I’ve spent most of my life caring about things other than politics. My former career, my former spouses, my son, my family, not much about politics, not even local the politics of schools and road repair.
I believed that the political system tends towards moderation, towards the middle so, it’s not much of a threat. It swings to one side or the other, but not much further, and not for long.
It’s always been more of a joke.
Now, it seems dangerous to be apathetic. Our politicians have failed us and have gone from being irrelevant to ineffective to incompetent to being so obviously unresponsive that there is a real danger now that the pendulum will become unhinged and swing way past the middle, to a place this country has never been.
To a place the world hasn’t seen since the time of the last great political revolutions of the late 18th century when upheaval was sweeping the world.
There has to be a way to engage so that change, positive change, can take place and keep us from anarchy and repair the pendulum, get us back to the middle.
The consequences are too great now to permit anger to give way for anarchy to reign. And anger is driving this country.
But, anger is not constructive, and it is easily manipulated by the cynical, by the powerful, by agendas that pretend to be populist but are not.
My personal politics, such as they are, have always been more libertarian than anything else. Live, and let live. Show respect for others, give the benefit of the doubt. They still are.
Now though, that seems to be not enough. Now, it seems that those political inclinations are being taken advantage of and being steered in a direction that I don’t want to go, by people who are so much closer to our politicians than I can ever get. People who have our politicians ear and time, despite having the same vote as I do.
They are right there in the open, not hiding, not needing to. They have the money for access and a clear agenda for what our politicians must do to take our country where they want our country to go. It’s not my direction and I doubt it’s yours.
So, what’s a guy to do? Get angry, get involved, yell at politicians, yell at anyone who disagrees with me. Join a tea party, join a political party, give a politician money, volunteer for a politician.
Hope for change.
Or, stop hoping that the people in office will change. They won’t or can’t. The political system is stacked against any one of them who dares to upset the cushy apple cart of modern politics.
That leaves me, and you.
Anger has never seemed like much of a solution to me. It leads to the wrong places and creates nothing when it subsides. And, we need more than anger to overcome the problems we have in our political system and country.
We need more than throwing all the politicians out. We tried that and they simply become like what went before them, only more so.
We tried to limit how long they can eat at the trough, and that only cripples the entire system.
We tried to limit their access to money and now our Supreme Court says we can’t do that.
So, we have to come up with a solution. My preference is for something that is non-violent, effective and imposed on our politicians.
Something they have to volunteer for, by public pressure, and, something that we can call them on when they fail to follow it.
Sunlight, for instance.
Sunlight on our politicians schedule; who they meet with and who is giving them money for their campaigns or pet causes. Who is sending them on trips and who goes with them.
In other words, a simple sunlight pledge.
We can demand that our politicians sign up and follow a few simple things that will permit us, their constituents, to view who they meet with on our behalf, what they discussed, who those people represent, which of those people and organizations have given them money for their campaigns or any associated organizations (like charities non-profit, etc.) the politician, or any family member, has interest in. The amount of money they received and their current voting record on any of the topics they discussed with the people on their official or unofficial schedule.
This is easy stuff to publish on their official website for any of us to review. They can even use WordPress! And, they can send it via email to any of their constituents who want a current view of their schedules and meetings.
Any politician who doesn’t sign the sunlight pledge will not get our support. Any politician who fails to keep their sunlight pledge site current or who lies about its postings, will not get our support.
They will not be elected or re-elected without signing the sunlight pledge, they will lose office and no amount of hidden money will help them.
We can stop being angry about our political system and stop being angry about the wrong things. We can shed sunlight how our politicians work, let their true record shine in the light, and we can vote accordingly.