Ed Martin blames voters for being passive, apathetic, ignorant, and unwilling to participate in the electoral process. Yet there would seem to be several variables in this equation which he appears to ignore.
The first is simply that no matter how carefully we scrutinize the candidates, watch their debates, read their policy statements, there seems little to choose among. Instead, it becomes a matter of choice by personality. True, one can broadly differentiate between liberal and conservative candidates, but few really believe that any who we elect will adhere to whatever it is they tell us they intend to do, once in office. If George Bush has taught us anything, it is that a President, should he so choose, can do just about anything he wants, unconstrained by Congress, the Supreme Court, and certainly not by those who put him into office.
The one thing common to all of the candidates is that they have no plan for how they are going to achieve their lofty (i.e., what the voters want to hear) goals. We hear things like “Victory,” or dire warnings as “they will follow us home,” from the Republicans, and frankly, idiotic, unsubstantiated junk-science, predictions of global catastrophe, from the Democrats. They can all tell us of their objectives for the end game, but not a single candidate tells the listener what the first step will be in solving any of the problems which beset this country.
Then there is what appears to be just plain stupidity in our officials’ analysis of issues with which they are dealing. How can a Congress, representing the citizens of the United States possibly consider passing legislation as that contained in the Immigration Reform Act? Leaving aside any other considerations, the act increases our vulnerability to attack from terrorists, drug dealers, and common criminals by orders of magnitude, almost so large as to be beyond comprehension. After that comes breaking the back of the health care system, and ending any hope for reforming an already broken educational system. Yet, those we have placed in office are either unable to discern, or worse yet, uncaring of the consequences they will deliver to us.
Last on my list of the reasons I am unlikely to vote in the next election is simply that Government doesn’t work. From its inability to prevent the 9/11 attack, to Katrina, to being unable to stop a flagged carrier of Tuberculosis at the border, there seems to be nothing that the Government lays its grubby paws upon that turns out as expected, hoped for, or promised.
There are ways that these fundamental problems could be addressed, but the paradox is that it would require the assent of those most likely to have their luxurious, powerful lives forever changed. In fact, many would be removed from offices that they have held for years. In short, in my view, required are some Constitutional amendments holding elected officials directly accountable to those who elect them:
1. End the Use of the Electoral College: This would finally place the election of the President directly in the hands of the voters, without the influence of regional, state, or local political units.
2. End all campaign financing, with funds coming only from the government. A fixed amount would be allocated to each legitimate candidate, including an equal number of television spots, and other expenses such that all candidates would have a “level playing field,” and the influence of special interest groups and lobbyists could be severely limited.
3. Apply Term Limits to all of Congress, as well as the President. Perhaps two Senate terms of six years each would be the maximum, and four House terms of two years each could be appropriately administered.
There are many other reforms which could be instituted including direct, secure Internet voting, formal preparation of referenda on proposed legislation, etc. These and other actions could begin to restore control and responsibility for governance to the citizens.