(Note: This is part two of an eleven-part series that starts here.)
Imagine a grandmother from Fire Island, New York, who lives on a limited, below average income and has to deal with all the issues associated with that situation. Imagine she is intelligent, wise from age and supremely motivated to add to the greatness of our nation by running for public office. By today’s standards, her chances of winning election are about as likely as a Radio Flyer™ wagon’s chances of winning the Indianapolis 500.
She will be competing against campaign money raised by special interest groups, corporate donations and other funding sources available to the incumbent that simply don’t exist for her.
Imagine a farmer in Iowa, who decides (in the tradition of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) he could help out his constituents by representing them in public office. By today’s standards, his chances of winning election are likely no greater than an ice cube’s chance on the surface of the sun.
He, too, will be up against “the campaign machine”. More often than not, it’s all about money or power and the average farmer is simply not in the league of most politicians when it comes to campaign funding resources to achieve those goodies. Fortunately for Iowans, he is well-versed in hardship, how to live off the land and how to produce product right here in the United States. Unfortunately for Iowans, that and a quarter will get you a piece of bubble gum—for now, anyway.
You and I both know these examples could go on, ad infinitum. These well-meaning citizens are effectively shut-out of the democratic process by their lack of money. What we get, in return, are politicians that may be well-meaning but are not driven to help their fellow citizen by passion for equality and doing what is right. Instead, we get the politician that is all about making money—all about power and control.
So how do we rectify this? Simple.
- For starters, every dime of campaign money—whether raised by an incumbent fat cat or an average Joe, should go into the same campaign fund and be equally divided between those running for office. Watch how that knocks some of sparkle off the crystal.
- Whoever wins a campaign should make no more in salary than the average salary for their constituency. In essence, we look at the scope of average income for the area the winner will be representing and cap the winner’s salary accordingly. Believe me, that alone will cause politicians with “alternate agendas” to fly the coop and find their desired riches in another walk of Life.
- The winner of a campaign should not be allowed to financially benefit in any way through the power of his or her office. This means no more voting on their own raises, no more obvious graft hidden by contributions and no more privileges than the average citizen would expect in daily life.
- Abolish lobbying altogether. Lobbying is no more than legalized bribery. It allows a politician to receive and steer money to pet projects, their pockets included, while backing off and saying, “That money was used in the normal business of running my office”. If lobbying should be allowed to continue, simply make a law requiring the politician to redirect every penny of lobbyist money to the citizens in the form of a refund from the government. In short order, you will see lobbyists completely disappear.
With these requirements in place, a new possibility will exist for the manning of Public office. For the first time in recent history, people like the grandmother in New York and the farmer in Iowa will take office, driven solely by their zeal to help their fellow citizens. The above restrictions will not be a hindrance to them because they are not really losing anything. Their passion will drive their convictions and political positions will be populated by people who care more about the citizenry than lining their pockets or wielding power.