I find myself frequently castigated as a liberal by various online commenters.
I don’t think the word liberal is anymore heinous than the word conservative. Both are nothing more than the description of two political philosophies put forth by mostly honorable people who want to achieve what is best for America but differ or how to get there. The fringe in each group does not represent the majority.
What I find amusing is that the same people who hurl that word at me as the basest of epithets seem to think that because I am more liberal than conservative, I must love every liberal candidate for office.
Would that I could!
Unfortunately the thinking part of my brain frequently interferes with my ability to blindly follow anyone calling themselves liberal. You see, I actually believe that you have to look past labels and see what the candidate really intends. Many liberal candidates no more represent what I believe than do their conservative counterparts.
This all started because my column last week was about political pandering. I was taken to task for not bringing up liberal panderers as though I was implying they did not exist.
Quite honestly, for so long as Bill Clinton hovers over our political landscape, no conservative can ever hope to hold the pandering crown.
Pandering to every special interest group that will open its wallet to you is an integral part of our current political system. It will not go away until we truly reform how our elections are funded. And while I realize that we long ago cast off the bonds that once tied us to Great Britain, their electoral system deserves a serious look when considering reform.
In England, you have six weeks from when an election is called to when the vote is held. All funding for that election comes from the public coffers.
Instituting some form of these two points could immediately alleviate two of my major complaints about the state of political campaigning in America today. One is the ungodly length of our campaign seasons. The new campaign often starts before the winning candidate in the most recent election has even been sworn in. It’s as though the point of the exercise was the campaign itself and not the actual term of office.
The other is the astounding amount of money that must be raised to ensure a credible campaign on any state or national level. You cannot maintain the distance needed from large corporate sponsors and special interest groups while holding your hand out for their largesse. When they drop thousands of dollars into any particular candidate’s bucket, their motives are usually not altruistic as much as prepayment for future favors.
If all candidates were required to run their campaigns based on the money given them through a federal election fund, the playing field would be leveled and corporate and other special interests would not have a place at the table so much closer to the candidate than you and I do based on our relatively paltry donations.
For those of you out there screaming that all I’m doing here is putting the government further into debt, let’s not forget that now that corporations have achieved their long held dream of personhood, they can also be taxed to pay for the campaigns.
In fact, I think the fairest thing to do would be to add up what they gave in the most recent election to all the candidates they wanted to influence and make that their yearly contribution to the fund plus inflation. Then they could enjoy the complete benefits of personhood like the rest of us do who pay lots of taxes because we have no corporate tax shelters.
This is a win-win situation. My ears won’t have to bleed from year round campaign blather. I won’t be harassed to donate to the candidate of my choice because if I don’t, the other guy who clearly represents evil will win. Candidates will actually be judged on what they say and stand for, not the unspoken demands of their corporate contributors. And corporations will come fully into their own as the real people they apparently want to be.
Alas, as my mother would say, “If wishes came true, beggars would be kings.” And my ears wouldn’t bleed year round.