On Politics

20 11 2007

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),

or

· 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

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7 responses

20 11 2007
-ph

Good article.

I would also suggest holding all elections on April 15th.

As for the voters… The majority of people do not vote. So I figure that they do so because they don’t want to encourage the bastards. Getting votes is like a popularity contest. The more praise they get the more bold they become. The problem is that now it is possible for less than 25% of Americans to elect a president by popular vote.

Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us.
-P. J. O’Rourke

20 11 2007
pf

I like the new layout of your blog. It displays a kind of post apocalyptic industrial optimism. I can realy identify with that.

21 11 2007
Lewis Walsh

The United States has got to break up the political monopoly. We need to make it easier for anti-incumbents to run so we can get the unproductive and corrupt fossils out of office. The Democrat/Republican duopoly no longer serves the needs of the majority; it only serves the well-moneyed.

Legislators are unlikely to approve legislation that would limit congressional terms of office. And, if such a law were to pass, the Supreme Court is likely to strike it down. A Constitutional Amendment is cumbersome and very unlikely to succeed. We can clean up the mess in Washington only if we individually take action to limit congressional terms. The most negetively skillful of the permanent political class and their masters can not stop action taken by the Six Years and Out movement because it is citizen imposed; it needs no legal or judicial concurrence. This is a plan that can begin to work immediately.

Six Years and Out, The Pledge:

With the recognition that there are huge numbers of intelligent, talented and qualified citizens who are prepared to limit their public service. I hereby pledge to my conscience that I will not vote a second term for any United States Senator and no more three terms for any United States Congressman.

22 11 2007
Patrick

Good article! I echo the above comments as well.

I’d sign onto the second plan in a heartbeat. Might be confusing, but that’s life. Also, make moneyed/corporate lobbying (i.e., Bribery) illegal. Hell, it’s barely disguised at this point. Ya know what, just apply the first plan to corporate CEOs and disgraced politicians.

Democracy *&* beatings! Yay!

25 11 2007
Layman Pong

The Great Day

Hurrah for revolution and more cannonshot!
A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot.

Hurrah for revolution and cannonshot come again!
The beggars have changed places,
but the lash goes on.
–Whippin’ Bitches Yeats

Or, in keeping with O’Rourke,
“…a beggar on whore’s back…”

25 11 2007
Layman Pong

Pardon me:
Hurrah for revolution and cannon come again.

The memory’s a touch rusty.

3 01 2008
I’m A Pundit Too | Carnival of Political Punditry - December 30, 2007

[…] presents On Politics posted at A Dark and Sinister Force for Good, saying, “My opinions, and welcome to […]

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