Hi there! Welcome to my very miscellaneous blog. Here, I write about everything from mis-used words to gardening, to bad habits in society to going places and seeing things! Enjoy my ramblings.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fixing the Electoral Process

Our electoral process is broken. People are staying away from the polls in record numbers. From being willing and eager participants who once thought they had an actual voice, they have now come to a place of feeling disenfranchised and stripped of that voice. Too often have they seen their vote amount to naught as the government does as it wishes despite the electorate--that populace which put them in office in the first place. Getting into office has become the bastion of the wealthy--ordinary citizens need not apply. For shame!!

Contrary to popular belief, it is not too complex to fix. In fact, it is broken precisely because it has been made far more complex than it needs to be. You have to work hard at it to make things as complicated as they have become. Remember the "K.I.S.S." (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) principle? That is all we need to fix what has become an unwieldy and unworkable system.

First of all, there should be no attempt whatever made at salvaging the process as it now stands. Simply discard the current process and start all over again.

Here's how it would work:

1) All candidates for any elected office whatsoever, from the smallest city or township to the president of the United States itself, shall be placed under oath, and that oath is sworn at the time the papers to file intention to run for office are taken out. This means that politicians must not indulge in fabrications of "what they think the public wants to hear," when those statements may well be 180 degrees from the candidate's actual intentions or opinions. Simply put, if that candidate gains office, and proceeds in an opposite direction from campaign promises, they shall be ejected from office and charged with perjury, the office then being awarded to the runner-up. Such a diversion from promised course is usually easy to spot within a matter of weeks.

2) The problem of bribery and "buying" a candidate is the easiest problem to solve. Instead of worrying about campaign contribution caps, disclosures, and trying to decide if some tangible item was a 'gift' or 'contribution,' and must or must not be disclosed, simply relocate the focus.

If you instead place a cap on campaign spending, then any attempt to raise more money than the spending cap is an obvious violation, and besides would be patently useless.

3)The spending cap will work, because in addition, it will have a concomitant regulation requiring broadcast media in the pertinent markets, or national broadcast corporations, in the case of nationally elected offices) to provide each candidate with a one-minute PSA (Public Service Announcement) free of charge during which they may state their message. This message must air 2 times in each segment of the broadcast day (i.e., early morning, drive time, daytime, prime time, etc.), not more than 3 times per week in a one month period. Hence, no need for fancy fund-raising dinners, etc. Candidates may use their campaign funds to purchase one, and one only, additional message to air a single time at their choice of time slot and timing prior to the election.

Each candidate shall likewise be provided with a 2-time opportunity to make their case in print media in the large daily-circulation newspapers for each major metropolitan area. The print message shall be printed once at the beginning of the month, and once at near the end. However, all candidates' print statements must appear in the same edition on the same day in a grouping. Each statement shall be limited to 5 column inches. Candidates may use their campaign funds to purchase one, and one only, additonal print message ad to appear in their choice of print media and at their choice of timing prior to the election.

The candidates (including campaigns for various propositions) shall also be prohibited from flooding the nation's mailboxes with political advertising. They will be limited to a single mailing each, and if a mailing was their choice, it would count as the additional 'print media' ad which they would be allowed.

4) The entire campaign advertising and electioneering period shall be limited to a period of time not to exceed three months prior to any given national election, and two months prior to any local election. Therefore, because of new regulations (3) and (4) as just outlined, each candidate will want to be certain to make their message count, and concentrate on their own platform, and not waste their resources bad-mouthing the opponents, mud-slinging, and making slanderous or libelous statements about the other candidates. (They would be wisest and best served to not even mention the other candidates at all.)

In other words, the citizens do not give a rat's patoot about a candidate's opinion of his/her opponent; they just want to know where that candidate stands. They can find out about the other candidate in the same way!

5) For presidential elections only, the national broadcast media shall be required to televise a single debate amongst the candidates. All candidates to be included, regardless of status in the polls, political party, or any other criteria currently used to decide which will be "invited" to debate. This broadcast shall be paid out of funds currently being collected through the income tax system under the "check this box to contribute to campaign finance" action.

6) The national primary elections to establish who will be the final candidates in the general election shall be held all at once on the same day, just like the general elections in November. This works in conjunction with the limits on advertising as stated above. No longer will the population become jaded, bored, irritated and ultimately apathetic from listening to endless campaign advertsing lasting 6 months or longer. No longer will candidates need to spend months on the road trying to keep up with the varied elections schedules. Under the new system, candidates must make their message concise, to the point and make it count.

Better yet...scratch that!! Instead, along with #7, below, do away with the primary election altogether! At the end of the campaign period, the election is held, and the outcome is final; (with the exception of any legal challenges which may arise). This further shortens the time the populace must put up with endless political advertising.

7) The last, but certainly not least fix: in fact, it is probably the single most important revision of all. ABOLISH, DISMANTLE, ELIMINATE and forever ban the "electoral college" system. One citizen, one vote, and that is how it is to be counted. Period!! No haggling over 'districts' and 'pledges' to vote for this or that candidate. Simple majority or 2/3 majority...but one-to-one citizen votes only. One citizen, one vote, one count. Done.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


We live in a society in which no one knows how old they truly are, vis-a-vis their "assigned" categorical identity. Think about it: we split folks up into 'age classifications' from birth. Children are called babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers. Once they get into school years, from kindergarten to about the 6th grade, they are then more commonly grouped generically as "children." In junior high, (or "middle school," as the current terminology seems to prefer), they become pre-teens and adlolescents. In high school, they are still adolescents. Upon graduation, depending on whether they enter the work force or go on to higher education, they become known as young adults or college kids.

Into the middle of all of these classes and categories is thrown a layer of commercial fuzzy thinking. You want to go see a movie with an "R" rating? Sorry, ' "Children" under 17 not admitted without a parent.' Ah, but you want to go have fun all day at an amusement park? All of a sudden, you're an adult, and pay adult price at age 12! Now you think you want to participate in the electoral process, and cast your vote, or write to your congressman? Oh, no! You're not an adult with those privileges until you reach the ripe old age of 18! What's that? You say you want a glass of wine with dinner on your 'official-adult-legally-able-to-enter-into-a-binding-contract' 18th birthday? Sorry, you're still not an adult until age 21! Want a smoke at 18? (No better for you than alcohol, by the way)...That's ok, though, go ahead and buy your cancer sticks to celebrate being able to vote your preference.

It happens at the other end of the age spectrum, as well. It used to be that we reached our "golden years" at retirement age, which formerly was age 65. The feds have now upped that 2 more years. Okay....but what about senior-citizen discounts? Well, it all depends on where you shop! One merchant may offer senior discounts a certain day of the week only, and you have to actually be 65. Another may have them every day, and you only need be 62. The AARP, the most famous of the 'senior citizen' organizations (at least the most politically powerful--and not necessarily in a way to actually benefit seniors!), lets you in at age 50! Some places offer senior discounts for showing your AARP card, regardless of age...others insist on that magical number with a "6" at the start.

Is it any wonder we are a confused, mixed up society, with idenity crises running rampant? We can't find our peer group, because the boundaries have gotten all scrambled about. I see two possible solutions. Either 1) legislate a standard for defining adulthood and seniorhood, and make it mandatory for all businesses to follow across the board (not my favorite option, as I think there is too much government interference already), or 2) stop trying to make all these pigeonholes into which to cram everyone. Let the legal definitions of adulthood stand, and let's see if we can get a consumer-driven effort out to have them honored, and not charge adult admission to 12-year-olds.

An interesting side-twist to all this: a person under age 21 cannot purchase alcoholic beverages, but they can be sent to the store to purchase a bottle of vanilla extract for mom (12% alcohol--about like wine), or cough syrup (many of which contain alcohol). Yet, they cannot buy non-alcoholic wines or beers, which contain less alcohol by far than the flavoring extract or the cough medicine.

For that matter, since when is chronological age an accurate determination of maturity? There are plenty of "adults" who still act like children, even though they may be 60+ years of age, and plenty of "children" who are wise beyond their years, and very mature and responsible by age 12. My grandfather, in fact, was fond of saying, "If a person has no common sense by the time they are 14, they never will."