Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Political Dreaming

I don’t usually like talking about politics because there really is no point.  People feel the way that they feel and there is usually no way to change a person’s mind on this topic.  So conversations become stressful and sometimes turn into screaming matches, and who needs that?  The point of this blog post is not to change anyone’s mind.  It’s just a way to ask the people of this country to start thinking outside the box.  This post suggests a completely unrealistic and fantasized way of government.   But wish lists are fun and can possibly lead to new ideas (um…Walt Disney anyone?), and that, my friends, is the point.

I have become very skeptical of the government that our forefathers so brilliantly set up for us years and years ago.  I feel as though it has become so corrupt that there is just no way for it to work efficiently for anyone, no matter what side of the coin you’re on.  I think most people in the country aren’t completely happy with our government.  How I know this is that both individuals and organizations are constantly trying to change something. Whether it is who gets to get married or how people treat animals or who gets health insurance, everyone seems to be charged up about something or other.  Since there is so much want and need for change, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are a lot of unhappy Americans out there.  I applaud this desire to change. For me, I think the biggest change needs to start with our government.  And I don’t mean just Democrat verses Republican.  I would love to see a bigger overhaul or a movement.  I don’t mean just voting out everyone who currently sits in Congress, only to replace them with less corrupt politicians, who will eventually be just as corrupt as our current Congress.  And I don’t mean a “tea party-esque” movement where like-minded individuals come together to promote what they already believe.   I mean…bigger.  Before I begin, I just want to throw this out there.  I am a dreamer.  I am not a politician or some brilliant mind that has a solution for our country.  I am not developing a posse to support a campaign to take to Washington. I don’t even really know all that much about our government and how it works.   I am just simply dreaming.

With regard to “sides”, I think that’s a huge part of our problem.  We have become a two sided country, not just with government, but with everything.  Think about it.  Division has become a tactic for one side to succeed over another.  For example, man vs. woman.  There are women’s shelters and women’s advocates, women’s groups and tons of organizations which start with the word “Women”.  Don’t get me wrong.  I absolutely support women succeeding in life.  Empowering women can be a very positive thing.  But so can empowering a man making minimum wage trying to feed his family of four.  Not all men are born in business suits, ready to make his first million.  Not all men are powerful, being afforded opportunity just because he is a man.  What happens to a man who isn’t empowered?  Are there specific male only support groups for him?  With that said, I support Americans, regardless of your sex.  I want all Americans to succeed, no matter what the word “success” means to each individual.  Why the division?  Why can’t there be more groups and organizations just for helping people, regardless of your gender?  This is just one example, but there are many more such as gay vs. straight, rich vs. poor, stay at home mom vs. working mom, popular vs. unpopular, black vs. white, married vs. single, religion vs. atheism, old vs. young, and of course, Democrat vs. Republican.  I remember there being a time when I was able to have an opinion that didn’t necessarily define me.  I remember a time when having a passion was just that.  I remember being able to have a conversation about something I believed in without having to get defensive or having to quote various facts or statistics in order to be taken seriously.  Being on a side, at one time, was okay.  Being on a side, at one time, didn’t necessarily work against you.  Being on a side, at one time, didn’t divide us as a people.  In my opinion, division should be used to open minds, not close them.

The government in particular has gotten less and less able to compromise. It seems that we are in a time where neither side listens to any of the ideas that the other side comes up with, simply because they are not playing for the same team.  If a Republican agrees with or votes the same as a Democrat, he probably won’t win when it is re-election time.  The “party” turns against their own members who might actually be trying to do the right thing for the people of this country.  So, what happens to a country in this type of disarray?  We’ve yet to see, but I don’t feel comfortable about it.  It’s easy to say “get out and vote the people you don’t like out”, but is that really what we want?  Will that actually happen in a country that is so dedicated to the side they are already on?  Currently, we really only wind up choosing from candidates (from a local or primary position) that we didn’t nominate to be our party leaders in the first place.  We are stuck choosing someone who is mediocre or someone who is the best of the worst, and is that really how our country should be run?  Would companies be successful if they chose a mediocre CEO?  Would children be raised well if they have mediocre parents?  It’s pretty obvious that mediocrity doesn’t have a place in any aspect of success.  However, if we are all okay with that, then why not do mediocrity in a different way? 

My Dad and I were having a discussion about politics, and he is a very independent/green party type guy.  He had an idea that I thought was pretty great.  He thinks that the President and Congress should be handled in the same way that jury selection is handled.  You get a notice in the mail and it’s your turn to serve.  That’s right folks, serve.  And as most of you know, jury duty pay is pretty awful.  Not that I think you should be paid jury duty wages for being the President of the United States, but I think taking away the grandiosity of being President is a great place to start.  Just giving our President a home that is over 55,000 square feet seems to send the message of superiority.  I think that is the wrong message to send.  I think the President (and Congress) should live modestly on a modest salary.  I think this would keep the person in office honest, and more in touch with the financial conditions of the country.  If the President of our country had to run the country on a salary of $50,000 per year and still had to budget for his family of four, laws that actually help people might actually be proposed.  I really like my Dad’s jury duty idea.  I think it would put real people of all walks of life into the government seats.  These people may know struggle or success or how to fix certain things in a new way.  They may be former soldiers and have better ideas when it comes to war.  They may be college students who are graduating with $75,000 worth of debt.  You get the picture.  To add onto my Dad’s idea, I would love to not have just one Election Day, but to have as many as needed in order to accommodate new legislation.  If there is a new bill that our Congress proposes, then it would go to the people to get passed.  The law would have to be written clearly and the amount of money that it would cost to implement would need to be clear as well.  I wouldn’t mind voting every single day if it meant that I had a say in what laws are passed in the country I live in.  The idea that the people (not Congress) decide on the laws of the land would also alleviate the headache that is known as lobbyists.  I don’t think this would be the absolute end to lobbyists, but it would certainly help get some of them out of the way so that real laws that actually help people, rather than help whatever company the lobbyist works for, get passed.

When it comes to helping out other countries, I know that we can’t just stop handing over money because that causes countries that already hate us to hate us more, which in turn, may cause war or more terrorism on our turf.  But the dreamer in me wants to hold all funds to all countries.  When a country needs our financial help with something, they should submit it to our Congress in writing, similar to a business plan.  For instance, when I need something at work that costs a significant amount of money, I submit a business case for it.  I include a list of the benefits and risks, as well as cost analysis.  Then, when budget time comes, my company decides whether or not my proposal gets funded.  If it doesn’t get funded, oh well.  Better luck next year.  If it does get funded, I am held accountable and need to show how every penny was spent.  I think handing money out to other countries in a similar fashion might benefit us, or at least show us how these countries are spending our money.  Also, I think that if there is any solid evidence that certain countries mean us harm, they should get nothing.  I know.  That’s not a popular idea because, like I said before, it could cause harm.  But that would be a chance I’d be willing to take. 

I’d also like there to be an online government checkbook.  I mean, not an official one that can be hacked into, but something simple that shows our daily spending as a country.  I want to be able to see who checks are being written to and for how much.  I think opening up a very elementary level online check register would give people a better sense of what we have in the bank and how we are spending their hard earned tax dollars.  I think this would make them more informed when it comes time to vote on the potential laws of the land.

I could probably go on all day, so I’ll stop here.  As for my big ideas, feel free to agree or disagree or laugh or comment with your own ideas.  I would love to hear from more dreamers.  Who knows?  Maybe some of these ideas are already in place but I just don’t know enough about government to realize it.  Maybe some of these ideas are insane and would make things catastrophically worse.  But then again, how much worse could it get?  J 

“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing-that it was all started by a mouse.”
                                                                -Walt Disney