25 July 2009

Whose "Best Judgment" is Best?

I've been thinking about the electoral college, the will of "the People," the out-of-control Tennessee legislature shoving guns down all of our throats, and the fact that, for all the bitching and moaning, the voters are the ones who put them there. Does anybody really not understand that, by the way? Why in the name of time do we need TERM LIMITS when they only get to stay if WE re-elect them? How far ahead of the horse can we possibly put the cart?! Good grief, people! This is not rocket science! Would we want to limit the terms of people we thought were doing a great job? Because we have had, all along, the power to "limit the terms" of those we perceive to be making it worse, and we simply refuse to use it.

Voters often complain of feeling like elected officials are too far removed from “real life." That’s absolutely true; voters do have valid reason to feel like that, but who do they think elected the people of whom they have this perception? They didn’t just wander into the offices off the streets. And how is it that “the people” can have this view and the reelection rate of incumbents be so high, like in the U.S. House (usually >95%)?

We cannot (reasonably) hand somebody a solid gold, indestructible “mandate,” specifically to remove themselves from what you call “real life” and go make your decisions for you, keep reaffirming it for them, sometimes for decades, and simultaneously criticize them for doing it. And I’ve actually seen quite a few candidates over the years who were exactly what people keep saying they want, somebody from their own block, or could be, who’s maybe worked as a teacher or a bus driver or something, highly intelligent, knows exactly where to start to really turn some things around. Voters not only do not vote for those people, the people they claim to be their model legislators, in theory; they crucify them. “The people,” media, voters, other politicians, everybody, not only refuse to elect such candidates but mock them endlessly and mercilessly, for daring to even look at public office, for being nothing and nobody, even though nothing and nobody was the order they put in the day before.

Ben Franklin once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Ben Franklin was a very smart man. I wonder if anybody would vote for him today.

With all of this in mind, frankly, I’m not sure I want to give any more power to “the people.” I don’t know that they can be responsible with it. And I hate that, too, that we can’t all be trusted to focus on the greater good, or, taking the subjective quality of "good" out of the equation, to support equality and fairness according to our guiding legal principles and not succumb to our whims and prejudices and such. I'm hoping we get better at the accountability thing, but in the meantime, I don't mind it being tempered with some good, clean constitutional wisdom, even if it means that I don't get everything I want all the time either (keeping the gun-funded Tennessee lawmakers out of the process as much as possible).

We have free speech, and we have the right to elect our leaders, pray to whomever we want (or not), stand in the street and say the president sucks... How bad can it really be, and if it is, how can it not have a whole lot to do with us?

I would like to see the presidential electoral process changed. After we all change our minds and get ourselves straightened out and either elect some of “us” or stop whining about who has the jobs now, we can call some sort of special national constitutional convention and develop a new electoral system that allows for more competition, credits all Americans’ opinions equally (and dismisses them equally on some points), reins in the parties and closes loopholes in campaign finance regulation as a bonus, and write an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that details all of it, specifically enumerating and prohibiting powers as needed. That’d be fun.