THE BLOG
11/04/2014 11:36 am ET Updated Jan 04, 2015

Play to Pay

Okay Americans, Election Day is today and it is time to put up or shut up. This is your chance to provide the spark that is needed to jump start a political battery that is dead. And if you do not play your role in the electoral drama about to unfold you have no right to criticize, complain, or castigate those who continue to take advantage of your impotence. So here is a novel spin on an old political trick, let's Play to Pay.

That the current political system is massively dysfunctional reflects the unsavory influence of what is known as the pay to play culture. In that world you get the worst government that money can buy and a level of corruption that fuels cynicism, frustration, anger, and ultimately very poor public policies.

Plenty have diagnosed the illness, few offer practical solutions. But here is one that is so patently obvious that it will make your head dizzy: how about we implement a play to pay environment? What does that mean and how would you do it? Simple, you must play in order to afford the system you want and the only way to play is to participate in selecting those who run it. Now ideally that would have started a year ago as 2014 campaigns were gearing up, but it is not too late since today you the voter get a chance to weigh in on what your government will look like at least for the next two years.

Our representative democracy was built on the ideal that ordinary people held the keys to power, but today our government is more reflective of an oligarchy than a democracy and to a large extent we the people are as culpable as any other factor in democracy's slow yet persistent demise. And to the extent that both our elected leaders and the fourth estate (the media) have done their best to limit participation by downplaying or shunning the fact that mid-term elections are elections nevertheless and are important we the people have allowed them to get away with it and actually are accomplices to the crime.

There is nothing systematically or structurally wrong with our system, it is a man-made disaster and to paraphrase President Kennedy can be corrected by man. The process of correcting a terribly misguided system will not happen overnight, but must start somewhere and at some point and there is no better time or place than at the voting booth on November 4.

I keep mentioning today because polling indicates that a large percentage of people do not even know there is an election. And as a veteran of many campaigns over the past forty years some candidates and organizations will further add to the confusion by purposely misleading people into believing it to be a date other than today. Even worse, the blatant national effort to erect barriers to deny people the opportunity to participate through voter suppression efforts only deepens the dysfunction. So playing to pay encourages all voters to deny success to these oligarchs by doing everything they can to insist that their votes are counted and count.

The old maxim you get what you pay for is paramount here. Either we the people flex our muscles to demand what is right or the vultures that prey upon us will walk away with the goods. A shrewd political leader taught me that if you don't ask you don't get, well if you don't play you don't get to complain.

So I offer this challenge to all those who profess to care about democracy and to those who are charged with disseminating public information: namely, publicize the fact that all elections are important. And to all those who feel disenfranchised by the current system this is your chance to make an impact. Vote!