The Informed Voter System

This is the best idea, please read.

If you’ve never been one to care about politics, or you make it part of your daily routine, I’m sure that you’re aware of the mess that our nation is in.  Chances are that you have been personally affected by the real estate crash, the failing economy, the incredible cost of war or the dismal state of our health care system.

Here is your chance to do something about it.
This is not about being a Conservative, Liberal, Democrat, Republican, or Libertarian.  It is about being an American.
It’s about a solution to the many problems we face as a nation,

The Informed Voter System

Hello.  To begin, I am not trying to sell you anything.  Secondly, this is about politics, but I am not affiliated with any political party.  What I am is an American who is disgusted with what our political and industry leaders are doing to us and our nation.  As Americans we are just as diligent, innovative and hard working as we have always been.  It is the condition of our government that is our problem.  It has ceased to function and all but a select few are paying dearly for it.  What you are about to read represents my efforts to do something about this mess.  It begins with clarifying the problems and ends with a very reasonable and possible solution.

The Informed Voter System

The Problem

Lately I’ve been hearing more and more about something that I believe is at the root of our country’s problems.  Our politicians are very aware of this situation and oddly enough, are the only ones who can fix it.  Unfortunately, they are unwilling to make an issue of this while they are still in a position to do something about it.  Rock this money boat and it’s the end of your political career.

In the not too distant past our elected officials spent the majority of their time reading, writing and voting on legislation.  They were, in some part, responsible to the people who voted for them.  This was evident in the way they cast their votes and in the issues they supported.  Sure, there was the ever-present influence of big business, but in the end, it was about people, votes and money, not just money.

In recent years, a few former politicians have come forward to expose what is behind the systemic failures of our government.  They’re telling us that raising campaign money has become such a burden that it is keeping our politicians from doing what we elect them to do.  Every year more and more effort goes into the quest for the almighty campaign dollar.  In addition to the time and energy that’s being wasted, our representatives find that they are increasingly bound to those who so carefully make those contributions.  Today the corruption has reached a point where there is little evidence of a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Power and easy money have become the primary force behind the legislative process, not the quality of our lives.  Sure this game is great for the politicians and the leaders of industry, but as the “Great Recession” has shown, the rest of us are paying a terrible price for the gains of a select few.  Our politicians simply won’t act on our behalf because we cannot provide them with the millions of dollars they need to get and stay in office.  In fact, most of the time our so-called Representatives know where legislation is headed before a single vote is cast.  They all know because it’s clear who they’ll answer to if they dare vote against the whims of their contributors.  Trust me, they know they won’t have to face the grandmother who just had an eviction notice stapled to her front door.

Even today the Senate’s top pick for health-care reform is also the top earner of campaign money from the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries.  Yes, even you and your family’s health is for sale.

This charade and the issue of campaign money is not particular to any one political party.  Our entire political system is involved.  A senator rails against a bill from the opposing party and I ask why?  What is the motivation?  Is he thinking about the young mother who is desperately trying to make ends meet?  The unfortunate reality is that most of the passion on Capital Hill is no more than the Republicans and the Democrats scheming against one-other.  This makes for energetic speeches but has little to do with our quality of life.  The constant back and forth between them is nothing more than a well rehearsed distraction.  Indeed, it’s a clever and effective way to keep us confused, uninformed and  most of all, divided.  Liberal? Conservative?  Republican?  Libertarian?  Democrat?  With the obvious failures of our government, it seems absurd to have loyalty to any of these ideals.  In many ways it keeps us from seeing what’s going on.  Let’s focus on government that understands the meaning of the phrase “Public Servant.”  Then we can play out the differences of liberal and conservative that are, in fact, vital to our political system.

Now let’s make this clear; I have an enormous respect for the individual Senator or Congressman.  They work long hard days and shoulder enormous responsibilities.  Historically, they’ve sought to serve the people of this nation.  Today it is a corrupt system that dictates their efforts and rids them of their ethics and higher motivations.  The system itself is where the fix has to take place.

Here’s a typical scenario:

  • Corporation X owns several coal fired power plants.
  • Corporation X realizes that it can save tens of millions of dollars by emitting higher levels of pollution into the atmosphere.
  • Corporation X finds a sympathetic ear in a young senate hopeful who really needs the help of Corporation X to get elected.
  • Corporation X donates huge sums of money to the young senator’s campaign.  There are many channels through which they can do this and they exploit every last one of them.  Even though his campaign fund is off to a good start, the sickening sale of his loyalty has only just begun.  This quest for campaign money will continue throughout his political career
  • The young senator outspends his opponent and wins the election.
  • A huge chunk of the money that the young senator received from Corporation X pays for campaign commercials on radio and television.  Guess who owns these T.V. and radio stations?  You got it, Corporation X.
  • In the young senator’s first year in office, Corporation X sends their top lobbyist to Capitol Hill with a proposal that would loosen pollution controls on coal fired power plants. The young senator proposes a bill that would make this a reality.  Most of this bill was actually written by Corporation X.  The young senator has to play along because, after all, he wouldn’t be a senator without his beloved corporate sponsor.
  • By now Corporation X has gotten most of it’s money back from it’s campaign contributions.  Remember it owns the T.V. and radio stations.  These so-called contributions have magically reappeared as profit.  Call it the icing on the cake.

(Fact: In the 2008 presidential election, more than $400 million was spent on broadcast media.)

  • The bill passes both the house, the senate, and the President signs it into law.  This happens because Corporation X is also playing this game with everyone else who votes for it.  Those who aren’t part of this particular scheme support it because the young senator promises to do the same for them in the future.  Yes, even the President plays the game.
  • Corporation X will now save millions and millions of dollars by emitting more and more pollution into the atmosphere.  Can you say “Executive Bonus?”
  • The young senator eventually leaves his senate seat to do what?  To become the all-star young lobbyist for Corporation X.  His up to the minute contacts in D.C. make him the perfect man for the job.
  • In the coming years our not so young senator will rake in tens of millions of dollars as he bounces back and forth between government and big business. If he hangs in there long enough he’ll help himself to a $50K a year senate pension, for the rest of his life.

Not too long ago this was considered scandalous, today it is the way our government operates.

The founding fathers must be spinning in their graves.

A major player in this scam is what we might call main stream media.  The ‘news’ that is handed out by the media giants would have us believe that we are getting the facts.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Turn on the nightly news and you’ll get a well crafted version of what they want you to know, not what you need to know.  Look behind the scenes and you’ll find highly creative and intelligent people who get paid very well keep us in the dark.  Our predecessors knew that effective democracy would not survive without unbiased journalism.  Do we understand this?  Unfortunately what was once a responsibility to tell the American people the truth has become a charade motivated by greed.  The government itself has done it’s part by gift-wrapping this vital part of our society for a select few corporations.  Their control over what we see, hear and ultimately believe to be truth is a must if their game is to continue.

How many of us remember when the endangered species act was nearly erased because it was a drag on corporate profits.

Where in all of this is the voice of the American people?

Given that most Americans now have access to the internet, it is possible to bring about drastic change for a fraction of the money that is being spent to elect those who represent us. For those who cannot access the internet, the cost of the postage would still be a drop in the bucket compared to the circus we have today.  The central element of this change is a system that will manage our new election process on the local, state and national levels.  It will make it easier than ever for us to keep up with upcoming elections.  It will also greatly simplify the choices we make and at the same time put an end to the rampant influence of greed and corruption.  Built in to the foundation of the system are safeguards to permanently prevent the influence of any individual, political party, organization or industry.  Think of what could be achieved if those millions of campaign dollars went into the research and development of new products and services?

That’s how America used to make it’s money.

Last but certainly not least, this change would require that Americans do more than ignore our government and blindly vote “Democrat or Republican.”  We can no longer afford to be wrapped up in partisan politics.  To impulsively support one party or the other is to ignore the mess that our government has become.

Has your allegiance to any of them really made a difference? Ever?

We’re all busy and that’s not likely to change.  So included in this idea is a model for effective democracy that is within reach of the busiest of us.

The Solution

  • The first step is to put together a comprehensive list of issues that are important to Americans.  The list will be based on suggestions from us, the registered voters.  A simple index will make it easy to find the issues that are important to you.  The list would include everything from national issues like gun ownership down to the need for uniforms in public schools.  Spaces for local issues could be added for specific districts to answer special needs.  The ultimate size of the list would be a balance between what we need for effective government and the time we have to invest in the election process.
  • Months before an election we would be required, either online or in writing, to choose 20 or so issues that are important to us.  This is for each election, on every level from local to national.  Completing this necessary step would put our names on a list that would be present when we show up to vote.  Yes, that’s effort on our part.  But representation requires participation.
  • The twenty or so issues that get the most attention from the voters in a particular district then get handed off to the candidates.  The candidates will then have to give a brief explanation of where they stand on these issues.  These should be limited to a certain number of characters per issue, for truth comes when there are limitations.  No flashy graphics, no long winded explanations – just the facts on where they stand on what matters to us.  Included in this summary would also be a simple, structured bio of the candidates.  If the candidate has a political history, their voting record would be included in the bio.
  • Before an election these summaries would be posted on the Informed Voter System website or be mailed to voters who cannot access the internet.  Now we can plainly see where the candidates stand on the issues.  Again, these are the issues that we are interested in, not the ones that candidates would choose to talk about.  It might be a bit to read, but again, representation requires participation.  The reality is that it would probably take less time to read over these summaries than to sit through the slew of pre-election campaign commercials we see on T.V. which, by the way, would no longer exist.
  • Voters would have the option of making a donation to the Informed Voter System through the system’s website or by mail. When making a donation, we can choose to make it in support of a specific candidate, however, making a donation would not be necessary in order to vote.  Specific limits would be placed on the amount of these donations.  These limits would be set at a level that would keep the system functioning without giving anyone the ability to buy a politician.  The candidates would have to receive a minimum amount of pledged donations from individuals in their district to participate in the election.  This would ensure a strong desire on the part of the candidates to network within their districts and mobilize volunteers to get the word out.  If big business would still like to make a donation to the democratic process, it will be to the Informed Voter System itself, and would not be in support of any particular candidate.  Perhaps then we would see how deep the corporate pockets are in the absence of their powerful influence.  The donations would cover the cost of the system.  Times are tough indeed, but a small donation from every registered voter would put some muscle behind our new-found political voice.  Sure, there are details here that need to be worked out with this, but again… Would we rather keep the disaster that we have today?
  • Debates and other public appearances will help us fill in the blanks.  The point is that the network logo at the bottom of the screen during the debate will be the only influence exerted on anyone.
  • The process of going to the poll and voting will otherwise remain unchanged.
  • Regulation of the voting machines and access to the polls will also have to be improved.  The Informed Voter System is the perfect entity to manage this.  If needed, federal funds could help support this function.  In past elections there have been abuses surrounding these issues that have had profound effects on election results.  This is absolutely unacceptable.
  • A vital part of the system is the passage and enforcement of laws that regulate politicians who bounce back and forth between public service and high-paying industry and lobbying jobs.  Run the unethical folks out of government and we’ll see that those who remain would be happy to empower these laws with some serious teeth.
  • Get rid of the mass mailings.  Get rid of the T.V. and radio commercials.  Get rid of the polling that helps the candidates in their quest to tell us what we want to hear.  Get rid of anything in print that isn’t from the unbiased Informed Voter System.  Get rid of anything that isn’t a volunteer talking face to face with you about the candidate they support and what do you have.

Politicians will have the time, energy and integrity to do what we elected them to do.

Will this be tough?  Powerful people will do their best to see that this level of reform never happens.  To let them win means more of what we see today, and it will only get worse.  I’m not telling you that this is the best or the only way to fix our broken government, nor am I saying that this system is complete or perfect the way it is.  The point is that this is the type of sweeping change is desperately needed.  The hope is that, if enough of us get involved and share these ideas, the Informed Voter System could re-open the door to “The Land of Opportunity.”

So what do I want from you?  Email this to everyone you know whose not happy with the way things are, who has seen their quality of life decline, whose expenses are higher and their efforts worth less.  Anyone who wants their children to have a better life.  Anyone who wants to see their investments truly multiply.  Anyone who wants to see our beloved nation prosper.  Feel free to post this anywhere, in any form.  I only ask that you respect the possibilities of it and require it’s post be unedited and in it’s entirety.

As the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence puts it…

It’s not only our right, but our duty to step in and fix our government should it become broken.

Thank you for your time.

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