Sunday, October 21, 2012

To All You Politicians Out There: My Wish

As I listen to the debates by the presidential candidates, I am frustrated by their ping-pong squabbling about energy. Yes, the tide has swung and we are recognizing that we've often contaminated and squandered our resources and yet we still haven’t learned that we MUST, MUST, MUST change the ways we use and create energy (me too).  But here in the USA, given the state of the politicized world we live in,  we seem unable and unwilling to work together to solve what is an over-arching and possibly catastrophic dilemma — how we produce and consume energy.

Why can’t we harness the best of the public and private sectors to focus on developing the overall, cohesive, connected, all-encompassing energy plan the nation should have?  A plan for energy that would be safe, efficient, cost-effective, and mutually beneficial to most, if not all parties.  Isn't that what makes sense? A national policy created by a diverse group of committed and expert citizens (not politicians), working short-term to collaboratively conceive a plan for moving forward in a concerted manner that would be best for everyone?   Shouldn't we put differences aside, grab hold of the mess-of-a-non-energy-policy world we’re living in and wrassle the thing to the ground?  I know it’s tough and would be gutsy but we need tough love on energy to implement change.    

I wish we had a panel of committed and expert citizens to weigh the options and THEN tell us what they've found and what they can recommend.  And believe me every time I think I know what the solution is (wind) I see a documentary (Windfallor a news program, or read an article that shakes me to the core and tells me there’s a REAL problem with the solution I thought would work.  What I now know is there's not a one-stop simple solution and to find a solution the choices are going to be HARD.   But I wish we'd work together (party-affiliations aside) to find and make an intelligent and democratic choice about energy policy — but that’s not how we live.  That’s not how we operate as a society in America.  

We Americans allow those with power and/or money to have control of what’s being done instead of seeing those folks as working for us. But to have that kind of democracy, it means spending time really looking at the issues and getting other points of view and not just accepting what someone else says, however reliable and respected they are as a source.  It takes knowing the candidates and working (however you can) to get them elected and re-elected.   It means voting.  It takes doing our part. We (meaning me) need to be educated about the choices but we also need to hold those we elect accountable. Accountable to working together.  That's what I wish.

Here’s what I've been wishing for years.

By popular vote (get rid of the electoral collegewe should elect a six-year, one-term President with no re-election. One term that’s all you get. BUT — that’s a lot.  You need three years to implement the policies you hope to implement.  Then you need three more years to see if they work.  As president you can focus your entire time in office on improving the country and the quality of life for all its citizens.  If your policies work and people are benefiting from them fairly, then the next occupant of the White House will keep them in place (helped by popular demand).  If your policies are NOT working for the country, then the next president gets to revise or get rid of them and try it another way.  Six years is a reasonable amount of time to get something done if you’re the Commander in Chief.  Now that’s not taking into account the curve balls or tsunamis of life that can happen that derail the best of plans, but still, I think it’s a better way.

We must help our legislators focus.  Here's how: six legislative bills a year only, that’s all you get and they can’t be about the same issue unless the House and the Senate come to agreement that each will focus on a different area of the issue. Those limitations should get our politicians focused, make cooperation a standard behavior among our elected officials, and get us results.  And if our elected and appointed officials couldn't find a way to work cooperatively, then we should replace them the next round.  Why not?

And here’s the only other thing about those 12 bills every year.  They each can’t be more than 20 pages, double-sided 1.5 line space.  If you doubt why I'm being so specific, here's a three-year-old headline from 

November 18, 2009

Senate bill weighs in at 2,074 pages

In the Battle of the Health Bills, the Senate wins out, bulk-wise – weighing in at 2,074 pages.
The House health reform bill was a mere 1,990 pages when introduced.
That means the Senate bill -- like the one in the House -- runs more pages than War and Peace, and has nearly five times as many words as the Torah.
 The table of contents alone is 14 pages. 

And things haven't changed.  At those unbelievable lengths, how many officials are actually reading those bills?  It's ridiculous that things have gotten this out of whack.

We can’t keep things the way they are.  I realize my wish for changing the political landscape seems radical but it’s clean and straightforward and it would certainly level the playing field.  Even if we can’t agree on how to change the way we do business as a country, we can start by finding common ground, as a country, and building on that.  And I know that not everyone agrees that the fix should be at the national level.  In some ways I understand because the feds have f#*!ed it up. But we’re smart, we’re a nation of great ingenuity, we can fix it.   I don’t think it’s impossible — in fact I think my plan is pretty simple.  It would shake things up. It would impact change.   

I support President Obama.  I believe he’s an extraordinary human being who is very smart and skilled and came into a mess — a real unimaginable (in our time) domestic financial mess.  I mostly agree with his actions and certainly (one hundred percent) value his character, but there have been choices that I felt were missteps. (Perhaps he should have focused on energy first, then healthcare.)  But missteps would be true with anyone who would become president.  But I think government’s too big, I think some things would be better left to the states — but not all and certainly not the big stuff — energy, civil rights, education.   I wish our elected officials would give up all their baggage and positions and ego and focus on finding what might be best for us all and then sort through what’s federal and what is best served by states.  But the members of Congress have got to stop this ridiculous, over-blown, competitive, combative, oppositional mentality or we'll end up drowning in their partisan political and falling far behind on the global stage.  

Still, I too have pride of country — just as my Republican cousins and friends do.  It’s time to really stop in our tracks and choose a better way for the health and security of ourselves and our children and our chidren’s children and for everybody else on this earth.  I wish. 

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