By Jeff Voudrie
I believe that the United States is still the best country in the world. I am proud to be an American and am proud of our history of coming to the aid of those in need. I am proud that we are a Republic and believe that our form of government is one of the reasons why our country has done so well.
That being said, I also believe that our form of government is our Achilles heel. In effect, the ‘middle’ rules because they have the power of the vote. Our nation is so divided politically and economically that the outcome of presidential elections is decided by those in the middle. That’s not quite the case for Congressional elections because districts tend to lean either left or right. As we’ve seen in the last decade, the result is a divided government with those on the left and right having firmly held beliefs.
There are two main concerns that I have about our governmental structure.
First, when one election is over both parties then focus on actions needed to properly position them for the next election. It isn’t about doing what is best for the country but about what is in the best interest of the politician’s political ambitions. Because of this, I am concerned that it is highly unlikely that either party is willing to make the hard choices necessary to change our fiscal trajectory because doing so will require structural changes that will anger larger ‘voting blocks’.
Second, elections aren’t about who has the best ideas or who might govern best. Instead, the outcome (especially at the Presidential level) is more about what billionaire you have supporting you. If you don’t have a billionaire on your side ready and able to finance your campaign then you don’t have a chance. And you can’t tell me that the billionaire providing support isn’t expecting to profit from the relationship if successful. Campaign finance laws were supposed to prevent the very thing they created. How is all that money used? To run negative ads against the opponent, of course! We like to think that people are smarter than that; that they do their research and try to uncover the truth before making a decision on who to vote for, but it is obvious that negative advertising works otherwise there wouldn’t be so much of it.
Both sides will push things to the extreme in an effort to inflame the dislike of their opponent. For instance, the ‘Romney killed my wife’ ads portrayed Bain Capital’s closure of a plant as being the cause of a woman’s death. The facts revealed that the death occurred six years later and that the woman had health insurance provided by her employer. That’s just one example and it is done by both parties. It’s all about grabbing headlines, not promoting solutions.
The more I watch what is happening to our country the more I believe that term limits might provide a partial solution. There are good reasons that we don’t allow President’s to serve more than two terms. If a President can’t, why should members of Congress? In a President’s first term they tend to focus on promoting their agenda within the overall context of winning a second term. Once elected for the second term they then focus more on their agenda because they don’t have to worry about who they anger. If there were term limits on Congress it might have the effect of more ‘honest’ voting.
Our country is facing serious fiscal and demographic challenges that will require tough choices to be made. The country has faced even greater challenges in the past and found ways to successfully navigate them. I pray that it will do so again and that America’s brightest days are still ahead of her.
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