Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Re: Our Sad Political System

Blame can only get us so far. I regret that my earlier posts had attempted to assign blame, but I guess my main purpose was to emphasize that we still are (at least purportedly) a system by the people, and if the people are unhappy, then the people should demand change. The problem is that people are either unaware how unhappy they have become or are unaware how happy they could be. So I shift my attention to potential fixes. It is important to identify the problems to know how to solve them, but I think we all know where the problem lies (if you aren't sure what I think, try hitting the shift key with the number four a few times).

One potential for change is to promote a successful third party--one that really, really represents the people. In each of the major shifts in parties that we have experienced in our country's short history, the motivation appears to have been that the options just didn't capture the heart of the people. If ever there was a time where this was true, now seems to be it.

I stumbled across an interesting website online:, a summary of the thesis of Matt Grossmann, a professor in Berkeley's Political Science Department. In Chapter 7, Grossmann proposes some interesting recommendations for structural reform and is worth browsing.

I mention the multiparty system not as a genuine aspiration--at least not right now, but to emphasize that we should be looking for answers, not assigning blame. I think that some change can be had within the two-party system, and this is probably the best place to start. When the campaign finance laws get shot down by the Supreme Court, what's the next logical step to reform?

We must find a way to detach money from the process, at least as best as practicable. And we must find a way to wake up the people. If enough voters took the issue of campaign financing seriously, we would not need regulations to ensure that candidates did not take hard or soft money, as anyone who did would not get the votes. One sensible approach, then, might be to encourage activism to vote for the candidate that is least tainted by these funds. I'm sure there are plenty of sources to obtain such information online.

I know this post doesn't really speak to our earlier discussion, but we seem to be nibbling at the greater problems underlying the current political climate. If the topic of debate is truly "our sad political system," then why not discuss ways to make it "our happy political system"?

No comments: