The System is Broken

by Thom Riddle

 

Every thinking person knows these truisms, but they bear repeating anyway.

          Virtually all of us homo sapiens act in what we think is in our own best interest.

          The more ethically evolved of us include in this definition of "our own", others from whom we expect no near term benefit. 

          The less inclusive the definition of "our own" the less likely that person's decisions and actions will benefit anyone outside their restricted definition of "our own." 

          The more powerful a person making decisions and acting on them, the more people are affected by them, either positively or negatively.

 

In the "good ol' days" when our elected representatives seem to have been more inclined to include all of America in their personal definition of "our own", the de facto two party system in America worked reasonably well. Perhaps this was not due so much to altruistic motives but because it was relatively rare that both houses of congress were simultaneously controlled by a single party while the white house was occupied by a megalomaniac of the same party capable of bamboozling  most of the "opposition" party. Rare as this scenario has been, the consequences of it have been and continue to be dramatic and traumatic beyond most everyone's imagination. And now, even some members of the ruling party are recognizing the disastrous consequences that this one party government has wreaked on us and the world. Again, perhaps those of the party in power that are beginning to recognize this fiasco of a government are not doing so with altruism in their hearts but because it has become clear that their "own" political future is at serious risk.

 

Whatever the reason, it is time for a change. Anyone who thinks that the democrats are immune to such abuse of power when they have it are sorely ignorant of history. The problem lies in the structure that occasionally permits virtually unimpeded control of the government by a single party's leadership. This should never be permitted to happen, but the current structure does not prevent it, so it will happen again and when it does, we will have no one to blame but ourselves. But blaming ourselves will in no way solve the problem.

 

The two party system is at fault.  With three or more distinctive parties it becomes much more difficult for a single party have absolute control. To pass a law, an agreement across party lines must be reached. At the moment, so many democrats look, talk, walk, and act like republicans that there is very little meaningful difference in the two parties. That is why the adjective distinctive is critical. So why aren't there more than two real parties being elected to congress or backing white house candidates? It is not because the laws do not permit it nor because third parties and independents have not earnestly tried to get their candidates elected.

 

The real reason for this is that the government has become a pay-to-play, bought-and-paid for oligopoly of the rich.  The very human trait of acting in one's own personal interest is not going to suddenly stop and be replaced by universal altruism. It is an attribute of our species that has been around for a very very long time. Hoping/wishing/praying for such a human transformation is not going to make it so. So, the solution to this fiasco is a structural one requiring all three of the following. They are all important and like a three legged stool will not work if not all present and functioning.

 

1)         Campaign financing must become an equal opportunity endeavor and the only way to make this happen is by public financing of all elections with relatively easy qualification requirements. The more the merrier. Run-offs may be required but it is worth the effort.

2)         Counting each and every vote with a fool-proof documentation trail. Modern technology used at ATMs and elsewhere in the world wide financial system is proof positive that this can be done at reasonable cost. Anything less encourages corruption and makes the election process a sham.

3)         Each and every voter's vote should count just as much as each other voter's vote. Elimination of the electoral college system which is obsolete and unnecessary is the only way to do that.

 

No magic here, just simple common sense solutions. This is not something the people-in-power want because it would threaten their strangle hold on our country and the whole world is worse off because of it. These simple solutions will be extremely difficult to make happen because the people-in-power will fight this to the death, for political death is what it could mean for them. But it is worth the effort because it would mean a new lease on life for America and, to the extent that what happens here affects the world, the rest of the planet.

 

Thom Riddle

Oct 6, 2006