It seems as if Politicians always lie. Maybe not every single one, and maybe not absolutely every time they talk...but often enough to leave us with the feeling...and even the conviction...that they indeed are dedicated to something other than the truth.
Why is that so?
I suspect that they do this because they either know or strongly suspect that if they told us the truth, we would not elect (or, re-elect) them. But...at some basic level we all actually know that they are lying...yet we allow them to get away with the lie. And we do that not just once...but over and over and over.
But that isn't the whole problem. Ask yourself..."Why is it that what they promise so convincingly a lie?" Most of what they promise...well, except for the fact that they insist that it won't cost us anything...is good, is desirable and is worth at least trying. So...why doesn't it happen.
Well, everybody has their own answer; conspiracy believers abound; folks of all ideologies have their pet talking points; and there are even some who deny that any lies are ever told.
But I have my own: MONEY!
No, I don't have an argument with the Citizens United case. And if all ideological arguments were represented by equal money there arguably wouldn't be anyone with an unequal advantage. But that argument would be false.
The problem is that people running for office, and those who wish to be re-elected to office have to raise money for their campaigns or their election bids will fail. And that means that you have to convince people to contribute. They don't do that so that other people will get something...they do it because they are going to get something they want. Remember the show and film, The Producers?
Every politician is making those promises to each and every contributor; every politician tries to write their plea for money in general way so they can claim that whatever they do, it fits into the promise you think they made to you. Mr. Obama was the best at this: Hope and Change, right? Well, he gave each of us that, didn't he. That was at least one time when, technically, he did not lie to anyone. Those words were brilliantly chosen to allow each and every one of us who wanted something to change in Washington to infer that he was talking about our definitions of those words. But he is just the most recent practitioner of the art of parsing words and phrases. Every politician on every side of any aisle that has ever existed has done the very same thing. Let the buyer beware!
But where we, the electorate, really lose control is when you get very, very rich people getting together and meeting personally with a candidate or office holder and making huge donations that carry very specific conditions...conditions that are NOT made public, that are NOT transparent...although if we knew the people involved, we all could probably figure out just what was bought and paid for. And we get angry...not because it is done, but largely because WE can't do the same thing...OUR wishes aren't going at the top of the list...it isn't votes, it is money, because the money buys the votes through tv, radio, internet and radio advertising; money buys staffs and re-election offices and the best minds to craft high sounding populist slogans that make people trust the untrustworthy. THAT is where the problem resides.
So...what could be a solution? Is there one? One that doesn't offend the Constitution? I don't know...truly! But I do have an idea.
What if any politician running for any Federal Government Office did not need to buy advertising space, time or access? What if any person running for such office did not have to pay for production costs for advertise, whether print or media? What if pay for all re-election personnel were covered by a source other than contributions?
Supposing every candidate was guaranteed equal time and equal space and they need not do any fund-raising? Consider that if we can keep the emphasis on the message each candidate is communicating, we all are better off than if the candidate even before the election (and whether he or she even knows it has happened) has sold out.
Is that worth a try?
Hey...there is no such thing as a free lunch. It'll cost you...you, the electorate, ... you, the taxpayer. But you just might once again have control of your so-called Representatives, your Senators, your President. Shouldn't that be worth something to you? If not, stop reading and go back to whatever you were doing before you tripped over this column. Otherwise...let's see how we could actually do this...
First, where would the money come from? That's easy...the Federal Government. Where would they get it? That is easy too...from us. Not that little box we sometimes notice now on the IRS forms each April, but from use of General Fund moneys appropriated for the purpose.
Who would control this attempt? Well, one possibility would be the creation of an independent organization outside the government run much as the current Congressional Budget Office which is non-partisan and simply applies numbers; for this it would track advertising space, placement, tv and radio time, internet efforts and insure that all candidates got equal time, equal space and equivalent time slots on a rotating basis. Each outlet (paper, tv station, radio station, etc.) would indicate the total time that they were willing to alot, and that time would be distributed absolutely equally. All production costs would likewise be covered by tax funds and those expenses would be controlled so that each candidate would have equal resources to produce their flyers, ads, commercial and the like.
The key here is that no candidate would have to sell his or her votes in the future to fund getting elected...they would have the opportunity and perhaps even the obligation to speak truth to the electorate. This would cost billions...but we are wasting billions now on silly things. Wouldn't it be better to buy ourselves honest elections? Do you have something better that would provide more benefit to you and your family than that? I have to say that as far as I am concerned, there is nothing of more lasting benefit, not just to me, but to my children and my grandchildren.
Why can't people try to find out how to make this...or something like it...work, rather than throw up their hands and simply write it off as not workable. If you see something wrong with it, come with a way to fix it or make it better. Because the way we are going is just encouraging our "representatives" to keep on lying to us and selling us down the river.