Thursday, March 8, 2012

Get the money out!

We as Americans have been an active part of this partisan politics that has contaminated our leadership and undermines the future of our Democracy. Our fault is twofold; voter apathy has led to lack of participation of the majority of voting age citizens and our willingness to succumb to the strict adherence to ideological extremes by those who do. As fewer American’s participate in the process it becomes easier to manipulate by those with the will and means to do so.

Most Americans who do participate now get most of their input to make voting and policy decisions from the information assimilated from media outlets such as CNN or Fox news, local news outlets, political blogger or talk radio. Unfortunately many will only consider one or two outlets that best paints the picture from their prospective. The problem becomes when Americans read or listen to these sources and believe their content is political gospel. ALL Media is reliant on advertising dollars to make money and ratings not the truth decide the content you hear.

Democracy has long been result of compromise and moderate heads prevailing, but this does not make for good ratings. Rather what sells is speaking about extreme viewpoints or adherence to strict ideological beliefs that bring with it a reliable, predictable audience of hard line supporters and opposition that can be marketed to successfully.  When we as Americans accept these one sided viewpoints as political truths as many do, combined with a lack of voter participation we set ourselves up for the disillusioned partisan politics we find ourselves mired in today.

When all those with the means and will, no matter their purpose, only have to manipulate the few to guide the course of our democracy down a single ideological path we all lose. We are all Americans first, rich or poor, blue collar or white collar, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, Catholic or Protestants, Muslim or Jew, white or black. We are the most diverse population a country has ever seen yet our strength comes from our ability to put our aside our differences and unite under the cause of liberty and justice and the belief that our rights are not given to us by our government but rather are unalienable and must be utmost concern in all our government does. These are powerful beliefs that brought forth a nation like no other in history of the world but are lessened every day we continue down this path of narrow-minded, short sided politics we see today.

Somehow we need to separate ourselves from this cycle. We as Americans must all participate in our political process. Many have died for our right to do so, and many more continue to die for that opportunity for themselves all around the world every day. We cheapen their sacrifices when we don’t exercise our own right to vote. To do this responsibly will require effort to gather relevant knowledge from multiple sources to avoid being manipulated by those who wish to do so. We must also be tolerant of others viewpoints.  The tough answers to the problems that face America today will not all come the left or the right, they will not all come as a result of an all conservative or all liberal agenda, but rather will be found through the collective work of us all. Never truer is the statement “United We Stand Divided we Fall.” Don’t let the powers that chose to manipulate our system to divide us into two diametrically opposed camps that believe the other is the root of all that is wrong with America for this is just not true.

 History is littered with the corpses of ideologies that were practiced to exclusion from the beginning of time to the present. One-sided thinking only ever serves the few, at the cost of the many every time. With all that our politicians speak about, talk radio shows rant over, or prime time news agencies report, they give little heed to this because it serves them well to have us this way. Ratings are up, advertising dollars are flowing and small voting bases continue to elect politicians that serve this cycle of division.

We must do what is necessary to end this downward spiraling cycle of one-sided politics. The great driver of this cycle is the money it takes to get elected and represent the “people”. For example the cost of the 2008 combined presidential campaigns was over 5 billion dollars by some estimates and current projections put the current 2012 presidential campaigns cost at over 8 billion dollars. This kind of fund raising puts our leaders in financial shackles whose keys are controlled by ideological zealots with little or no heed to the moderate, silent, majority. The average American has no voice in this system of leadership by the highest bidder and that must not be allowed to continue. If we continue to let money dictate who our leaders are we have thrown off the tyranny of the British crown and replaced with that of the All Mighty Dollar.

The Citizens United decision continues the trend of one dollar equals one vote over one person one vote. This is a dangerous path we as a country are traveling down. We must bring the accountability of our leaders back to the people and away from big money interest. I believe that most people who seek public office at least originally do so with good intentions of making a difference, but our current system makes our politicians beholding to the money it takes to get elected and often prohibits them from serving the will of the people.

We as a people have overcome much in our history. Starting out as a small collection of thirteen English colonies we cast aside our shackles, defeated an empire and rose to become a world superpower. We have persevered through a civil war that faced brother vs. brother and healed to become a stronger unified nation.  We have overcome a great economic depression to become the richest nation the world has ever known.  During WWII we rose to the challenge and led the world to defeat evil and tyranny hell bent on world domination. We can be better than this. We owe it to all that have come before us and sacrificed so much for us to enjoy the advantages of being an American today.

We must and can do this. Our forefathers had the wisdom to set up a system that can be changed and this one single change could set forth a foundation on which the numerous issues facing America today could be addressed. We must remove this cancerous tumor that is killing our political process. Many believe that their vote no longer counts and refuse to cast one, insuring that it truly doesn’t.  It is the responsibility of every a citizen of a democracy to vote. We must exercise our right to vote and we must demand this change.We must ignore one sided media outlets and politicians who tell us fifty percent of Americans is wrong and solely to blame for our country's ills.  Only though cooperation by our people and our leaders will be able to chart a course for America that actually works for Americans and not those who wish to purchase our destiny as if it was theirs alone to buy.