Category Archives: Election Reform

Selling Candidates like Hemorrhoid Ointments

©2014 by Fred Flaxman

Last time I looked at a Gallup poll it showed that Congress’s approval rating was at an all-time low of 9 percent. Polygamy, pornography, and the BP oil spill all had higher approval ratings. Even the “U.S. going communist” was more popular!

Why? I think it’s because the public perceives that Congress has been corrupted by the influence of money on the electoral system. A century ago comedian Will Rogers said that the U.S. had the best Congress money can buy. That’s still true, but it has become a great deal more expensive.

That’s because candidates for political office these days feel the need to purchase expensive air time on commercial TV and radio stations in order to get elected. But the electoral process is demeaned, and knowledge of the issues diminished, by “selling” candidates like soap and hemorrhoid ointments in 30- or 60-second spots.

Radio and television stations in the United States are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to use the public airwaves for the benefit of the public. They should not be allowed to charge candidates money for air time. They should offer the time without charge, not as political advertising, but as debates on the issues, and in 15-minute blocks for candidates to make their case for election and re-election.

If radio and TV stations are not willing to do this, they should lose their licenses. After all, those licenses are granted to broadcasters who are supposed to use the public airwaves for the benefit of the public, not just for private gain.

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Filed under Election Reform, Politics, Uncategorized

Time for a Constitutional Amendment

©2010 by Fred Flaxman

A recent Angus Reid Public Opinion poll shows that 65% of Americans disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision concerning Citizens United, which frees corporations and labor unions to spend as much as they want to spend on political advertising. So why not take the opportunity offered by the nationwide revulsion to this abhorrent decision to bring about a series of amendments to truly make our democracy “of, by and for the people”?

These amendments could:

1. Limit political contributions to donations from individuals. Totally outlaw campaign contributions from corporations, unions, committees and other groups.

2. Place a cap on the amount of money any individual can donate to a candidate or party each year. A limit of — let’s say — $100 per person (which could be adjusted for inflation) would assure that wealthy people have no more influence on their representatives than other individuals.

3. Reduce the tremendous costs of campaigns by providing for free and equal air time on television and radio for all qualified candidates for office. It is outrageous that commercial stations, which are licensed to use the public airwaves for private gain, charge candidates for public office to use the public’s own airwaves.

4. Limit these free campaign radio and television programs to broadcast within eight weeks prior to the election, thereby encouraging shortened campaign periods.

5. Outlaw the use of commercial advertising spots for political purposes. Candidates, issues, policies and ballot measures should not be sold like soda pop and hemorrhoid creams. This leads inevitably to the distortion of the truth and the demeaning of the political process.

6. Outlaw the use of paid signature gatherers to qualify candidates, political parties, propositions or measures for the ballot. This would greatly reduce the number of such measures to those which are sincerely desired by significant numbers of individuals.

7. Eliminate the Electoral College in favor of direct election of the president and vice president of the United States by the citizens.

8. Eliminate the presidential veto. Nothing is more undemocratic and dictatorial than allowing one person to thwart the will of the majority of the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress.

9. Eliminate the filibuster by requiring a simple majority to enact legislation in both houses of Congress.

I’’ll be the first to admit that Congress is not likely to pass such proposed amendments, since congressmen and women are in their seats to begin with because they have succeeded at the corrupt system we now have in place.

So these constitutional amendments may have to take the other route specified by the Constitution but never yet used: A Constitutional Convention would have to be called by two-third of the legislatures of the States, and that Convention would have to propose these amendments. They would then be sent to the states to be approved by three-fourths of the legislatures or conventions.

For all this to happen the American people will have to finally wake up to the fact that real health care insurance reform, financial system overhaul, economic structural changes, and any other major reform, depends on this most basic of all reforms: getting rid of what Will Rogers famously called “the best Congress money can buy,” and turning our nation into a true democracy.

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Filed under Campaign Finance Reform, Election Reform, Health Care Insurance, Politics