Saturday, October 17, 2015

Understanding the Politics of Politics

I think everyone will agree that our political system is broken beyond repair. Candidates who claim that somehow they will go---or return---to Washington or wherever and "make the listen" or some other nonsensical promise of reform is either delusional or simply pandering to you, the voter. We are far removed from any cosmetic changes or tinkering as we are from the government our Founding Fathers intended. In fact, we're not even the democratic-republic they originally established. Instead, we've become a oligarchy which caters to the 1% and their transnational corporations. The system was changed along the way to create a near permanent political class, thanks to election rigging--gerrymandering by name---and as well as unlimited terms in office.
The costs of campaigns themselves have all but eliminated the ordinary man or woman from running (as it was intended. It has certainly ensured that the most qualified individuals are eliminated from running), and thanks to the un-Supreme Court's "Citizens United" misruling, corporations are now considered "individuals" except they have more rights than flesh and blood citizens. The High Court ruled that money equals free speech with one exception. You and I are limited in the amount of "free speech" we can contribute to candidates while corporations have unlimited "free speech". All this, of course, happened while we were busy watching so-called "reality TV"; waiting to see who got the rose while we got the "prick". We were busy playing with our video games, watching sports, and doing whatever as long as we remained blissfully distracted...just as they intended. But that's not what I want to discuss about right now, although we will come back to it shortly.

What I want to discuss is something basic. One of the core principles behind our break with ole King George was our lack of representation in Parliament. I'm sure you're familiar with concept of "taxation without representation". It the nation that we had no say in how we were being governed while we were "illegally" taxed. We also have the right---I would say responsibility---to actively participate in how we're governed. At the very least, we need to vote.

The largest percentage of the population is now registered Independent. Most of these individuals were former moderate leaning Democrats or Republicans who were disenfranchised from their respective political party. Today, the majority of Americans have no confidence in our political system, be it Executive, Legislative, or Judicial. The polling number have been in the gutter for decades now, regardless of who is in office or which party controls the House. While Indies are the largest single political "party", followed by Democrats and at a distance last, Republicans. Pollsters are predicting that within the next 10 years, there will be more registered Independent voters than Democrats and Republicans combined. Yet, instead of paying attention to this trend, the leaders of both parties still spew forth the same old rehashed ideas "solutions" which haven't worked in the past and show no signs of working now or ever. We're expected to pick from their choice of cookie cutter candidates; acceptable only to the status quo for their willingness to do as they're told.

So, let me ask you this. Did you know party primaries are paid for out of your tax dollars? Yelp, regardless of your registration or even if you are registered at all, a portion of your tax dollars go to pay for both party's primaries. So, if you're registered as a Republican or Democrat, I suppose it's no big deal (except for the fact they didn't ask you first). Still, at least you can vote in your party's primary and have a say in the outcome. But what if you're a registered Independent? In most states (like Kentucky), that's just too bad. You don't get to vote in either primary but you are still taxed. Same goes if you're registered a third party. Several attempts have been made to change this, but as you might guess, the political status quo is quite happy with the current set up. Hardly fair wouldn't you agree?

Now here's something else. The Board of Elections is set up with a Democrat and Republican representative to serve as check against any electioneering misdoings. This is at the state level all the way down to each county. These are appointed by the local county clerks. Yet, there is no representative for Independents or third parties. Why? Their pay tax dollars just like everyone else. Why should they be denied a representative? As some of you may know, anyone who wants to run for office as Democrat or Republican, must have the signature of three people from the same party sign their application (and, depending on the office, the same district). However, if you're a Independent, you need anywhere from several hundred up to a few thousand signatures of currently registered voters. I fail to understand how that is in any way fair. All it does is further entrench the status quo---which is ultimately the main problem in today's politics---by rigging the system to keep people out.

Now, let's talk money for a moment. As everyone knows, money is the lifeblood of politics, and since the not-so-supreme Supreme Court's Citizen United misruling, corporations are not only considered to be the same as you and me, but are in fact considered more than us mere mortals. You see some politicians have declared that money, specifically money given to political campaigns, is equivalent to "free speech" and should be protected under the 1st Amendment. Now it doesn't take a political scientist to put two and two together and come up with a money bomb. What I'm talking about is that while flesh and blood "individuals" like you and I are capped at how much money we can donate to campaign, these new corporate "Frankensteins" given life by these nine so-called "Justices" can give as much as they want, meaning they have more "free speech" that we do. And for the record, it was politicians on both sides of aisle who benefit from this national slight.

As you might have already guessed, practically all of the billions of dollars donated by these "Frankenstein" corporations (and yes, unions) go to the duopoly known as the Democrats and Republicans, the two branches of the Oligarchy Party. As for third party candidates and Independents, they are pretty much left to their own devises when it comes to raising money. That means they have to depend on self-funding and grassroots efforts to have an chance at winning. Of course, most voters are so brain washed or conditioned to vote straight ticket, or at least, one of the less of the two evils rather than "wasting" or "throwing away" their vote. Seriously? Voting for the "lesser evil" is somehow better than voting for a change? How's that? I guess some will argue that it's better to vote for the devil you know than the devil you don't know. My question is why vote for the devil at all? If we're going to rid ourselves of this oligarchy which now controls America and restore the democratic republic of our Founding Fathers, we are going to have to step outside of our pre-conditioned comfort zones. Change is not going to come from the status quo. It's in their interest too---not yours.

Lastly, I want to address the issue of endorsements. Everyone knows endorsements are made, in part, because those doing the endorsing agree with the candidate on at least certain key positions, and in exchange for the endorsement (and usually a financial donation to the campaign), the candidate will continue to promote that particular issue. Political back scratching plain and simple. So what does it mean when newspapers endorse candidates? What's the quid pro quo? What do newspapers gain---"good government"? No, seriously, what do they get? I often wonder, but that's not the issue here.
My opinion is that newspapers, or even the media in general, should not be endorsing anyone. They should do their homework and print the unvarnished facts. That's it. I think most people these days are able to make an informed decision about who to vote for without the media trying to manipulate their vote. Besides, what if NBC, FOX, MSCBN, or for that matter, ESPN or the History Channel started making political endorsements? What if radio jocks and talk show hosts started endorsing candidates based on their own special interests? Silly right? Well, that's point. Print a short bio on the candidate along with their positions on the various issues, their campaign website for more information, and let the voters decide for themselves.

So, do you want to make a difference? Contact your Secretary of State or County Clerk and demand equal representative for Independents and third party voters, and while you're at it, tell them you want equal treatment for Indies and third party candidates. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Get involved or support an Indie or third party candidate. Remember, the big money is going to support the status quo and the status quo is what's wrong with America, so consider giving your financial donations to an Indie or third party candidate. Better yet, run for office yourself! You'll most likely need to start local, like the school board, but the closer you are to the electorate, the more of a difference you can make. Lastly, endorsements. Newspaper endorsements aren't worth the ink they're printed on. Media reporting should be balanced and backed up with facts, not subtle innuendos. It's not the media's job to influence elections based on their agenda. Also they should publish, in their entirety, all election interviews with candidates. No more paraphrasing, "misquotes", or misattributions. Better yet, film it and post it unedited. Nevertheless, ultimately the only endorsements which matters is the voters. With your help, we can and will reclaim America.

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