As a democrat, I was delighted with the results of the past congressional elections. My first thoughts were that finally we'd have some real oversight in Washington. The Republicans would no longer be able to shove their elitist agenda down our throats or sweep their unmentionables under the rug. They would finally have to face reality and deal with their gross mismanagement, corruption, and abuse of power -- both on the Executive and Congressional levels.
Clearly, the recent period of Republican rule proved the age-old theory of "absolute power corrupts absolutely". Only in this particular stretch of time, most notably the past six years, the abuse of power was dramatically more insidious than in previous incarnations -- even more so than those chronicled during the Nixon/Watergate era of the 70's.
To be complete, there are so many areas within our government where reforms are urgently needed. Our democracy is in peril, the result of years of abuse, many recently authored by the Bush administration and his rubber-stamp Republican congress.
For purposes of this post, I'll focus my comments and suggestions on what I regard to be a top priority -- Election Reform. For absent election reform, our democracy will become a pointless sham (if it hasn't already). Many thoughtful Americans are of the belief that the past two presidential elections were stolen and not the true representation of the people's will. As a result, America and the rest of the world are suffering the political and economic consequences of this treachery.
1. Election reform - The strength of our democracy depends upon fair and open elections that are tamper-proof. Uniform standards are needed that insure voting integrity and accuracy. Let's start with dumping electronic voting. Restore paper ballots to a pre-eminent position as our exclusive voting technology. Also, impose severe criminal penalties for those who attempt to, or have tampered with, the integrity of the voting process.
2. Lobbyist reform - We need public financing of our elections. Let's admit the obvious: we will not have fair and transparent elections so long as K St. runs the show. We must find a way to remove lobbyist money from the political equation. Our elected representatives are forced to focus too much time and attention to building a campaign treasury for the next election cycle. And in so doing, their true constituencies suffer the consequences as their representatives must first satisfy the demands of corporations and their hired lobbyists rather than address the real needs and aspirations of their constituency -- the average citizen. The consequence of this arrangement with respect to the average Joe is "taxation without representation". We need public financing of our elections.
Also, and very importantly -- new rules must be implemented that prohibit former legislators and/or their staff members from joining lobbyist groups for a period of at least five years after leaving their prior position. Among other things, this hideous process has been largely responsible for selling out America to foreign interests. In such a scenario, greed and self-interest often take precedence over what is truly in the best interest of America. This must be stopped. There are, of course, many other areas that scream out for real reform. Future posts will address these areas in equal measure.
I realize that many of you will conclude that my suggestions will never be pushed, that I'm being impractical or idealistic. And all I can say to those of you who share that perspective is that such a view does not in any way diminish or alter the fundamental truth of the matter and that is simply that without the reforms highlighted above, the vast majority of Americans will continue to be disenfranchised both politically and economically.