Twenty-five years before the Revolutionary War began, Reverend Jonathan Mayhew was credited for having coined the rallying cry, "No taxation without representation." Fifteen years later, as the divide widened between England and the colonies, a Boston politician named James Otis reportedly added his own, stronger catchphrase to the debate, saying, "Taxation without representation is tyranny." All hell finally broke loose in 1775, and the war was on. In 1775, Patrick Henry spoke his now famous words, "I know not what course others may take, but as for me give me liberty or give me death." The revolution was under way because people felt that proper representation and liberty were that important.
I am sure that Pat and those who fought for this freedom roll over in their graves as they witness the actions of many of the current members of Congress. They would not believe what their dreams have become. They would be shocked that taxation with representation has deteriorated into nothing more than a struggle for power and control. A good number of our representatives have changed the phrase "give me liberty," to simply "give me." We spend more time talking about elections than we do about issues. Politicians start posturing and virtually selling their souls years in advance to get a shot at a powerful position. This jockeying for power creates a mentality whereby no price is too large to pay to be elected or re-elected. I know it is not the first time anyone has observed this, but the debates are no longer about what is right and wrong for our country. The debates are now about power and purely between right and left.
The current budget debate has magnified the ugliness of what power and control can do. Decisions are being made for votes, not for solutions. Decisions are being made with the next elections in mind, not with the next generations in mind. Decisions are being made with rich donors in mind. Grandstanding by senators and representatives is running rampant. As Americans, we all are losing. It is time we put an end to such activity.
It bothers me when people complain without offering any solutions. That said, I want to offer the following for this and future challenges in our government:
1. If the government shuts down, Congress loses two days of salary for every day the government doesn't operate. I think that might add some incentive to work together for what is best for all.
2. The pay scale for politicians is a decreasing scale with no pay after 12 years of service. If you care to serve longer, you must do it as a volunteer. Politics should be a passion to do what is right for the people. It is not supposed to be a career.
3. Politicians on the national level should get health-care coverage equivalent to an average of what the public school teachers in our country have. If they want better, they can pay for it.
4. The body in which they serve does not establish the salaries for state and national elected officials. The police officers and firefighters will set the salaries. Just so you, the politicians, know, it would probably mean a decrease in pay. As far as I am concerned, our police forces and firefighters deserve much more compensation than our politicians do.
5. Because balancing the budget is critical to our future, if the elected officials can't manage to balance a budget, their salaries will be reduced by double the percentage of deficit. If the budget deficit is 10%, they just managed to get themselves a 20% pay cut. If they want the glory in the good times, they need to share in the pain during the bad times.
6. Election campaigns will be run like reality shows and limited to 16 episodes. We will vote candidates off by telephone each month. Pure American Companies will sponsor the show, and the politicians won't be sponsored. They can't wear a Budweiser tie or a Nike logo on their suit or dress. Don't ask why I set it at 16 episodes. Four months for a campaign just sounds much more manageable than two years.
This is a start to correcting a very unhealthy situation. My apologies go out to Patrick Henry and those who gave their lives so we could have this representative government. Representative democracies can work if the representatives are not egocentric, power hungry, or owned by big money.