Mr. President, you have advocated transparency in our government. We need a political system that operates in plain view of the American people, one that provides a level playing field where all ideas can compete openly and fairly.
In short, we need a political system that enforces intellectual honesty, instead of one that rewards deceit by providing a plethora of policies and procedures that can be easily exploited to evade careful scrutiny and open debate.
Money and intellectual dishonesty
The driving force of our political system is money and intellectual dishonesty. Like the chicken and the egg, money and intellectual dishonesty create each other. Like the chicken and the egg, both are manifestations of the same process. Money provides the incentive and intellectual dishonesty provides the means (in the form of built-in, dishonest policies and procedures), which then provides more money, and so on.
Mr. President, there wouldn’t be thousands of highly paid special interest lobbyists if our political system didn’t provide the means to their ends. Our political system is essentially entrenched intellectual dishonesty. Here are just a few examples:
-----So-called logrolling (where politicians trade favors) allows unjust special interest legislation to flourish, “If you vote for my wasteful earmark, I’ll vote for yours”.
-----Punishing politicians who resist coercion and put conscience above party loyalty.
-----Forcing a yes or no vote on bills containing unjust special interest amendments attached to worthwhile legislation.
-----The especially egregious standing committee system that provides powerful means to push unjust special interest legislation and to thwart worthwhile legislation.
An intellectually honest political system would encourage politicians to always put conscience above party loyalty; it would require all provisions of a bill and all markups (amendments) to be related to a single issue; it would make it easier to bypass committee chairs or to circumvent the semi-autonomous standing committee system altogether when a committee withholds bills from open debate and majority decision.
Considering our blatantly dishonest political system, why should anyone be surprised by the rampant waste in our government, or by the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or by the current financial and economic meltdown, or by the perpetual violence in the Middle East? A blatantly dishonest political system is bound to produce blatantly disastrous results.
Mr. President, you are well aware that our political system’s entrenched mechanisms are regularly exploited by skilled politicians to evade rational argument and open debate. By tolerating these evasive tactics, our political system often passes bad legislation, often prevents good legislation and effectively precludes any real reform. Why should anyone expect any real change until we radically reform our intellectually dishonest political system?
If these dishonest mechanisms were replaced with rational policies and procedures that enforce intellectual honesty, it would be much more difficult to pass unjust special-interest legislation and to prevent reform. An intellectually honest political system would require opposing positions to openly compete using rational argument and open debate and would provide a fair, level playing field to accomplish this.
An intellectually honest political system would no longer be a magnet for nefarious special-interest money. Thousands of lobbyists pushing unjust special-interest legislation would have much less incentive to offer mounds of money to politicians who no longer had easy means to evade the truth. The chicken and egg cycle of money and intellectual dishonesty would be broken.
Under a political system that enforces intellectual honesty, truth would trump political expediency. Reason would rule. Evasion would not be tolerated. Politicians who try to evade rational argument and open debate would no longer be taken seriously by the American people. Our political system would take a giant step toward fairness and sanity.
Intellectual dishonesty produces an insane political system