Americans supposedly hate politicians. We supposedly don’t like being lied to, and we are allegedly sensitive to condescension. Yet we keep falling for these political snake-oil salesmen, no matter how many times they:
· lie to us,
· abuse our women (and sometimes children),
· get exposed for the hypocritical, tax-fattened, power-hungry slimebags they truly are.
Kinky Friedman says the word, “politics” is derived from two root words: “poly” (meaning “many”) and “ticks” (meaning “blood-sucking parasites”). I like this definition. It fits my personal political philosophy (anyone who wants a job in politics is by definition morally and intellectually unsuited for the job) very well.
I don’t do politics- probably because I’m an engineer. Politics is entirely concerned with perceptions. As long as things seem to be working, politicians are happy. Engineers aren’t happy until things are actually working, and working properly. Engineers are perfectly willing to tear everything down and start over from scratch if that’s the best way to get things done. Politicians can’t do this- starting over from scratch might make them look bad.
This focus on perception instead of reality makes politicians uncomfortably similar to lunatics. Of course, the fact that the dear Peepul swallow this line of horseshit without so much as a grimace of distaste makes most Americans borderline psychotics as well. If politicians are parasites (who can argue with this?), then they’re just feeding off the host creature.
Government has been described as a necessary evil. This implies that politicians are essentially a horrible side-effect of government. If we have to have government, we should try to find some way to reduce or eliminate the hazards posed by politicians.
Fortunately, I have a couple of ideas on this subject (surprise, surprise!). Neither of these ideas are original. The first comes from a science-fiction novella, and the second is based upon ancient history. They both have advantages and disadvantages, and every politician in the country will vehemently object to both ideas.
First suggestion– remove or reduce the penalties for treating a practicing politician they way he/she deserves to be treated. Horsewhipping, tar-and-feathering, beating, or killing politicians will still land the perpetrator in court, but the burden of proof is on the victim to prove he/she did not deserve such treatment. In the event the politician gets killed, the burden of proof is on his friends or family. To keep things fair, we’ll let the politicians defend themselves- but they have to do it themselves. No bodyguards.
Second suggestion– get rid of the political class by changing the way we choose candidates. Every single registered voter’s name goes into a random drawing. First choose three candidates for each local government position. From the remaining names, choose three candidates for each state position. From the rest, choose three candidates for each Federal position. Incumbents will also be on the ballot (subject to term limits). Citizens selected as candidates will not be allowed to refuse (except active-duty military and any citizen who has served the term limit for any given office).
Hold elections on the same schedules we have now, but remove the ridiculous primaries, caucuses, straw polls, and other pre-election nonsense. Candidates (including incumbents) must gather for one televised public debate (3 weeks before the election) to present their ideas to the public. All political advertising will be paid out of government funds.
Build in an escalating schedule of term limits: 2 terms for president/Governor/Mayor, 3 terms for Senators/Upper State Legislators/County and City Councilors, 4 terms for Congresscritters/Lower State Legislators/all others. This will ensure a more-frequent turn-over at the higher levels of power, and encourage people to serve longer at lower levels of legislature- where the real work gets done.
Remove judges from the ballot- appoint qualified citizens (registered voters) for set terms and have specific legal recourse to impeach and remove judges who abuse their positions/authority (this specifically includes Supreme Court justices).
Give local government control over State government salaries. Give State governments control over Federal government salaries. All newly-elected officials have a pay range which can be increased (by public referendum) during their term. These referendums should be held once per year, and each voter can vote whether or not to increase each elected official’s salary by a set amount.
H. Beam Piper once wrote, “Let government get rich and powerful and it’s your master. Keep government weak and poor and it’s your servant.” Either one of these plans ought to accomplish the task of keeping the government responsive to its people. I tend to favor the first one, because- let’s face it- everyone has fantasies about beating the crap out of some politician or another.
Current status: Disgusted
Current music: Operation Mindcrime by Queensryche