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Hate The Government? How You Can Fix It.

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Political Offices Up for Sale CartoonThe Economist, having looked at the American political situation, found it depressing. Increasingly the federal government, via Congress, is unable to resolve the challenges and problems facing the American people and economy. Gridlock has become the norm as both sides, fearing electoral backlash, dig more deeply into their positions.

Republicans fear not just Tea Party opponents, but the “conservative” ratings sent to GOP voters by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the libertarian Club for Growth, and now the Heritage Foundation.

Democrats, while having a more open tent, still fear the backlash of AARP, unions, and the progressive far left.

And in between both parties is a meteor sized crater of corporate and union money ready to finance candidates and policies that serve only their interests.

The divisiveness is hardly new, but it is increasingly structural. As the battle for billions of campaign dollars heats up, neither side dares grant the other any modicum of success, or risk the ire of its donors by appearing to compromise. Gerrymandered districts mean that most congressmen fear their partisans in the primaries more than their opponents in the general election. Ever more divisive media feed the activists’ prejudices. So, at worst, a bitter contest could merely reinforce the gridlock, with a re-elected, more leftish Comrade Obama pitted against a still more intransigent Republican Congress.

If this political situation is to be resolved, American voters in each state must demand of their state’s legislatures that districts are determined by non-partisan panels rather than being gerrymandered by politicians for party gain. Additionally, Americans must demand their elected officials support a Constitutional amendment that gets money out of politics. To quote Republican Teddy Roosevelt, “Let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly.” The same holds true for trade unions and SuperPacs.

Corporations (and unions too) are not people and, therefore, should not be allowed to use their financial clout to purchase legislation and legislative elections. As President Grover Cleveland wrote, “Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters.” Through their ability to influence elections and legislation via massive media campaigns, using highly tested messages for maximum effectiveness, and influential lobbying via donations, they are once again fast becoming the people’s masters.

If Americans don’t like their government as the 9% Congressional approval record shows, the people have only to change the way the political game is currently played through safe, party dominated, gerrymandered districts that guarantee the elections of party extremists rather than moderates. And they must push to remove the corrupting influence of money in politics by requiring every candidate to support an Amendment that bars any donation from a non-human entity.

A free market requires a free, open playing field. That playing field is not possible when a player can virtually buy legislation or a legislator to protect his business, industry, or union from market disrupters or competition. Nor is the public at large served well when money is used to enable public policies that may harm the public, commons, or commonweal.

A third party won’t solve these problems, but a genuine effort of the voters can. There is nothing inherently wrong with our two party system that some public demanded tweaking of the system cannot fix. If you hate the way government works right now, then you can demand the necessary changes to make it work again for you…not just the monied few.

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Written by Valerie Curl

November 7, 2011 at 9:53 AM

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