There is a huge problem in the way the American political system works. It isn’t the politicians necessarily that are the problem, at least not at the root level. The problem lies within the system type itself, around the differences between popularity and legacy, and with the way that Americans have been programmed over the last few decades.
The tough choices are the ones that won’t get made. Why? Because tough choices that will benefit the country in the long run are unpopular today. The most obvious example of this is the unbelievable level of spending that has taken over Washington as well as states like California. Everyone on both sides of the political fence realize that spending must be cut in order for the country to survive for more than a two or three decades. This is a fact that has been established by multiple financial projection models. Some models say the country is due for a complete fiscal implosion by 2020. Other push it as far off as 2045. ALL of them point to an implosion at some point in the near future.
Unfortunately, cuts in spending are unpopular. They require sacrifices to be made. Americans have no problem with sacrifices as long as it’s not them making the sacrifices, so the trend has been to find the smallest groups that will be affected by cuts and target them first. Today, we’re in a situation where many of the easy cuts have already been made. It’s the big cuts that need to be made to make the country’s future fiscally conceivable.
Big cuts lead to lost elections. In a world where politicians live and die by their own re-election potential as well as the potential of their party’s continued victories, neither side is willing to make the cuts. Republicans who would make the cuts don’t win. Democrats who would make the cuts keep their opinions to themselves.
For there to be any chance of a future, America must reform the entire election system. This means establishing election laws that remove the potential for re-election. It means that governors could not run for Congress when they’re time is done. It means Congressmen could not run for Senate after their term.
The biggest roadblock to such a system would be the President. They have to come from somewhere. There are a couple of ways to go about this, but the one that makes the most sense is to have candidates that have taken a “time out” from politics. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be involved in some way. Just not in an elected way. If a governor wants to run for President, they cannot do so until they have left office for a minimum time period.
This would do a couple of things. First, it would make the runs sincere. Jumping back into the political ring after a four-year hiatus to play in the real world after a term in the Senate means that they have time to truly study the world of politics, understand the things that are making the country and the world tick, get out there and touch the people, and rest their minds for a chance to take over the most important job in the world.
It would also prevent problems with current positions. Had the Republicans won the election, Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan would have had to have been replaced.
Finally and most importantly, it would allow current politicians to focus on their jobs. It’s not fair to America that for a year, we technically do not have a focused President. From mid-2011 through November, 2012, President Obama had one important thing on his mind – getting re-elected. The problems that faced the country and the world were not a focus other than how they affected his election chances. The same could be said of 2003-2004 George W. Bush, 1995-1996 Bill Clinton, and 1991-1992 George H. W. Bush. In the last two decades, we’ve had an unfocused President for 1/5th of the time.
This concept is far from perfect. It’s also much better overall than the current system. We are sinking. The unpopular but necessary cuts that must be made in spending will not be made as long as there’s politics running the politicians. We need leadership. We need politicians judged on their legacy, not on their campaign abilities. In a world where campaign promises often determine the results of elections, it’s unfortunate that so few can be kept with re-election still on the table.
- Tom Coburn: ‘We’re Over the Cliff Already’ (abcnews.go.com)
- Creamer: Five Reasons Why Obama Should Win Lame Duck Budget Battle (thedemocraticstrategist.org)
- NAPOLITANO: GOP for Big Government – Washington Times (gds44.wordpress.com)
- HURT: Obama victory means four more years with no hope of change (washingtontimes.com)
- Jeb hearts Bill (thepoliticscafe.com)
- Being Spectacularly Wrong About the Election Won’t Be Enough to Pop the Republican Bubble (alternet.org)