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Let's talk about about a very disturbing problem facing at least 50% of Americans today. It's a condition I like to call "Electile Dysfunction"...

In case you haven't figured it out, I'm going to rant about how we Americans elect a president. Running for office - really, any office - in this country has gotten ridiculous. Whether your running for president or for a seat on the city council, the whole process is simply out of control.

Candidates have begun announcing they intend to run a full 18+ months before the actual election. Prior to that, they've spent 12 months building their organization and putting together the 'ground teams' they will need in the various swing states. Even before that, the big players spend about 6 months working with focus groups and study panels to 'test the waters' and 'solidify policy positions' as a means of fine tuning their public image. But nobody bothers to do any of those things until they have done a 'full body cavity background check' on themselves, their family and business associates to ensure no real surprises happen once they start down the campaign trail.

All of which means any person mounting a serious bid for president needs to begin their campaign about 3 weeks after the ballots were cast in the last election. That's just enough time for the hardcore party strategists, speech writers, political operatives, advance teams, and the rest of the army of full time party hacks to have gotten drunk, taken a quick vacation and gotten a good nights sleep before firing up the "permanent campaign" engines all over again.

And folks, that is truly what we have in this country today; a permanent campaign cycle.

Right about now you should be thinking that I haven't mentioned one very important part of this process yet; Money.

Did you know that to run for president today you should plan on raising and spending over $1 BILLION dollars (Yup, with a "B"). And this doesn't even include a lot of that 'up front' work mentioned above. This Billion dollars is only what is spent during the primary season in order to secure the nomination and then the general election to win the office. Most of this money is spent on marketing, transportation and media buys. Because we all know that you don't stand a chance of winning unless you have a snazzy logo, a cool jet and can blitz whatever media market your in with TV, Radio and Newspaper ads.

One Billion dollars is a big number and kinda hard to wrap your brain around. It might help if you picture one thousand (1000) $1 Million Dollar bills in a stack on your kitchen counter. See. That's better.

Campaign budgets reflect the amount of time candidates require to capture the attention of average Americans. Remember, candidates compete not just against each other, but also against the rest of the pre-packaged products we are told we 'need' every day. Picking a president is a lot like picking the right shampoo or toothpaste. And considering that Procter & Gamble spent $9.3 billion in 2012* peddling detergents and razors, spending $2.33 billion on the 2012 presidential campaign alone** appears to be a reasonable price to pay for democracy.

That is, until you think about it.

The way I see it, you cannot expect to raise the $1 Billion+ dollars needed to get elected without owing somebody, something at some point down the road. That's simple logic. The question is - how many somebody's do you owe, what do you owe them and are you capable of paying that debt off before you need to borrow more.

See, here's the real problem; suppose you actually WIN! If you're planning to serve a second term, now, not only do you have to do your day job, you also have to raise money! I don't know about you, but I haven't had to raise a Billion bucks lately, and although I would imagine it to be a pretty hard thing to do - try doing it twice.

Another way to think about it is; After getting elected to one of the hardest jobs imaginable, not only must they learn the nuances of his/her new job, get along with congress and foreign leaders and try to stay focused so he/she doesn't make any major mistakes. Now they need to figure out how to raise $700,000.00 A DAY. EVERY DAY. For all 1460 days of his/her first term. Piece of cake, right?

Why is raising money so important? I'm glad you asked...

Recently, I've read several studies that outline a disturbing trend regarding politics in this country. Basically, all indicators tell us that whatever candidate spends the most money wins. Hence the focus on fund raising.

So, if that's true, why don't we save a lot of time and simply auction the job off? Because, Dear Reader, that is NOT democracy. I'm not sure what you would call it, maybe 'Free Market Politics' or an 'Ebay Electorate', but it sure as Hell isn't Democracy.

We badly need election reform in this country. There are a number of proposals out there that would help get things back under control, but like most topics today, the majority of Americans can't decide which ones to pursue because we are split down the middle ideologically. And like the rest of our political problems, that should only worry you if you care more about 'America' than you do about 'Winning'.

Is money obsessed politics the logical extension of a capitalist society? Is this why politicians are more responsive to special interest groups who funnel millions into a campaign, than to individuals who are limited by law, or their wallets, as to how much money they can give? Is this why those same special interest groups spent millions on court cases for rulings that 'money equals speech' and 'corporations are people'?

Please tell me how money is supposed to play a part in a democracy? Please explain to me how a corporation can be considered equal to a person? Go ahead. I could use a good laugh.

If a person (like one of us) who works hard and raises a family, can only afford to contribute a few dollars to the candidate of our choice, how can we compete against a huge multinational corporation with billions of dollars at their disposal? Who do you think the government will listen too? Are we really expected to agree with the premise that if this 'person' has billions more dollars than we do, that makes their opinion billions of times more important than ours?

Not in my democracy.

You see, the last time I checked a 'person' is a living human being with, at the very least, a heartbeat. You could make the claim that a lot of corporations don't have a heart, much less a heartbeat. But there are some good corporations out there, and this is a complicated discussion. So I want to make the problem with these types of court rulings real simple for everyone to understand:

When was the last time you held open a door for a "Chapter C" Corporation? Or shared a taxi with a "Sub-chapter S" Corp? Has your sister or daughter ever dated an "LLC"? Have you ever gotten drunk with an "LLP"? My money's on "No".

The good news is you will never have to stand in line behind a corporation at the polling place. A corporation cannot cast a vote. Only someone with a heartbeat gets that privilege.

The only reason running for office costs so much money is because those with the most money want to be the ones controlling the process. The reason why corporations have been declared 'people' is because those with the most money don't want their names known by the public. They learned the lesson's taught by the French Revolution -- No matter how much money or power you have, if the masses find out you're trying to screw them over and they know who you are and where they can find you, they might just separate your head from your neck.

If we take money out of the equation, those of us with a heartbeat can regain what we have lost; the attention of those who seek public office.

It's time we get the blood pumping in our democracy again. Election reform levels the playing field and allows us to do the things we need to do in this country to fix the problems created by political parties and big corporations. The brilliant men who built this nation NEVER intended for big faceless entities to be on the same level as hard working folks like you and I.

"We the People" are the "Viagra" of election reform in this country. Real "people" participating is what is needed to treat our "Electile Dysfunction". Casting our ballots is the only course of treatment the founding fathers had in mind. We don't need to "consult" anybody to see if our heart is healthy enough to handle our "Polling Experience". And if our "Election" lasts more than a day we already know to seek professional help. Side effects of treating this type of E.D. include: an increase in political accountability, a more responsive government, less special interest lobbying and a reduction in power for both political parties.

I don't know what you think, but to me, that sounds kinda sexy....

~ EJK

 

* www.adage.com
** www.opensecrets.org

Eric J. Kiser

Eric J. Kiser

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