Friday, April 08, 2016

I AM A CONCERNED CITIZEN

From the very beginning of this national political season I have focused on two campaigns: Trump & Sanders.

Both campaigns represent large swaths of Americans -- of all stripes -- who are fed up with their representatives because they don't feel they are being represented.

It harkens back to our history when we had a revolution centered on taxation without representation.

Between gerrymandered districts, a lack of congressional term limits, big money & special interest lobbyists, the feeling is that our political representatives are now out of touch with their electorates and, instead, representing their own interests.

These 'representatives' set their own schedule, salaries and benefits. In short, their own jobs as permanent members of an unforeseen political class, have taken priority over their representative duties. As a result, the structure appears stacked against the vast majority of our fellow citizens.

Of course, Sanders & Trump followers take different tracts and generally have different styles but their message, not their would-be policies, are the same.

I find it fascinating how these two political extremes could have the same message. To me it's a tell tale sign of general unrest.

On April 4th I heard Bernie Sanders take a page out Donald Trump's play book on the NBC Today Show. When asked about his statement that he didn't believe Hillary Clinton was qualified to be president, Bernie answered: "she started it". I was disappointed with the infantilism but, clearly, 'the Donald' doesn't have exclusivity in that department.

Add to the aforementioned frustrations, we now see a situation unfolding on the Republican side (and no doubt on the Democratic side with super delegates and other elements of the party apparatus) whereby 112 individuals, selected by the GOP political apparatchiks, set the rules of the convention. And they can do whatever they want.

In 2012, the convention operated under the 'Romney rules'. What are they going to be called this year? More important, I always thought that rules were rules and something that didn't change on political winds. So, do our primary votes REALLY count? I think that's in doubt.

When I hear reports that candidates on both sides have hired "operatives" to corral delegates, I think of a Tom Cruise movie or a Tom Clancy novel, rather than an exercise in true democracy.

So do we have a true representative democracy? Again, I think it may be in doubt and I believe we need some serious consideration about how we govern ourselves going forward. To me, it sometimes feels like a country with a politburo electing a presidential candidate rather than an idealized America where one wo/man, one vote supposedly 'trumps' ;) everything.

Of course, one major difference is that we normally have a choice between two candidates, instead of rubber stamping the politburo's choice. And I'm grateful for that choice but I think the dream of the founding fathers, who created our style of democracy, with so many checks and balances, is slowly slipping away from the people, and is sliding, permanently, to special interests.

What we are witnessing in this political season is that realization. It has activated 'revolutionaries' in both political parties who want to change the national course and discourse. However, it will require many more citizens to become involved in the political process to spur those changes.

I am a concerned citizen.