Wednesday, January 25, 2012


What better time to discuss this topic than now, a year before a historic election? Of course, we should not be discussing it so far in advance. In fact, it’s been dominating the news for two years, ever since the last election. And that’s because of the idiotic way we handle the entire process. No other industrialized nation does it as badly as we do. Are you as sick of it already as I am? Seventeen debates and three primaries later, I never want to hear the word “candidate” again.

The worst part this time is Super PACs. That’s Political Action Committees and they are allowed to spend any amount they want--millions of dollars in fact--for any candidate they want. Like it wasn’t bad enough before when the Supreme Court decided--in its infinite stupidity--that corporations are people.

It’s time to reform the entire process, and here are my thoughts on the matter. (Okay, you didn’t ask, but I need to get this off my chest.) First of all, we hold our elections on a Tuesday, when most people must work. Other nations do it on the weekend, Saturday or Sunday, or make election day a holiday.

We put billions of dollars that ought to go to worthwhile causes into the coffers of television stations that have more than enough already and charge outrageously for their air time. And, of course, television coverage is the reason all that money is necessary. Elections--and information about the candidates--should be paid for by the one dollar we already devote to the cause when we pay our income taxes. And those dollars should go to newspapers. Since newspapers could use the monetary help, this would be a good side benefit.

Except for debates, candidates for office (and ballot propositions) should not be advertised in any way except through objective articles in newspapers--or supplements the newspaper could provide. Those articles would merely report on the issues with equal space for both sides.

No other money would be allowed to fund elections. This is not a form of Free Speech, however much the Supreme Court Justices think it is. If a mugger steals my purse, he’s not exercising his free speech: he’s breaking the law. We just need sensible election laws, something other nations manage to do.

While we're  at it, we need to end the two-party system. Sure, once in a while a third party candidate shows up--think Ross Perot and Ralph Nader--but the Republicans and Democrats have taken over political debates and won’t allow anyone else to have a voice. We need to get the League of Women Voters running that again. Like someone once said, “Why do we have 50 candidates for Miss America, and only two for President?”

“Well,” you say, “the Primary process starts with many candidates but then most drop out.” They drop out because it’s so expensive due to TV advertising. If that were eliminated, more qualified candidates would continue in the race and voters would have more choices, not just the person who raises the most money.

For that matter, the Primary process needs reform too. And There’s also the matter of the Electoral College. But I won’t go into that today. (With luck, I’ll go back to writing about writing.)

Do you have any thoughts on how we can improve the process? Shall we start an ”Occupy the Supreme Court” movement?

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