A Manifesto for Political Change in the U.S. in 2020 and Beyond
It is, of course, heartening to see the democratic process at play in the race for the White House in 2020 among the plethora of Democratic candidates who have thus far thrown their hats in the ring. The diversity on display in terms of religion, gender, sexual orientation, and political persuasion is inspiring. However, not one of these candidates is making the need for systemic change a central plank of their policy platforms.
While there is plenty of banter going on about the hottest issues of the day, such as immigration and income inequality, lost in the blizzard of proclamations is the need to fundamentally revamp a broken system. The US Congress presides over obscene levels of legalized and institutionalized corruption (which they refuse to correct). Too many of America’s elected officials have forgotten who sent them to Washington (and who they work for), and representation has turned into careers for too many of the country’s politicians, who become even more tainted by “the system.” These politicians spend the majority of their time raising money for re-election. On top of that, special interest groups and lobbyists run the show. America needs meaningful systemic change that truly shakes up the system, not more “business” as usual. Why is this not a front-burner issue?
While about 45% of the American voting public are Independent (more than either Democrats or Republicans), most vote for Democrat or Republican candidates because of the absence of Independent candidates, or indeed, an Independent political platform. Also, Independent parties have historically performed poorly in state and national elections in part because Independent voters do not vote for them, and too many Independent candidates come from either the “Looney Left” or the “Radical Right.”
What is needed is for the American public to begin to elect future members of Congress who are not tainted by the system and are committed to fixing this broken political system. What follows is manifesto to guide such change:
- Create a permanent Independent political party to serve as a platform for candidates that identify as neither Democrats nor Republicans and truly represent the majority of Americans who are neither Democrat nor Republican. In doing so, the stranglehold of the Democratic and Republican parties can be broken and the candidates elected will be more truly representative of the American people.
- Elect only candidates who agree in advance to serve a single 6-year term. Doing so will end political careerism and stop lobbyists and special interests in their tracks, thereby denying them the ability to further corrupt and game the system. It would permit lawmakers to focus on what they were sent to Washington or the State legislatures to do: govern, rather than spend 80% of their time raising money for their reelection while catering to the lobbyists and special interests.
- All elected representatives would need to subscribe in advance to honesty, integrity, transparency, and (importantly) accountability for their action or inaction. If any elected representative in such a party fails to deliver what they say they will deliver, they would need to agree in advance to be removed from office before their term is finished.
- All such elected representatives would need to agree to adhere to the laws which they pass. In other words, all laws they pass would also apply to them – no more health plans for themselves and their families that are different than what they pass into law for everyone else. This would help to bring fairness, honor, and dignity back to the offices in which they will serve, and to the people whom they serve.
- Raise the salary of elected leaders to reduce the risk of corruption. This has worked incredibly well in countries such as Singapore, where official corruption is largely unheard of.
- Create a new organizational watchdog specifically designed to monitor corruption and influence peddling among elected leaders, give it regulatory teeth, and raise the penalty for corruption among elected leaders.
- Make Election Day a national holiday and require every adult to vote. This has been done very successfully in other countries and would result in a more truly representative outcome. This is something the present Congress could do with ease and would make a significant difference in electoral outcomes while reducing the influence of gerrymandering from the electoral process.
- Require every Green Card holder and citizen to speak English and remove Spanish (or any other language) from optional forms of communication in the public domain (such as when applying for government services). That would encourage full assimilation into American society among the nearly 15% of the American population who speak Spanish and help enable them to be seen and heard in the political arena as equals, rather than as political pawns, as many are now. If I had my way, no services, in the public or private sectors, could be provided in any language other than English.
While limited in scope, accomplishing what is outlined in this manifesto would address many of the fundamental flaws in the American political system. A big part of the challenge is that too few American citizens are willing to stand up, say they have had enough, and demand substantive change. It is no longer enough to simply do one’s civic duty and vote. We need to do something to reduce political apathy, demand more of our elected leaders, and hold them accountable when they fail to perform. If we fail to do that, we have no right to complain as the system careens further and further out of control.