alliance

How insane is our election system?

Published 12:02am Sunday, June 10, 2012

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.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps it is near time for our election system and governmental system be brought into the technology age as you suggest.  About the only benefit of the face to face sessions is the ability to hear impassioned pleas from the other side of the aisle as to why the subject under consideration is the thing to do and gain the interaction of other educated opinions on the subject before voting.  Computer screens do not provide that interface in an expeditious manner.  We have elected, even by default in low voter turnout, these politicians to exercise their judgement on our behalf in deciding the future of our nation as a whole.  Don’t expect them to cut their pay in half after spending all that campaign money.

  • Anonymous

    This article could almost be viewed as a ‘double standard’ as you continually backed the ‘money’ regime for the mayoral race in the Natchez Democrat. . Had you taken the time and effort to delve into the chaos of his past and weighted the pros and cons, I doubt you would have continued with the same decision. I, along with the other elderly voters remember his past. Many old folks, (by the way are the only ones that vote), assumed that since you were taking the stance you chose, they need not take the trouble and waste the time to vote. I, on the other hand, chose to vote for the best man for the job and it definitely was not Butch Brown. I hope I’m wrong, but I seriously doubt it.     

  • Anonymous

    There are a number of problems with the way we elect our representatives. The Electoral College is outdated.  The Citizens United decision ensured that campaigns will be a matter of dollars and not sense.  When this nation was founded, much of the process was written to reflect regional interests, i.e. a slave based agrarian economy versus an industrial based economy, and thus we have a two party system.  The issues have changed, but the two party system is a remnant of that.  The Parlimamentary system is a far more practical and effective way to represent individual interests and creat coalitions of parties, like the Knesset or the Bundestag.  The number of representatives in the House was capped years ago and the result is we have Congressional districts that are not representative of the population numbers.  Bottom line, the system needs to be revamped to reflect modern realities.

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    We have the greatest govermental system in the world that is base on Englands parliament but our locals and the nation need to get out and vote our priviledge to whom we want!! I do feel the popular vote should be the tool of elections of the people and throw the electoral college away!!! I feel this is the fair way!! We want have the Gore/Bush and Florida problem as in the past!

  • Anonymous

    It was set up for a reason.  Get rid of it, campaign in the welfare centers (large population, urban areas), and pick your winner?  

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    Say what??!!

    In a message dated 6/11/2012 6:00:27 P.M. Central Daylight Time, notifications@disqus.net writes:

    (http://disqus.com/)

    niderbip wrote, in response to khakirat:
    It was set up for a reason. Get rid of it, campaign in the welfare centers (large population, urban areas), and pick your winner?

    _Link to comment_ (http://disq.us/7phrwp)

  • Anonymous

    Read up on it.

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    I need a blackboard and chalk huh’!!

    In a message dated 6/12/2012 4:54:10 A.M. Central Daylight Time, notifications@disqus.net writes:

    (http://disqus.com/)

    niderbip wrote, in response to khakirat:
    Read up on it.

    _Link to comment_ (http://disq.us/7pp6s3)

  • Anonymous

    THE SYSTEM ITSELF IS NOT INSANE. FROM THE BEGINING OF THE SYSTEM, MONEY ALWAYS PLAYED A ROLL. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A POOR PRESIDENT ? WHAT’S REALLY AMAZING, THIS PRESIDENT ELECTION WILL GO DOWN IN THE HISTORY BOOKS AS THE LARGEST AMOUNT OF MONEY EVER SPENT TO DEFEAT A PRESIDENT. THERE’S NO NEED TO WONDER WHY THIS ELECTION. THERE’S ONE PARTY THAT WILL SELL AMERICA TO DEFEAT A BLACK PRESIDENT. THE GOOD THING ABOUT ALL OF THIS IS: WHEN THEY LOOSE, ALL OF THAT MONEY IS GOING DOWN THE DRAIN.  

  • Anonymous

    No, we don’t.  It’s antquated and unfit to deal with modern issues.  On a national level, it forces us, if we want our vote to count, to choose between two powerful parties that are too broad to really represent individual interests.  With the current hyper partisanship, all members of either parties are forced by their respective leadership to march lock step with no regard for the good of the people.  If we had multiple parties, then it would force the parties to COMPROMISE and form coaltions to gain a majority and would do a much better job of representing all of us.  BTW, do we “want” to have Bush v. Gore or are you trying to say we “won’t” have Bush v. Gore?

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    As long as we have the electoral college if will happen again for that is why we need to have nothing but the popular vote to count no matter what!!

    In a message dated 6/12/2012 12:55:04 P.M. Central Daylight Time, notifications@disqus.net writes:

    (http://disqus.com/)

    MisterRational wrote, in response to khakirat:
    No, we don’t. It’s antquated and unfit to deal with modern issues. On a national level, it forces us, if we want our vote to count, to choose between two powerful parties that are too broad to really represent individual interests. With the current hyper partisanship, all members of either parties are forced by their respective leadership to march lock step with no regard for the good of the people. If we had multiple parties, then it would force the parties to COMPROMISE and form coaltions to gain a majority and would do a much better job of representing all of us. BTW, do we “want” to have Bush v. Gore or are you trying to say we “won’t” have Bush v. Gore?
    _Link to comment_ (http://disq.us/7pxalr)

  • Anonymous

    Wow!!! You and I agree completely!  We also need campaign finance reform.  And organizational reform.  There is absolutely no reason we should have to choose between only two candidates in an election designed to represent antiquated regional interests that don’t really represent our individual interests.  Thus, the Parlimentary system.

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    I as a rule I’m always open to issues as such but glad we agree!! I just wish our congress would agree to issues that would make more jobs for the unemployed!!

    In a message dated 6/12/2012 1:44:50 P.M. Central Daylight Time, notifications@disqus.net writes:

    (http://disqus.com/)

    MisterRational wrote, in response to khakirat:
    Wow!!! You and I agree completely! We also need campaign finance reform. And organizational reform. There is absolutely no reason we should have to choose between only two candidates in an election designed to represent antiquated
    regional interests that don’t really represent our individual interests. Thus, the Parlimentary system.

    _Link to comment_ (http://disq.us/7pyd4t)

  • Anonymous

    Good luck on that.  The majority party in the House is more interested in political gain than legislative effectiveness.  If the economy improves, if unemployment drops, Romney won’t have anything to run on.  They’d rather sacrifice America at the altar of politics than work together with the minority party and actually solve problems.   

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    You have told the truth and facts!!!

    In a message dated 6/12/2012 3:44:04 P.M. Central Daylight Time, notifications@disqus.net writes:

    (http://disqus.com/)

    MisterRational wrote, in response to khakirat:
    Good luck on that. The majority party in the House is more interested in political gain than legislative effectiveness. If the economy improves, if unemployment drops, Romney won’t have anything to run on. They’d rather sacrifice America at the altar of politics than work together with the minority party and actually solve problems.

    _Link to comment_ (http://disq.us/7q0svw)

  • Anonymous

    Probably right, but with little hope that the economy improves and unemployment drops before the election, it will be a hotly contested race.

  • Anonymous

    But doesn’t that call into question of the charactor and patriotism of the people elected to do the legislative work of our country?  Doesn’t it call into question the charactor and patriotism of the people who elect them?  So how can anyone support people that would rather see us fail as a nation than accept that they lost a democratic contest and have an obligation to work with the opposition within the system?

  • Anonymous

    While I agree that stalemate is not the way to run this country, the point you made about the democratically elected Republican majority in the house is simply the outcome of public opinion (majority of voters who voted) imposing the Tea Party mentality into the house majority.  Wait and see how the Demos work if Romney is elected – you will see the same re-action to everything the Repos propose.

  • Anonymous

    I guess so.

  • Anonymous

    There is a difference.  It now take a super majority (60 votes) to pass a bill in the Senate.  The Republicans are threatening filibusters at every opportunity.  The Senate has never worked like that before.  If the Rs even attempt compromise, they are targeted.  Orin Hatch is by no means even a moderate, but has been targeted.  In the House, the Rs won’t even support bills they previously sponsored.  They have one agenda: to cause as much pain to the American people as possible to make Obama a one term president.  The latest example is the Equal Pay for Equal Work bill. And they and their treasonous supporters should be held accountable.