The election and what we need to learn

I have a few addictions in my life: cooking, Farmville (shhh), and books. Lots of books on everything from travel to Pagan’s.  The true addiction in my life, however, is dissecting the political climate and if I remember, I try to do so with a sense of perspective.  There are given axioms that make some sense: all politics are local and people vote their pocketbook.  I had told myself that I wouldn’t go off on the mid-term elections, and I won’t.  There are races I agree with and ones I disagreed with the outcome.  There were ballot initiatives that cracked me up and ones that I found appalling. In short, it was a normal political season, at least, on the surface.

I’m tired. I’m tired of the hatred that was unleashed at a personal level on candidates, supporters of candidates and the insane amount of money that was spent while our country is in a deep non-recovery but not still a recession economy. Although the numbers might never be known, 4 BILLION dollars on ad buys, posters, events is quite simply insane.

4 BILLION dollars. That would pay for eight MILLION months of health care premiums for me. (Yup, I buy my own: $500 a month). Or $13.97 PER person in this country (308 million people). Not registered voters, not likely voters just PEOPLE. For what? Hate spewed rhetoric? Dividing the country further? If I could re-invent the election rules here is what I would do:

1) Real campaign finance reform. Yes, technically anybody should be able to spend their money how they want but reform the out of control spending like this: for every $1.00 you spend in political advertising, you must, by law, donate $5.00 into the area you are purchasing the media buy (robo calls, television, radio) for agencies such as the following: 1) Social service agencies addressing at risk populations 2) Public education PreK-12 3) Agencies addressing the needs of all members of the armed services/veterans 4) Agencies addressing hunger and 5) Agencies addressing renewal/revitalization of urban and rural areas.  The donations are done without recognition but are mandated and verified by the receiving 501(c)3 organizations documents.  Based on this year alone: that would be 20 billion dollars to our social service agencies and organizations that work towards improving the lives of those who have served us, our future and those in need.

2) Some offices are should never be elected. Judges and coroners should have a state based appointment systems with internal checks. Both professions require graduate training, skill and should be well above the political fray. I do not want somebody who has had to spend part of the 4 billion dollars to decide guilt or innocence or cause of death!

3) Our election system has become like the never-ending NBA and NHL seasons. We are roughly 730 days from the next general election. We need to adapt an election calendar: six weeks before the general election there is a primary. All 50 states on the same day. The top 3 in each position run six weeks later in the general election. The primary by party goes away: very simply everybody can vote for their top 3 choices and then those move on in that state for statewide and Congressional offices. The top 3 for president nationally move on. No more “who is around after New Hampshire/South Carolina” madness.  No election ads, special interest ads until one month before the first round. Consolidate the election season into 10 weeks: less than summer vacation.

4) An end to the bulk mailing rates for political mail.

People should continue to work for the candidates of their choice. There is nothing wrong with ringing door bells, holding signs and urging people to get out the vote. There is something wrong being told one person is less patriotic than another because he/she does not share your political beliefs.

Andrew Jackson, certainly a far cry from a perfect President, did not join the Presbyterian church until close to his death. The reason? Before the minister would allow him to join he told Jackson that he must forgive his enemies. Jackson struggled with this: he could forgive those who opposed him in war as that was their duty. But Jackson struggled with forgiving those who launched personal attacks on his family and himself in the political arena. He did not see a need for it. Eventually, Jackson forgave those who attacked his family and joined the church. Personal hatred in politics is not new: maybe it’s time we end it.

We have the privilege to vote at so many levels: to engage in the process. There is nothing wrong with a civil discussion on differences. There is everything to be gained by compromise. Nobody won on Tuesday. We all just woke up to a few brief weeks of respite before the primary season starts. That is, if they finish counting the votes by then.

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