Every day, the news is full of stories about the latest government scandal. It depends on the source, but according to the media, both sides can be considered a disgrace. Its obvious the system is terribly broken. In would seem it’s time for significant change. The political system needs reform.
Politics do matter
Many believe politics are best left to the clowns in Washington, D.C. But in reality, politics matter to all of us. Whether you are a housewife or a student, what happens in the country impacts our lives. Future generations are facing more challenges than ever. Sadly, our leaders have their own agenda rather than focusing on the job they were elected to do.
Our Founding Fathers were flawed human beings. However, their vision for the fledgling nation was one of freedom and opportunities. It was hoped that citizens and immigrants would take pride in their country. To that end, the new government was one based on a representative model. This meant that elected officials would represent the will of voters.
Cycle of corruption begins
George Washington reluctantly served as the first president. He was not enamored with the idea of leading the new nation. He said he was a simple farmer and serving as president was an honor beyond his capabilities. To his credit, he set a standard for future leaders to put the good of the nation first. Unfortunately, his example was forgotten.
As each subsequent president took the oath of office, the high ideals of Washington dimmed. Men were swayed by the power of the office. Their own legacy became an end goal. Running for office also became more expensive and only those with deep pockets or wealthy connections could afford to run for office.
One of the earliest examples of corruption in politics was the Corrupt Bargain of 1824. It changed presidential elections forever. In this bargain, Andrew Jackson had the majority of the popular vote but not the electoral college. In compliance with the 12th Amendment, the House of Representatives was charged with making the final decision. Henry Clay, who had come in a distant fourth, offered to convince the House to choose John Quincy Adams. In exchange, he wanted to be named as Secretary of State. Early on, the political system needed reform.
The two party system did not improve the system
The formation of the political parties was an evolutionary process. Over time, the parties developed a platform of ideological ideas. Voters joined the party that best matched their views. In spite of the wishes of the general public, favors and bribes became more important to those in office.
Today, the two parties are so divided, there is little attempt to represent the typical middle or lower class voter. Each party focuses on the flaws of the other. Leaders share sound bites over social media that do not build cohesiveness in a time when it’s needed more than ever.
Nominations should be merit-based
To help reform the political system, elections should be merit-based. Instead of well-connected individuals, a potential candidate is nominated based on their actual qualifications. If one has a track record of service to their communities — without ties to lobbyists — then he or she would be qualified to run for office.
In addition, campaigns could be funded by an account that is contributed to by anonymous donations and tax payers with no expectations or possibility for a return. Furthermore, campaigns would have reasonable spending limits. Media outlets could donate time to the candidates to discuss the issues rather than bombard us with smear campaign commercials.
Those who are nominated would be compensated with reasonable living expenses. Once they leave office, they would not be eligible to receive perks. With new term limits for every office, maybe only those with a sincere desire to serve their country would seek office.
The stuff of fantasies
I realize this is only a fantasy. The system is too corrupt to ever be successfully reformed. It would take a major disaster or full-out rebellion before meaningful change will take place. In the meantime, the average citizen suffers. The country will continue to slide toward self-destruction. The environment and future generations will bear the weight of the poor government decisions. Our political system needs reform, but who will step up to the challenge?