Election’s over; time for compromise
The campaign leading up to the recent election is over. Thank goodness. Often it seemed more like a war zone than a country trying to pick the best leaders available.
The endless attacks upon candidates reinforced my belief that, for the sake of our democracy, we must have campaign reform.
Didn’t you get sick of seeing television ads that repeated the same old media specialist slogans? ‘I am one of you, I will serve you and do what’s right.’ ‘My opponent is a bad guy.’ ‘My opponent works with the enemy.’
Too often, ads and rallies vilified the candidate’s opponent and presented the good traits of the speaker. That is what we do when we compete with each other in ways that really tell us nothing of what a person believes or plans to do. And, negative TV ads do affect people by creating depression and fear.
It is time to demand campaign reform. Let’s start with the method used to define districts for congressional candidates. It is certainly a ‘winner takes all’ system now. Both parties, when in the majority at the time of instating new geographic boundaries, draw them to benefit their own party in the next election. If all the members of one party are put in the same district, that is one sure win for the party they represent. But, if they are strategically placed in a couple of districts, a party can be sure of winning two district seats.
Districts are so gerrymandered that voters find it hard to identify who is suppose to represent them. Look at the maps that show the outlines of geographical districts of members of Congress or the state legislature. If you ever wondered why they are such strange shapes, look to the historical voting records and see the motives. There is a real science of controlling a legislative body with the redistricting power.
Isn’t it time that we citizens support the concept of an independent bipartisan commission to oversee the drawing of districts for legislative members?
The second big problem with our current election system is campaign finance. It is sinful how much money is sunk into campaigns. Candidates spend an inordinate amount of time and effort seeking out funds, time that they could be actually explaining their views on issues and policies.
Why would a citizen make a non-tax-deductible contribution to a candidate? The answer is to influence the candidate’s thinking and actions. That sounds OK but with big dollars floating around comes the issue of access to an officeholder and undue influence for a vested interest.
I don’t want to be governed by the highest financial bidder. Don’t we call that buying an office? How about considering limits to what can be spent in seeking an elected office and even establishing public financing and guidelines for campaigns?
It is time to discuss controlling the length of active campaigning along with establishing how many times a candidate can run ads. We may need a clearer definition of what qualifies as political action. I know there are real dangers and cautions to uniformity and lack of freedom in how and when one can address the public in political presentation, but let’s discuss the pros and cons of our options.
Let’s look at where we are after this past cantankerous election period. The experts say our country is more divided than it was before the campaigns. That is no surprise for the period following a competition of any kind. It is hard to turn off the adversarial switch in our thinking.
I know that it was not uncommon for folks Frank and I had campaigned with to later become disappointed that he worked congenially with those of the other party during the legislature. If you only see the campaign contest, it is difficult to understand the need to cooperate to get things done for the good of the group. It is one of the built-in complexities of a democracy. It is always wise to remember that no candidate ever gets 100 percent of the vote. There are always divergent views and needs to be considered when making policy or administrating that policy. When one looks at members of the opposing party as enemies, it is hard to compromise. We simply must work together if we are going to advance as a nation.
In Indianapolis at this time, there is a problem with the interstate highways that go around the main part of the commercial district. It is overloaded and poorly designed for such extensive use. There are always unintended consequences about decisions made and programs implemented. Thus, new plans are being discussed for the highway.
Wow, do people concentrate on different aspects and problems with the highway routing. Committees have had meetings, hearings and rallies to promote and consider the issues. I asked a participant how it was going. She said no one is totally pleased with the proposed final plan but no one is totally displeased with it either. Each group believes they have been heard in a fair way. They either got something they felt was important or avoided something that for them made the plan a disaster. That is a democracy in action. That is statesmanship rather than raw power.
The campaign is over and so should be the competitive rhetoric that accompanied it. All of us want a strong, free and prosperous America.