Southern Politics

America is struggling politically and no one in Washington seems willing to make a course correction. Anyone who thinks electing representatives of either party will solve this mess is delusional. For the last decade or so, politicians have worshipped at the altar of Big Money like never before, and have used the media and our inattention and apathy to create a mess. No existing or future politician is going to change anything unless the system changes.

If you are sitting around waiting for the right guy to save us, don’t hold your breath. If you think sensible changes will happen, dream on. It is time to take matters in our hands and fix this mess.

(Photo by Brian Dell Bdell555 / Wikimedia Commons)

Develop an informed voting public. Most Americans consider themselves patriotic. We will stand in unison and recite a pledge of allegiance to the flag, which was invented by a couple of enterprising guys trying to improve sales for their product. Spectators at sporting events will listen reverently to the singing of our national anthem as long as it isn’t screwed up by someone like Roseanne Barr or Jose Feliciano. But the very foundation of our democracy, the linchpin of our freedom, is embarrassingly neglected.

Close to fifty million eligible voters are not signed up, and half of those registered don’t bother to go to the polls on Election Day. The few who do vote are so misinformed and manipulated they might as well stay home.

National voting trends have become so predictable that both political parties concentrate their advertising and effort in one or two “swing states.” They use “talking points” about a few “hot button issues” to divide the citizenry and gain wins depending on which pundits the voters obey. Most of us are too busy with fantasy football, yoga, and American Idol to bother with politics. That must change.

A few elections with high level participation by voters with a clear understanding of what needs to improve might alter the direction. All that is required is for each adult American to register, determine voting preference by actually studying the issues and who can best resolve them, and get off our ass and go vote. In large numbers.

Politician will get the message. Those who are exclusively geared for the current state of government will switch occupations, perhaps become Nigerian Scam artists or bank robbers, while others will morph back into statesmen trying to move the country forward. One or two intelligent elections should be all we need to reverse this trend.

Abolish political parties. The ancient Greeks knew that dividing a voting body meant smooth sailing for elected officials. Little has changed. The current two party system accomplishes two things; it keeps the political parties in power and stocked with money and influence, and it divides the voters into separate, warring factions. We need compromise, and politicians who can make hard choices. We don’t need those who are only interested in defeating the other side. There is a small push in America right now to find a viable Third Party candidate. We actually need some No Party candidates. An informed populace doesn’t need elephants or donkeys to determine who best meets their voting needs.

Fix the tax problem. The current American tax code is an embarrassing mess. Congress has used it to reward rich backers for so long the IRS doesn’t even know what advice to give ordinary taxpayers. A seventh grader with a slide rule could establish a fair rate where everyone pays the same percentage, and tax time goes away. How much tax one pays shouldn’t be determined by the proficiency of your accountant.

Reduce the defense budget. Our defense budget has increased forty percent since 9/11 and we currently spend more on defense than the next seventeen countries — combined. Our primary enemies are illiterate tribesmen who use tenth century technology and attack us in small groups. We no longer need aircraft carriers and stealth bombers.

Yet the main reason defense spending is so out of control is because we allow Congress Carte Blanche. Peruse the employment rolls of major defense contractors, notice the number of former members of Congress who are employees, and you discover the real reason defense spending is so outrageous. That and the fact we are too terrified to make changes.

This is my fantasy to resolve our country’s problems. Simple and effortless. After the first step is accomplished, the rest will be easy. Issues like entitlements, health care, and gun control become much easier.

I am not holding my breath.

Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Mike Cox currently writes a weekly column in South Carolina for the Columbia Star called "It's Not a Criticism, It's an Observation." He is trying to grow old as gracefully as possible without condemning the current generation in charge to doom. Each day this task gets harder as the overwhelming evidence mounts. He currently has two published books; Finding Daddy Cox, and October Saturdays. His columns have won three South Carolina Press Association awards since 2003. Mike has three sons and two grandchildren and lives in Irmo, Sc, just outside of Columbia.