An electoral solution for government reform
These goof balls are our best and brightest? Another Election Day, but it seems worse this year (written in 2010 before I officially started this blog). There are none running to get us excited. To say that we can choose from the lesser of two or more evils does not seem to accurately describe this year’s elections. In one local race, I know both candidates. It’s a choice between the devil I know and the devil I know. In fact, it is this race that prompted me to begin this article.
I am angry at the future I see for my children based on the actions of so-called adults looking to govern our nation. In SC we’ve had:
1. Our governor admits an affair after first reporting he was going to hike alone on the Appalachian Trail.
2. A political outsider running for US Senate that suggested that an action figure of him might kick start our failing economy.
3. A Congressman that shouted, “You’re a liar!” to our president during his State of the Union.
4. A lieutenant governor that could neither drive nor fly.
5. A state treasurer was sentenced to prison cocaine possession.
6. The state agriculture commissioner go to jail for ties to a cockfighting ring.
7. Lt. Governor resigns after pleading guilty to mis-use of election funds.
South Carolina is not alone. Almost every state has an elected embarrassment or two (or more). From fiscal mismanagement, questionable ethics, affairs, and some prison time, we seem to have a dearth of quality, elected officials and candidates. Where are those who understand that when you are a public servant, you are the one to serve the people? The people are not there to serve you.
Being elected does not make someone instantly wise, just, or right; it just makes you a representative of a constituency. Also, you are not to represent just those who voted for you but everyone in your district.
I’ve heard people say, “Kick the bums out!” What if we just elect NONE OF THE ABOVE?
I heard of the idea of NOTA decades ago, but I think it’s time has come. Our nation is a democratic nation and we are ensured of republican (meaning representative) state governments by our US Constitution (Article 4, Section 4). We are not ensured of good government. It is up to us to elect good representatives to get good government.
This begs the question: “How do we get good candidates?” or “What are our options if no one good runs?”
If you elect the lesser of two evils, then something evil is elected. Why should we have to settle for something so important in our daily lives? Businesses don’t have to hire the lesser of two evils. Why should we have to HIRE the lesser of two evils? Why do we have to hold our nose with one hand as we vote with the other hand?
This is why we need NOTA on the ballot. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/None_of_the_above for more information). Spain and Bangladesh have this option. Should we take a back seat to these countries?
The idea is simple: for every elected office on a ballot,” None of the Above” would be a choice. Then if NOTA “wins” more votes than the other candidates, the election for that office is held again. NONE OF THOSE CANDIDATES CAN RUN. Parties will have to re-nominate. Maybe that way more seats will be contested and better candidates will come forward.
So if Smith runs against Jones and NOTA wins, the election is re-held and other candidates must run. Smith and Jones cannot run. Can you imagine a sole candidate for an office being beaten by NOTA? Surely not many things could be more embarrassing.
Why he or she may never run for any office again! How could having lousy candidates not run be a bad thing?
It’s often said that anyone that want to be elected to office should be disqualified from running for that reason. We need patriots on both sides – left and right – who set aside short-term gains for long-term real solutions.
Some may say that this will be more expensive due to the cost of having more elections. I counter that having better candidates will cost us less in the long run. They will be more responsive to our will and spend only what is needed, keep government salaries in line, etc. Maybe instead of paying for cost overruns, they will penalize companies for not delivering on time or meeting quality standards. Maybe they will be more inclined to represent all constituents and not just those partisans who elected them. Maybe they will be more inclined to see that companies treat employees and customers better and are better stewards of resources because we can vote and corporations cannot.
As a practical matter, NOTA will rarely be invoked: much like recall and initiative. But it will be a democratic solution to government reform.
The Palmetto Bug throws out this challenge to both major parties and all the other parties: Have the courage to put NOTA in primaries and push for NOTA in every election. The party that adopts this platform will truly be the party of reform.
Transparency, yes. Accountability, yes. Ethical behavior, yes.
NOTA, heck yes! Power back to “WE, the people.”
The Palmetto Bug