Contract with America II (Part 3)

This is the last in my series on the new Contract with America II.

8. Our government has become, to quote Will Rogers, "The best money can buy". The gifts, the "Honorariums", the outright bribes in the form of campaign contributions must be eliminated and made illegal. When fund raising dinners are held at which donations of $100,000 buys you access and time with the President of the United States, the system has obviously broken down. When Congressmen and their spouses are feted by PACs to a European vacation to "study their transportation solutions" when no such legislation is before Congress, other reasons for the PACs largess can be suspected. The list is seemingly endless.

We must devise a solution. My suggestion is this: first, a $5.00 yearly tax on all taxpayers. This would accumulate in a fund which would then be equally shared by all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, for elected federal, state and local offices. No other form of monetary donations would be legal. There would be an outright ban on gifts and honorariums. If an official gives a speech to a group, the costs of travel, lodging, etc. would be borne by him or her. If they want gifts, they can wait for the first Christmas after they leave office.

Next, the airwaves belong to the people, not to the corporations which use them. Free air time for all candidates would be mandatory and in prime time or weekends. This would be used, not for commercial ads for the candidate, but for debate and position statements. Any licensed broadcast or cable facility would be required to comply.

Finally, the Electoral College must be eliminated. This country was founded on the popular vote and must return to that system. Having certain states control such huge majorities of electoral votes that they can swing an election is not Democratic. It must be abolished. "One man, one vote" must again be the law.

These minimal suggestions would have the added benefit of breaking the monopoly of the current two party system in America. Far too often they provide us with the obnoxious choice between bad and worse. Allowing equal time for all political persuasions would allow a much more open and far reaching debate to occur. The best solutions come when the largest number of voices are allowed to participate.

9. In many states, like California, there is a system in place which allows the citizens to place "Propositions" on the ballot. We must extend this privilege to allow the voters the right to place unalterable propositions on the national ballot which could replace and affect the federal laws, as well. This would greatly increase the power of the average voter and, quite possibly, increase the number of citizens who vote. This would have the added benefit of putting our elected officials on notice that their policies are subject to the people's will at the next election, whether they personally are up for election or not.

10. Finally, we must hold our elected officials to the highest possible standards. We must, as a voting body, constantly remind them of their duties to the country. We can do this with letters, e-mail, phone calls and, ultimately, with our votes. I don't care what your views are, just express them rationally and factually to those in power.

We must stay informed on as many issues as possible. Our votes via the remote control must tell the broadcasters of America that news is what we demand, not sensationalism or self-promotion. If a station has two hours of local news (as many major markets do) let's tell them we want more than the same news item repeated four times. Let's tell them we want depth in their reporting, not just attractive talking heads giving us 30 second sound bites on issues that may affect us for years to come. If they appear unresponsive, contact their sponsors. They don't want their customers unhappy with who the company is affiliated with.

In closing, we have a responsiblity to this country to acquire the facts before we form an opinion. Otherwise, we have no one to blame but ourselves as the country swings from one polar extreme to the other, depending on our current mood.

Okay, there you have it. Think about it and add your suggestions if you like. Please don't simply ridicule these ideas just because your opinion is different. If your facts back up another viewpoint then submit those facts and I will happily change my outlook and tell the readers why. No one has all the facts but I'm greedy and enjoy amassing as many as possible.

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