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POLITICAL REFORM

In the 2000 election cycle, the Democratic Party raised over 520 million dollars.  Even this figure pales in comparison to the 750 million dollars raised by republicans.  But no amount of money can change the fundamental flaws that plague a corrupt and dysfunctional system.  Ideologies and flowery speeches do not solve social problems.  Mindful activism does.

Political Reform: The fatal flaw in the system of democracy.

What is a Functional Organization: Red tape and bureaucracy prohibit our government from functioning as an effective organization.

The Ability to Win: The financial aspect of the system produces politicians who are strong on salesmanship, but weak on problem solving ability and personal character.

Political Reform Parties
: In order for a true democracy to exist, people must be in a position to select from a wide range of candidates rather than a select few.

Soft Money: A chart displaying dollar amounts of soft money contributions from the oil/energy industry over the past six years provides a concrete glimpse at the magnitude of the problem.  

The Power Elite: Both Thomas Dye and William Domhoff argue that in the United States, power is no longer vested in the people, but rather, in a select group of upper class individuals, or, the "power elite.


Socialization and the Transfer of Values: The power elite never disappears because it is self perpetuating. Young people who are on their rise to the top accept the values of the power elite, making them their own.

Corporate Politics: The power elite, largely through their influence in the area of research and their use of 'policy planning groups' are able to shape, and in some cases, create public policy.

The Economy's Oppressive Influence: All facets of a capitalist society are ultimately influenced by the economy and the corporate realm; even those areas that we would usually consider completely unrelated to the power elite.

Influence of Money on Politics: In spite of the democratic principles of the American political system, politicians cannot be considered to be true representatives of their people.  Rather, their opinions and behavior are heavily influenced by the vast resources of their political contributors.

Money Buys Political Power: An examination of the Economic Stimulus Plan, the House Energy Plan, and the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which demonstrates the powerful impact that large donors can exert on the shaping of government policy.

The True Partisan Politics: High speed internet, prescription drugs, and insurance: Examples of congressional representatives displaying their loyalty to the wills of their donors, rather than to their constituents or their own personal conscious.

Money Buys Political Power 3: When considering almost any issue, the solution advocated by either congress or the president will not necessarily be in the best interest of the people who these elected officials are supposed to serve. Essentially, everybody will find a solution that is in the best interest of their financial supporters.

Think Tanks and Political Reform: Think tanks don't need money.  They need mindfulness.

Ideological Thinking in Politics: Ideologies - beautiful words, and lofty ideals - don't solved social problems.  We must recognize that our beliefs, in and of themselves, are not solutions.

Some Advice From Abraham Lincoln: People have ceased to be their own rulers, and have resigned control of their government to the political parties, the money, and the institutions that they have created.

Hiroshima: Lessons taught by a film that portrays the struggle - both in Washington and Tokyo - to end, and in a few cases prolong, WWII.

Political Dysfunction as a Call to Action: Names of deceased individuals, and a description of their ties to the Whitewater scandal.

Frequently Asked Questions: Answer to some questions submitted by visitors to the site.

The Root Causes Of Social Dysfunction: The major problems of our political, educational, and health-care systems all stem from the same root causes. There are things that we can do to attack the causes of the disease, and not it's symptoms.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM

In order to achieve political reform, and once again make the arena of politics a noble one, we must concentrate on removing the financial restraints that prevent many prospective candidates from seeking office.  A candidate must be able to run for office without the requirement of more than a nominal sum of money.  In order to facilitate this, we must redesign the entire campaign finance structure.  No longer will the government give money to any particular individual or party, but rather, it will support the mechanism through which there will exist a level playing field and equal exposure for all candidates.  Additionally, there will be no campaign contributions.  The political sway of wealthy individuals and major corporations will be eliminated, returning the system to a such a state where the phrase "one man, one vote" will ring true.  Granted, there will have to be some type of screening process that will eliminate - with the direct input of the public - the vast majority of the candidates, but this system should be no more burdensome to the public than the present one.  No proposed solution is going to be perfect; there will always be objections.  But our present system is outrageous, and anything better than outrageous is a step in the right direction.

A Specific Proposal: A summary of the specific criteria that should be met in order to create an equitable political selection process.

The Possibilities: The internet, as of yet untapped with regard to the modern day political process, could become a powerful vessel for the dissemination of candidate information, an important part of the candidate screening process, and the newest method of voting.

The Automatic Runoff: Let's say that the conservative candidate gets 40% of the votes, liberal candidate A gets 35% of the votes, and liberal candidate B gets 25% of the votes.  Under our present system, the conservative candidate would get ALL of the electoral votes.  This doesn't quite seem fair. The automatic runoff, by having voters choose the candidates in order of numerical preference, would prevent such situations from occurring.

Screening the Candidates: The present process by which candidates are screened involves each candidate producing a large number of signatures on a petition.  Traditionally, these signatures have been bought. Instead, we could set up private evaluation boards similar to those now in place for accrediting educational institutions.  They would rate the candidate in various categories on a scale of one to ten.

A Simple Metaphor:  The present political system is illustrated with a metaphor, which explains why most of us feel frustrated with the current state of things.  But you can change the system.  Here's how.

PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION

Many people believe that the most fundamental flaw in our political system is the inherent unfairness of disproportional representation.  Not only is representation disproportionate because the interests of the wealthy few are given precedence over the interests of the less fortunate, but also because the system is designed such that 'winner take all'.  If candidate A has 49 % of the vote, and candidate B has 51 %, candidate B wins everything.  This hardly seems fair.  Although these two issues are definite flaws in the present system, they are not the root causes of political dysfunction.  The most fundamental problem with our system of government is that political parties, rather than the people, select the political candidates.  Political candidates are loyal to their parties.  Parties are loyal to their financial supporters.  This hardly seems democratic.

Proportional Representation: Until the people, rather than political parties, select the politicians, the vast majority of citizens will remain malcontent with our government.

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