With the congressional elections as well as some gubernatorial and senate seats up for grabs, I thought it might be a good time to make a few suggestions for the critical thinkers out there as election day 2010 approaches.
The prior elections have seen a number of people with their hands out, but the Tea Party movement as well as dissatisfaction across partisan lines gives hope that Americans may not accept the typical rhetoric and pandering campaign promises of the past. But are we asking the right questions?
To this end, I thought I would post a few of the questions I will be asking this coming elections cycle. When you get your answer, be sure to keep your critical-thinking-cap on and avoid the Bull$#!+ triggers.
With that said, I am not the type to look to a politician asking ‘what can you do for me?’ as many in our society do. So whether you are new to this way of thinking or simply new to expressing such ideas, here are the questions I will be asking:
What will you ‘un-do’?
In that most politicians are used to groups running around with their hands out, and in that most of us are either in agreement or starting to jump on the band wagon that government is ‘too big’ already, this is generally my lead off question – especially if I only have time to ask one. More specifically I ask:
“In that most politicians focus on what they ‘plan to do‘ upon reaching office, and in that many are of the opinion that government has ‘done too much already‘, what do you intend to ‘un-do‘ upon reaching office to help get existing big-government off the backs of the people you represent?”
If given more time, I will focus on the items I’ve already mentioned in the post, A Few Political Ideas I Support:
Will you support Term Limits (or no ‘consecutive’ terms)?
Although I prefer my No Consecutive Terms concept over conventional term limits that also limit voter choice, I want to know if the candidate has a serious intention to support or vote on legislation directed at removing career politicians from office.
What do you think of Instant Run-off Ballot systems?
The two-party system is taken for granted in American politics. Most people consider a vote for a third party to be a wasted vote with very few exceptions. Election ballots that allow you to ‘rank’ your choices for candidates remove the fear of a ‘wasted vote’ and help assure that the candidates you actually support, actually have a chance to gain your vote. This will empower candidates of all parties to have a better chance at elections and discourage ‘lesser-of-two-evils’ type choices by the electorate.
What is your opinion of politician salaries (and benefits) and what if anything would you do to change them?
Government office is supposed to be akin to public service. Although I do not expect an elected official to be my slave (and I actually have more respect for one that votes his conscience rather than based on polls or constituent complaints – see below) I also do not appreciate the current system that seems to make ‘being elected’ a free golden ticket to not only a cushy job with tons of benefits, but a secure retirement.
Furthermore, elected official’s salaries have no bearing on inflation, the economy, the relative health of the district they represent or their effectiveness (merit) in fulfilling the role of their office. For this reason, we should be curious of the opinion of politicians on this subject. I personally like to leave it to them to fill in the blanks then offer some of my own suggestions if I don’t like the answers, then see how they respond.
Here are some other great questions to pose of a candidate. These first two are the ultimate reason not to vote incumbent in the first place. Chances are if your guy is already holding office and you are asking him these questions, he probably didn’t do anything while in office that would back up any positive responses he could make to it anyway.
Furthermore, depending on his answer to any questions regarding term limits or other restrictions on stagnant incumbency, asking it may be irrelevant. But in the spirit of ‘repetition is good‘ and that it never hurts to drive a point home, I might just ask them anyway to make sure their answers are consistent.
Do you plan to run for re-election after your term?
Are you willing to vote your conscience on an issue even if it means you will not get re-elected?
And on the concept of voting one’s conscience I like to add the following:
If elected, do you intend to vote based on the views you expressed to us here today or based on the concurrent opinions of your constituents?
I group these together because I think they all belong to the same class of question, the first perhaps being the only one that might stand by itself with a worthy enough candidate. (but for the short term, I am not interested in ‘re-electable candidates’ – we’ve tried that route already and had a few too many re-elected morons in the past. I prefer a candidate that is going to be interested in only one term from the outset then let someone else with their own ideas take over)
In the case of the last question, it can actually serve as a trick question. My personal view is that anyone with integrity votes their conscience. I want someone with integrity representing me. I try my best to read up on their platform and their opinions and I vote based on that and their past record. If they suddenly switch mid-stream simply because the political winds change, that strikes me as pandering and completely lacks integrity not to mention anything worthy of respect or trust.
Of course, in today’s day and age, it would probably be wise to point out to any campaigning politician just how often we have been lied and pandered too as well as let down by politicians who only seem to say what we want to hear before elections, but then do whatever they want after them. So be be sure to leave them with this:
Why should we believe ‘you’?
And don’t let them off the hook until they answer it such that you are satisfied.
Finally I would like to include some questions you might ask yourself as we go into this election hoping for ‘real change’. Unless we were one of the people out there avidly campaigning for a ‘real’ alternative last election until we were hoarse, couldn’t see straight and wore out three pairs of shoes, chances are we ALL bear part of the responsibility for the current bunch of asses (and a few elephants) screwing our country up!
You may or may not have noticed, that among my list of questions above, all but the first ‘Un-do’ question deal with addressing the problems in government and not specific issues. That is because the issues, although important, are NOT the biggest problem we face. In the words of Ronaldus Magnus, “BIG Government is the problem!”
Chances are, if any of the issues you REALLY care about are either getting ignored or trampled upon, the nature of the beast (government corruption and bloat) is the biggest inhibitor to even beginning to address those concerns. If you feel as I do, that the problem is the way things have been going and you seriously want a different type of candidate, I’d strongly suggest that this line of questioning is the way to find one. Besides, I find that any candidate that isn’t just looking for a cushy job with lots of perks and power is probably going to be a reasonable guy with reasonable ideas anyway.
So, with these things in mind, ask yourself the following:
- Are you willing to set aside your typical ‘deal breaker’ issues to support a candidate that is willing to put forth fundemental changes to fix the ‘broken system’ itself or otherwise root out corruption?
- Are you willing to ‘waste’ a vote to vote your conscience and show your support for the non-traditional ideas in the event that both the Republitards and Hypocrats put forth candidates from the same-ole-same-ole corrupt Washington machine?
- Are you ‘asking’ your politician(s) to get government to ‘do’ something for you (or a group to which you belong) specifically and thus contributing to the ‘special interest‘ problem that screwed everything up in the first place? (this includes the question “are you taking any government funding of which you have no right to take morally, even if it is ‘legal‘ under that system?)
- If you think you do have one of the few ‘good guys‘ as an incumbent, have you seriously looked at his record to educate yourself that he ‘really was‘ a good guy? (and/or if your guy voted for/against something that you disapprove of, have you bothered to contact their office to find out ‘why?’)
And the most important question of them all:
- Are you planning on going back to sleep after you cast your vote in November?