick to sign pledges for party yet, painfully silent on pledges of civility?
Republican candidates, worried about a splinter cell that would divide the party and cost the election (think Ross Perot) encouraged all of those seeking the Presidency in 2016 to sign a pledge that if they were not the nominee, they would support whoever the nominee of the party would be in the general election. All the candidates signed the pledge.
The debates of nasty rhetoric and yelling over one another have become commonplace. It feels more like a WWE match than interviewing for the most important job in the free world. Heck, one candidate even boasted about the size of his manhood. But, few have bragged about the magnanimity of their heart.
I am embarrassed that my kids are spectators sitting by my side during this election process. They have deduced in the snippets and glances that have been the focus of attention for the past 12 months, that bullying works. They learned that saying something outrageous gets you free airtime. They absorbed that deriding someone will garner more attention than being kind.
That is the very opposite of every value and ethic I have tried to instill as a parent.
I want my kids to lead, not follow. I want my kids to defend victims and push back on bullies. I have told my kids to ignore the attention seeker and to use kind words. I have reminded them to try to pursue the good in every situation. This election has made my job as a parent exponentially harder. We have to require candidates to sign pledges of respect. Civility should trump, ahem, pledges to party.
Democracy is not a sideline sport. The trends I am watching unfold before my eyes threaten more than an electoral cycle. They threaten the very democracy we claim to protect.
This election will pass. But, if we do not make serious and bold changes to overhaul this process, we will watch this movie again. I am afraid to see the ending of this show. I cannot imagine walking into the theater for the sequel!
America has always been made of courageous leaders. Courage requires us to break from that which we are familiar and take new steps for a better future. I cast a vote for change - not the person - but the concept.
Lets start with these steps.