Sunday, February 21, 2010


Are you sick and tired of Washington DC politicians telling us that the Wash DC system is broken and needs to be fixed? I am.

There is not much wrong with our political structures. They have served us well for almost 250 years and provided unprecedented liberty, prosperity, and national purpose for a large proportion of our history.

Here's the problem: we are governed by a pygmy political class of B and C players. The best and the brightest go elsewhere to make their contributions to business, professions, and society. And we have our campaign finance and educational systems to blame for that. We have created a nation of ignorance, an ideal breeding ground for corruption and undue influence by people with money and questionable intent.

I considered a political career once upon a time, and although it's a less than even bet that I would have made an irreplaceable contribution to the Republic, I didn't give it much thought as it became clear, starting way back in the early 80's, that politics was becoming less and less about policy and solutions and more and more about call and response and 'gotcha'. And an uninvited inquiry into all of the private nooks and crannies of our leaders' personal histories. Who could possibly withstand such scrutiny? Well, only the ones whose bland, inconsequential lives left few visible traces.

The internet, a clear boon to business and open communication, has been a tragic development for our political system. Accelerating and exacerbating irrational passions and thinking with its false premise that all opinions are equal, our media give us no pause for reflection. Thankfully, the Founders created an inefficient system, with plenty of checks against mob rule and acceleration.

Unfortunately, we are getting the government we deserve. In this era of free and easy information, no one takes the time to educate themselves about the issues, the challenges, and, most importantly, the validity of other points of view. We are narrow-casting to ourselves and our Facebook 'friends', without cultivating the knowledge and skills for participating in a democratic society.

While I'm up on this high horse, let me propose a few solutions:

1. Public financing of all political campaigns. And strict spending limits. Campaigns to begin no earlier than 6 months prior to electon day.
2. Mandatory competence in civics and world history. Link it to the issuance (and renewal) of driver's licenses.
3. Term limits: explored before on this blog, ad nauseum.
4. Shorten the days Congress is in session in any one year. Six months seems about right and will increase focus on essential issues, leaving the rest to the states and individuals and charities.
5. No primaries below the presidential level. Candidates should be proposed and vetted by valid political parties.

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