The senior Senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry, is vacating his seat in order to be appointed the nation's Secretary of State. In the meantime, a mad rush is on from both political parties to fill the void. As one might expect in the Commonwealth, such hoary political names as Kennedy and Weld are being bandied about as potential replacements. And, then, of course, there is the freshly vanquished interim Senator, Scott Brown, who, word has it, will also be tossing his undistinguished hat into the ring. Frankly, even though this is just a matter of bad luck for denizens of Massachusetts, the prospect of having to face yet another another ghastly election season feels just a tad punitive. I, for one, inspired perhaps by the mysterious synergy of my own personal idiosyncrasies with the fearsome zeitgeist known as The Mayan Apocalypse, am less than thrilled . Which brings me to this:
How would you respond to the following appeal if it was made to you in the form of a document delivered to your front door, or one handed to you as you walked down the street, or, perhaps, if it was made available to you in the form of a flyer on the wall at your favorite local haunt? Would you ignore it or read it, at least in part? And, if so, what would be the chance that you would do anything substantial as a result? So, without further ado, here 'tis:
Welcome to my campaign. This post constitutes my first act towards running for Senator of Massachusetts. Before acquainting you with my political orientation and legislative agenda, I'd like to tell you who I am and provide you with some personal details that may be of interest to you as you consider my candidacy.
First and foremost, I'm a private citizen with absolutely no background in politics. The closest I have ever come to politics was an introductory political science course in college and some brief campaigning for Bruce Babbitt two decades ago. To some of you this may not matter, for others, it will provide an immediate disqualification to my candidacy. For most of you I hope my status as a bona fide outsider is refreshing news.
I recently turned fifty, and live in_______with my wife______and my two children__________ and our pug_______. I'm a musician/composer by training, though I haven't worked as a music teacher for a number of years. Last, but not least, I’m in reasonably good health.
Through much of recorded human history the realm of politics and government has been viewed by many with a mixture of awe and revulsion. There is ample justification for this attitude since the acquisition and exercise of power has all too often been in the service of less than noble motives. And while I don't wish to belabor the point, or, worse, cast myself as being above it all- I'm not- I would simply like to point out what is probably already apparent to many of you which is that our present brand of politics and government here in the United States is, sadly, no exception to the proverbial rule.
To some degree, the lamentable state of our national politics and government has impelled me towards an improbable run for office. Things must be pretty bad for that to happen, because, if you knew me, you’d recognize that I'm not a natural politician. I’m neither interested nor gifted in the art of being popular. Nor am I the sort of person who acts to bolster confidence in an enterprise at the expense of giving an unvarnished report that runs the risk of upsetting the apple cart. Fortunately, we don’t need more public servants that excel at public relations on behalf of themselves and a broken political system.
My Appeal to You
If you agree with me that we as a nation, particularly at the federal level, have strayed into unacceptable political practices, and that, as a result, government has become severely compromised, I have good news for you. Things can still be turned around. Profound improvement is within our reach. But in order to succeed the voting public must reject the usual cast of revolving door political operators offered up at each election cycle. Whatever their nominal political stripe may be, these well known cast of characters are all, by definition, captives of the present deeply corrupt, bogus two party system. And if anything has been demonstrated over the last generation of politics, it is that no authentic reform will be generated by those who reside within the system.
Given the emphasis I place on the necessity of dramatic political reform, I think it's fitting to begin this long (but by no means exhaustive) legislative “to do” list with the following planks.
On could easily underestimate the inherent harm being done to our society by an atmosphere of relentless political campaigning. Election seasons have become agonizingly long and exorbitantly expensive even as they are increasingly tedious and devoid of substance. By itself, the enormously time consuming nature of campaigns for federal office insures that politics are captive to moneyed interests, and that a high level of government functioning is unattainable. Limiting campaigns to no more than nine weeks from beginning to end means far fewer funds will be required to run campaigns, and that, by itself, would act as a great leveler of the political playing field. Thrown into the bargain we would end the insidious condition whereby we now select and elect candidates whose primary qualifications are that of a fundraiser first, a campaigner second, and a trusted and competent legislator or executive a distant third. This state of affairs is completely antithetical to decent government, and it can be corrected by creating conditions that remove the influence of moneyed interests from politics.
It is axiomatic that very few incumbents lose hold of their seats. With few exceptions this is to no one’s benefit. Holding office was never intended to be a career, let alone a lifelong gravy train, but that is what it has become for those who are well connected and/or sufficiently wealthy to run winning political campaigns. In concert with the reduction in the amount of time set aside for elections, removing the possibility of lifelong tenure for elected officials will erode the overbearing influence of the special interest/lobbyist juggernaut that presently has a stranglehold on the actions of the political class. Last, but not necessarily least, by enacting term limits for legislators we will attract a different caliber of person to public service, namely someone who is committed to the idea of public service as an end in itself and likewise believes that it is the sole reason to seek, attain, and hold public office.
The Popular Vote
I hasten to add that everything on The Agenda that follows from here rests on enacting the above political reforms. On the surface it may seem that finding a workable solution to, for example, the Federal Government’s deplorable fiscal and financial condition is more important than, say, enacting term limits, but without the necessary systemic political reforms all the other items on The Agenda will have little chance of being passed. At this point, our political system is so badly corroded it will admit very little in the way of constructive change until such time as the system itself is overhauled. Any candidate for higher office who does not openly acknowledge this set of circumstances and subsequently pledge to reform the system as their top priority is, whether they mean to be or not, part of the problem, and does not deserve your vote.
To be continued