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How insane is our election system?

With the Natchez city election finished and a presidential race heating up soon, one has to wonder: Is this really the best way to select leaders and make decisions?

The election process just seems a little insane.

Locally, people fork out tens of thousands of dollars — sometimes more — to run for office. At the state level, hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars are spent.

Nationally, it’s hundreds of millions or billions of dollars.

Elected leaders are rarely ever picked from the poorest of the poor. Generally, a person must be fairly well off — when compared to one’s peer group — to be elected.

By the time you reach national elected positions, it’s often understood that it’s a millionaires-only club.

Much of the campaign finance money seems to be given with an expectation of something to come in the future.

Look no further than the Natchez mayor’s race. Isle of Capri gave thousands of dollars to the ultimate winner, Butch Brown.

Contractors working on the Roth Hill casino project gave money to incumbent Jake Middleton’s campaign.

Clearly both sides were attempting to curry favor with and hitch their wagons to the winner because they thought doing so would help their cause.

While it may be perfectly legal, something just seems a little wrong about that process.

But it’s not only elections that could be reformed, how our government works could be improved too.

Does it strike anyone else as archaic the way our state and national legislative process works?

We ship people from all over to one centralized location where they are generally miles and miles away from the people who elect them. Physically meeting was necessary decades ago, but today’s technology sort of makes it obsolete.

Then, once gathered together, the pressure to maintain partisan ties and jockey for position often outweighs the will of the people who elected them in the first place.

From those group shindigs, things often get even stranger.

How many times have lawmakers voted on bills they never read?

The same thing happens locally. Would anyone — beyond the aldermen themselves — be willing to bet Natchez aldermen had no full comprehension of the bond-rate swap deals they’ve entered into over the last few years.

Insanity; it’s at all levels.

One wonders what would happen if things were shaken up a bit. Would we be better off if our legislators met less frequently? It certainly would provide less opportunity for them to screw things up.

Rather than making the travel to group meetings and discussions and posturing that goes on ad nauseam but seemingly accomplishes very little maybe state and national lawmakers should meet only every two years.

Do that and cut their salaries in half.

It seems possible to simply hammer out a budget that should last two years by tying expenditures to a fixed percentage of tax receipts.

In other words if transportation has been costing 10 percent of the total expense budget, let’s budget it to be 10 percent of whatever revenue comes in over the next 24 months, with automatic adjustments every three to six months so we never get behind and operate in a deficit.

It’s probably a crazy notion, but one day, wouldn’t it be nice if we could take technology to the next level and truly allow citizens to vote on the issues?

Who knows, doing that might eliminate some of insanity we see in almost all levels of government.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.