Saturday, August 11, 2012

Put away your money, it means nothing here

As if I needed more reasons to support campaign finance reform, by which I mean publicly-funded elections in the United States. No private money. No lobbyists bearing gifts. Because we know those gifts are not necessarily from wise men. And somehow those who put together the governmental gift baskets stopped reading the text at the word gold.

It's a pity really. Washington and most of our state capitols have become sewers of corruption. We could use a little frankincense and myrrh.

The Chick Fil A nonsense highlighted once again why we need to get money - corporate and personal - out of politics. Why can't I just eat a damn waffle fry dipped in a chocolate milkshake? Why does it have to mean something other than a hastening of death by the clogging of my arteries and the slow destruction of my pancreas?

We've seen this over and over. I can't shop at Target for the same reasons I can't have an overpriced chicken sandwich Monday through Saturday. It started with business practices. I loathed going to Wal-Mart because they were destroying the main streets of our small towns. Then we learned that they weren't doing right by their employees through sketchy business practices. Then we discovered that they were adding to their profits by pushing their employees off onto the taxpayer to cover their health care expenses. By paying their employees so little, they created a whole new category of the working poor who, without health benefits, had limited choices - no insurance, Medicaid, or struggle to pay for private insurance.

That was bad enough. But now we learn that with something as simple as a drive-thru visit to a place charmingly advertised by cows who can't spell but do okay with a paint brush, we're funding hate groups that work all over the globe to promote their version of Christianity which leans much more heavily on what they define a sin and appeals less to the better angels among us.

I highly doubt that Jesus, when he was a man who walked the Earth, spent much time fretting over genitals. He was busy teaching people how to fish and turning water into wine. Oh, and healing the sick and comforting the miserable.

So add the Chick Fil A brouhaha to the list of reasons why we should have shortened campaigns, a set amount of money for each candidate to spend on their campaign, a set amount of time for debates and television coverage, and a stricter time limit on when a legislator and their staff can pass through the revolving door between legislative offices and lobbying firms. And an elimination of the Electoral College.

There's a reason that most of the nation's wealthiest counties are near Washington, D.C. Contrary to that old conservative trope, government does, in fact, create jobs. Lots of high-paying jobs. If you insist on quibbling, fine - they aren't exactly government jobs. They're just jobs paid for by tax dollars. You say potato, I say there's very little difference between a job created by the government and one paid for by it.

No one -  not corporations, individuals, unions, trade groups - should be able to purchase our politicians by financing their elections. The only gifts lobbyists should be able to deliver to legislators and candidates are votes. Influencing our elections with a compelling message that spurs people to come out and vote is what we need. We don't need more semi-truthful manipulative sounds bites in the form of thirty second television advertisements.

Imagine a system where the law makers govern based on their constituents wants, needs and convictions.

Imagine a system where the words of each individual carry the same weight. No checks heavy with zeroes required to make your voice heard.

Imagine a system where the very wealthy don't have an incentive to buy politicians.

Imagine if our legislators actually spent their time working on legislation  instead of hustling for campaign donations. (Okay, that could be scary, but would it be worse?)

Imagine no longer getting an email inbox full of donation requests.

Imagine your vote meaning something again. Even if you're an ideological minority.

Imagine a reduction in campaign advertisements that tell you nothing and yet are dissected tortuously by political pundits.

Imagine elections being about policies instead of religion and birth certificates and dressage horses and dogs on the roofs of cars.

Imagine what could get done if our politicians were focused on outcomes other than their own self-preservation.

Can I get an Amen?