Welcome to Mexico

By Victoria Schmidt

There’s got to be another way

 

tax-cuts-junkIs anyone else out there sick of the election? The older I get, the elections get worse. It seems to me that the USA has turned politics into the newest blood sport. The only problem is, in this sport, nobody actually ever wins.

I don’t know if the figures have ever been gathered, but I would like to see if we could find out the true financial cost of an election. It seems that only millionaires and friends of millionaires represent us in office these days. Billions of dollars are spent on candidates. Consider this: The day the candidate steps into office, they must begin fundraising for their re-election. By some estimates I have read, a Senate seat must raise $10,000 per day during their six-year term. I think about all the travel costs: airplanes, hotels, rental cars, meals, office supplies, campaign offices, telephones, walkies, computers—and all the other things necessary for a campaign itself. The campaign staffs, the printing, photography, websites, print ads, and of course, the ubiquitous television commercials.

A long while ago, back before the Fairness Doctrine was shredded, broadcast television had standards required by law. Petty little things like equal time. And all advertising needed to be the factual truth. No ”out of context” editing. No swiftboating. No lies. Now it seems to me that anyone can say anything about anyone. Even the candidates can’t control their own “message” when Super PACS put out their own advertising.

And that advertising is not cheap (well, it may be cheap in another sense of the word) but it is costly. All I see is dollar signs. Now multiply that by the number of politicians seeking office in 2012, throw in the Presidential campaign and the costs go up exponentially. Once it gets boiled down to the main candidates, the cost of security is added in. The Secret Service protects the major candidates in the Presidential election.

I keep thinking that all this is so unnecessary. Just think what would happen if all that money was directed instead to the National debt! Oh, it wouldn’t erase it, but it sure would dent it.

And I don’t care what political affiliation anyone subscribes to. I think many feel the same. We get sick of the ads, the posturing, the politics of politics, the pundits and programs and the promise-everything candidates and by the time the election comes we are so sick of the campaign that we can’t wait to get it over with.

I’m not saying we don’t care about the outcome. But I think we can get a better outcome by revamping our political process.

First of all, we can shorten the election “season.” In the days of Pony Express where candidates traveled by stage and train – they didn’t campaign as long as candidates do today. Today we all have news and information at the touch of a finger--worldwide. So I propose some changes, and let’s start with having the campaign last 90 days. Secondly, each candidate can get their own message out via the Internet and their own website.

Those ads? Give each political party their own 24-hour network and all the candidates can debate, advertise and discuss their platform. The voters can tune into the network of their choice, but it would be clearly identified as a Republican, Democrat, Independent, Green Party network, etc. That way there would be no conflict of interest and the public would know exactly what they are getting and we wouldn’t have to debate the “objectivity” of the news broadcast.

Every public newspaper could run the news and information on separate pages so people can read and analyze and decide on their own. Instead of having everything whittled down to a sound bite, or having radio show hosts behaving like carnival barkers, we could have the citizens use their brains and debate amongst themselves.

Bet you it wouldn’t cost as much as what we’ve got going now. And then maybe all those politicians who are running for office could actually be in their offices working. They could actually make it on to the floor for their votes. They could attend their assigned committee meetings and, gosh, actually pass legislation.

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