By Jack E. Lohman
Remember the teeter-totter? First you were up and then you were down, then you were up again and the game went on? It was fun because you always got your turn.
That’s exactly how the political game is played, and they love it. The Democrats are in control, then the Republicans, and they like it just fine because they know their turn will come next.
In politics, though, no one ever gets off so a third-party can play.
And because the two parties are always in control, they get all the campaign contributions. We make it too easy for special interests by requiring that they need only own two political parties. Independent candidates get little or no campaign money and therefore rarely get elected. And even when they are, the special interests can buy their souls too.
We must change the system, and it can start at the voting booth next November. Until the political system is fixed, we must simply keep throwing all incumbents out of office.
Let’s not stop until we get three important reforms:
• Full public funding of campaigns would put voters in the driver’s seat that has historically been occupied by the special interests. Politicians should receive their funding from the taxpayers they represent rather than from the fat cats who are robbing us blind.
• Preferential voting (IRV) would allow voting for your favorite independent without throwing your vote away. If the independent doesn’t get 51% of the vote, your vote is transferred to your second choice.
• And a None of the Above selection on the ballot. If NOTA gets more votes than any other candidate, the election must be held again with all new candidates. This is the only way voters can affect a complete turnover in a particular district, even if there is only one candidate that people do not support.
All of these reforms would put voters back in the driver’s seat, and that may be their biggest downfall.
If politicians were smart (sorry for the oxymoron) they’d drop their party affiliation and become a “swing voter.” They’d always vote in the best interest of the taxpayers instead of the party position. (But let me distance that from the hypocritical tax-cutting rhetoric of assembly Republicans who gave away massive taxpayer assets under the Thompson regime.)
Wouldn’t it be refreshing to someday hear “Thank you, special interests, for getting me elected. But now I must do the job I was elected to do, and that’s to represent the people in my district. You may not send me money again, but the people will re-elect me because of it.”
Wow. If I were a contributing fat cat, I’d be pretty mad! But if I were a politician, I’d always have a job.
Of course it’d be nice if our complete legislature voted for their people instead of the industry that gave them the most campaign cash. But that will take time.
Special interests do not seek a competitive free market, despite what they say. They want market control, and that’s what campaign contributions buy them.
Unfortunately our political system has fallen, not to the Republicans or Democrats but to the corporate interests that fund their elections. The only real solution is a complete turnover at the state and national level. We need voter-initiated term limits.