I’ll never forget the first (and only) time I rode Raptor at Cedar Point Amusement Park. It was a huge, green, scary-looking coaster. I love roller coasters, but it had been years since I had ridden one, and Raptor was not like any other coaster in my experience. My legs were dangling, and I was hanging on for dear life. Everyone told me to keep my head pressed back into the seat, but the faster it went, the less I was able to press my head backward. Soon I was sick to my stomach as the ride began violently jerking my head from side to side. I kept screaming, “Stop the ride, I need to get off!” My daughter and husband thought it was pretty funny. I did not.
For the next several hours, I had severe balance issues until I finally sat down and refused to move. They went on their merry way, riding all those horrid coasters and loving it. I learned my lesson…no more roller coasters for me. The ride had literally upset the balance in my inner ear and likely bruised the margins of my brain during the violent head-tossing time. I’m amazed that people can ride them over and over again without suffering permanent damage.
So here I am, the TV running as background noise while I write, and it occurs to me that this political season is very much like Raptor. There appear to be three types of voters: those who keep riding the coaster no matter how dangerous; those who refuse to ride the coaster because they are unwilling to take a chance; and those who give it a try, then stand back, analyze the experience, and consider all the aspects before making a decision.
As of July, the two opposing campaigns had spent, combined, over a billion dollars for advertising campaigns to either win our votes to “their” side, or convince us not to vote for the “other” side. I am sure the tally will be close to two billion dollars by Election Day. I have some news for those running these campaigns. The majority of the voters are either riders or not riders. All the money and advertising in the world is not going to change their minds. So you are wasting billions of dollars attempting to lure that small fraction of voters who give it a try and analyze the results. Unfortunately for you, those who try and analyze are not easily swayed by campaign rhetoric. Those who try and analyze do research, seek the facts, and make informed decisions.
I hate to even turn the TV on anymore. I can’t help being asphyxiated by constant negative ads, lies, fabrications, misrepresentations, and accusations bordering on libel, with such density and rapidity that I wonder how they actually get an entire show into the reserved time slot.
Wouldn’t that two billion dollars be better spent shoring up social security, fixing Medicare, educating our kids and keeping them healthy, helping small business owners, repairing our roads and infrastructure, and creating jobs? It’s just a thought, mind you.
I would like to propose the following measures in an effort to put this ridiculous roller coaster ride to an end.
1) Put a cap on campaign spending. $10M total for each presidential candidate, not more than $150K for any congressional, senate, of gubernatorial candidate. Less for locals.
2) No PAC funding, no special interests. If caught campaigning with such funds, you are automatically eliminated from running.
3) No negative campaigning. No name-calling, misrepresentations, or skewing information to make the opponent look bad. Anyone caught not speaking the absolute, unvarnished, and untwisted truth about an opponent or an opponent’s record will be charged with libel and barred for life from running for any office.
4) Lobbying will be a criminal offense. No elected official will consort or engage in talks or business with any special interest of any kind.
5) Elected officials are the servants of the people, not of any other entity. It is a privilege to serve in our government, not a license to consider yourself royalty or above the laws that the rest of the people are subject to follow.
6) Laws will be passed one at a time. No riders, no codicils, no additions will be added to any proposed bill. The days of the pork barrel will be over. If you need funding for a project, try putting it before your elected peers as a stand-alone issue and see how far you get.
7) All elected officials will be subject to the same social security and health care as their constituents. Having to live with the results of their actions will give them a better appreciation of what is best for the people who trusted and elected them.
It is time to get back to the kind of government that was envisioned by our forefathers…one of the people, by the people, and for the people…because the people are the important part of the democracy equation.