a better way to evaluate politicians

26 10 2006

Last night I saw a TV commercial for Asa Hutchinson, where little kids are used to put down Mike Beebe.  Basically, the whole commercial is a put-down of Mike Beebe’s character.  (I’m not getting into the issue of whether it’s accurate or not.)  This tactic is not dissimilar from how John Kerry ran his whole presidential campaign in 2004.  It seemed like all his speeches and commercials were along these lines : “George W. Bush is incompetent.  I was in Vietnam.  Bush is incompetent.  Did I mention I was in Vietnam?  I received some purple heart medals there.  Bush is not the right man for the job.  I don’t want to talk about my time in Vietnam.  Bush is incompetent.”  Did he ever take a stand on actual issues?  (I know he flip-flopped on a few of them.)

This trend is disturbing.  While I agree that some politicians are incompetent for their position, that fact does not necessarily mean that their opponent would do a better job.  We need to hear where the candidates actually stand on the issues, without all the slander and trash-talking, and without all the circular talking and flip-flopping.  Obviously the current system of promoting and advertising the candidates isn’t sufficient.

I have an idea for an improvement.  A neutral third-party group (with accountability in place) should set up a website that lists all the candidates for president, Congress, etc.  Each candidate can submit a photo and biography, and every candidate has to answer questions on the issues.  Here’s the catch, though — on questions that have a yes or no answer, they have to choose one, and it will be displayed permanently by their name.  On questions that require a longer answer (and perhaps even on the yes/no questions), they have a limited number of words to explain their position.  This also will be permanently posted on their record.  In addition to the text, there can be a video clip with their answer in spoken form, limited to a pre-defined amount of time.  (They can have multiple takes on the video and then choose one of those to use.)  And there should be an audio-only MP3 track for those without broadband Internet access.  The website should be organized where you can sort by issue, position, state, etc.  This way you can see exactly where each candidate stands on the issues, and it will be much easier to compare them.  If a candidate refuses to answer a question, then that will be noted.

The system still would not be perfect, I’m sure, but I think it would be an improvement over how it is now.  This way, everyone would have access to the candidates’ exact words, and we wouldn’t have to form opinions based on the spin most of the media puts on the issues and soundbites.  This solution would also be much more comprehensive than what we hear in the news.  It’s not accurate when a news program brings up an issue and shows a 10 second clip out of an 30 minute speech.  That clip could be taken out of context, and then it becomes misleading.

Anyway, that’s my idea.  I’m no expert on politics by any means, but I’m not satisfied with the current system.  If you have any suggestions to improve my idea, please post them in the comments section.

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8 responses

29 10 2006
Cousin Jay

Beppo,

America does need another political movement, and today I am creating it, it is called the American Party. I have no knowledge that it exists at this time. So, with that in mind, not only has history just been made, it has been made on your blog!

Please allow me to expound on a few of our positions, (I guess that would be my position because I am the only member at this time). We here in the American Party believe:

1) The United States of America was founded by people that believe in the God of the Bible.

2) American heritage is that of a Judeo-Christian culture. Up until the end of the Atheist Communist Empire, American politicians were proud of our religious nation. Now that Communism has been defeated, they are trying to turn away from the very values that helped to defeat Communism.

3) Everyone in America is entitled to work for a living. No welfare except for those that are mentally and physically disabled, and have no other family members to care for them.

4) Our borders should be protected from illegal aliens. There are millions of law-abiding immigrants still waiting on their visa to get to our great land – why are we embracing the law breakers that just decided to come no matter what.

5) Traditional marriage is between one man and one woman. Anything defined as marriage beyond this understanding is not morally right, contradicts the Word of God, and is wrong.

6) If you break our nation’s laws, we will punish you and make you reimburse us for your punishment.

7) Abortion is the killing of innocent life. The American Party will outlaw abortion, amend the constitution if necessary, and seek removal of any judges sitting on the federal bench that go against the clear intent and will of the American people, and our executive and legislative branches of government.

8) Serving as a federal judge in our country is a privilege, not a right. If a judge begins to use their position to do anything other than apply the law as it has been debated and codified, then they will be subject to removal by their peers, and if their peers will not do it, then they shall be subject to Congress which confirms their appointments in the first place.

9) Our nation is a republic, that has evolved to the point of being able to operate as a true democracy. As democracy is understood and based upon the idea that the majority rules, the American Party will seek to completely disband the Presidential Electoral College and will now base all elections on a simple majority – 50.1% of the popular vote wins. Math is math – politicians should quit trying to manipulate it.

10) Freedom of speech and religion shall be further enhanced by the American Party. No matter what company you work for, what organization you belong to, or who you represent, Americans shall be given liberty to say whatever they want, whenever they want, to whomever they want at all times. Obviously, this would be clarified to keep the intent of not being able to yell “fire in a crowded building” from being abused by those that are attempting to harm others.

11) People running for office can spend whatever they want to spend to run for a political office. The United States government will not spend one penny to help anyone gain political office. If you want to be president, go out and state your positions to the public – if the public likes what you have to say then they will give their money, the end.

12) The United States of America is under attack from terrorists and Islamic revolutionaries. For several years before 9/11, and every day since then, it is apparent that there are people in the world that want to destroy the U.S. We shall do whatever we need to do to protect America. If you are not an American citizen, we will not afford you the rights of an American citizen if you try to harm our country. If you are trying to harm the United States of America, we will defend ourselves by hunting you down and rendering you harmless. We will use all means necessary to accomplish this.

13) The American Civil Liberties Union shall be outlawed because of a history of political extortion, and the perversion and twisting of our nation’s judicial process to enrich themselves and promote anti-American ideals.

14) The American Party shall pay for and conduct American political research, to identify and preserve the legacy of political debate and civic discourse in our nation’s history and publish this information in a readily accessible and usable format for every citizen. All historical revisions that have been placed in the textbooks of our nation’s schools, public and private, shall be removed. If anyone is claiming to write about history, it should be accurate. Obviously, historical interpretation has a place.

15) The 2nd Amendment, being the primary reason that America still exists and has not already been overrun, will be given new focus and every American will be taught the reason why the right to keep and bear arms is necessary to our survival.

16) A part of every citizens life shall be serving our country – much like Israel. In the beginning, every citizen will be asked to join and serve on a volunteer basis in some aspect of the America First Corps. After the 2008 election, and the passage of proper legislation, every young person, male and female, shall be required to serve their country in at least one year of public service. This year of service would be a pre-requisite for any person seeking to obtain a college education, or employment. There are many organizations that serve the interest of our society and there shall be a list of organizations and volunteer activities that shall serve as credit for ones fulfillment of the America First Corps requirement.

17) All education shall be free in America. This is an investment in the future of our nation. Vouchers shall be given to parents and college students that shall be utilized for them to attend school, public or private, at any accredited school or university of their choosing. These vouchers shall be provided for training up to and including the graduate level. Education is free in many nations of the world – why not ours.

18) All foreign aid to countries that are publicly or privately our enemies shall be discontinued immediately. How absurd that we give aid to countries that do not even like us.

19) The salary of our president shall be immediately raised to $500,000 per year. You can hardly find a corporate CEO that is paid any less than this, and many are paid much more. The survival of the United States of America should have the very best minds of our country focused upon it – pay a salary for leaders that attracts them.

20) If you don’t like America, move. There are plenty of other places in the world to live. English is our official language.

Well, now that I have laid out a random list of positions for the new American Party. I believe that is enough to keep people thinking for awhile. So, how about joining me?

I am proud to be the founder and charter member of the American Party.

Beppo, where do I go from here?

31 10 2006
Beppo

Wow! That’s really good!

I don’t know what steps are necessary to create a new political party, but I’d like to see this one started. All those ideas seem good to me, and our country really needs to get back on track. America keeps getting further and further away from what it was founded on, and it’s leading to our destruction. I know some people will say the former standards are old-fashioned and not relevant anymore, but there was a reason our founding fathers created the government like they did. They had seen what political corruption results in, and they were trying to prevent it. By throwing away our heritage and ignoring history, we are putting ourselves on the track of self-destruction. It has happened to other countries before.

America has been a great country for many years, and it is worth fighting for. I think we’re in a culture war, where a number of groups are trying to change our country into more of a Communist or Socialist state, and quite a few people are trying to toss out our standards of morality. We must do what we can to fight for what’s right and what’s best for our country.

2 11 2006
Kri'

There are now two members of the American Party…

7 11 2006
Hershel Wilson

About the new American Party — After the 08 elections watch for the American Family Association to do something along this line. Thought 2 — The electorical college is what gives rural areas any chance for having a say in our government. I think our founding fathers knew what they were doing when they set it up.

8 11 2006
Fab

I agree with Hershel on the electoral college. It is a system that has served us well. Granted, it isn’t a purely democratic institution. Rather, it is based on OUR model of government: Democratic Republic (or Representative Democracy, for those who never took civics). We have people in congress that are elected to govern and legislate on behalf of the people and sometimes things they do won’t always line up with the way we want them to. But these folks are voted out of office if their record doesn’t suit the majority overall within the legislative districts and/or states.

The electoral college is based on this represtentative democracy model. The presidential candidates get the votes from a state’s electors, the number of which is the combined total of a state’s senators and representatives. These electors give all their support to the candidate that carries the state’s popular vote in the election. Based on this fact, you can see why it is so rare that popular vote is opposite what the electoral vote is.

This lets the whole nation (including middle America and the “Bible Belt”) decide who the president will be. Otherwise, it would be dictated strictly by metropolitan areas and heavily populated states such as Florida, New York, California, and Texas. This makes states like Iowa, New Hampshire, Arkansas, Wyoming, and Alaska matter.
Without this setup, candidates would only campaign in big cities and heavily populated states and leave the rest of us (along with our ideas) out in the cold. The electoral college gives all of us a voice, regardless of where we’re from.

6 03 2007
Loyal American

I am now an American Pary Member.

6 03 2007
A thought for Bep

Why don’t you construct such a website to facilitate the needs you just mentioned on your blog article? I feel it would be original and sense you are not biased (I hope) then the public will trust that what they see on your website is “fair and balanced” considering you will be offering politicians the opportunity to voice their opinions on the web.

Are you up for it?

5 04 2007
Beppo

I couldn’t put up with politicians long enough to create and maintain such a website. 🙂 Maybe someone else will take this idea and run with it. Surely there are others who grow weary of hearing politicians flip-flopping and speaking in generalities rather than giving definite answers. I think such a website could be very successful. But it would require a lot of work and time.

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